online research software

Why Researchers Shouldn’t Be Afraid of DIY Research

Ask most any researcher what they think of DIY research and the answer will probably involve some grunts and groans and maybe even an expletive or two. That’s because most professional researchers are afraid of it. They see DIY research—in which client-side researchers conduct research projects without the assistance of an outside market research professional—as a threat to their careers, not to mention a joke to their profession (despite the fact that many client-side researchers have experience in the market research industry.)

But it’s time to stop being so negative about DIY research, explains Dana Stanley in a recent post on the Research Access blog. “Enabling customers to make choices is a very good thing,” she says. “Thanks to the Internet and technology, we are in a new age of customer empowerment. Some form of DIY is an inevitability in nearly every industry.” (Driving that inevitability in ours is online research software, as well as other online qualitative research tools.)

But that doesn’t mean DIY research will replace the need for market research professionals. “There will always be an important role for trained research consultants,” she says. “Smart companies know when to bring them in and when they are superfluous.”

And when they get it wrong? Well, they’ll pay for it— “Those who misuse DIY research will fail just as do those who misuse assisted research.”

‘Research Industry Not Changing Fast Enough for Business’

Jeffrey Henning of Affinova got the chance recently to hear Stan Sthanunathan, vice president of marketing strategies and insights for Coca-Cola, speak about the iconic company’s struggle to maintain its brand power. While Coca-Cola is still the No.1 most recognizable brand in the world, Google and other newer brands are coming uncomfortably close. “Change or perish is the new mantra,” Sthanunathan explained at the 25th anniversary celebration of the founding of The Coca-Cola Center for Marketing Studies. But there’s a problem: The industry that companies like Coca-Cola rely so heavily on to help them navigate rapid change is stuck in slow motion.

According to Sthanunathan, the research industry is not changing fast enough. Too much money is spent on “rear view research” and not enough of it is going toward helping companies “shape the change.”

He says the research industry needs to change its mindset (Research departments “must shift from quantifying the expected to listening for the unexpected”) and be open to innovation (“Researchers need techniques that observe, listen, synthesize and deduce in ways we haven’t in the past.”). But that’s not all, according to Henning, who adds to the list of must-dos for the research industry. At the top of his list is to embrace technology quickly.

Another of our favorites: Focus on business outcomes. He quotes Sthanunathan again: “Never assume that your job is over when you deliver the report. That’s when you work actually begins.” In other words, “Think relationships not transactions.”

Warning: Quirk’s Cover Story Not About Online Qualitative Research

I got excited glancing at the cover story in the latest issue of Quirk’s. The theme of the issue is international research and I just knew the cover story—a case study about how Platinum Guild International used qualitative research to help launch a new website—was going to read like a success story in using online qualitative research tools to reach geographically dispersed respondents quickly, easily and without spending too much on travel.

But I was wrong. In fact, the study was all in-person. QRi Consulting, the London-based research firm they worked with, conducted 32 in-person interviews in the United States, Japan and China—three of the guild’s biggest markets.

Now, despite our obvious affinity for online qualitative research, we’ll concede that it’s not always the best choice for every qualitative research project. Yes, there are some cases when in-person makes more sense. But, after reading the article, I’m torn on whether I agree with their reasoning for doing the interviews in-person.

“The subject matter is deeply personal,” Simon Patterson, CEO of QRi Consulting, told Quirk’s. “Jewelry, especially bridal jewelry, is something precious. It’s intimate and emotional. We didn’t want to try to capture such a significant experience online, when being there in person could maintain the humanity behind the whole experience.” Patterson also notes that being there in person helped overcome the obstacles inherent in multinational research—namely cultural differences. That’s why he sat in on each interview. (Hello, frequent flier miles!)

As an aside, that may not have been the best idea either: At the ESOMAR conference in Vienna last week, researchers from India presented on the extreme bias that can occur in some cultures when the moderator simply shows up. Those cultures attached a high status to those moderators. Therefore, they do not behave normally and, often, even answer to please the moderator. Caution should be taken when anyone, particularly a westerner, shows up to do research.

But let’s get back to the issue of online vs. in-person. The article explains: “The in-person interviews created an opportunity to clearly observe how respondents navigated the site. Patterson could see their posture, body language and facial expressions. This up-close experience allowed for observations of personal and cultural attitudes and behaviors and it also allowed for conversation and probing to dig deeper into the respondents’ thoughts as they navigated the site.”

Do you see why I’m torn? There’s nothing in that description that today’s online research software couldn’t overcome.

Here’s the real reason I think they did in-person interviews: “The Platinum Guild and QRi Consulting agreed from the beginning that doing the interviews in a face-to-face environment was very important for the study,” explains the article. The client wanted it done that way, and sometimes that’s reason enough.

What are your thoughts? If you were the researcher on this project, what would you have proposed?

Download Our New eBook on Hybrid Research

There was a time not long ago when qualitative research meant focus groups or phone surveys…and that was about the extent of it. But that’s no longer the case. Today’s researchers have myriad tools and
techniques at their disposal, from the same tried and true face-to-face techniques to multiple options in online and mobile. These tools can be used alone to gain deep insights—or they can be combined to achieve even richer results. Just as the best houses are not built with just a hammer, the best research projects are often not designed with a single research tool.

But how do you combine methodologies AND stay on budget, not to mention schedule? That’s usually the question we hear from researchers. They understand the value of mixing methodologies, but when it comes to execution, they come up short.

If this sounds like you, check out the latest eBook from 20|20 Research. The eBook, Mixed Methodologies 101: How to combine research methods to achieve deeper insights, outlines the process—soup to nuts—for three popular hybrid research designs:

1. Quantitative to Qualitative:
2. Online Qualitative Research to Online Qualitative Research
3. Online Qualitative Research to In-Person

We also help dispel the most common myths about hybrid research design. (Like why hybrid research isn’t necessarily more expensive or time-consuming than using just a single methodology.)

The bottom line: Today’s researchers are responsible for designing projects that produce insights. More and more, hybrid designs produce results that were difficult, if not impossible, to achieve in the past.

Download the eBook, Mixed Methodologies 101: How to combine research methods to achieve deeper insights.

How to Optimize Online Concept Testing

We love it when we hear good things about one of our online qualitative research tools. The latest comes from Chris Efken, a qualitative research specialist at Chicago-based Doyle Research Associates. She recently put QualLaborate 2.0, our new image markup and concept evaluation tool designed specifically for qualitative research, to the test. Chris was in the middle of planning out a pair of concept testing projects with her client, a major food manufacturer, when QualLaborate launched. It was perfect timing.

So how did QualLaborate perform? You’ll have to read the full case study, “QualLaborate Adds Insight, Speed to Concept Evaluation,” for all the details, but here’s the bottom line from Chris: “QualLaborate takes concept testing to the next level.”

Participants seemed to enjoy using the tool, and both Efken and her client were impressed with how quickly QualLaborate helped them narrow down the concepts.

“Before QualLaborate, you really had to read through the transcripts to get to the bottom of it,” which can be a time-consuming process, she says. “With QualLaborate, all you have to do is look at the heat maps to see what’s working and what isn’t. It’s a really great visual tool in that it makes it that much easier to see what pops. You could literally see the energy behind the concepts.”

Day 0 From the ESOMAR Congress in Amsterdam

The following is a guest post by Steve Henke, 20|20 President, who is in Amsterdam this week for the ESOMAR Congress.

Like most of the events in our industry, the first day always seems to kick off with a cocktail reception in the exhibit hall. (By the way, that’s NOT a complaint!) But unlike many first days, today we’ve been very busy in our booth. Three things were very interesting to me.

1. There’s no question that ESOMAR is THE international event in our industry. I didn’t keep track of everyone who visited the booth, but here’s a sampling of the countries that did stop by – Romania, Kazakhstan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Japan, India, Egypt, UK, US and Argentina.

2. Doing online qualitative research is still outside the norm for nearly everyone who visited us. And in many cases, they had virtually no knowledge of online qualitative and the various online research software platforms available. That tells me that there is still a lot of change to come to research outside of the states.

3. One of our platforms, QualBoard, has some international brand recognition. It was mentioned by several of our booth visitors as a product they had at least heard of, if not had it recommended by a colleague in the industry.

Isaac Rogers and I are excited for the full conference to start tomorrow – to see what topics become the real crowd favorites… and for the throngs (I hope!) that will drive to our booth.

What’s Keeping Researchers Awake at Night? The Threat of DIY Research

In this month’s issue of Quirk’s are the findings from an annual salary survey. While it’s always interesting to take a look at what people are making, what struck us as most compelling about this piece were some of the open-ended, qualitative responses from respondents. The responses offer insight into what researchers are feeling challenged by and what they see as a threat to their, well, salaries.

One of the common themes among these open-ended responses was DIY research—in particular, how DIY research is threatening their jobs more than it probably should. In a sidebar to the salary survey, Quirk’s editor Joseph Rydholm does the dirty work for us, digging into some of these insights about DIY research and finding some real gems of responses. Among them:

“Just because data collection tools have become so readily available doesn’t mean using them assures good research. In my mind, it’s like saying that we are all qualified CPAs because we know how to use Excel!”

Or how about this one?

“We need to address the onslaught of ‘cheap and fast’ research that is often convenient but leads to completely incorrect assumptions. We must demonstrate the return on investment of thoughtful and considered research.”

So what does this say about DIY research? Two things: It’s definitely becoming a popular way to go. Client-side researchers often contact to 20/20 Research to develop and execute their own research projects using our suite of easy-to-use online qualitative research software platforms. But at the same time, there’s a real warning that clients eager to do their own research should heed: Be careful! Unless you know what you’re doing, your results (and your job) could be in jeopardy.

20|20 Launches QualBoard™ Plus

20|20 Technology, a division of 20|20 Research, Inc., today announced the launch of QualBoard™ Plus, a bundled set of tools, services and dedicated project support that relieves researchers of the myriad details necessary to complete a bulletin board focus group project.

According to Isaac Rogers, Director of Innovation for 20|20, “Every bulletin board focus group project has a lot of details necessary for the project to be successful – discussion guides, participant lists, stimuli and reporting. With QualBoard™ Plus researchers don’t have to worry about those anymore. QualBoard™ Plus is a new bundled package that includes access to an advanced reporting system, discounts on commonly used services, and a dedicated project assistant that will be the researcher’s “hands-on” for the entire study – for a low flat fee. Our clients can just focus on moderating, knowing that everything else is taken care of.”

QualBoard™ 3.0, 20|20’s industry-leading bulletin board focus group platform, is used by research agencies and client-side researchers around the world. The current version of QualBoard™ offers numerous features not found in any other bulletin board platform: the ability to embed webcam responses from participants, file archiving at no charge, QuickView™ – the easiest way ever to manage bulletin boards, and QualLink™ for true quant-to-qual hybrid studies and more.

What Webcams Can Add to a Bulletin Board Focus Group

There’s online qualitative research and then there’s online qualitative research. The latter involves really embracing the various online research software platforms and all they can offer. Like webcam response, which is the newest addition to our bulletin board focus group platform, QualBoard.

It took no time for Heather Mitchell, a senior moderator at Bloomfield, Conn.-based The Pert Group, to give this new feature a try. We recently caught up with Heather to find out why she was so eager to use it and what her first impressions have been. Here’s a sample of what she had to say:

Testing the technology: Webcam response in a bulletin board focus group is “one of the hottest new technologies,” according to Heather, which means that The Pert Group wanted to be one of its first adopters. They tested several platforms, but she says QualBoard quickly became her firm’s go-to solution, thanks to its ability to “incorporate multimedia (including video) in flexible ways that I have not experienced in any other platforms.”

First impressions: “You see things they wouldn’t otherwise think to tell you about, so it takes the insight to another level,” Heather says. “Whereas respondents might talk in a focus group about where they store something at home, you can’t get a good sense of the space constraints without seeing it for yourself. Respondents can tell you where they keep a product and that it works or doesn’t work for them, but you can’t appreciate it until you see it.”

Read the full article at

Thinking Outside the Bulletin Board Focus Group: Interesting Ways to Use Online Research Software

Last week we sat down with Jessica Ritzo, marketing consultant and head of online qualitative for Insights in Marketing, a Wilmette, Ill.-based research firm (and a client of ours). We’ve been impressed—and intrigued—by the inventive ways Ritzo’s company has embraced online research software. They’ve used bulletin board focus group software for online journaling projects, they’ve mastered the art of combining online—and traditional—methodologies in the same study, and more. Here’s a sample from the interview.

We understand you did an online journaling project, but didn’t use online journaling software. Tell us more about that.
We’ve used both online journaling and online bulletin board focus group software for research involving blogging/online journaling. While both tools can work well for shorter and longer-term projects, I’ve found that online bulletin board software is a better fit for projects that may require more moderator/respondent interaction over the course of the fieldwork, since it allows for more active probing.

What are some other examples of “beyond bulletin board focus group” projects you’ve done?
We’ve also done quite a lot of real-time online qualitative, including online focus groups and one-on-one in-depth interviews. Additionally, we’ve conducted a good amount of website usability and development research online, most recently using 20|20’s QualMeeting. Additionally, just as we do with our in-person qualitative work, it’s not unusual for us to create hybrid methodologies to best meet the research objectives. So, this may mean weaving together multiple online approaches or combining online with more traditional approaches within the same study. Really, it comes down to identifying the most effective methodology for each individual project.

For more insight from Ritzo, including some great tips for online qualitative newbies, check out the full article posted at

1 2 3 4  Scroll to top