Trends

Focus groups review the classics

For those of you who watched the Oscars Sunday night, I hope you saw the skit spoofing a focus group for “The Wizard of Oz.”

Without giving the good jokes away, the crowd is underwhelmed and confused by this classic movie. The advice for how to improve the movie is hilariously off-key. The one part of the movie that is lauded, again and again, by one focus group participant: the flying monkeys.

It is a clever skit and makes one think of how entertaining it would be to see focus group feedback on classic movies from the past. Think “Casablanca.” A focus group would say there is no way he’s letting her fly away. Or “Old Yeller.” Is it necessary for the dog to die?

It also makes one wonder how movies like “Ishtar” or “Showgirls” get made. Certainly there wasn’t a focus group involved, was there?

Mobile surveys, mobile qual look to explode in 2012: GRIT report

A sneak peek at the 2012 Greenbook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) report reveals an anticipation in the rise of mobile surveys this year.

That’s one of the highlights of a fascinating examination of what research firms anticipate and what clients see as the techniques that will drive market research budgets this year. The GRIT report, which will be published in the next few weeks, supports the idea that online communities and social media analytics will become a prominent and “mainstream” research technique, and research firms and clients both concur with that forecast.

Mobile surveys look to be at a tipping point. While actual use of mobile surveys in 2011 were around 20 percent (17 percent as reported by clients, and 24 percent as reported by research firms), expectations are much higher for usage in 2012. Fifty-three percent of clients expect to use mobile survey techniques, and 64 percent of research firms expect to do so.

Mobile survey usage may actually be underreported, according to the GRIT report, with budget that is actually going toward mobile being attributed to Computer Assisted Web Interviewing (CAWI) and Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI).

Mobile qualitative looks to undergo a big jump, as part of the shift toward mobile. With actual use somewhere around 13 percent in 2011, that number looks to accelerate upward in 2012. According to the report, 31 percent of clients, and 46 percent of research firms, expect to use mobile qualitative in 2012. 20|20 is at the forefront of this rise in mobile qualitative with the recent introduction of its second mobile qualitative application, QualBoard Mobile. QualBoard Mobile includes both a fully featured bulletin board access capability and an innovative new journaling application.

Mobile phone use while shopping is taking off

The habit of using cell phones while shopping — calling a friend, checking product reviews and comparing prices — is on the rise. Mobile usage has become an integral part of shopping in stores (the brick and mortar ones), according to Pew Research conducted in the month leading up to and in the month following Christmas.

More than 50 percent of Americans used their cell phones for one of those three activities: calling a friend, checking reviews or comparing prices. Unsurprisingly, the habit was more prevalent in Americans under the age of 50. Only 4 percent of Americans 65 and older were likely to use their cell phone while shopping.

This news raises interesting implications for mobile qualitative research. The ability to be engaged with shoppers in a manner that is truly natural and authentic to the way they shop, while they are shopping, is surely of massive interest to marketers.

What shoppers are doing after they read reviews or checking prices online is fascinating. In the study, about one-third (35 percent) bought from the store. Another third (37 percent) decided not to buy. The study revealed that 27 percent either bought online or at another store.

Mobile qualitative research will not be about reaching people while they are watching TV on the couch, clearly. It is increasingly used by researchers to analyze experiences, from seeing concerts to analyzing retail options.

Do you have stories about using mobile qualitative for dynamic experiences? Or do you have a client that you need to help with that type of research? In either case, we’d love to hear from you.

Focus Group Fingers All Over Super Bowl Commercials

Super Bowl commercials generate more conversation in Monday morning meetings today than almost anything else. With social media, the conversation following a Super Bowl ad is immediate. Last year, you may remember Groupon’s commercial about the troubles in Tibet resulted in a backlash on Twitter, and a formal apology. It will be studied in business schools as a marketing misstep.

One of the lessons from that failed 2011 commercial was the alleged lack of testing that preceded its airing. Marketers weren’t going to make that mistake with 2012 Super Bowl commercials. According to a Wall Street Journal article, focus group feedback resulted in the adjustment of creative for one Hyundai commercial, removing sexist comments from the older man in the commercial and replacing them with comments about how to be successful in business.

A Chevy Sonic commercial from yesterday’s Super Bowl was met with skepticism from focus groups, who didn’t believe the stunts to be real. Chevy’s spot ended up with a text treatment at the beginning of the ad noting “100% Real Stunts. Don’t Attempt. Please.”

Of course, focus groups don’t always predict success, or what may get a marketer in trouble. Some commercials were released ahead of time, or the trailers were so extensive. Marketers weren’t willing to risk something blowing up in their face. Marvel released trailers of its Super Bowl commercial to gather input from social media viewers.

Many groups are doing in-game focus group testing, like USAToday/Facebook’s AdMeter. Groups, and events like this were held around the country.

What were the results of your Monday Morning Focus Group’s judgment on this year’s crop of commercials?

Mobile’s Trajectory is Undeniable

Although traditional qualitative research methods remain highly useful and well received, constant technological innovations and trends are creating a new ground to adapt traditional methodologies and technology uses. In this new space, mobile trends are consistently reaching the forefront and are causing a pretty big stir within the industry.

In a recent Research Access article that transcribed a Market Research Trends 2012 webinar, panelists Leonard Murphy of the Greenbook Blog and Romi Mahajan of Metavana agreed that mobile will be a necessary market research component in the future. “Within the next two to three years, a device similar to– probably somewhat bigger than a iPhone, smaller than an iPad, will be the primary means of communication for our entire species, globally, period… So the impact of global cannot be underestimated, in particular in the emerging markets, because they will leapfrog the PC experience in almost it’s entirety. The growth of broadband and PC penetration in Africa, Latin America, and Asia Pacific is effectively already stopped. So there’s whole generations that will grow up that will look at a PC like we would look at a typewriter and just think it’s just an antiquated piece of technology. So their experience with communicating with each other and the world around them will be via this mobile device,” Murphy said.

Murphy believes that mobile’s true benefit lies in its ability to reach a large sample of research participants all around the world and at any time of the day or week. He anticipates that the future of participant sampling lies in a mobile app that allows users to opt into a virtual research panel and give their permission to send and receive certain amount of information. “That opens the door for an amazing opportunity to be able to engage with consumers 24/7/365, in most any situation that you can imagine, and to gain real feedback at the point of experience, whether that be at an event or while shopping or making purchases in a retail environment, whatever the case may be,” Murphy said. “We have the opportunity to engage them, if we make it a fun and rewarding and meaningful experience for them.”

Although the sampling capabilities are impressive, Mahajan, on the other hand, focuses on mobile’s ability to capture a participant within his or her context. He believes mobile’s best feature is its attachment to the consumer during the entire consumer experience. “For instance, if I leave a movie and I get on a mobile app to say if I like it or not, I’m right in the midst of that experience,” he said. “I’m in situ, as it were. And so when I think about mobile, I think about the fact that people are interacting on their mobile devices in a time and space in which their context is more profound, which is actually itself the benefit here.”

At 20/20, we agree wholeheartedly. If the goal of qualitative research is to gain access to the human emotional profile and how it affects our choices and behaviors, then this trend is an undeniable step in the right direction. And with our mobile research platform QualAnywhere, researchers can embrace consumers within their individual contexts to gain insights from real-time data.

How have you effectively used mobile in your qualitative research methods?

In 2012, All Signs Point to Qualitative Research

In a recent Greenbook Blog post entitled “Will 2012 Be the End of the (MR) World as We Know It?”, Greenbook Editor-in-Chief and CEO of RockHopper Research Leonard Murphy gave his predictions for market research trends and changes in 2012. Lenny’s prediction that qualitative will become even more important dovetails nicely with our view. As access to data grows, understanding the meaning behind the data becomes ever more important. Here is Lenny’s eloquent delivery: “Qualies rejoice; your time to shine is nigh! The skill sets of storytelling, connecting disparate data points to form recommendations, and applying the social sciences to understand human behavior will grow in importance. Driven by the demand from brands to truly understand consumers and enabled by the growth of communities, virtual ethnography, ‘Big Data’ analytics, etc… some one will have to step up to make sense of the implications, and researchers grounded in qualitative techniques are well positioned to fill this need.”

At 20/20, we’re doing just that: rejoicing. With many of our online research technology products, we are already prepared to offer easy online qualitative solutions for many of Murphy’s predictions. Of the ten trends he identifies, we are very much on top of at least 3 of them.

1. Surveys get smart: Murphy predicts that surveys will move away from the traditional format of discrete ad hoc surveys that pose 30 questions or more in one sitting. He foresees surveys changing into “broad tracking systems that dynamically create targeted questions based on the synthesis of consumer data from social media, panelist profiles, CRM, POS, and any other data source we can get our hands on.” Already, 20/20’s technology product QualLink offers seamless integration of traditional quantitative surveys with a qualitative online bulletin board discussion. With this product, simple quantitative survey results are used to create hybrid quant-to-qual research, transforming a traditional survey’s capabilities and insights.

2. Once more, with feeling: “As technologies that help us understand emotional decision making mature and new approaches come to market, the merger with behavioral economics models will become the norm. Whether biometric/neuro/facial or cognitive modelling based, brands will be investing heavily in the quest for the Holy Grail: understanding the levers of choice and learning to optimize their offerings based on those drivers,” Murphy said. While stated opinions and preferences will still play a role in market research, technology like our QualBoard 3.0 that accommodates nonverbal, physical cues through webcam videos will help researchers gather all the richness of a participant’s response – body language, tone of voice and emotion.

3. Mobile, mobile, mobile: From Murphy’s viewpoint, mobile will be the defining technology of the next five years, which will greatly affect all market research. At 20/20, we’ve anticipated this trend by offering QualAnywhere, a mobile platform that allows researchers to collect real-time data through texting and picture messaging.

Year in Review: Most visited 20|20 research content of 2011

In addition to our three very popular eBooks published in 2012, 20|20 has been compiling a learning center full of white papers, case studies, a glossary and articles that are designed to provide research professionals resources to do better research. Here are the five most-visited links in our Learning Center in 2011. Beginner tips, a glossary of terms and case studies providing examples of other professionals doing research were at the top.

1. Qualitative Research Glossary
Our glossary is updated constantly and includes key qualitative research terms, from Interactive Voice Response (IVR) research to open-ended questions to chat room focus groups.

2. Case Study: GfK Healthcare and 20|20 Partner on Online Diary to Gauge Patients’ Feelings About Medication
To gain qualitative insights on why certain patients take their medication regularly and others do not, GfK Healthcare and 20|20 needed to develop a space where patients could honestly reveal their reasoning on their own terms. They used 20|20’s bulletin board focus group product QualBoard where each patient could express him or herself with a Flip video camera in an intimate, online diary setting. The project results were highly successful. Read on for a more in-depth look.

3. Using Online Qualitative Research Tools for Co-Creation
20|20’s online products QualBoard and QualLaborate can improve the co-creation process of developing new products with consumer input. By allowing you the space online to reach across cities and states to reach key consumers, the entire research process has better and more affordable access to your target consumer market. Check out the rest of 20|20’s break down to understand how online tools can aid your qualitative research initiatives.

4. Beginner Tips for Online Qualitative Research
It’s not always easy to transition from traditional qualitative research methods to online tools, but the benefits of merging the two can be enormous. Follow Betsy Hoag and Katerina Makatouni’s tips to excel at online qualitative research like a pro.

5. Case Study: Country Music Association Gleans Real-Time Event Feedback with Mobile Qualitative Research
The Country Music Association (CMA) Music Festival wanted qualitative research insights from the attendees, so they used 20|20’s mobile qualitative research platform QualAnywhere for a multi-day mobile focus group. The group was moderated through text messages and was able to record the attendees’ experiences as they occurred during the event. Read on for a look at the successful results!

Year in Review: Best QualBlog Posts of 2011

Before we turn the page to 2012, we wanted to provide you the highlights from the 20|20 QualBlog in 2011. Here are the five most popular blog posts from 2011. If I can see a pattern from the most popular posts, I’d say you are interested in research methodology, saving money on research, and understanding what is going on in our industry conferences. Have a wonderful 2012, as we look forward to continuing to provide you the tools and content support to do better research.

1. Brand Creative Testing Using Mind Clouds
Struggling with how to reveal your advertising during qualitative research sessions? This post reveals the limitations of showing your ads first, and it offers an innovative solution. Read on for a method that exposes both the subject’s opinion of a brand before exposure to advertising and the degree to which your ads can change pre-existing notions.

2. Brainstorming with Word Clouds
If you didn’t add word clouds to your brainstorming repertoire this year, you may be missing out on an innovative new tool. View this post to discover the possibilities of word clouds for your qualitative research and your business.

3. MRA Conference Hits a Home Run
Our favorite conferences make an impact on the listeners through well-researched, timely and high level content. This post details one of the best we attended in 2011, and it could provide some tips on how to focus conferences in the future.

4. New eBook: How to Save Time and Money on Your Qualitative Research Projects
Looking for a tutorial that will open your mind to online research and new methodologies? Of all of our 2011 eBooks, this one was perhaps the most innovative.

5. Taco Bell Qualitative Research: Fast, Cheap and Internal
Striving to learn from other companies’ qualitative research techniques, we often include new methodologies in our blogs. This one highlights Taco Bell’s Facebook research community, which has enabled them to perform qualitative research on a quick, internal scale.

What Decisions Have You Made as a Result of Research?

Jim recently attended a conference where a speaker was touting his support of social media use in the qualitative research industry. The research buyer stated that he and others were backing off of social media.  We blogged about that on QualBlog and received some Twitter attention that was, how should we say…..less than supportive.  So we asked the question, “Can you name one decision that has been made primarily using social media?”  It was so quiet, you could have heard crickets.

Like I wrote in a blog post last August, one of the biggest challenges in our industry deals with how to best demonstrate return-on-investment to clients. We all know it doesn’t matter how much high-quality research you perform if you can’t prove the worth, but this pressure often ends up producing a large amount of (sometimes unnecessary) charts, graphs and presentations that jumble the true substance of our findings.

To find ROI that really shows value to the client, Brett Hagins Read More…

Join the Debate on the Future of Mobile Research

Thursday’s Webinar on Mobile Research: Great Hope or False Dawn that was conceived by Leonard Murphy over at GreenBook Blog was a lively debate for the “soul of the future of research.”

The following participants were moderated by Roxana Strohmenger of Forrester Research:

Michael Alioto, Vice President, Marketing Sciences, Gongos Research
Reg Baker, COO, Market Strategies International
Leonard Murphy, Editor-in-Chief, GreenBook Blog
Ray Poynter, author of the Handbook of Online & Social Media Research

The Webinar grew out of the release of a survey by Alioto’s firm, Gongos Research, “Smartphone Surveys Prove Their Validity in Marketing Research.”

The key positions, according to Jeff Henning’s recap, were, either: “1. Smart phones are strategic enhancements to online,” or “2. Smart phones are a different methodology that could well be the next evolutionary platform of research and quantitative analysis.”

Murphy was expressing the view that research firms need to approach mobile differently, as it’s “radically different from how we think of research today.”

Poynter and Baker didn’t embrace the revolution that Murphy sees taking place. They were more in the camp that mobile was more of a “niche” part of qualititative research to date, and perhaps, will be for some time to come.

20|20’s own Jim Bryson notes that the bright predictions for mobile qualitative, for all it’s promises, has been disappointing up to this point. This perspective comes from 20|20’s experience of working on a number of innovative mobile qualitative projects in the past year.

Baker notes that it’s early yet to see the value of mobile qualitative, and much more research is required to see its value to marketers. Bryson tends to agree, noting that there is much still to be developed.

“We continue to look for ways to help researchers perform better research and gain deeper insights, wherever that means that mobile takes us,” says Bryson.

Where do you stand in the debate? We’d love to hear from you.

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