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It seems there is a lot of potential upside for a brand if you can make people think differently about your product. Qualitative research is an excellent tool for exploring where there might be room to grow. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/17/business/krave-jerky-seeks-to-upgrade-a-snacks-image.html?_r=0 Image from NYTimes Jim Wilson

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Having just returned from Peru where I hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, I couldn’t help but identify with George Loewenstein’s post on mountaineering and marketing (see link below). I never quite appreciated the tales of others who had experienced the effects of altitude and exhaustion until I went through it myself. On the other hand, I learned much about myself in the process and am a different person because of the experience. My stories and recollections about the trip are different today than they would have been during, or right after the hike. While the mountaineering analogy provides some key insights into human behavior that are useful for marketers, it also holds lessons for qualitative researchers. We are responsible for capturing and interpreting reported behavior from respondents, but as this post outlines, the experiences they recount are likely incomplete and even inaccurate. Perhaps this provides additional support for [...]

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To get the most from focus groups, consider the basics In earlier blog posts on focus groups, we’ve touched on some of the points that Tim Coffey explores in his recent Quirk’s article, “Five Ways to Fix Focus Groups.” But he writes about these basics so thoughtfully — he’s balanced, specific and detailed in his comments, and doesn’t point fingers at any parties in particular — that we enthusiastically cite him here. His points are constructive and he makes them well. Whether you commission focus groups once in a blue moon or several times a quarter, you will take valuable learning away from this article.

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As Kerry Bodine points out in this Forrester blog, qualitative research can help illuminate and interpret the information yielded by “big data”. It’s great that algorithms can be so spookily correct in predicting behaviors. But without understanding their inner motivations, it’s sometimes difficult to see how to connect with consumers. Qualitative research’s unique strength is that it adds emotional narrative to the plotlines that the numbers reveal. As Kerry puts it: Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a big data hater. However, to create a complete picture of who your customers are and what they really need, you need a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods. We couldn’t agree more!              

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Maximizing Effectiveness of Mobile Research As more and more people switch away from desktops to mobile devices, mobile market research is morphing from an opportunity to an obligation. But not all approaches are created equally when it comes to mobile market research, as Jeff Harrelson points out in a recent Quirks article. There are many choices available for doing mobile research, each with advantages and disadvantages. Before you commit, consider how well the platform answers the demands of the research objectives, the target audience, and the kind of data you need to collect. Jeff offers “5 Questions You Should Ask Before Launching Your Next Mobile Survey” in his article, and the questions are smart ones. We might also add: Does it work equally well on a range of mobile devices, or is it better suited just to one? Does the provider offer technical support for participants prior to and throughout [...]

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The growth of cities is a long-established trend, and many have taken notice of the unique pace of urban life. Here is one example that we thought was neat: http://www.fastcompany.com/most-innovative-companies/2013/target  

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Which is better: Consensus or Creative Conflict? The second of two focus groups of the evening has just finished. Someone observes that both sessions were remarkably smooth in that broad consensus was evident/achieved on almost every issue. The moderator comes through the door and sits down next to the client Research Director to discuss the evening. Should they be happy or disturbed? If you said “happy” you may be missing a ton of learning opportunities. All seasoned researchers have seen groups (fortunately rarely) devolve into nothing more than arguments among competing egos and those sessions are unproductive. But there is much to be said for the benefits of creative conflict in qualitative research … whether diads or full groups. In fact groups without conflict are elevator music; those with it are more akin to great blues or jazz … more complex and more memorable. In the end, the learning is [...]

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Imagine you have been working for weeks, even months on a key project that will move your business and your own career ahead. You have a ton of time and effort and pride invested in seeing your work come to fruition. And just when you are expecting to get the critical green light from your boss, she introduces you to some third party you don’t even know and says that person is going do an assessment of your work and will ultimately determine whether it ever sees the light of day. Really! Let’s recognize at the outset that some agency personnel, especially Creative Directors, cherish research and use it to their advantage. We’ve had the pleasure of working with some of those over the years and it is interesting how they are always hungry for insights anywhere they can find them. We used to think it was a matter of [...]

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Tips for Conducting Online Research Among Latinos In the last several years, many sociologists, marketers and statisticians have documented the burgeoning segment of Latino-Americans. The Pew Research Center even has “Hispanics” as one of the main menu-tabs on its website, giving this topic equal heft alongside areas such as “US Politics”, “Social Trends”, “Technology” and “Global”; according to US Census figures, the US Hispanic population has gone from over 35 million in 2000 to over 50 million in 2010 and Nielsen estimates its purchasing power will be $1.5 trillion in 2015. This group is young, has a higher-than-average birthrate, and has values and consumption habits that in many ways set it apart. Accordingly, marketers as well as politicians are paying attention. Yet there are potential pitfalls in targeting this group, including the risk of coming across as inauthentic or offensive. As with almost any population subgroup, efforts to speak to [...]

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“I recognized that there is wisdom in seeing the world from a different viewpoint.” – Nate Silver How did Nate Silver, who burnished the reputation of pollsters by using polling data, accurately predict the election outcome in all 50 states? The Tricky Part The whole premise of polling is that by taking a representative sample of a given population, you can draw conclusions about the attitudes and behaviors of the whole. (You can argue about how “representative” is defined, and there are different ways to set about reaching your sample, but the statistics themselves are standard.) However, polls do not tell the whole story – not by a long shot. Nate Silver used polling data from multiple organizations as the fundamental building blocks of his successful algorithm. Aggregating polls, as the Huffington Post did, has the effect of increasing the sample sizes, and therefore the statistical accuracy of the research; it [...]

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