A good research company will make an insight appear as if it was out of thin air. Some presented so simply that teams wonder how they could have ever believed something different.
With the emergence of big data and automation (and, coming soon, artificial intelligence), I’m afraid many lose sight of the work and effort involved in uncovering insights. Amassing data doesn’t lead to insight.
Before going further, let’s define insight: My working definition – actionable information that drives business action.
Over the past several years, the speed of research has accelerated. What used to take months can now be done in days. There is much less value in amassing data. In many cases it’s done for us automatically. But, we must ensure we’re collecting and looking at the right data. Connecting the dots and finding the value. This process of planning and synthesis takes work. Lots of work.
Whether it’s cleaning or connecting databases, sifting through cross tabs, thinking strategically about the right questions to ask, or visualizing the data so it can have an impact, this all becomes the craft of a smart strategist – finding the actionable information (the needle) in reams of data (the haystack).
Last week I attended a webinar about keeping online qualitative respondents engaged by using projective techniques. There is quite a bit of art that goes along with the science of qualitative research, so it seems creativity and qualitative insights naturally fit together. Quantitative methodologies, on the other hand, require rigor to ensure validity and reliability. Proper survey design is imperative when it comes to delivering the correct information, so very early in my career as a researcher, I became familiar with the term GIGO (“Garbage In, Garbage Out”). This means that if the survey is poorly designed, the data output is no good.
As market research professionals, it is our job to know the right way to ask questions in order to get the best data possible, and there are plenty of training courses and seminars teaching researchers the proper structure for creating survey tools. However, today’s consumers are busier and more distracted than ever, and respondent engagement is becoming more of a challenge even for the most seasoned researchers. Even if the survey is designed from a technically correct standpoint, data may still not be optimal if respondents are bored. To get respondents to open up and provide the most valuable information, you want them to be happy and interested. Aside from keeping surveys and question wording simple, another way to improve respondent engagement is by utilizing creative techniques. It’s very possible to get creative with survey design without ruining the integrity of your questionnaire. The key is being able to place yourself in your respondent’s shoes and ask whether or not you would enjoy taking the survey yourself.
Of course, when getting creative with your survey, it’s always important to keep your audience in mind. What works for one target group might not work a tall for another. Here are some of my favorite creative survey techniques:
- Make sure there a variety of question types. Varying between single punch, multi-select, girds, open ends, and ranking exercises will keep respondents from falling into a rhythm of simply repeating the same response process.
- Try utilizing interactive techniques where possible. Instead of a simple rating scale, consider using a sliding scale instead. If you’re asking a ranking a question, try a drag and drop exercise instead of a typed response format. Show a scale or list horizontally instead of vertically where it makes sense.
- Question wording should be conversational whenever possible. This is when knowing the audience becomes especially important, because respondents are more likely to open up if they feel they are interacting with someone like themselves.
- Include interesting and encouraging transitions between different sections of the survey. Adding a phrase such as, “You’re doing great! Just a few more questions to go” helps to personalize the experience for the respondent.
- Projective techniques don’t have to be limited to qualitative research. Open ends add a qualitative element into quantitative surveys, so consider applying qualitative principles to open end questions to get respondents to answer questions in a more thoughtful and engaged manner.
Market research is not the same industry it was 20 years ago, because the consumer world is very different than it was 20 years ago. The approach to quantitative research must evolve to stay connected with the consumer mindset. There are plenty of ways to obtain the correct data without sacrificing reliability and validity. It just takes a little creativity.
The American living room. Not just a gathering place for Netflix groupies, discarded shoes and wayward nacho crumbs. It’s also the center of the universe for an über-competitive, unforgiving consumer technology industry.
Their $64,000 question – maybe their $64 billion question – is what does the living room of the future look like? How does it connect? Entertain? Communicate? How does it merge very human habits and lifestyles with an increasingly intelligent library of devices?
The question is so transforming, and the stakes so high, that even one of the industry’s heaviest hitters was looking for answers. The company was under pressure to launch a new product for the connected living room – FAST. Within six months, in fact.
Problem was, they didn’t have a clear vision for what product to launch.
That’s when Repass got involved. By the time our research project was done, the client had 50 product ideas in hand and three fully-developed product pitches. One product launched before the six month goal, and later a new category of products developed.
The secret was a three stage “insight to innovations” study that was efficient, got maximum impact and provoked rich, meaningful answers. We didn’t have a lot of time to gather and crunch numbers. So we went straight to the source – consumers – with quick and personal qualitative interaction.
If you need to quickly develop a new product, any or all of these three techniques could help.
Online Video Diaries: Gave a snapshot of how people live, their preferences and how they use products. Flexible and low investment of time. National or global reach with easy-to-edit video at the ready. Effective for supporting findings during internal evaluations.
In Home Interviews: Provided a deep understanding of day-to-day home life, with plenty of context. Painted a realistic picture of how people were connecting devices and TVs throughout their home (especially the living room).
Ideation Workshop: For two days, the team used these insights to dig, investigate and experiment. We brainstormed. We prototyped. We tested ideas in the moment. Then we did it again.
And that’s how you get 50 ideas when you need them now.
The techniques alone weren’t the entire story. The process was a quick success because participants:
* Were willing to explore new territory; every avenue was open for a look.
* Used research findings to sell their ideas to leadership.
* Relied on an agile and iterative process, building on ideas and gaining feedback all along the way.
Contact us today for a consulting session and to learn more
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