If you’re a "Seinfeld" zealot like many of us at Accelerant, you know that today, December 23rd, is Frank Costanza’s annual made up holiday of Festivus. Since the year is winding down, we thought it would be fun to put our own market research spin on each of the three famous Festivus traditions...
1. THE FESTIVUS POLE (OR POLL)
So, we checked the crawlspace at Accelerant’s Charlotte, North Carolina Focus Group Facility headquarters, and it seems as though we’ve misplaced our Festivus Pole. However, we’re researchers, so we decided to conduct a ‘Festivus Poll’ instead. Here are the results from our Holiday Movie Net Promoter Score Survey:
2. THE AIRING OF GRIEVANCES
I GOT A LOT OF PROBLEMS WITH YOU SURVEY BOTS, AND NOW YOU’RE GONNA HEAR ABOUT IT!!! At Accelerant, we’re sticklers for data quality, and we’ve written several articles that that do a good job of airing our research quality grievances and offering up some tips on how to control for them, including:
A heartfelt Happy Holidays to all of our clients, partners, and colleagues from the team at Accelerant Research! We look forward to doing great things with you in 2022.
When it comes to qualitative research recruiting, sweating the details is of paramount importance. That’s our takeaway as we look back on the wide variety of participants recruited by our team in 2021. Spanning B2C, B2B, and a wide variety of niche target populations, we are proud to tout a 99% show rate across all studies in 2021. What this means to our clients is that almost everyone we recruited showed up as scheduled.
And it is sweating the details that has helped us achieve this level of quality. What goes into our success is:
Most consumers consider themselves pretty rational. It follows they also feel that they make their product and service choices accordingly. Ask them why they chose Product A over Product B, and most will offer a fairly rational answer. But these tangible reasons are only part of the story; underlying preferences, personal values, and emotive factors often contribute to consumer decisions as well.
While the goal of qualitative research is always to understand the customer better, what happens when a consumer doesn’t have a full grasp of their below surface motivators or, is aware but has difficulty articulating them? In cases like these, it’s worth taking a page from the playbooks of clinical psychologists and psychoanalysts everywhere. Projective techniques, paired with traditional discussion, can be an invaluable tool for peeling back layers and getting at deeper, and sometimes seemingly less rational, motivators for behavior.
Accelerant Research has a full-time staff of moderators with extensive experience in moderating and analyzing qualitative data across a wide range of topics, audiences, and qualitative research methodologies. This series will introduce some of our moderator team’s favorite projective exercises, along with situations in which we’ve used them successfully. So, read on for some ideas that might add a couple of fresh techniques into your qualitative toolboxes. (We promise, no inkblots).
Dear John: It’s Not Me, It’s You
Lost customers are a frequent recruit target for high impact insights, including former customers who have gone on to do business with another brand or prospects who decided to go with a competitive product. When asked directly about their reasons, initial responses tend to be fairly high level: Better service, better price, I just like Product Z better. Any skilled moderator will dig into these responses for deeper context, but a projective exercise adds some real value and helps make the terrain here a little easier on the shovel.
For lost consumers in particular, asking the participant to write a one-page “Dear John” break-up letter addressed to “Brand Y,” as if the brand were a person, outlining reasons things didn’t work out, can add real value. The task is fun and therefore easy to pay attention to; role-playing can loosen up respondents and get their creative juices flowing. Who among us hasn’t fantasized about writing such a letter when a company fails us, let alone ensuring that someone is actually going to read it? Not getting asked why you’re going somewhere else makes it feel like you’re undervalued.
The “Dear John” assignment itself is specifically designed to help consumers tap into their emotive sides as they frame their letters. No one wants to admit they broke up with someone simply because the price was off, even if that someone is a fictional personification. When participants imagine the brand as a person, they are encouraged to explore underlying personal motivations, beliefs, values, and attitudes toward that person; things that they may not be consciously aware of until they try to articulate them on the page.
Having an outline on paper not only creates an excellent exhibit for later analysis and a rich source of verbatims, but also serves as a spring-board stimulus during active discussions. Once the group’s collective big takeaways are shared, moderators can pose the question “What else is in your letter?” It’s a great way to get quieter participants to open up to the group; they don’t need to think of something new on the fly, it's all right there on the page for their reference.
If the exercise is assigned as pre-session homework, there’s upfront value as well. Reading through these responses prior to a focus group will give you a sense of topics any given participant will bring up, how strongly they feel, and how much they have to say. It can aid in the final decision when choosing which of your over-recruits in the waiting room you should pay and send and which you should invite in front of the mirror for the richest, most productive discussion.
We invite you to reach out to us for more information about conducting qualitative research. Simply give us a call (704-206-8500) or send us an email (email@example.com). With our support and guidance in participant recruiting, technology/logistics management, and even moderating/full-service support, Accelerant Research can provide you with successful and impactful insights.
We’ve all been there; you’ve got a topic that, as a researcher, you find nuanced and fascinating or one that your client teams wax eloquent about for hours. Everyone is looking forward to getting lots of juicy detail about this topic your focus groups, but consumers find it, well, not necessarily riveting. Or the subject is so complex that participants just don’t know where to start breaking it down so they can effectively frame their answers. While a quality recruiter will screen to make sure your participants are articulate and have something meaningful to say on the issue at hand, initial answers can still skim along the surface or consist of overly simplified high-level summaries. The situation is not uncommon for qualitative and even the best of moderators has been there.
One area of research this seems to crop up on is journey mapping. Journeys can be complicated affairs having lots of steps, so it’s easier for consumers to gloss over the agonizing details (buying a car). They can be journeys taken out of necessity rather than personal interest (resolving a customer service issue). And there are journeys that some consumers just don’t find particularly thrilling (insurance shopping anyone?).
Time to plan for a good projective exercise; one designed to help organize the process, encourage focus on the below surface motivators for each step taken, and recast the routine in a more action-oriented framework that helps consumers be as engaged on the topic as you are. A role-playing exercise that tasks customers with stepping back and narrating their journeys as observers may be a good solution. Start by asking customers to think about the steps they took during the journey and write each on a post-it note, trying to leave nothing out. Coach them to make sure the narrative is complete and has a continuous flow. Then, have them arrange their notes in sequence on a sheet of blank paper with their name written across the top.
Once participants have completed this task, ask them to imagine themselves are the director of a blockbuster film, a film whose plot is the journey they just mapped out, and they are now providing commentary on the DVD release. Encourage them to work through the steps as scenes, what the goal of each ‘scene’ was, highlight the victory or defeat in each scene, and describe the purpose of the scene in the overall film. Then ask for a few volunteers to give a sample narration of their films before continuing discussion.
The technique can be particularly useful for qualitative that includes journey mapping discussions where answers are routine or overly simplified; the nature of the exercise focuses on reframing events in terms of action and encourages participants to dig a little deeper for their motivations in each “scene,” even if it’s something they report, on a rational level, they did just because that’s the way they did it. If you’ve got a group who is giving surface-level summary answers in a lower involvement category, this is a chance to drive into the detail. If you’ve got a low energy group on your hands, this is a nice opportunity to stack the deck in your favor by calling on one of your livelier participants to start.
Once a couple of narrations have been given, there are several different in-room follow-ups you can use. You can follow up by asking if anyone had any scenes not yet discussed that are part of their own films, heard, any scenes they wish they had included in their own films, or if there were any scene motivators shared by others with which they also felt a personal connection. Participants can ‘grade’ themselves on their journeys as if they were film critics (How many Rotten Tomatoes, Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down) and volunteer where they feel their movies fell short, or why it was Oscar-worthy. The projective assessment exercise lends itself to a group discussion of what information, tools, products or other resources would have been helpful to the heroes of their films.
In terms of interventions, the exercise has some practical elements as well since it introduces a natural break for the moderator to visit the back room and check-in with the extended research team. The moderator can step away while participants are mapping out their film sequences, or toward the end of the session, after tasking participants with creating an “ideal” process as a group, deciding collectively which steps are worth taking, writing these on fresh post-its, and coming to a team consensus on what sequence they belong on the whiteboard.
For complicated or less recent journeys, ones that might require some heavy back-thinking, the mapping portion of the exercise can be conducted before the groups and submitted in written form, then brought into the group for discussion. If there’s a lag between when participants arrive at the facility and when the group begins, handing the initial mapping portion of the assignment out as an exercise to work in the waiting room following completion of check-in documentation saves some in-room time, as part of the heavy lifting is now done.
We invite you to reach out to us for more information about conducting qualitative research. Give us a call (704-206-8500) or send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). With our support and guidance in participant recruiting, technology/logistics management, and even moderating/full-service support, Accelerant Research can provide you with similarly successful and impactful insights.