Dianne Gardiner Director, Latitude Research Losing Control in Qualitative Research (and why it’s really not so bad)
Today we’re going to talk about giving up control, for the reward of deeper, richer research insights.
Control to exercise restraint or direction over; to hold in check, curb: to eliminate or prevent the flourishing or spread verb: <ul><li>As qualitative researchers, we’re used to being in control. </li></ul><ul><li>We ‘run’ groups and interviews. </li></ul><ul><li>We ask the questions. </li></ul><ul><li>We tell our clients the answers </li></ul>
Everyone’s talking about getting to know the consumer better. If we’re serious about it, we need to recognise how they’re communicating, what they’re saying and give them more of our attention.
The new way in research is a reflection of broader societal changes, especially in the way we communicate.
Our proposition: Giving over control to the consumer makes us better listeners.
“ Ironically it’s by surrendering the illusion of control over others that one really gains power in life”. Geoff Livingston
Social media has transformed our lives & this is just the tip of the iceberg.
625,000,000 62.8% Malaysia 67.4% Singapore 80.6% Australia INTERNET PENETRATION internet users worldwide Source: Internetworldstats.com
The greatest growth comes from the sharing & communication activities. Source: Universal McCann Social Media Tracker, March 2009
USER GENERATED CONTENT opinion blogs review photos video editorial ideas comment audio chat opinion blogs review photos video editorial ideas comment audio chat opinion blogs review photos video editorial ideas comment audio chat opinion blogs review photos video editorial ideas comment audio chat opinion blogs review photos video editorial ideas comment
But not everybody is a ‘Creator’. So, you don’t have to have a lot to say, to still have a say. Source: Forrestor Research, Groundswell content 2008 data Profile of Australian Internet Users 26% 35% 16% 63% 23% 45% Creators Critics Collectors Joiners Spectators Inactives
USER GENERATED CONTENT What does all this mean for research? The big question:
2.0 Is fundamentally about change. From content delivery to content creation and generation. Web
2.0 Is fundamentally about change in market research. From researcher in control, to actively collaborating and co-creating with participants. Research
<ul><li>A seismic shift in our thinking is crucial for the industry to remain relevant. </li></ul>
Current research practice is more structured We know where we’re going and how we are going to get there.
Current research practice is more structured We know where we’re going and how we are going to get there. Web 2.0 is a more fluid approach We have to wait to see what bubbles to the surface.
Research 2.0 is not just about qual going online <ul><li>Online Focus </li></ul><ul><li>Groups </li></ul><ul><li>Similar research behaviours & skills, different environment </li></ul><ul><li>Researcher in control </li></ul><ul><li>Online Bulletin </li></ul><ul><li>Boards </li></ul><ul><li>Deep individual responses to structured questions </li></ul><ul><li>Researcher in control </li></ul><ul><li>Online Research Communities </li></ul><ul><li>Researcher & member generated discussion – known/unknown topics </li></ul><ul><li>Community in control </li></ul>For the first time, market research is being influenced by social media, rather than by research industry practices
<ul><li>“ The researcher of the future will need to master traditional research skills, but they will also need to be able to cede control to customers and respondents, and to work in collaboration with the forces of the marketplace. </li></ul><ul><li>In terms of a sporting metaphor the future will be less like speed boat racing and more like surfing, less like flying a jet and more like flying a glider.” </li></ul><ul><li>Ray Poytner, The Future Place 2006 </li></ul>
Understanding what we gain when we give up control A comparison of methodologies
First, are you thinking… - Won’t I miss out on valuable non-verbal cues? - Will participants stick to the topic? - What happens if I end up with a lot of irrelevant information? - How can I meet my client’s objectives if I’m not in control? - What, if any, extra value do we get out of it? - Is it worth the effort?
In focus Bulletin Boards Online Research Communities
The Study <ul><li>Two sets of participants, using two online qualitative methods: </li></ul><ul><li>Research 1.0 approach – Bulletin Board </li></ul><ul><li>(a ‘traditional’ online qualitative platform) </li></ul><ul><li>Research 2.0 approach – Social networking platform (online community) </li></ul><ul><li>Contrasting the outputs of each approach highlighted what is gained and/or lost in adopting different online qualitative platforms and approaches. </li></ul>
Bulletin Board Platform - Q & A approach - Limited between participant interaction - Participants respond but do not initiate discussion - Mostly text based - Other people’s responses can be hidden until the individual responses - Can stagger questions Overall moderator is in control
Social Network/Online Community Platform <ul><li>- Less structured, more interactive open </li></ul><ul><li>Participants create profiles, avatars, upload content </li></ul><ul><li>Participants choose what to be involved in </li></ul><ul><li>Discussions initiated by moderator (against client objectives) and initiated by participants (spontaneous) </li></ul>Participant is in control
Online Community Features Branded/Customised for the client Look and feel suits the target audience. Creates greater engagement with the brand.
Online Community Features Members Pages: Customised to represent their personality and mood
Online Community Features Forum Discussions: Members and moderators create discussions and reply. Discussions are threaded so members and moderators can comment on each others’ replies
Online Community Features Blogs: Provide members with the opportunity to reveal more about themselves. They can choose to reveal as much or as little as they want – which provides us with more insight into their lives.
We can still recognise you …if you want us to Branded/Customised for the client Look and feel suits the target audience. Creates greater engagement with the brand. How does the anonymity of the internet impact on levels of: - disclosure - group behaviour - engagement The differences between Bulletin Boards and Online Research Communities are significant.
The comparison Research 1.0 Research 2.0 Tool Bulletin Board site Social networking site Foundation Topic based Community based Process Moderator posts questions, waits for responses, probes where necessary Community generated to discuss topic, moderator seeds discussion topics /activities, listens, observes and probes where necessary Topics posted by Moderator Moderator or participants Information controlled by Moderator All Information is Mostly text based Combination of text, photos, images, video, blogs, activities Access Private, password protected, allow only invited participants Private, password protected, allow only invited participants All topics answered Yes No Level of moderator control High Medium - Low
The comparison Research 1.0 Moderator in control Vs Research 2.0 Participant in control
Distinctive Strengths Rich in detail Broad in focus Bulletin Boards Research Communities
Another perspective – 3 way comparison <ul><li>Searching for Consumer Insight in Online Social Media – Communispace 2008 </li></ul>“ While simply posting questions in existing forums and hoping for fast and deep responses proved to be an ineffective use of time and effort, a combination of active listening in small, focused communities coupled with passive mining of a larger data set can provide marketers the opportunity to gain a holistic understanding of their customers and to track emerging and receding trends.” Source: Communispace Approach Engagement Platform Key findings Public communities & Forums Active E.g. Myspace, Tripadvisor Low volume and speed of responses Web mining Passive BuzzMetrics Very high volume of brand insights and data Private online community Active Communispace managed High volume of focused and rich insights
Case Study: National Comprehensive Cancer Network How do you decide where to get treated? Research Question Starting hypothesis: Choice of treatment centre is based on reputation. Therefore public recognition of a centre’s expertise is important. Community Insight Recommendation from primary care physician Search the internet for information Best hospital rankings don’t mean much when you have to wait hours Source: Communispace
Case Study: National Comprehensive Cancer Network <ul><li>By really listening to its patient’s conversations NCCN learnt: </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on communicating with doctors, not ‘public’ recognition </li></ul><ul><li>Cancer centres must have an internet strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Patient experience defines perception of the ‘brand, not just its leadership/expertise </li></ul><ul><li>As researchers, we discover that: </li></ul><ul><li>By letting the community direct and initiate their own discussions greater insights were generated than if a structure set of topics was followed </li></ul><ul><li>For this community, there was added value in the social engagement between cancer patients who felt they had a peer group to talk to </li></ul>Source: Communispace
Continuous access to the customer Ongoing, long term relationships between the company and its customers Rather than answers to specific project based questions
Online Research Communities Create, manage, converse
90% of the hard work is out of sight. Creating a community is complex, requires careful consideration and a willingness to ‘let go’ once it gets going.
Key components Platform Creation Members Moderation Management Analysis
Key components Platform Creation Members Moderation Management Analysis <ul><li>Branding </li></ul><ul><li>Look & feel </li></ul><ul><li>Features </li></ul><ul><li>Access levels </li></ul><ul><li>Community Name </li></ul><ul><li>URL </li></ul>The community is going to be a reflection of your client’s brand. What type of brand experience do you want to create?
Key components Platform Creation Members Moderation Management Analysis <ul><li>Sample size </li></ul><ul><li>Profile </li></ul><ul><li>Recruitment </li></ul><ul><li>Incentives </li></ul><ul><li>Requirements </li></ul>The principles of participant selection are unchanged – it’s critical to make sure we’re talking to the right people
Key components Platform Creation Members Moderation Management Analysis <ul><li>Manage engagement </li></ul><ul><li>Observe, listen, interact </li></ul><ul><li>Involvement </li></ul><ul><li>Topics of conversation </li></ul><ul><li>Manage client </li></ul>Moderators have a far greater task, yet a less obvious ‘role’. Nurturing a community to reach its potential should be your objective.
Key components Platform Creation Members Moderation Management Analysis <ul><li>Building the ‘community’ </li></ul><ul><li>Member engagement </li></ul><ul><li>Reward management </li></ul><ul><li>Client engagement </li></ul><ul><li>24/7 monitoring </li></ul>Managing a community is complex and labour intensive. It needs to be attended to on a variety of levels for weeks, if not months.
Key components Platform Creation Members Moderation Management Analysis <ul><li>Amount of information </li></ul><ul><li>Context </li></ul><ul><li>Reporting </li></ul><ul><li>Timing </li></ul>Managing the volume of information is a challenge. Knowing how to ‘read’ the community’s behaviour & mood is crucial.
More on moderating Online qualitative requires a shift in thinking
It’s not a direct transfer of skills Qualitative researcher Community Manager Online Qualitative Research Community Moderator (try fitting that on your business card)
Redefining the skill set <ul><li>Creating conversations </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Listening’ </li></ul><ul><li>Deeper involvement </li></ul><ul><li>Transparency </li></ul><ul><li>Trust </li></ul><ul><li>Relationships (with clients and members) </li></ul><ul><li>Adapting (fast!) </li></ul>
Deeper! Faster! More! What do our clients get out of it?
The research objectives The broader context Understand what’s important to consumers Answer research objectives & much much more Context Rich Insights
How much more? The ‘stats’ from one of our communities (FMCG). Over three months (or 12 weeks), 100 people engaged in: forum discussions: discussions generated by our researchers discussions generated by members blog posts (within the community) Plus, 90 photos & 17 videos. 145 56 89 198
"I love the forum and all the different points of view. The only disappointment I have is that I just don't have the time to read through all the wonderful information posted by all the members on all the different topics :D. But it just goes to show you what can be accomplished in the area of market research in this day an age. When you provide a safe and encouraging environment for people to have their say, without fear of reprisal or ridicule and not have their opinions forced or swayed by money, it can be clearly seen here that most of the information discussed on [the community] just couldn’t be bought with money. I applaud you for trialing this new style of market research, and hope that other research companies look at what you have done as a shining example of a new and innovative path of getting real information for your clients." Community Member, August 2009
An exercise The brief: Your client is a confectionary manufacturer who has a innovation as its primary business objective. We’ve set up a online research community for them. What activities / tasks are we going to engage our members in?
Multi-country studies What are the learnings so far
Multi-country communities Source: Poynter, Cierpicki, Cape, Lewis, Vieira: What does research 2.0 mean to consumers in Asia Pacific Design needs to permit local teams to provide different level of engagement
Source: Communispace, Breakthrough without Borders Different strokes for different folks
Source: Communispace, Breakthrough without Borders
A certain future Maintaining leadership as qualitative researchers
“ One-quarter of Fortune 100 companies will launch online customer communities to reach higher levels of engagement with customers and prospects. This trend could mean money spent on traditional qualitative research will be shifted to budgets for online research.” Forrester issues market research predictions for 2008 January 4, 2008
Client managed communities <ul><li>Our challenge: </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstrating the value in researcher-managed communities and how they are different from clients doing their own information gathering through social media </li></ul>
Conversation versus Observation Private Research Communities Brand Blogs (Company managed content) Brand Pages (Facebook, Myspace, etc) Web talk (x-platform, x-community, anytime, any topic, etc) Conversation Observation Smart companies use a range of methods for understanding the voice of the customer. Online research communities are about purposeful two-way conversations, rather than listening without engaging in conversation. Brand Communities (Public ‘communities’) Volume Depth
Information on your brand is not the same as insights. The role of the research is defined by the value of the insights we deliver from our conversations with customers.
The client’s perspective <ul><li>This is probably new for them </li></ul><ul><li>Fear factor – what if they get stuck on the negatives </li></ul><ul><li>How do I know I’ll get my answers </li></ul><ul><li>That’s not on my topic list. </li></ul><ul><li>Client involvement is critical to success. </li></ul>
And importantly member's perspective “ This is a brilliant way to instantly give feedback to the client…The alternative is to wait days/weeks/months and receive a pile of cold statistics gathered from a multitude of invisible respondents…It's better to 'know' the person supplying the answers and it is easier to gauge whether or not their responses are genuine.” “ Thank you for giving the consumer a voice & listening to our opinions.” “ Focus group discussions usually only last an hour or two and are always dominated by a select few members. The online aspect allows people to really think and reflect upon their answers, so quality information is being gathered.” “ Thank you for giving us the opportunity to contribute to the decision making. I think a forum such as this, is very progressive, and helps ensure positive feedback from consumers and loyalty.” “ It's the interest that you (client) and your company have shown towards us, the customers, and our opinions that makes all the difference. So many (companies) just don't seem to give a hoot about anyone and it's uplifting to read how much our views and opinions mean to you.” “ It's not often that the "Suits" become involved with the "Plebs". Thanks for taking the time to make us all feel welcome.”
Explorer Inventor Creator Thinker Qualitative Researcher The process of discovery about giving up some control in order to find out something new.
Let Go. Discover. <ul><li>Control the fundamentals </li></ul><ul><li>Initiate discussions </li></ul><ul><li>Let conversations take their course </li></ul>
Thank you for listening Let’s talk….questions?