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YOU WANT TO GO DEEP.
What’s better than spending two hours with a respondent
in a facility? Spending a week or more with them in their
own home. Online tools allow us to engage with
consumers over a longer period of time, on their own
schedule and their own terms.
YOU NEED A LITTLE PRIVACY.
Using online tools and platforms, respondents can take us
into the most personal areas of their lives. What might
feel awkward and weird in person (certain medical
conditions, personal care products, even financial services)
can be accessible and comfortable online.
YOU WANT TO COVER THE COUNTRY/GLOBE.
When’s the last time you had a participant from North
Dakota in your focus group? When we conduct in-person
research in selected markets, too often we end up talking
to the same types of people (hello, suburban Chicago
mom!). Broadening our range enables us to get to critical
audiences who are often overlooked.
1+1 CAN BE>2
Selecting rock-star participants
in an online community for a
Sometimes, the best research design incorporates both online and in-person touchpoints, to
truly engage with consumers in the most insightful ways. Consider the following approaches…
Sending focus group participants home
with a follow-up assignment to use the
client’s product and then upload a
short video about their reaction
Using an online diary to track
behavior before a focus group
or one-on-one interview
DIARIES AND JOURNALS COMMUNITIES & DISCUSSIONS LIVE ACTION
When you want consumers to record a behavior
or experience, once or multiple times
Often employs a smartphone app or mobile
website to capture actions, feelings, or
experiences live and in the moment; can be one
time or repeated over a longer time period.
A snack diary to explore healthy (and not-so-
healthy) snacking behaviors; a mobile shopping
ethnography of the TV purchase process; a digital
patient journey in the diabetes category
When you want to engage a group of consumers
in a discussion about a category, idea, concept or
Shorter (3-5 day) and longer term (weeks or
months) discussion via web platform or app. Use
of a computer with keyboard is sometimes helpful
for typing longer responses and viewing stimuli.
Evaluation of ad concepts for a life insurance
campaign; exploration of wants and needs among
parents in the online education space; ongoing
quarterly touchpoints with IT directors to assess
changing infrastructure needs
When your discussion topic benefits from having a
live connection between moderator and
participant(s), but meeting in person is not
practical or feasible.
With a web-enabled platform that typically allows
moderator and participant to see each other using
a webcam. Discussions can be one-on-one or in a
small group (<6).
Discussion of experiences trying a new weight loss
plan; understanding reactions to a new drug for
Stage IV cancer patients; roundtable among
industry leading architects about software wants
| O N E S T U D Y M A Y U S E E L E M E N T S O F A L L T H R E E |
Respondents use their smartphone,
tablet or PC to record answers in text,
video or photos. Multiple choice
questions are also an option.
Studies can last a few days, a week, or
even longer, and respondents can
participate from home, work, school,
in store, or any other location.
Online communities often run for three days, although shorter and longer discussions make sense for certain projects.
New questions are
posted each day. The
the discussion and
throughout the day.
The respondents log in at least
twice per day, once to answer the
day’s questions and once to
respond to specific probing
questions from the moderator and
posts from fellow participants. CLIENT TEAM
Client team can
observe and send
to the moderator
THE PROCESS REPEATS WITH NEW QUESTIONS ON DAY 2 & 3
Conversations can be one-on-one or in a small group. (Any bigger than five participants and it gets unwieldy, though.)
There are many virtual analogs to the things we would do in person:
We can show
images or video
Respondents can share
their screens for a
virtual usability test
Moderator can chat
with the clients in a
private back room
Webcams are optional
for when privacy is an
issue (most often in
Tech support is always
on hand, and
respondents are always
the start of the research
MY GRANDPA CAN’T DO IT.
This might have been true in the early days of AOL and dial-up connections, but the pervasiveness of technology
now means that any segment can participate in online qualitative research.
I’M GOING TO SAVE A BUNCH OF MONEY.
While there are savings to be realized by not traveling to multiple markets, the research itself is likely to cost about
as much as a comparable in-person study. For example, the cost of an average online community lasting about 3
days with around 16-18 people costs about as much as 2-3 in-person focus groups with 6-8 people each. If you’re
going to choose online qualitative, choose it because it’s the right method not because you want to save money.
YOU CAN’T DO ___ ONLINE.
With the proliferation of online qualitative tools and the explosion of features within those tool sets, there’s very
little you can’t do online these days, and in some cases you can actually do things better online. For example, a
client looking to evaluate concepts can show them online, ask consumers to record a short video of their initial
reaction, and then use digital tools to mark up their likes and dislikes.