eConceptlab.com Marketing Internet au service de la recherche qualitative

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The biggest threat to the validity of an answer is the question. Avoiding or reducing the number of questions is a good way to enhance the validity of consumer research. This technique is perfectly in line with the fundamentals of qualitative interview techniques: Don’t ask leading questions.

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eConceptlab.com Marketing Internet au service de la recherche qualitative

  1. 1. Connecting Statements: Getting Answers without Asking Questions-Dr.Dirk Lorré and Benoit Gaillard.The biggest threat to the validity of an answer is the question. Avoiding or reducing thenumber of questions is a good way to enhance the validity of consumer research. Thistechnique is perfectly in line with the fundamentals of qualitative interview techniques:Don’t ask leading questions.What are leading questions?Let’s start with the 5W questions:Who, What, Where, Whenand Why. Although an efficientmethod to structure research data, these are not the most appropriate questions to askdirectly to consumers. Especially the “Why” question it is an open invitation to consumersto lie. Typically, human beings are not the best at consciously explaining their ownbehaviour. When you ask “Why?” you ask people to justify their own behaviour. Mostrespondents are prone then to give you the most socially acceptable answer.This is therationale behind qualitative interviewing 101: Never ask why.The Whyquestion leads people towards social desirability. When you combine it with thatother popular research question: “Do you like it?” it further encourages a “please lie tome”type of answer.Think about it,consumers are not stupid. If you ask the question, “Do youlike it?” they know the next question will be “Why?”.Examine the psychologicalmechanismat play here: first you ask someone to position him/herself (Do you like it?) andthen to justify that position (Why?). Because people tend to like what they know and what isalready accepted in society, they find it easy to justify and explain it. And the result of thisway of questioning for our industry is dramatic: we kill beautiful ideas before they are born.“Do you like it? Why?”– The brutal and effective innovation killer!So how can you avoid a situation like this? In our research we use another type ofquestioning methodology that focuses on relevance rather than preference. We engage inand apply a different type of stimuli: The Connecting Statements.Working with RelevanceInstead of asking questions like “Do you like it?” and “Why?”, we run group discussions usingquestions such as“Is this interesting?” We are asking for relevance. There are many variantsyou can use to probe interest: “Is this about you?”, “Would you like to know more aboutit?”, and so on. What level of differentiation does this offer from the “Do you like it”question?Try this experimentwith your friends. Ask some of them “Do you like China?” and ask theothers “Do you find China interesting?”. If you want to have the full list of stereotypes(negative or positive) about China just start with “Do you like China?”. On the other hand, ifyou want to see how China triggers a mixture of curiosity and fearwith a lot of people, trythe interest question.A group discussion run on relevance tends to have different social dynamics. People are lesstempted to judge, and instead seek to explore more. What is important is not the “yes” or“no” of the answer, but the body language and the ease withwhich they can comment onthe stimulus and relate it to their own life.
  2. 2. The beauty of the Internet is that you do not need to ask “Are you interested?”. A simpleclick is the consumer behaviour expressing initial interest. This feature of the Internetcan beused to research and select connecting statements; we will explain this in more detail later.Working with Connecting StatementsIn addition to a leading question the way we present the object of our research can beleading as well. Let’s take an example of financial planning. We may ask the question, “Doyou undertake financial planning?” The fact that we isolated and“decontextualised” theobject, i.e.“financial planning”, makes the question even more leading. Various respondentswill have different conceptions of “financial planning” and the answers will reflect thisdiversity of views. But most of them will think, “Financial planning” sounds like somethingserious; I better answer: “Yes, I do indulge in it”. The problem here is that “financialplanning” is a concept in the mindof a banker, not necessarily common in the mind of theclient. To research it, we have to find out how financial planning is conceptualized in aconsumer’s mind. Aconcept exists in the mind of the beholder. In our questioning, we leadconsumers to our own concept of the world around us and are blinded by our owninterpretation.To get over this, we need a 2-way communication process that will help create mutualunderstanding. So we need to talk to the banker first.We will ask the banker not to explain how he sees financial planning but how he thinks hecan interest his customer. This may seem like a difficult exercise, but it can be very beneficialfor the banker. If he thinks there is a need for financial planning, if he has customer insights,it should be possible to trigger that insight by stating a simple sentence conveying an idea.This is a connecting statement: the most simple sentence that triggers the interest for whatyou are selling in the mind of the consumer. This is the concept pick up line!So we invite the banker, our client, for a brainstorm about:“How do you make someone consider a financial planning service?” Maybe we have to refer to the stock market going down (and your savings evaporating) Maybe we have to dwell on the idea of outliving your savings Maybe we have to consider the cost of retirement Maybe we have to refer to the number, the sum of assets, people think they need to feel secure in the future May be….Using Connecting Statements in Google AdsThe result of this brainstorm is a set of connecting statements we present to our targetcustomers in a group discussion with the simple question: “Is this interesting to you?”This is a proven way to avoid asking leading questions weprovide all types of possibleanswers and we check which one connects best with our target audience.The same way that you use connecting statements in a group discussion, youcan also usethem effectively in Google ads. To determine who will see the ads, we select a set of
  3. 3. keywords related to our field of research: financial planning, retirement, saving money,investing, etc.Fig. 1: shows how an ad might look to a surfer…Table 1: Shortened list of connecting statements, their CTR, and number of impressionsConnector Connector CRT Imprs How much do you need to live comfortablyWhat is your number? the rest of your life? 1,40% 45353 How much do you need to live comfortablyCalculate your number the rest of your life? 1,02% 2741 Does it impact your plans? Learn about yourStock market is down Number 0,89% 27863 Is money enough to stop working? DownshiftPlanning retirement for better lifestyle 0,74% 945How much is my net Calculate your Number to safely plan the restworth? of your life 0,57% 7740Do you expect Family is always here to support. Plan theinheritance? rest of your life 0,56% 6473 Planning retirement beyond money? TimeDownshift for better life for you? Time to do what? 0,55% 542How much is my net I count my friends, not my money. Plan forworth? the rest of your life 0,53% 1522
  4. 4. Calculate how much you need to liveHow much is rich? comfortably the rest of your life 0,50% 801 Who will take care of you if you have to takeCost of elderly care? care of your parents? 0,48% 2078 You may grow older than you expect to live.Outlive your savings? Plan the rest of your life. 0,47% 6114 Planning retirement is all about me. HowMe, me, me ... much do you need for the rest of your life? 0,33% 600 I know I will have to take care of my parents.Cost of elderly care? Plan the rest of your life 0,27% 1130Can money buy Beyond financial planning. What do you needhappiness? for the rest of your life? 0,26% 387 Lifestyle defines life expectancy. Learn aboutOutlive your savings? your Number 0,24% 1667In this case the connecting statement about the number seems to get maximuminterestfrom surfers. In the case of connecting statements as Google ads, we get answers withouthaving to ask questions.The click through rate (CTR) is a very valid vote with afinger clickingthe ad.Whether it is a group discussion or ads on the Internet, the principle is the same: createmany possible answers in order to avoid asking leading questions. The difference is that wecan switch from the laboratory setup (the group discussion) to an in vivo, in system type ofexperiment online.Making Connections that Go Beyond Mere Concepts to Create Meaningful DialogBut finding connections with customers is not an end in itself. With the information aboutthe interest generated by the different connecting statements we go back to the client torethink, to hypothesize, to make the connecting statements more relevant, and to create fullconcepts based on them.At the end of this iterative process there is a lot of insightcreated; not on paper, but in themindof the client. We can use these insights to create full connecting concepts. What weaim to do is to help clients understand their customer, and help consumers to betterunderstand the concepts that they are being offered.In everyday life situations, we call this a dialog: the best way to get answers withoutquestions. And creating a dialog between marketer and consumer is what marketingresearch is all about. That is when communication becomes effective, useful and generatesresults.

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