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Qualitative research at a Crossroads: where to next?

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Qualitative research at a Crossroads: where to next?

  1. 1. Qualitative research at a crossroads: where to now? Clients’ views of qualitative research methods Prepared for the AQR/QRCA Conference, Rome, 2012 by Kevin McLean, Wardle McLean, UK
  2. 2. View from the hilltop  Imagine standing on a hill overlooking  the valley / the woods  the vast plain  the hills and mountain range
  3. 3. Which way to go?  Valley = face-to-face  Forest = observational  Plain = online, neuro  Hills = analytical frameworks eg semiotics, BE
  4. 4. Crossroads  ‘Marketing at a crossroads’  Keith Weed, CMO Unilever, 2012  we need to think more about how we get back to serving consumers  ‘Capitalism at the crossroads’  Umair Haque (2011), HBR  learn to create authentic, lasting value for (people), ‘shared value’
  5. 5. Crossroads
  6. 6. Interviews  26 client interviews in 6 countries  by phone and face-to-face  taking BRIC markets into account – network of local researchers in – France, UK, China, Australia, Brazil, USA
  7. 7. Credits Researchers  Thierry Tricard, Gatard Research, France  Simon Barker, Firefly Millward Brown, Beijing, China  Qing Wang and Sharon Zhou, The Behavioural Architects, Shanghai, China  Cristiano Schenardi and Maria Helena Rodrigues, Kyra, Brazil  Thais Senger, Insight Evolution, Florida, USA  David Tunnicliffe, Storyville, Australia  Ilana Bryant, Special Forces NY, USA
  8. 8. Clients  P&G  eBay  Diageo  Coca-Cola  Kraft Foods Agencies  McDonald’s  Molson Coors  BBDO  Ogilvy  Kimberly-Clark  Publicis  Schick Energiser  JWT  AB InBev  Westpac  PepsiCo  Ferrero  Gillette
  9. 9. Objectives  What do clients say about qualitative research methods?  How are the various methods characterised by them?  What do clients want from qualitative research nowadays and is this changing/evolving?
  10. 10. A word from our sponsors Do clients care passionately about qualitative research methods? It’s not about method, it’s about solution and result! (China) I don’t give a (damn) about methods, I just need to know what to do (UK)
  11. 11. Another caveat  OF COURSE …  methods reflect business and research objectives  WHAT is done matters less that HOW it is done
  12. 12. Methods madness Face-to-face Telephone Online User-generated Online groups Self-completion tasks groups interviews Written diaries depths groups Bulletin boards Video diaries workshops Social media MROCs Observational Psychological Neurological Analytical Pure observation Trance interviews Eye-tracking Semiotics Participant Implicit association EEG NLP observation assessment BE
  13. 13. Summary  More demands on process  faster, cheaper, better, newer, more relevant, insightful  NOT a case of, out with the old, in with the new  Trends towards:  online/use of technology  behavioural focus (observation, user-generated)  other forms of face-to-face than FGDs eg workshops, direct interaction clients/consumers
  14. 14. ‘Focus groups’ criticised, shock  Recent examples  Diageo: ‘say no to focus groups’  Linked In Consumer Insights Group: ‘have classical group methodologies had their shelf life?’  Technical clarification, ‘FGDs’
  15. 15. ‘Focus groups’ to date US military origins ESOMAR data (2007) vs conference platforms
  16. 16. Our survey said …  ‘Focus groups’ do still have a key role  some advantages over other methods  more support in China and Brazil  Awareness of shortcomings / reputation  compensate by adding other methods  Evidence of declining share  to other face-to-face methods  to ethnography and online
  17. 17. Our survey said … FGD +ves FGD -ves Efficient Superficial Consumer Reported behaviour experience (not actual) Listen in Distancing International Boring Debate the issues Vested interests Entertaining Not cool. Not even close
  18. 18. The case for … with (groups) are what the market is comfortable cient and is asking for … (groups) are the most effi hina) e ba sic ideas of consumers (C method to understand th Focus Groups are still the standard reference in qualitative studies. (I) believe (they) can be improved to guarantee dynamism ... (but) nothing replaces a good focus group (Brazil) there is still tremendous va lue from having conversati with customers … which is ons analysed (UK)
  19. 19. The case against … Very uneven … superficial … stale … boring … nothing has changed … posturing … false (Australia) We are moving away from focus groups, it’s been the number 1 over-used methodology for years now (USA) (Focus groups) justify more than they invent, they reduce analysis into Powerpoint quotes and they (give the impression that) anyone can do it (France)
  20. 20. Conflict at the heart of the method? Colliding client/consumer agendas
  21. 21. The rise and rise of digital  Increase in online methods  from online FGDs to social media analysis  newer, can be faster and cheaper  great reach, capacity will only develop more things are definitely moving digitally (France)  And yet:  jury still out for some, uncertainty  partial data set; not fully trusted, how deep, how reliable?
  22. 22. eople are still terpret (‘ traditional’) qual …. but p Everyone knows how to in hodologies, learning how to use them, igital met becoming familiar with d e (Brazil) is import ant to have experts to hir how to assess them, so it The most recent th ing is neuroscience years now, and up , but I’ve been hea until today, nobod ring about it for 7 y uses it confidentl y (Brazil)
  23. 23. Behavioural focus  Technology, zeitgeist … clients return to behavioural focus It’s even more important than ever to try to live in the consumer’s shoes (USA) We observe more and ask less, these days (UK)  Behaviour more central  video ethnography, mobile phone diaries, immersion studies, pre-tasks
  24. 24. Behavioural challenges  ‘Ethno-lite’  but how lite?  definitions  standards  training  Interpretation is key e output was I’ve done ethnograp hy, webnography and th l stuff (Brazil) d anything to the traditiona not so good, it didn’t ad
  25. 25. Roles of qualitative researchers  The method used will be determined by the project, the project is conditioned by how research is framed:  so, what do clients want from qualitative research  … and qualitative researchers?
  26. 26. artist jester consultant geek scientist genius scholar detective teacher listener therapist curious observer storyteller guru ideas person mediator
  27. 27. consultant ideas person listener curious storyteller observer detective geek guru therapist
  28. 28. Sum up in a single word  Multifaceted  Critical dimensions:  inside vs outside  ideas vs information  specialist vs generalist  speed vs depth  pictures vs words  Role has expanded, emphasis shifted … … but at its heart remains the same
  29. 29. I’ll tell you what I want ‘wide-eyed’ and curious but business savvy (with) a strong pull towards those who can speak the internal language the researcher role should move from 'mediator' to a mix of 'observer’, ‘story-teller’ and ‘business consultant'. I have great faith in qual done … in a human-centric and creative way the qual researcher is largely a follower, I wish them to be more of consultant …(less) carrying out what is assigned to them (but) brave enough to be forward and strategic thinking
  30. 30. The heart of the matter the heart of it is respondents being listened to; being listened to is happening less and less … and this is true for our clients as well if we abandon the tried and trusted ways, we impoverish the quality of our insight, not grow it the fundamentals have not changed, we still need to know why people do what they do. The basic skill is (still) about wondering why.
  31. 31. A shift from … client consumer QR ideas information
  32. 32. A shift to … client consumer QR ideas information results INSIGHT experience
  33. 33. Where to now?  Explore  Examine  Expertise
  34. 34. Onwards and upwards  Explore  the newer methods and techniques  add to and fit with our core skills  used appropriately and well  expand F2F beyond FGD
  35. 35. Do wonder  Examine ‘Perhaps it is strange to speak of wonder as a method. But if we understand method as methodos, as path or way, then we may consider wonder an important motive in human science inquiry. The "way" to knowledge and understanding begins in wonder. From this moment of wonder, a question may emerge that addresses us and that is addressed by us. It should animate one's questioning of the meaning of some aspect of lived experience.’ (Dr Max Van Manen, Phenomenologist)
  36. 36. Expertise
  37. 37. Just do it well  Expertise  face-to-face/observation: ‘whole person’ methods  how to reclaim/hold our ground? ‘A good conversation is one in which you say what you have never said before … Conversation … doesn’t just exchange facts but transforms them … doesn't just reshuffle the cards, it creates new cards.’ (Theodore Zeldin)  fundamental inquiry values o curiosity, respect, imagination, courage
  38. 38. Which way …? Any way we please, starting in the Valley

Editor's Notes

  • Marketing Capitalism Crossroads, the UK's first full-length daily soap, wasn't much liked by many critics, but the show reached up to 18 million viewers at its peak and became an award winning daytime serial. In fact, Britain's most successful daytime programmes, ever!
  • Diageo details Linked In details
  • Early use of focus groups: 1941 Paul Lazarfeld and Robert Merton, at Columbia University, employed the method to examine the impact of media on people’s attitudes towards the involvement of the United States in World War II (Merton & Kendall 1946) Lazarfeld and Merton invited groups of individuals to listen and respond to radio programmes designed to boost morale for the war effort (Merton 1987). ESOMAR (2007): groups and depths = 77% of all qualitative research commissioned (check ref) … … but nearly all conference papers on qualitative research focus on ‘newer’ methods So are groups and depths becoming the past and newer methods the future of our industry … … or is the ‘new dawn’ more hype than reality?
  • At the most basic level the phenomenological reduction consists of the attitude or mood of wonder. In his Preface to the Phenomenology of Perception Merleau-Ponty suggests that "the nest formulation of the reduction is probably that given by Eugen Fink, Husserl's assistant, when he spoke of 'wonder' in the face of the world." What does this mean? It implies an approach that can shatter the taken-for-gratedness of our everyday reality. Wonder is the unwilled willingness to meet what is utterly strange in what is most familiar. It is the willingness to step back and let things speak to us, a passive receptivity to let the things of the world present themselves in their own terms. When we are struck with wonder, our minds are suddenly cleared of the clutter of everyday concerns that otherwise constantly occupy us. We are confronted by the thing, the phenomenon in all of its strangeness and uniqueness. The wonder of that thing takes us in, and renders us momentarily speechless as when the mouth hangs open while being taken in by the wonder of something. My first thought is never my best thought. My first thought is always someone else’s … always the conventional wisdom. It's only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea … by giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take my by surprise. (William Deresiewicz, former Professor of English at Yale)
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