EmergeSmarter Blog

Online Projectives: It Could Be Anything!

Posted on Tue, Dec 20, 2011

By Shaili Bhatt, Senior Analyst

Projective questions from in-person interviewing flow smoothly into online qualitative activities! Nancy Hardwick gave a wonderful presentation on projectives at the 2011 QRCA Conference in Las Vegas, and here we explore how these activities work well online.

Most, if not all, of my favorite projective activities in new qualitative research are derived from traditional qualitative research methods.

Online discussions or communities feature an extended interviewing phase (multiple days, weeks or months beyond traditional 2-hour focus groups), which essentially provides researchers with a welcome abundance of time to harvest and probe an always-impressive incoming flow of information. How can researchers effectively utilize this time to engage online participants and immerse them in the topic at hand?

For the time being, quick “top-of-mind” free association exercises are just as important as creative projective questions, requiring online participants to reflect for a few moments (or days!) to capture a particular feeling or experience in a thoughtful post or activity page.

Written exercises like storytelling and other creative activities like collages, when used at opportune times, can be the key ingredients to insightful and interesting new qualitative research. No stimuli are required, and natural dialogue helps to tie it all together.Nancy Hardwick of Hardwick Research presented, “Projectives in Practice,” a detailed compilation of projective techniques at the 2011 QRCA Annual Conference, which was held at the luxurious Venetian & Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas.

2011 QRCA Conference, Projectives in PracticeHardwick encouraged the audience to interact and build upon the listed activities during her in-depth, power-packed presentation. While the focus of the presentation highlighted “what works” with in-person interviewing, the ideas and energy in the room quickly catapulted this to a presentation that refreshed my perspective and sparked the most NewQual inspiration in my notebook.

(As you may know, projective techniques are subjective questions that researchers use to elicit the underlying emotions or subconscious drivers that influence choice, as an alternative or complement to asking direct questions. Many of these techniques originally stem from projective personality tests in Psychology, which were designed for people to respond to fairly nebulous, ever-inconclusive stimuli, presumably uncovering hidden emotions and internal conflicts in the process.)

Throughout the presentation, Hardwick included a steady stream of projective techniques, resulting in a compilation of audience favorites in several important categories:

  • Written Exercises
  • Photo/Drawing Exercises
  • Sorting Exercises

The variety of projectives serve as a reminder for how many of these time-tested exercises can be incorporated into online research.

Written exercises transition smoothly into the online world.

A few of my favorite activities are as follows (sans embellishments):

  • Famous Owners—Pick a favorite/popular celebrity, and describe 1-2 thoughts about who they are. Then, ask what this celebrity’s version of (insert client’s product/service) would be like? What would it look like? How it would perform, and why? Note: This is a great technique for exploring an existing client’s products or services as well as innovation and co-creation.
  • Storytelling: Describe a specific experience from the last time that you…(insert scenario). What Did You Think? Say? Feel?Storytelling Say Think Feel 540x145
  • Tribute/Eulogy—Pretend that (insert product/service) no longer exists. What did it accomplish? What will you miss most about it? Describe all that you feel and want to say about the product, even if you are viewing it in a new light. Note: variations on the theme, such as a “Lifetime Achievement Award” can be more attractive for certain products/services, particularly category leaders.
  • Picture Your World—Pick a picture/color that represents how you feel about (insert product/service). How does this picture/color represent how they feel, and why?

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

Very often, writing a discussion guide for online research is about applying techniques that are already available and crafting projective activities to capture the level of insights you can hypothesize…and then some!Hardwick advises to begin with a written exercise “early on” in the discussion, which also works well with new qualitative –even if it’s typed; this early activity serves to challenge the participants to think independently and also allows them to “own” their ideas and suggestions. A well-executed written activity that provokes thoughtful posts is also a great way to encourage insightful group discussions.Online discussion guides written like quantitative-type surveys, with numerous objective questions, can certainly be cringe-worthy. Please do not be afraid to ask creative in-depth questions: the online medium suits that well!

Leave room for the unexpected when writing questions and avoid mechanical dialogue. Don’t be overly repetitious.

When using projectives, encourage honesty and spontaneity while asking for details. I like to throw in a few natural quips at the end of questions, for example, “It could be anything!” (As in, “What’s your favorite part about ______? It could be anything!”) It is interesting to note how such a brief invitation can lead to a wider variety of posts. Treat it like a conversation, because it is!

Tags: market research tools, Market Research Conference, qualitative research, Online qualitative research

The Market Research Event: Understanding Your Consumers

Posted on Tue, Nov 22, 2011

By Darren Breese, Research Director

With all the talk of new technologies and the like in the air, we may overlook the basics.  Yet, one of the themes running through the recent Market Research Event was the notion of simply empathizing with consumers.  This is nothing new of course; it is the core of what we do every day — understand consumers, bring them to life, connect them to marketers.  Every day we put ourselves in the consumer’s shoes, or in some cases actually watching them put on their shoes. 

Sometimes it is hard for clients to truly empathize with their consumers, because quite often they aren’t in the same boat.  They may be more affluent, live different lifestyles, and have upbrings and life experiences that are poles apart.  Despite all of the differences — perhaps because of them — it is the researcher’s job to do as much as to connect marketers and their consumers, and to do this in a way that makes the experience as engaging as possible. Consumer Behavior

A technique used successfully by one researcher at the conference was to force marketers to consume as their consumer does. 

  • Shop on a strict budget (like many of their customers).
  • Shop with children in tow, even if that means “borrowing” kids for a day.
  • Immerse  marketers with triads of like-minded consumers
  • Engage in other non-shopping activities common to the target consumers.
  • And, of course, keep journals to drive their immersion home.

We know and do Immersion extremely well, but Immersion research only works as well as the client wants it to, so we have to constantly look for way to keep things fresh and fun. 

Another way insight managers are using empathy is bringing together cross-functional teams.  We all know how different right- and left-brained individuals think and process information.  It can be extremely difficult for them all to difficult to work on the same page.  By placing cross-functional teams together in the same room with consumers, and holding immersion sessions that help each team member empathize with their consumers, an insights manager got his team to think similarly—like their consumer.  He was then able to hold Ideation sessions that led to productive concept development work. 

In other words, walking in someone else’s shoes has the added benefit of forcing marketers to take of their own.

As we strive to provide marketers with actionable insights and help them connect with their consumers, we must also be consistently looking for new and innovative ways to help them foster empathy for their consumers.  Empathy makes insights real.

Tags: Shopper Insights, Market Research, Market Research Conference

Market Research Event Recap: Categorization is Communication

Posted on Wed, Nov 16, 2011

By Hillary Stifler, Director

At the Market Research Event last week, one theme was played out in several presentations – categorization.  And it hit home, as I’m currently working on a study whose goal is to categorize over 100 products in a way that makes sense to consumers!  

Categorization was a major theme discussed by Sheena Iyengar, who spoke about “The Art of Choosing.” People make thousands of choices each day and, as she puts it, face “choice overload.”  She offers three solutions:  The Art of Choosing

  • Cut duplicates and indistinguishable.
  • Categorize the options.
  • Condition the chooser for complexity by offering the easier choices first before working into the more complex choices.  

This advice is not only great for product offerings at shelf, but it is also great for business communications.

Ruben Alcaraz from Meijer spoke on data visualization and gave some great advice that I think ties into the power of categorization. He said, “It’s not that people don’t get it, it’s just that we [market researchers/those sharing our data] aren’t good at communicating it.”  

Really, categorization is communication.  A jumble of data on a page does not tell a story. Humans are visually-oriented and, to be an effective communicator in the visual realm, we must categorize our information in a way that makes sense to our audience.

So, Ms. Iyengar’s three pieces of advice also apply to reporting and data visualization:

  • Don’t show duplicate data.
  • Section off reports (or even parts of a slide) in a way that makes sense to the audience and supports your story.
  • Start with the obvious, more general information and work your way into the deeper, newer information. 

Categorization is not a novel concept; we have grouped and framed information forever. However, I think it is a good reminder that information is far less powerful when it’s not organized in a way that speaks to the audience. And, when organized in a meaningful way, it helps people choose where to focus their attention and it helps the author to tell the story efficiently and with ambiguity.

Tags: Market Research, Market Research Conference, C+R News

Mobile Device Research Illuminates Teen Shopping and Spending Behavior

Posted on Thu, Sep 1, 2011

Teens and Their Money – November 7th at 1:30 p.m. –The Market Research Event – Orlando, FL


Get 25% discount on this event by using C+R’s code TMRE11C&R

Mobile device research and social media technology are hot these days, and with good reason. As C+R’s Executive VP, Walt Dickie, succinctly put it in a recent blog post, The Inevitability of Mobile Research, “Every model we’ve ever had about consumers interacting with brands is now inadequate if it doesn’t include smartphones. All of the research we do simply has to be cognizant of this massive, immovable fact.”

As a result of this smartphone revolution, the research world is frantically grappling with various ways to harness this technology while distilling the most valuable insights from real-time purchase data, mobile payment technology, store finder Apps and QR coded brand drivers.

So what better group for marketers to set their sights on than teens, the first generation of consumers to grow up in today’s social media-rich culture. This has been one of the most anticipated and popular presentations on so timely a topic.  C+R Research’s energetic duo, Mary McIlrath, Senior VP, and Darren Breese, Research Director, share some profound insights drawn from a select group of C+R Research’s teen panel, TeensEyes.com.  The teens used a new App specifically designed for mobile research created by the online research provider RevelationGlobal. The latest data on teen shopping and spending may surprise, challenge and even have you rethink your strategy for marketing to today’s teens.

Tags: Market Research Conference, teenage market research, youth market research

Understanding Millenials at The Shopper Insights in Action Conference

Posted on Wed, Aug 10, 2011

By Hillary Stifler, Research Director

As someone who is on the upper-edge of the Millennial’s age group, I identify more with Generation X, but find Millennials fascinating. They are truly of a different mindset. This is the largest generation since the Baby Boomers, and, so as co-workers, parents, peers and marketers, it is important for us to understand them.

This generation has grown up with convenience at their fingertips. They didn't have to go to a library and flip through an encyclopedia to find information. They didn't have to ride their bikes down the street to see friends. And, they didn't have to leave their homes to go shopping. Everything they’ve needed, all their lives, was literally at their fingertips. However, for them, experience trumps convenience. For them, convenience is expected.Shopper Insights in Action

Michelle Fenstermaker, Executive Director, Consumer Insights from WD offered a glimpse into the future of grocery, as driven by Millennials. She reminded us that the grocery format is really no different today than it was 50 years ago. Yet, technology has changed the way we shop, and Millennials' desire for convenience and an experience eventually will too.

Two grocery chains that are doing it "right" are Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Visiting the Whole Foods in Chicago is like an adventure. Recently, my friend from California who used to live in Chicago was visiting. In addition to seeing her friends and visiting a few of her old favorite restaurants, a trip to Whole Foods was on her weekend agenda. "A place where I can get lunch, and then get some groceries while sipping a glass of wine? I can't wait." Trader Joe's doesn't offer this same experience, but it does offer shoppers a culinary trip around the world, and at an affordable price. You can find food inspired by every corner of the globe, and the employees are always helpful and very friendly. On top of the experiences these stores offer, they offer personalization (you can always find something that suits your tastes), healthy choices and fresh foods. All of which, in addition to convenience, are important to Millennials.

It would appear that Millennials, who have become so used to using the internet and their mobile devices to research and discuss purchases, look to the actual store for something else.  The store is no longer the “library” where we research and find items, but it is a “playground” where we find and interact with experiences.

Millennials are a huge market, and as such they have the power to influence change in the well-established grocery industry. How will they impact your industry? Knowing Millennials and keeping up with them will ensure your brand keeps up. You must know them because they're a generation who has the technology to find a solution to meet their specific needs, and they are not afraid to go after what they want. After all, they expect instant gratification. Providing a consistent presence across digital and physical that is an experience and gives them the information they need when they want it is a start to stay ahead of the curve!

Tags: Shopper Insights, Market Research, Market Research Conference

Latest Market Research Trends At Youth Mega Mashup

Posted on Thu, Jul 7, 2011

By Darren Breese, Director

The recent Youth Mega Mashup Event was a tremendous opportunity to learn the latest trends in the  Youth and Millennial space. There is considerable agreement among leaders in the field.  This is a new generation of consumers who value the environment and social causes, interaction with each Youth Mega Mashupother and with brands,  entrepreneurship, customization and personalization, technology, and above all else—authenticity.  The implications for brands and businesses are vast as this new generation’s spending power becomes stronger and stronger.

One of the most anticipated presentations of the Mashup Event came from Jane McGonigal, PhD, an acclaimed game developer, researcher, and author.  Her research in the field of gaming underscores the idea that gaming produces positive stress which creates “Super-Powered Hopeful Individuals.”  She presented the shocking statistic that human-beings spend 3 billion hours/week worldwide playing video games.  In comparison, 100 million TOTAL man hours have been spent creating maybe the most widely used online resource—Wikipedia.  To ask, “Is it worth it?” is an understatement to some.  But, McGonigal is convinced it is, and she answers the question with the acronym PeRMA (Positive emotion, Relationships, Meaning, Accomplishment) created by Dr. Martin Seligman, which she contends is a by-product of playing games.   She contends that games can actually solve larger social problems by increasing individuals’ PeRMA.  Her perspective suggests that researchers should be building more feedback loops into their instruments.  We need an approach to this new generation that is less task-based and more game-like to help engage research respondents and, in turn, elicit higher quality insights and feedback.

McGonigal’s keynote was foreshadowed by an earlier presentation by the insights and research folks at MTV that argued “Gamification” is the future of Marketing.   By making a game of Marketing, brands and companies engage and motivate their consumers while also creating lasting relationships with them.  Brands using games as part of their Marketing campaigns are in a better position to create emotional relationships with their consumers. 

Connecting with consumers by letting them create the content of their Marketing strengthens consumers’ perception of a brand’s authenticity.  Doritos and Ford presented ways in which they engaged their consumers by allowing them to create video content and let their voices be heard.  Brands and companies have seen increased success through transparency and allowing their consumers to tell them what they’re all about. 

The use of social media within the generation was a hot topic as well.  Social media allows Millennials  to share their opinions and recommendations and to spread influence.  This new generation of consumers harnesses the power of peer-to-peer relationships to democratize influence and recommendations.  The term “Repfluence” was used to describe this trend in consumer interaction.  To make an even more informed decision, consumers can decide how trustworthy their peers’ influence is by their Klout score, which measures not the quantity of content but the quality with which they spread it.  The younger generation of consumers is more likely to be influenced by their peers than by traditional advertising, which means today’s Marketers are re-thinking the way they connect with consumers.

Tags: Market Research, Market Research Conference, Misc