Posts tagged ‘research’
After putting out a call for some reading recommendations in July, I got some great suggestions and am still wading through them. But the stand out winner has to be Sarah’s recommendation of Moderating to the Max: A Full-tilt Guide to Creative, Insightful Focus Groups and Depth Interviews.
For qualitative research types who want to try some new techniques (or just polish up some of their existing tools) it’s really handy – and as a bonus it’s easy to read and digest too. Highly recommended.
With the economy making everyone increasingly risk averse, it seems to me that Jon Steel’s adage about clients using research not as a navigational tool but to protect themselves and their career from a fiery end is becoming increasingly apt.
With limited research budgets and risk averse clients it can be very tempting to use research to prove that there is nothing wrong with the campaign/ positioning/ strategy/ creative, rather than using it to discover what the right, unique, differentiating solution might be.
If research gives respondents a choice of A, B or C (and if significant time and money has been invested in bringing these solutions to this point), it is very tempting to go with the most popular of the three, or some combination, i.e. the one that has nothing wrong with it. At this stage it is getting a bit late to start again from scratch just because the right answer D has been identified and in any case the kind of research techniques that separate routes A, B and C apart will not necessarily identify option D at all.
A campaign scrambled together from gut feel, an out of date U&A study and a few Mintel reports and then declared by research to have nothing wrong with it has a chance of success. But the right one developed from real first hand insight with the real target audience has the potential to be far more effective.
To deliver this we’re talking about the (in some client’s eyes) soft and fluffy end of research. The ethnographic kind that often doesn’t have set objectives and deliverables and other tick boxes that budget holders can happily sign off. Which is just the kind of research that gets very hard to justify when times are tight.
The majority of clients who embrace research will always want to hold on to the rubber stamping go-with-this-one end of the research process and will be reluctant to release that budget to a more exploratory phase in search of a holy grail of ‘the right answer’. And in the current climate expecting extra research budget to enable both rubber stamping and a real exploration of the lives, hopes and fears of the target audience is unlikely.
In our search for the Golden Nugget of Insight, should we be encouraging our clients on investing a lot of money on finding the right solution, or more modest sums on identifying which solution isn’t wrong?
So, the economy is in free fall and we’re all doomed. Right?
The quallies at work have been doing a lot of focus groups with Credit Crunched Mums recently. Apparently yes, Mums are being careful and trying to be more frugal – but a lot of them are doing so not because they are very worried about their finances right now, but because they think things are going to get worse before they get better.
I think we might be talking ourselves into making the economic situation worse. The media isn’t exactly helping, a quick dig round nexis revealed dozens of recent case study stories about families who were cutting back and lots of first-person pieces by jounros describing how they were economising madly, but nothing suggesting that just maybe, a few people were actually carrying on pretty much as normal.
It’s admirable if someone decides to live more frugally now in order to try and safeguard their immediate future. But with every scare-monger story the media puts out, perhaps it has got to a point where people are taking more severe steps then they really need to, in turn bringing about the next step of the downturn they were trying to protect themselves against in the first place…
Did anyone else get a nasty shock when the time came to renew their WARC (World Advertising Research Centre) subscription? Mine after negotiation had still nearly doubled in price for no apparent reason. I know of two other Planning chums whose renewal has also been eye watering to say the least.
I know its good, but its not that good…
Interesting client feedback via a Research buddy today – one of their clients had apologised for not putting quantitative work their way recently. He explained that his role was now more about analysing his own customer data and buying in qualitaitive insight than farming out huge ‘how many and how much’ surveys.
If we accept that the world has fragmented in every long-tailed possible way (consumers, media channels, product and service distribution channels etc) and speeded up at the same time, then perhaps he has a point.
What’s the point of knowing how many potential customers there are out there if you don’t prioritise how to effectively communicate with them?
Produced for the New England 2007 Hatch Awards by Arnold, this is a sobering example of why the average focus group stuck in a meeting room and forced to watch an animatic don’t necessarily produce the kind of feedback that leads to great creative.
In fact, there’s a whole other rant here bemoaning the demise of holding groups in recruiter’s homes. I think its something to do with insurance, but certainly round my way its come to an end.
Which is a real shame because the best, most honest groups I’ve moderated or observed have come from a group of women (who might even, shock horror, have met each other before) cosied up in someone’s living room with cups of tea and biscuits chatting about Life – rather than a group of strangers holed up in a meeting room with a flip chart.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about Research and Planning and how the two interact as disciplines and benefit from each other.
There’s no doubt that the best Planners have a healthy regard for and understanding of research methodologies and the potential and limitations of research tools.
Its also now widely accepted that the best Researchers think beyond “what did they say” and even “what did they mean” to “what does this mean for the brand and business“. As enlightened researchers are acknowledging that the answer is often found more in insight than the hard data itself, the line between Planning and Research becomes ever more blurred – which I think can only be a good thing.
At my agency, the quallies and quanties and desk research specialists and planners all co-exist quite peacefully as an integrated team – and I think we are all the better for it.
One of my lovely colleagues in the Research team at work introduced me to Facebook Polls the other day.
Having the ability to canvass the opinions of 100 Facebook users for just $26 (complete with online results charts) and to turn it around in just 24 hours is A Good Thing. Being able to ask Prison Break fans whether they followed the series from Channel 5 to Sky or Leeds residents what they think about the development of the Headrow shopping centre for this kind of money is amazing.
- you can only filter your audience by age OR gender OR location OR keyword
- obviously, the audience is exclusively facebook users so you aren’t getting a representative sample of the UK population
- you’ve no idea how robust the results are as ‘Facebook will not verify the statistical significance of response data’.
These are all A Bad Thing.
On balance, its going to be a usefull tool for last minute pitching and proving a point generally and its going to be interesting to see how other online brands respond – how about online polling on google based on search terms, using GeoTargeting and invoiced on a pay-per-click basis?
(facebook polls image by Dave & Bry)
Since I’ve asked the girls to give up their lunchtime to attend, I’m giving them mini ‘pamper packs’ as a thank you. But I shouldn’t kid myself – they’re really party bags. I had a lot of fun putting them together. More fun than should really be allowed on a Monday morning…
While browsing Trinny and Susannah’s website (for purely professional purposes), I came across this diary entry about sneaking out for a shop up. The idea of formalizing that quick dash to the high street for some top-up retail therapy really appeals to me.
I discovered another favourite new word in a focus group I was running for a fashion client when I was introduced to the storegasm – variously defined as the result of a particularly successful shopping spree or the moment when you lose rational control of your budget in the presence of that must-have handbag/top/pair of shoes.