Before Christmas I ended up doing a lot of depth research interviews and it reminded me why I believe that Planners should, whenever possible, do their own qual research.
The primary reason is, of course, that Insight can come from anywhere. If your involvement in the qual you’ve commissioned has been limited to what was in your research brief or even what was on the discussion guide then you can’t blame the researcher for sticking to that. And if the researcher is new to the client or even new to the category then they won’t necessarily recognise when something significant pops up during the Watford groups.
Going off-piste during a group or depth has resulted in some really great insights for me over the years, which resulted in the agencies I was working for bringing back The Man From Del Monte, radically repositioning a University and redesigning the store layout and customer experience in almost 300 stores when we were just supposed to be rebranding them.
Another benefit of being master of your own fieldwork is that you can alter the discussion guide to make room to explore your new hypothesis in the remaining groups, even tweaking the respondent profile or changing the venue to instore if necessary.
I’m a bit of a control freak so I do like to know exactly what the recruitment questionnaire said and if the respondents actually reflect that. Some of my pre-Christmas depths included little video vox pops at the end to share at the brand workshop and I had to put a note on screen for one woman’s vox pop as she looked nothing like the target audience – because she was a part-time swimming instructor who had come straight from the pool in tracksuit, scraped back hair and no makeup. It would have been really easy otherwise to discount what she was saying as she didn’t look like she fit the target audience profile.
Of course, this means that Planners/Strategists need to be trained in and experienced at qualitative management, moderation, analysis and reporting – but I wouldn’t consider anyone to be a fully-fledged, rounded Planner unless they were. If nothing else, how can you brief in and interpret the findings of qual if you don’t understand the methodology properly yourself?
And should you need some added-value qualitative research, please give me a shout.
(Cover photo taken from Roundhay Research’s social media – they’re the cosiest viewing facility I’ve ever been to, with a ‘recruiter’s home’ kind of vibe & highly recommended)