Joining Up with The Garage Group

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Great news!   I joined up with The Garage Group, an Insights, Innovation and Training firm that enables corporates to innovate like startups.  We offer smart and scrappy approaches to research, a perfect fit for what I'm all about.
I’m excited to join up with The Garage Group because I’ve been on the team in a partnership capacity for the last couple of years and we’ve had great reviews from clients. The Garage Group allows me to do my best work, and stimulates thinking that takes my best and makes it even better. I love to learn and grow and The Garage Group undoubtedly will encourage it. Additionally, the work that The Garage Group is doing is pretty different in the research industry and I’m proud to be part of implementing change.  There's lots more in this post announcing the change.

So, the end of one chapter, but the beginning of another.  Feel free to reach out to me via LinkedIn here.  I'll also continue to blog over on The Garage Group blog - you can subscribe via that link, then the upper right corner if updates on smart and scrappy research, ideas and thinking like an entrepreneur is your thing.

MRMW Day Two Take-Aways

Friday, May 30, 2014

I had to leave Market Research in the Mobile World early, so I asked fellow QRCA member Susan Sweet of Sweet Insight Group for perspective on her take-aways.  It's always helpful for me to see how others process the information shared, and I appreciate her qualitative lens on things.


Wearables, not just mobile methods, create new efficiencies in qualitative and ethnography. 
Wearables have huge implications for quallies. Being able to use passive data collected via smart technologies – worn as bands, glasses or fabrics – can not only give a starting point (e.g. a verifiable screening tool), it can provide ongoing data to supplement any observational qualitative or direct interviews. The case studies shared by David Zakariaie of Glassic, Adina Daar and Kate Flaherty of Sachs Insights, and Jean Luc Errant of Cityzen Sciences, were inspiring. However, these cases illustrated that we’re still at the infancy of using wearables to make observational qualitative scalable and accessible. The more of us who try it, the faster this super-charged qual will be accepted and sought-after.
 


Technology, for all it’s worth, still requires intelligent and creative human researchers to make findings meaningful for clients. 
Several of the presentations touched on this subject: mobile data capture is amazing, sometimes creating overwhelming amounts of data, and it requires skillful interviewers and analysts to make sense of it all.
  • According to Tom Trenta of Egg Strategy, mobile is great for times people struggle to explain themselves, but then collecting so many inputs sometimes shows a different story emerging, as it did in his ‘big, dark beer/tiny, sweet drink’ mobile ethnography example. Had it not been for researchers noticing patterns and then probing the meaning, they would not have been able to share such a compelling and surprising story with their clients.
  • The same was true in the great “Party Time” presentation from Nancy Luna of Kraft, Claudia del Lucchese of Modelez and Alex from BrainJuicer. They conducted a mobile, mass ethnography where participants were recruited via CraigsList, then recorded their own parties on mobile devices, and completed additional, online and mobile follow-up interviews. This massive data was analyzed by both supplier and client team, and then was used in myriad ways to spur multiple internal product development sessions.
  • Combining modern geofencing and traditional qualitative is another innovation, as shared by Kathy Doyle of Doyle Research Associates and Chris St. Hilaire of MFour Mobile Research. Geo-validated qualitative phone interviews conducted at the moment of product experience, followed by photo-journaling and online bulletin boards demonstrated again that the technology enabled the data capture, but it needed creative researchers to pull the story together and make sense of volumes of information.
Mobile may not be news anymore, but it’s not part of mainstream research yet. Despite the fact that the ‘year of mobile’ has been proclaimed for years if not decades, we are in a slow growth mode. “Mobile is not a trend, it’s a reality,” according to Jon Sadow of Google Consumer Surveys, yet her shared that only 27% of researchers used mobile at all in 2013 (up only 4% from 2012). This is shocking, as nearly everyone has, uses and “loves” their mobile devices. As Jayne Dow of Firefly Millward Brown and Jonathan Feigenbaum of Facebook shared in their ‘Mobile Check In’ presentation, 94% of people who go shopping have a mobile device with them, and 65% use it while shopping. Consumers, professionals, and nearly everyone in the developed world is tethered to a phone, if not a smartphone, and they almost always choose to use it when given the option of how to take surveys, share photos or communicate with researchers. Until more researchers get comfortable with incorporating a mobile element into their recommendations to clients, usage may continue to simply creep rather than escalate.

Thanks for sharing, Susan!  I especially agree with the need for "creative human researchers to make findings meaningful for clients."  It has been very true in the social media research field, where outputs like sentiment analysis don't do much for meeting real business needs.  I'd love to hear your MRMW take-aways, or reactions to Susan's below.

MRMW Day One Take-Aways

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Market Research in the Mobile World is still happening, but I grabbed a few moments to capture a couple of quick take-aways from the Day One May 28, 2014 Main Session.



Moving Past Mobile to Human-Centered Method Agnostic
We’ve moved past mobile.  General Mills no longer has a focused research-on-research team to develop mobile – mobile is integrated.  They have their eye on newer things.  In the past, “mobile” was a moniker for new.  It’s what first brought me to “Market Research in the Mobile World" several years ago.  I do mobile research, but I do lots of other new and emerging methods.  Is there still a need for “mobile”-focused innovation?  Of course.  Everything needs to be integrated (see next point), so it's becoming more of a disconnect for us to think about mobile in a silo.


Integrating New and Different Inputs
Five years ago the research world was trying to figure out what to do with the alternative data that social media brings to the table.  Today, the question is about how to tap into other data streams like quantified self and the internet of things to shed more light on behavior without having to directly ask the question of the participant.  Brian Mondry of Kantar cited the core benefit of requiring less time of the participant because we’re getting all of this periphery data to inform (see tweet below).  I have a hunch that the data would spark more questions on the “why” behind the data, but that’s another conversation.  Current quantified self data can be quite broken, but I believe it will improve over time.  For what it’s worth, I’d caution that having data doesn’t make it valuable, similar to how raw sentiment data doesn’t do a whole lot for meeting real research objectives in the social media research world (and actually can do some damage!).  Simon Chadwick of Cambiar talked about how data is now cheap.  Let's do something with the data that makes it valuable to our organizations.  [End game isn't access to Fitbit and wired toothbrush data...what are the valuable insights within?]




The Future Research Team

There’s been lots of talk over the past several years about the evolving skillset for the research team. A quote that seemed to resonate with attendees was about having an information architect as part of the team.  What are we doing about this as an industry?  I'd love to hear how people are doing this - any examples of how it has worked well, or not so well.


That's a quick wrap on a couple of the things I'm still thinking on from Day One.  Thoughts?  Agree? Disagree?  I'd love to hear below.

MRMW Pre-Conference Kick-Off

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Market Research in the Mobile World pre-conference sessions kicked off with a great challenge from Kimberley Duncan of Givaudan.  We were tasked with developing a solution that delivers in-the-moment understanding on purchase decisions, influencers and past behavior for a wide range of category-agnostic flavors.

Resulting solutions involved apps and a dashboard that monitors multi-faceted data.  Envisioned apps would intercept in relevant in-store aisles and pose questions to understand purchase decisions, feature a variety of gamified questioning and allow for passive data collection.  The dashboard solution recognized that proprietary app construction would be difficult to maintain (with the ever-changing landscape of popular social media and always flexing research objective needs).  The dashboard would utilize existing data by tapping into APIs and allow for diverse data inputs and mining of past data.

What I appreciated most about the session was seeing how fellow attendees approached solving for the same client-side need.  It reminded me of the value of bouncing method solution ideas off of other colleagues.

To see what’s going on with the conference, check out the #MRMW hashtag on Twitter.


How Tech is Helping + Hampering Our Memory: MRMW Preview

Friday, April 18, 2014

Market Research in the Mobile World is coming to Chicago on May 27-30. I’m excited to be a participant because of the great cast that will be sharing. I appreciate the fresh inspiration and thought that these leaders are bringing to the table, so I spent some time interviewing a handful of them. Hopefully, this will give you a sneak peek into what the conference will be about, as well as some inspiration to motivate change and growth in your own market research practice. This is my third interview in this series, with Josh Cormie of Fresh Intelligence and Nick Drew of Yahoo!. They will be presenting a session on "The zero moment of memory: How technology is helping - and hampering our memory”.  They will be talking about the shift in memory usage and why that matters for researchers and marketers.
Renee: What should we expect to hear from you at MRMW North America 2014?
Josh & Nick: Memory makes us who we are as people. All the things you know how to do, all the people you’ve met, all the influences and experiences that have shaped you into the person you are, are a function of memory.
However, increasingly our memories are no longer stored in our minds, our most cherished moments are becoming nothing more than a series of computer codes coming together to form a digital picture or video. This is fundamentally changing not just how we playback our personal experiences, but ultimately changing how we remember our history.
While the advancements in technology have real advantages, at the same time, they create new gaps and vulnerabilities in our lives: if we delegate the task of remembering to a device, and take a photograph of every moment, do we remember it better or worse?
To better understand these questions we wanted to get inside the brain to see how technology impacts our ability to remember. We designed a comprehensive approach incorporating three main elements:
1. In-depth exploration using ethnographic mobile diary and activity based research “A day without your smartphone
2. Electroencephalography (EEG)
3. Online quantitative survey with memory test
Our research explores how memory is evolving as we delegate more and more to technology and the impact that it has on what makes us who we are as people.
Renee: What brought you to this topic, of all things?  Explain a bit about your background and how they helped this to become a passion area.
Nick: Much of the research Yahoo does is essentially about how our behaviours are changing as a result of technology. The smartphone, digital photography, wearable tech are all having an impact on what we do and how we engage with things. But I guess it’s natural to still wonder how you managed before all these were ubiquitous. Like when you arrange to meet a friend for a coffee and have to – have to - reach for your phone to make a note of the time, before you forget. Or when you’re at a concert and can’t see past the person in front of you trying to take a photo that will somehow perfectly capture the whole experience. It can lead you to some really interesting questions, about whether you could, if you tried, actually remember when you’re meeting your friend. Or whether taking that photo enhances your experience of the concert, or detracts from it.
I was mulling this over on vacation last fall. We saw the Northern Lights one night, and of course our first reaction was to reach for a camera. But the pictures that came out don’t actually show what we saw – the colours are all wrong. Apparently it’s quite a well-known phenomenon with the Northern Lights, although I didn’t know it before. So there’s this set of photos of what we saw, and then there’s my memory of what we actually saw; and I can’t help wondering if I’d remember it better if I hadn’t taken the photos.
And that, basically, is what we wanted to investigate in this project!
Renee: How might the researchers in the audience begin to think about the effect of technology on memory and how that plays out for each of the brands and categories they work on?  Will you have any next-steps for us?
Josh & Nick: There are a couple of important implications that the research points to. Firstly, we’re creating more and more data as we record more and more of our lives. All the photos we’ve taken, the contacts in our smartphones, the fitness data from our Nike Fuelbands. Over the next few years we’re going to see more of this data become integrated and joined up – and the importance of technology that helps us organise, store and share data will grow exponentially.
Secondly, marketing is ultimately about memory. So the behavioural shifts we see in the research are hugely important for brands. Taken together, they suggest that when communicating to consumers, just delivering the message and brand is no longer enough. Brands need to ask themselves how to make consumers experience brands and branded communications, how to encourage them to pay attention. “Likes” and clicks are not enough: brands need to engage and bring consumers back on a regular basis to build those essential associations and memories.
If you'd life to read more in this series, check out other posts here.

Lead up to MRMW North America - Using Google Glass for Retail Research

Monday, April 7, 2014

Over the next several weeks, I will be guest posting over on the Market Research in the Mobile World blog.  I will highlight a select portion of the interviews here, but wanted to start with this interview on using Google Glass.  I especially appreciate the qualitative implications for it.  The full interview, along with future interviews can be found here.
Market Research in the Mobile World is coming to Chicago on May 27-30. I’m excited to be a participant because of the great cast that will be sharing. These folks are major clients and research innovators I have followed in social media for the past several years and learned from and been inspired by, all in one place!  Because I couldn’t wait to get to interact with them a bit, I have conducted a series of interviews with some of the speakers. Hopefully, this will give you a sneak peek into what the conference will be about, as well as some inspiration to motivate change and growth in your own market research practice. Here is my first interview, with Adina Daar and Kate Flaherty of Sachs Insights. They will be presenting a session on "Heads Up: Using Google Glass for Retail Research”. They will dig into how to use Google Glass to capture in-the-moment experiences in retail environments to better understand purchase decisions.
Renee: What should we expect to hear from you at MRMW North America 2014?
Adina & Kate: It was while we were exploring Glass in the summer of 2013 that we realized there was a greater potential in this new technology than just being “in-the-know.” Adina was making a quick stop on the way home at a local CVS and simultaneously wearing Glass when she realized the opportunity now exists for a second party to truly see a first-person perspective while shopping. We took the term 'Glass Explorer' literally and jumped into using Google Glass to understand a range of retail experiences with different audiences.
This inspiration led us to using Glass as a research tool for the first time and to take it beyond 'what if?' and into a 'what now?' way of thinking about new tech. We have a lot of footage of personal experiences from the research to share and anecdotes from the researcher and participant sides alike. As more people use wearable tools like Glass, we will also provide some practical suggestions for conducting qualitative research with new and novel tools.
Renee: What are the biggest constraints you've faced using Google Glass for research?
Adina & Kate: There is a learning curve to using Google Glass, and with any new technology it takes time to learn how to best utilize it. And as it usually goes, there are some tech hiccups along the way. There have been some limitations of Glass itself: the battery life is not currently up to recording more than an hour without breaks, the device does get hot after extended use, and things of that nature. Aside from those, the biggest constraints we have faced in this research process is knowing the best way to go about capturing what we want from this type of auto-ethnography and how to best structure an interview.
Renee: Getting past self-reporting and into actual behavior is such an issue in market research. Can you give us a preview on how you're using Google Glass to do this?
Adina & Kate: In using the embedded camera, we are able to eliminate some of the guess work (on both our end and on the respondent’s end) of trying to figure out exactly what cues and stimuli catch their eyes while shopping. We've also found that we can remove ourselves from the experience, which is more natural and also more true to the shopping experience. We tried out a few different approaches, but found that flipping the process on its head by capturing video of a shopper journey first and then reviewing and discussing it after helped in keeping things real.
There is also important insight in understanding the difference between reported and observed behavior, which is ultimately what people learn about themselves as a result of participating in the research - it's important for research and also a personal payoff for participants.

What to Wear for Research?!

Friday, March 14, 2014


Dressing for qualitative research has been something I've wondered about since I began.  There's no rule book.  I likely over-think it, but how can you not when you think about decision-making all day?

Have you ever wondered what to wear for complex work situations?

My clients are often CPG, food & bev or other consumer-facing categories.  I'm not interfacing with doctors or bankers (typically) in the proverbial "front room" on most of my projects.  So, that makes me want to have an approachable, down-to-earth, everyday-styled look.

But then there's the "back room."  My clients have a variety of different dress codes for work, but are often dressed business-casual, and since marketers are often involved, they're styled très chic.

I have to bridge that gap: be approachable in the "front room" and dressed to lead in the "back room."

Or, more often lately, I'm the social media research consultant in the room, and the whole suit thing just doesn't fit with my equity...so I like to go for consumer-understanding meets a twist of hipster...whatever that is?!

Mix all of this with the whole mompreneur thing.  I'm busier than ever, and just don't have time to stay up on the latest trends...let alone go shopping.  So, I needed a new way around this problem.

My recent solution has been StitchFix, an online personal styling service.  I value when others have a skill that I just don't have, and let's face it: in this phase of life, I need someone that knows the trends to make this messy criteria happen.


What I appreciated about StitchFix:

  • I did my homework and they did theirs.  I made a Pinterest board of some of my favorite looks.  I shared my profiles.  They even wanted to see my LinkedIn profile to better understand what I'm doing.  Anna, my stylist, wrote me a sweet note about where she found inspiration for each of my pieces - often directly from stuff I shared with her.
  • "How to Wear It" cards.  The cards that come with the Fix show how to dress up and dress down any of the pieces.  Any of my traveling qualitative researchers understand the need for versatility in their pieces.  These cards gave me no-brainer, fresh new ideas without having to launch an ideation session for what to wear.
  • Things I wouldn't have picked for myself.  The gray top would never have been something I would have picked, but it's truly perfect for my ever-changing needs: mom/wife/housekeeper/business owner.  Ha.  You try to pull off a wardrobe that works for all of those things and more!  But seriously, I'm keeping the top and appreciate bringing in a new look.
I'm always looking for new ways of thinking about research here...and clothing does impact our research, whether we want to admit it or not.  Remind me to tell you about the time that I changed my hair color and how it changed my career (a whole 'nother story).  

Yes, if you sign-up for StitchFix using my link, I'll get credits, blah blah blah, but that's not why I wanted to share.  I believe that dressing for qualitative is a thing, and that we're not talking about it today (and if I'm just missing the posts, share them please!)

How do you decide what to wear for your projects?

Any advice for on what works well for you?  I'd love to hear!

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