Open for Conversation

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Image thanks to wiccked
So, here's where I fess up.  I'm pregnant!  Super excited, but also super sick.  The kind of sick that makes it hard to think about a whole lot else.  If someone were monitoring my Foursquare scores, they'd notice a drastic change in my behavior the last few months.  And, I'm sure that there are many other things that have changed - and many more changes to come!  Enough about me...I'll be fine, and this is all worth it.  But, this experience has made me think about times or situations when the folks I talk to in research just plain aren't ready to have a conversation about anything I need to talk with them about.

The most common situations that come up with online research are children being sick or injured.  I love getting to offer up make-up days in asynchronous research to moms that will be able to concentrate much better when the situation is resolved.  Two make-up days on the back-end of a project put the respondents at ease and me at ease because I'm not as concerned about them not completing.

In fact, when it comes down to it, asynchronous research is great for allowing people to join the conversation when they're ready to join the conversation (with some parameters, of course.)

Social Media Research with existing comments and scraping is great because people have in essence signed off on every tweet or post, "I'm ready to talk about this right now, so I am!"

What about face to face research?  How do we get to talk to people when they're open to talking?

And, do we explore how current life experiences might be impacting their responses?  For me, the last several months might have found me quite negative about the food and beverage category.  Okay, I might have gagged talking about it.  It would be wrong to extrapolate that I feel that way all the time (believe me, I normally love food!)  Granted, my example is a bit strange, but there are other times when people might have a different response based on occasion, situation or life circumstance than they'd normally have.  I guess base size comes into play here, helping to weigh things out.  But, worth asking, "Am I going to catch people at a time where they're going to be eager to talk about this in their normal way of thinking about it?"

Researchers: do you have any advice on or experiences related to talking to people when they're open and ready to talk?  I'm interested in learning from you.

Impacting Real People

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Client Geoff demonstrating the filtration system
One of the more energizing projects I've been part of in the last 6 months involved getting messaging right on a non-profit project that provides safe drinking water for children in poverty.  It was more than refreshing to play a role in literally saving children's lives.

I love a good challenge.  After the first group, it was clear that the messaging wasn't getting the job done.  Thankfully, we had scheduled ample time to rework benefit statements and RTBs (reason to believe).  The second group couldn't have been any different from the first - we understood what needed to be shared.  I am still in shock at how powerful a clearly articulated benefit with appropriate claims can be.  I haven't seen that as drastically illustrated any other time than in this situation.

Doing what we do does make a difference in people's lives.  Sometimes in small ways, sometimes in large ways.  Sometimes it's just getting to provide a positive encouraging experience for respondents, where they feel valued or listened to.  Other times it's finding solutions that will physically, emotionally or spiritually change people's lives.  I'm thankful for this crazy role that I get to play in impacting others.

QRCs: what are some of the moments where you've been able to positively impact people through your projects/work?  I'd love to hear...and learn from you!

Vosages & The Story of People

Thursday, June 23, 2011

thanks to blonde+blue for the image
How do you learn about people, as a researcher?  In the July/August 2011 edition of Afar magazine, an interesting interview with Vosages Haut-Chocolat founder Katrina Markoff made me think a bit differently about how I learn about people.

Markoff says, "Food is how I learn about a culture - through what the people eat and how they eat.  You go to restaurants where people are passionate about what they're making, and you say, "I want to see.  I want to learn."  And they lead you down a new path.  Those are the best discoveries."  (Buchmeyer, Jon Paul.  "Nomad Chocolatier."  Afar July/August: 52-53.)

A few things about this quote grabbed me.  Markoff's attitude of wanting to learn, her curiosity, must be communicated by the qualitative researcher.  People are willing to share so much more when they sense genuine curiosity.

Second, Markoff has an interesting window into culture via food.  The sensorial realm can tell much about people, culture and their relationship to products and categories.  I'm excited to look for new windows into how people think via sensorial stimulus in their lives.

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