Why MRMW Matters to Qual Researchers

Thursday, July 19, 2012

MRMW Client-side Panel
Market Research in the Mobile World North America 12 featured an audience that was heavier towards the quant side of things.  Why?  I heard concern from a few quallies (who shall remain nameless) that the content wouldn't be relevant.  Fair concern when you're spending money on the ticket and travel, as well as time out of the office.  But, here's why I think the concern was unjustified.

Qual and quant lines are blending.  Yes, people have been saying this for a while, but the new tech enablers are really driving this home.  In my own practice of social media research from an ethnographic perspective, I've had to straddle quant more than ever.  I have a hard time telling people that I do "social media research from more of a qual perspective" because that's not totally true.  While I've thought of myself as a qual researcher in the past, I've found that I can add value to anything quant by asking "why?"
Our Job is about Decision Making.  I heard this emphasized over and over, especially by folks Gayle Lloyd.   The job of researchers is to aid in decision making.  Instead of hedging and hiding against graphs, charts, base sizes or transcripts, the encouragement was for us to stand up and act like true consultants...and make recommendations that are relevant to the business!  Any qual researcher can benefit from this advice.  All of our expertise on methodology and research execution are price of entry.  If mobile qual is the best method for being able to answer the business question then we simply need to be able to do it, and do it well.
User Experience.  The experience of research needs to value the people that we're asking to participate. I've firmly believed this in my face to face qual practice for a long time.  Yesterday, Betty Adamou of Research Through Gaming talked about creating a gamified experience that had a young boy completing the "survey" three times simply because he wanted to.  Cheers to that.  Paul McDonald of Google talked about how Google started with the user experience first when creating their Google Surveys product (more on that from my pre-conference interview here).
Qual research has a bad rap because it can be so painful for the participant.  In the long run, that will negatively impact our recruiting pool (and I would argue already has, and has skewed the sorts of people willing to participate).
Analysis of Disparate Data.  Gayle Lloyd encouraged that the audience really think about how we can add value as thought leaders, looking across disparate data for themes (more here).  This is what qual researchers do so well.  We listen to lots of focus groups, watch lots of online videos and make sense of lots of collages.  Qual researchers have years and years of experience with pulling out the themes of data from a variety of sources.  I'm continuing to look at analysis frameworks after Gayle's encouragement.

While some of the content was overtly "quant," I found some inspiration that I'll apply to my practice today.  And, I'll close by saying that often, my best inspiration is analogous or adjacent to what I'm directly working on.

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