Archive for the New MR Category

Where Online Research Communities Fail

An Empty PartyIn my last post, we looked at the 7 compelling reasons why brands should create their own online research community. The benefits of speed, cost and depth of research are certainly very attractive.

However, researchers often tell me that the current reality is that there are also some very big hurdles to get over. These are stopping a lot of brands from creating their own communities, and preventing those that do, from getting real value from them.

(CC Image courtesy of Sipgraph)

The 3 big problems that clients and agencies have shared with me in conversation are:

Why Online Communities Are a Key Path to Growth

Online CommunitiesOnline communities are identified as a ‘key path to growth in market research’ in the new Green Book Report 2014, for very good reason. They combine the best of ad-hoc qualitative research with unparalleled speed and agility, and reduced recruitment costs. They are good for the brands who need fast access to insight and good for the agencies who provide regular consultation through them.

In this four-part feature we’ll explore the benefits, the problems, the options available and also look at the huge elephant in the room…

Wearable Market Research

Google Glass Wearer The limitations of traditional market research, when applied to customer decision making are well documented. Face to face groups are subject to dominant voices, an instinct to please the questioner and the behavioural bias towards herding leading to collective views.

The effect of these limitations can to some extent be offset by clever facilitation. But the biggest problem remains – that groups are too far removed from actual customer experience. Even the use of clip board surveys at shop exists still do not get close enough to the moments that matter.

(Google Glass Image from

Why Brands Need Online Research More Than Ever

Blockbuster USAWe live in a world where we are more connected than ever. We can pick up a phone and speak to family and friends on the other side of the world, video conference them or just update them on what’s going on in our lives. But it isn’t just friends we can contact. We can play online games with complete strangers, ask political leaders questions and join global movements. The Internet has enabled a human connectivity like never before. Conversations are happening on a global scale. They offer hope of greater connection, education and understanding.

But despite this connectivity, the vast majority of newly launched products and services fail – in fact some estimates are 95%. 


How Brian Cox Can Help Online Qualitative Research Win in the Battle Between ‘Science’ and ‘Engagement’

One of the biggest battles in the world of research is being fought out between the ‘engagement’ and ‘science’ schools of thought. I believe that the best technology partners are the ones who can keep them both happy, by facilitating engaging experiences for participants and granting sufficient control to researchers.

Brian CoxThe conflict raises questions about how scientific online qualitative researchers should be.  For example, should they present stimulus in a controlled, private way?  Or should they instead focus on getting more value out of participants by making the experience engaging, open and social?

(CC Image courtesy of Tixx on Flickr)

In the scientific corner we have the traditionalists, dedicated to techniques that control the group effect.  For example they might insist on getting private responses before exposing a piece of stimulus to the whole group. In general, they want online qualitative platforms that give them control and therefore produce higher levels of confidence in the results.  That’s all well and good but it makes the experience less interesting for the participants (which in turn means they need to be paid more to take part).

How Online Qual Can Sharpen the ‘Fuzzy-Front End’ of the NPD Process

The evocatively titled ‘fuzzy-front-end’ of the NPD process has been coined to reflect the general messiness and lack of clarity that goes into the initial ideas phase of new product design (Kim and Wilemon1 , 2002, Koen et al. 2, 2001). It can often be the lengthiest phase, taking up to 50% of the total development time3. Online qualitative conversations can help companies wipe the fuzz from their brows, by providing fast-flowing, on-going and inspiring insights.

Some of the most seminal models mapping the optimal NPD process have tended to gloss this early idea-creation phase (Katz 2011)4. Urban and Hauser’s Design and Marketing of New Products (1980)focuses more on marketing. Similarly, the discovery phase in Cooper’s “Winning at New Products” (1986, 1993, 2001) 6, is less concerned with the evaluation of the early concepts and more focused on reviews at later stages in the cycle. A similar assessment can be made of Wheelwright and Clark’s ‘Revolutionizing Product Development’ (1992) 7, Michael McGrath’s ‘Setting the PACE in Product Development’ (1996) 8 and MITS ‘Center for Innovation in Product Development’ (2005) 9. All these models focus on the process after the initial ideas have already been had.

How Online Qual Can Help Humanise Data…

The word ‘data’ (said in a robotic voice) was once the preserve of geeks, number-crunchers and tech-bods. Now ‘data’ (said with optimistic excitement) is said to be the new oil for business and the soil in which ideas can grow. However, despite the clamour around the power of data, it too often remains impenetrable and lacking in humanity. Online qualitative research can help humanise data by adding context through verbatims and video. Numbers can be brought to life through words.

How Online Qualitative Research Can Stop Death by PowerPoint

No doubt at some point in your career you have either killed or been killed by power-point. There’s nothing quite as fatal to attention spans as a text-heavy, image-light debrief. I believe that online qualitative methods put researchers in a much stronger position to make presentations that engage rather than enrage, simply because of the richness of the content that they allow researchers to gather.

Building Rapport With Participants Is Key to Good Moderation

A good online moderator will always ensure they build a rapport with their participants, largely because they know that a good rapport is key to getting more information and ultimately more meaningful insight from each participant.

The nature of asynchronous online research makes building a good rapport more challenging than in traditional research methods. The face to face social interactions are removed and one cannot rely on a friendly smile or shared laugh to ‘warm’ participants.

However, a good rapport is easily established when a few simple steps are taken.

The Foundations for Ensuring Successful Online Qualitative Research

Over the years we’ve conducted and overseen hundreds of online qualitative research projects, we’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly! From our experience we’ve learned that by putting certain foundations in place prior and during research programmes you can go a long way towards ensuring your project is successful and your insight is meaningful.

So, what are these foundations and how will they help?