A Little Qual, A Little Quant…Something for Everyone
First off, I am grateful for the continued good health of my family, friends and colleagues. Trying to find some good out of this tragedy, I am also thankful that the pandemic has given (read, forced) some of my colleagues and clients to see the up-side of online community work. Without the opportunity to do in-person qualitative work or the ability to travel, more have warmed to the idea of working with the online community team to deliver insights and many have been pleasantly surprised by the results.
Coming from the qualitative world, I understand that online isn’t the same as being there but it’s pretty darn close. Yes, you miss the subtitles of body language and reactions of others in the room, but given the upside of allowing consumers to come in to the community and share when they have time, in their homes, with no need, risk or expense of travel for the client teams; it seems a rational trade off. Much like overhauling a recipe using only the ingredients you have in the house, we have enhanced the typical online community recipe.
Online Design Sprint
Chicken or egg? Our client came to us with a new technology developed by the R&D team without clear understanding of consumer perception. We recruited creative-leaning consumers and designed a series of exercises and activities that took them on a journey to create ideas for new foods. We first diverged and then brought it back to this new technology, ending up with many ideas on ingredients, textures and flavors. We paused the community for a couple of weeks while the client wrote up concepts they liked and we put them back out to the community members to give the client more formal feedback around understanding, appeal and even purchase intent. The result was viable ideas for the client and a repeatable process for the client.
A retail client invited 200 of their best customers to a creative session with top designers. We have done this twice so far and the response has been incredible! The event used to take place in NYC with just a handful of customers. Now, with the push to go virtual, the designers are getting input from all over the country. The client recognized immediately the benefit of hearing things like, “That look would not be acceptable in the work place here (Midwest).” Showing these new looks for seasons ahead they were able to adjusting designs, collection names, but also shift ordering based on this feedback.
Try These Mash-Ups
For Quant: We are seeing Pop-Up Communities being used more often in combination with other methodologies. Where you may have conducted some qualitative interviews to inform a survey instrument, we are now running 2-5 day Pop-Ups and even coming back later and running a pre-test through the community. The surveys reflect consumers’ thoughts and language making it more accurate and engaging.
For Qual: Several times we have married a Pop-Up Community with follow-up video 1:1’s. Through the community we get a baseline and two things happen:
1. We can choose just the better respondents based on their experience or POV.
2. We go deeper in the interviews because we have done so much background in the Pop-Up Community.
Think of it as a very long homework assignment. The key here is to use multi-media in the Pop-Up to supplement the in-person interviews so that the consumer or patient can be brought to life for client teams. This has been particularly successful when we need to see these consumers/patients over a time.
We welcomed patients with a chronic condition into a community and, over the course of a couple of weeks, the patients shared what a good day and a not-so-good day looked, sounded and felt like. The qualitative team was able to pick up where we left off and as a team we delivered a comprehensive view of their life with the condition and ultimately personas.
As researchers, we talk about the benefits of innovation and often in wishful terms. A benefit of 2020 is the nudge into innovation and the discovery of new ideas.
So throw out those old recipes and experiment with online communities.