Why Insight Communities Are Different From Branded Panels

Posted by Kerry Hecht Thursday, February 6, 2014 11:46

Paper chain neighborhood


By Kerry Hecht


Com-mun-ity (n):  an interacting population of various kinds of individuals

Pan-el (n):  A custom online panel or Internet access panel is a group of pre-screened respondents who have expressed a willingness to participate in surveys or customer feedback sessions.

While panel and community have similar definitions in the dictionary, the connotations within the marketing research industry are quite different and we often see brands and agencies attempting to create a ‘community’ but ending up with a ‘panel.’

In this post I am going to highlight the differences between the two.



Using the label ‘community’ implies a level of organic activity where participants are interacting with one another and with the brand, represented by the Community Manager who literally becomes the voice of the brand. The brand builds a relationship and interacts with members of the community and, over time, will grow a healthy community. Outside the community itself, but within the scope of the research, internal insight teams may be communicating with one another and socializing the findings such that insightful decisions can be made. They will also be feeding questions and new research objectives back into the community, via the Community Manager. This approach ensures all stakeholders within the organization have a vested interest in the success of the the insight community. Communities can require a substantial investment of time, so to capitalize on this everyone should be involved with and have bought into the community strategy from the outset.



Branded PANELS are NOT communities. They are a group of people that are on-tap and available to answer questions or to engage in activities once in a while.

For our purposes it’s important to understand that branded panel interactions tend to be mainly surveys (panel again being the resource, but the methodology this time is a survey), so there is very little interaction between participants and little or no back and forth between the brand/community manager and the respondents.

The key benefit of having the branded panel is the availability of the group and while this may not give you the depth you’d receive through an Insight Community, the resources you’ll need to allocate will be significantly less.



There are some fundamental differences in the rules of engagement between an Insight Community and a branded panel.

To keep levels of engagement within your Insight Community high, you’ll combine research-oriented activities with other activities that we refer to sometimes as ‘fillers’. The interest in and content generated by these ‘fillers’ is very useful for keeping members engaged during times when there aren’t any research activities taking place as well fostering that organic activity amongst members that we mentioned above.

These kinds of activities generally relate to to category or to a topic that community members might also find interesting. For example, you might ask members of a digital photography community how they feel about scrapbooking or how people who are active internet shoppers how they feel about security breaches. They should be topical in nature, but with less structure than a research driven activity. Another benefit of these filler activities often help you uncover what questions you need to ask next and guide your overall research plan. It allows the Community Manager (and brand) to be the fly on the wall and witness how people converse about your brand and about parallel topics – in a very natural language.

With branded panels engagement and relationships tend to be more quantitative in nature (Insight Communities will mix both qualitative and quant) and have dark periods between the research. Because of these dark periods, respondents can be difficult to retain over long periods without significant cash incentives, and the quality and quantity of response can drop off over time. Ultimately, there won’t be a lot of continuity between interactions and you end up spending more money and effort refreshing the participants than you would with a community.



Communities, like panels, often require cash incentives but the best communities are often managed with less cash incentives due to their collaborative nature. Through this web of interaction community members are able to see how their input is effecting the brand and it fosters a passion to help. In this sense, the rewards are driven by social norms and not a rewards system. They love the knowledge and process, not the coupon they receive as a bonus. Where relationships are built and deepen, the quality and sustainability of the interactions grows. With flourishing relationships comes more openness and honesty. This leads to the uncovering of real truths.

As we’ve already pointed out, branded panelists tend receive cash or prize-based rewards since the method of engagement isn’t designed to build relationships in an open two-way fashion. Panelists rarely find out what has been done or actioned with the information they have shared and this keeps the interaction activity based.



Don’t get me wrong. Branded panels do have their place and are incredibly valuable tools within a research program. But, they are fundamentally different from Insight Communities and we must understand those differences if we are to be successful with either. At then end of the say, the best way to think about it is that Insight Communities are a methodology and a Panel is a resource from which we find respondents.

Mobile Agnostic Qual Research or Response Research

Posted by Stephen Cribbett Tuesday, October 29, 2013 10:16

digital tablet


The lightning fast changes and developments in smartphones, tablets and phablets (phone-tablets) is blurring the boundaries between mobile and online research. Mobile Agnostic Research, as it’s become know, is happening now and it’s growing fast. It gives participants the ability to chose whether they take part in the online qual discussions and activities (and quant) via their desktop, mobile, phablet or tablet. According to Ray Poynter, it accounts for as much as 30% of all data collected right now. Dub’s own data suggests that as many as 26% of data collected on our qual software, IdeaStream, is being collected this way. So you see, it’s not something to be ignored.

Mobile Agnostic Research provides greater choice and convenience for participants, as well as being a more natural fit with the way they communicate in their everyday lives – on different devices at different times of the day. But there are also big benefits to researchers that I want to focus on in this post, such as enabling them to reach the largest mobile user demographic possible.


Already time poor and confused?

Are you typical of the modern day qualitative researcher, with lots of new methods to grapple with (netnography, behavioural economics, facial recognition and so on) and an even bigger array of tools and software to help you deliver them (communities, text analytics, social media listening tools etc.)? It’s overwhelming right. Have you only just got your head around online qual and built a relationship with a prefered platform, only to have your head turned again by mobile qual tech vendors. I’ll bet the mobile qual that’s turning your head doesn’t integrate with your prefered bulletin board or community software neither, meaning you’ll have to work with two platforms now instead of one! There’s goes your lunch hour!

Online qual research has, in the last year or so, grown as mobile data collection has increased. But it has created confusion among researchers as they try to work out  whether ‘mobile apps’ or ‘mobile web’ is the way to go. Sure, apps let consumers work off-line, but right now consumers are experiencing app overload. Mobile web is massively on the rise making mobile web much more accessible globally.


Create Once Publish Everywhere (COPE)

Mobile Agnostic Research doesn’t just hold benefits for participants, it means that qual researchers can build and manage their entire online qual study or insight community on just one software solution. Because this solution is fully optimised for the mobile web, researchers need only setup their project, discussions and activities once, on one platform, and see it published across mobile, desktop, tablet and phablet at the same time. No need for costly technical integration. No need to set up two separate projects on un-integrated desktop and mobile platforms. Create once, publish everywhere, or COPE. It’s like the hub and spoke model. Simple, quick, effective.


Responsive research design

From a technology standpoint, HTML 5 is what is powering these changes and making online research software compatible with a range of mobile devices and operating systems. Create Once, Publish Everywhere (COPE) is a cross-platform approach that automatically adapts your research to any device or operating system (OS). It enables you to:

  • Save time and reduce costs in developing and testing your research design on multiple devices
  • Automatically deliver a consistent app experience to participants

Added benefits include:

  • Server-side technology for faster display times (ok, that’s a very techy one I admit!)
  • Available on a software-as-a-service basis

It’s similar to what web designers call ‘responsive design’ which optimises the users experience regardless of the device they are using. Taking this approach, I have coined the term Response Research Design to capture a new approach to research design that researchers must learn. What it points to is the future whereby participants are going to be the ones defining the research methodology and not researchers. Within insight communities, people will pick and choice how they respond, what they respond to and what device they use to share their data. Without the choice, they will simply remove themselves and become just ‘lurkers’

Mobile Agnostic Research and Responsive Research Design present many challenges for researchers, qual and quant. I’ve outlined just a few, i’d love to hear if you feel there are more to add.

What I Read This Summer; What I’m Asking Myself as a Result

Posted by Katrina Noelle Tuesday, October 8, 2013 10:28

My summer reading list this year included two books from the worlds of sociology and marketing that gave me pause about how we as researchers are asking our participants questions and how much we rely on their stated views of events.  It made me ask a number of questions of myself as a researcher.

In Herd: How to Change Mass Behaviour by Harnessing Our True Nature Mark Earls challenges the assumption that we all think and behave as individuals.  Instead, he shows through a series of examples how human beings behave as members of a herd.  One market research implication of this view is that people are likely to say that they made decisions independent of others’ influence and from a rational, aware, decisive position. Even though they want to think of themselves as acting autonomously and rationally, they do not sometimes know all the factors that influence decisions.


As he says, “Who would in all seriousness admit that they bough something without thinking and then got to like it after the fact?  Particularly something that costs a lot of money, like a car.”

  • Are we remaining as aware as we need to be of the “why” questions we’re asking participants and of the resulting “reports” of rational behavior we receive in response?
  • Are we challenging and exploring the rational answers we hear from respondents?
  • What projective techniques can we use to take participants out of their rational minds and answer questions more intuitively?

In The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business Charles Duhigg stresses how much habits influence behavior.  He proposes that people are prompted by cues in our lives and environment to go through learned routines that result in a reward.  Our clients want to alter and affect those habits so that they include their brand’s products and services, but this is a complicated process.  As researchers, it is key to know that “People’s buying habits are more likely to change when they go through a major life event.” 




  • How does that impact how we can recruit participants? Should we include screening questions to find participants going through a major life event when habits can most readily be changed?
  • Are we delving into the cycles of cues, habits and rewards that our respondents follow to understand how our clients can insert themselves into this process?


Mostly my reading reminded me to stay tuned to works like this outside the specific realm of qualitative research.  Social sciences and marketing texts offer invaluable insights for researchers trying to understand and analyze the people around us on behalf of our clients.

“I Am More Than My Age & Life Stage”: Using Psychological Profiling to Better Understand Her

Posted by Tinesha Craig Friday, August 23, 2013 10:05

If you’ve ever had a relationship with a woman as a friend, a partner or spouse, a sister or co-worker you might think women are nearly impossible to understand. Some argue that today’s women are far too complex; and, anticipating what she wants, needs and expects is nearly impossible to surmise. Or, at least this must be what it feels like to be a marketer today. One thing is clear, with rapidly changing business needs, shrinking budgets, increased demands and fragmented media channels marketers and researchers must be overwhelmed. Add to this already stressful array the need to decode seemingly complex female consumers or customers and it is clear why so many brands are struggling to find their way.

Yet, ask many marketers who their primary consumer or customer target is and you will likely hear any one of the following responses: Moms; Women; or more specifically Women 35-45 with children 6-12. If you probe deeper some of these marketers will also add a few attitudinal and behavioral points to help provide a more “complete” picture of their target. For example, they might say “gatekeeper moms with children 6-12-year-olds children” or “heavy female category buyers.” But, is this enough insight? Probably not!

Let’s assume we approach marketing like one might approach dating. When you find someone you want to seriously date you:

  • Take time to get to know her beyond what is on the surface because you can’t tell a book by its cover, right?
  • You look for meaningful connections (e.g., values and personality).
  • At a certain point in the courtship your actions and decisions take into account what matters to her, not just what is good for you.
  • You focus on her and she knows she matters to you!

Are today’s marketers good daters? In the context of how effectively they market and sell their products to women only 9 percent of the women think so. Why?  We think there is a lack of real knowledge of women. Marketers are like speed daters – we court for 5 minutes then move on to the next hot consumer.

Many brands have a very surface understanding of their female consumers or customers because they haven’t invested significantly in getting to know her beyond her demographic profile and trackable behaviors. Some might argue that given the complexity of women, unpacking what drives her decision making and her behaviors is nearly impossible. We disagree…because we did it! Insights in Marketing surveyed 1300 American women to understand her at a much deeper, subconscious level and uncover her motivations and their link to her behavior.  From that study, we uncovered that women fall into one of five distinct psychological profiles which significantly impact the way at which marketers should market to women (for more info on our 5 Female Behavioral Insight Profiles (FBI ProfilesTM), click here).

And, as a woman, I was surprised to learn not only how simple understanding women can be when you understand their values and personality; but how obvious brand mistakes are when you view the world through her eyes. Said differently, when you are truly aware of what matters to her psychologically, and what motivates her, there is real clarity about what to sell, how to sell it and most importantly who to sell it to – we call that “strategic clarity.”  This kind of strategic clarity also enables marketers to foucs their communications strategies, develop products that she will willingly buy, and more effectively spend their marketing dollars.

Often relentless focus on short term ROI makes it difficult for companies to invest resources in meaningfully understanding their consumers or customers. A point we find interesting given the enormous potentially wasted resources that are invested in developing, launching and rebranding efforts (consider the highly publicized missteps of brands like BIC for Her, Abercrombie & Fitch, Susan G Komen and JC Penney). To us the clarity you get from knowing who matters and what matters seems like an investment worth making.

For nearly 25 years, Insights in Marketing has helped brands develop impactful products and marketing strategies that effectively appeal to HER. With our new i-on-Women™ division, we now have even greater insight into the psychology of women. We look forward to sharing how we can use these insights to increase your female IQ and improve the impact of your marketing efforts. Click here to learn more about how we can help your team.

In Memoriam: Market Research Loses A True Pioneer In Bill Weylock

Posted by Leonard Murphy Tuesday, August 20, 2013 11:26
Bill and his beloved Terrier, Walter

Bill and his beloved Wheaten Terrier, Walter.

It’s with a very heavy heart that I write this: industry veteran Bill Weylock has passed away after a battle with Pulmonary Fibrosis.

Not only has the market research industry lost a true pioneer, but on a very personal note one of my best friends and longtime business partners is gone as well.

For those who might not have had the privilege of knowing Bill, here is a bit about him.

Bill provided decision support to leading manufacturers, service providers, direct response marketers, and agencies for more than 30 years. With a background that included training in counter-intelligence during his service to his country in Vietnam, and a client history rich in Fortune 100 companies, Bill brought a unique mixture of insight and expertise to market research. He had a long-standing commitment to cutting edge approaches to gathering data and delivering insights. He conducted the first online focus group in 1994 on CompuServe and developed a proprietary process for online audio-video focus groups.

Bill’s leadership roles in industry associations and many years designing and analyzing the GRIT studies gave him especially valuable perspectives on industry trends and emerging research techniques. A founding member and two term President of QRCA, he also served as Chair of the Research Industry Coalition and on several councils of the Advertising Research Foundation, taught Marketing Research at New York University Management Institute, was published in many industry journals and was a contributor to the GreenBook Blog.

A graduate of Vanderbilt University, he lived in Los Angeles with a strong-willed wheaten terrier named Walter.

Bill is survived by his three brothers and Walter. He is mourned by the many friends and colleagues he had the world over.

That all describes what Bill did, but not who he was. I’m not sure I can do that here either, but perhaps I can share a few things to give you a sense of what a one of a kind person he was.

Bill and I connected via LinkedIn (how else?) back in 2006 when Rockhopper Research was just getting off the ground. He quickly impressed me with his intelligence, experience, wit and charm. He became a full Partner in Rockhopper and we became fast friends. That dynamic of being friends who worked together didn’t change up until the last week or so, when his health took a drastic turn for the worse and the work aspect wasn’t part of the equation anymore. The friendship remained.

My kids called him “Uncle Bill”: he never missed a holiday or birthday without sending a card or a gift to my family. His friends were very much family to him and it was a privilege to be among that group.

He suffered no fools and had a razor sharp wit when warranted to take them down. On more than one occasion I was on the receiving end of it, for which I always thanked him later. It was very rare for me to have the opportunity to do the same.

Bill was always willing to help a friend, no matter what the issue. He was quick to offer aid to family and friends and was prone to random acts of generosity to those close to him, never expecting anything in return. Thankfully I was able to follow his example, but the scale remained heavily in his favor upon his passing.

If anyone could be said to have a silver tongue and a golden pen, it was Bill. The man could turn a phrase better than anyone I have ever met. When working under deadlines his fussiness to find just the right wording could give those working with him fits, but in the end it was always worth it. Anything he touched he made better.

He was the best moderator I ever saw; he could get a group to engage, be comfortable, and share honestly like nobody’s business. The quality of the insights he could generate from qualitative research was second to none.

The term “a true scholar and a gentleman” definitely applied. He was well educated, well read, well-traveled and deeply engaged with the world around him, while never being arrogant. Raised in the South, he had that unique Southern charm and sense of decorum that is rare today.

He loved the entertainment business: theater, movies, music, TV. He was an actor and did voice over work for many years and was still deeply connected to the theater world; until the time of his passing he was working with long time partners on several projects.

Most of all Bill was simply a good man and my friend. He truly was one of kind and he shall be missed by all those who were blessed to know him. I doubt the world will see his like again, and we are all poorer for losing him.

Per his wishes Bill was cremated and his family held a private gathering. Friends and colleagues are urged to organize their own memorials as appropriate.

Rather than sending flowers, please donate to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation in his name. A special tribute page with instructions on how to donate can be found here:


“The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places.
But still there is much that is fair. And though in all lands, love is now
mingled with grief, it still grows, perhaps, the greater.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

For more on Bill’s passing see any of these links:



http://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?view=&gid=2209925&item=266239995&type=member&commentID=157105867& trk=hb_ntf_COMMENTED_ON_GROUP_DISCUSSION_YOU_CREATED#commentID_157105867







Fear of the Unknown: How to get Started Using Online Qualitative Research Methods

About 15 years ago, asynchronous online qualitative research began to appear as a new research methodology.  Early adopters of this technology embraced the use of bulletin boards, and it has grown steadily over this period of time.  As the market research industry continued to grow in the area, platforms with advanced technology enhanced the practice of online qualitative studies and contributed to the obsolescence of bulletin boards by more deeply engaging participants through social media site designs and programming.

Nevertheless, many members of the market research industry, whether they are corporate-side managers and directors, or qualitative research professionals and moderators, have not made their foray into the use of online qualitative platforms.  As such, it can be argued that we are still in the early stages on the adoption curve.  Focus groups, the staple study design, has been the method of choice for several decades and is well entrenched in the practice of qualitative research.  It may well be that habits are hard to break or simply that focus groups are what people have become accustomed to and are comfortable with and believe “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Yet examples abound and show that a shift to online from face-to-face (F2F) methods of qualitative research reduces cost and cycle time while increasing quantity and quality of data.  So, perhaps fear of the unknown prevents people from getting started.  Indeed, why would professionals, skilled at their craft, do something different if, what they do, they do well?  If moderators with thousands of focus groups under their belt are managing books of business and lists of clientele, what is in it for them to change their set of offerings?  The simple, single answer to these questions is that online qualitative methods and platform usage will someday displace the use of focus group facilities, and there is much evidence today that show these trends.

Whether studies citing this evidence are purported by GreenBook’s own industry trending, or the increasing number of focus group facilities that continue to close across the country, the fact of the matter is, the demand for online qualitative methods represents one of the largest growth areas in the market research business.  Moderators and corporate side researchers will, sooner than later, be required to understand and be able to execute this method in order to achieve study objectives that do not otherwise warrant F2F focus groups.  While there may always be certain circumstances, special study objectives, or security or political issues surrounding the project that absolutely require F2F methodology, the choice of online vs. F2F will be brought to bear to a greater extent over time, and the need for F2F will become increasingly threadbare.

One need not shift from the traditional focus group project to a complete and exclusively online qualitative study design.  Rather, one can introduce an online component into the qualitative study, such that the overall design contains a mixed methodology.  With so many out there who have yet to dip a toe into the pool of online qualitative, perhaps for fear that the water is too cold, here are several ideas offered to qualitative research professionals to help them get started along these lines.

Use online for homework after or pre-work before F2F focus groups.  Create useful assignment work for participants that are related to the study topic and serve to augment the data collected in F2F phases.  This strategy will inject some added value into a traditional focus group study and provide opportunities for learning about the subject in advance of focus groups or as a follow-up afterwards.  For example, have participants snap photos and take video to upload to the online platform.  Have them add text that describe the images and explain why they have been submitted and what they represent and symbolize.  This feature will augment the verbal data that are collected in focus group settings and actually become artifacts similar to those collected in full-blown ethnographies, thus elevating the overall quality of the study.  Consider providing this added dimension free of charge and it will serve as a delightful bonus for the client sponsoring organization, and introduce the new method to them risk-free.  Having created the occasion for doing so, you will be in a much better position to offer it in future proposals.

Use online for those study objectives better served by one-on-one interactions.  While online platforms typically have the design capability to enable the researcher to set participant interactions to be in either group or IDI format, there are some study objectives that are actually better served by one-on-one conditions.  Unfortunately, if focus groups are being conducted, all interactions are done openly among others, and it is left to the moderator to somehow control the group influence from having the effect of changing participants’ responses to key questions.  Because of this, online platforms may be used strategically to handle those topical areas that, perhaps, are more sensitive or more susceptible to the influence of a group’s presence.

Use online for dial-testing ads and other video-based stimuli.  Dial testing has been in existence for many years.  While the data it yields are irreplaceable for conclusively testing ads before they are aired, for example, execution of such special focus groups are exorbitantly expensive, logistically challenging, and subject to equipment failure and disastrous results for the study.  Instead, special online platforms are available to use for dial testing purposes.  They are far less expensive and much easier to use and set up.  Participants will also prefer to be able to do this from their home or office and will require less of an incentive for doing so.

Use online for any exercise that requires special stimuli and arts & crafts skills.  Again, there are certain online platforms that facilitate various projective techniques much better than when done in person at focus groups.  For example, perception mapping that involves participants’ moving various images, words or phrases into perception map space delineated by the moderator, typically with two axes set at right angles or perpendicular to each other.  Other techniques require choosing images from a set provided by the moderator and putting those images in a certain order that is then used to “tell a story.”  In other cases, just viewing images or text and marking areas that are liked, disliked, relevant, confusing, or some other key variable can become a feat of strength in arts & craft activities.  Even worse, sometimes a moderator can lose or forget the material needed to perform these tests…they may be left at home, in the cab, or at the hotel.  Not only can these exercises be better facilitated in an online platform, but aggregating those data is typically done automatically and, with a button push, can be redrawn based on various subgroups among the sample of participants.  Lastly, these platforms can create resulting formations generated by participants that can be downloaded and pasted into the moderator’s report.

The time to adopt online qualitative methods is upon us all, and for those who have yet to do so, the time is fast approaching and accelerating in speed every day.  Fear not!  The practice already has a history and much is known on how these studies are done expertly, so learning proper technique can be quickly obtained.  But do not feel as though you must immerse yourself in a complete bona fide online study and thus bite off more than you feel you can chew.  Instead, test the waters by beginning with an online augment of a F2F qualitative study.  If you dip a toe into the water, you will find it is quite warm and safe.  Before you know it, you will be swimming around wondering why you did not take the plunge earlier.

Insight Innovation Exchange #IIEX 2013: Day 3

Day three of the Insight Innovation Exchange kept up the pace of an already swift and energetic conference. The event’s 20-minute sessions condensed even further with day 3’s focus on the Insight Innovation Challenge: New Companies Solving Client Business Issues in New Ways

Companies were allowed 5-minutes to pitch their solutions to “25 Top Unmet Needs” that had been submitted by brands. New and interesting solutions in the Qualitative space included:

  • Michael Hagerty (Mizzouri)’s online “feedback solution” – an online concept testing evaluation tool, with more tools in the company’s pipeline.
  • Shelley Kuipers (Chaordix) who declared “market research is dead, long live market research.” She introduced her company’s communities and crowdsourcing products, which she says will replace focus groups, panels, and other traditional research methodologies.
  • Fiona Blades (Mesh Planning), whose mobile platform allows participants to log their emotions and brand recall in real time.
  • Whit.li, which includes respondents’ personality type (based on their social media communication style) in their research to give a more holistic view of consumers.

The conference concluded with two enthusiastic and infectious speakers whose presentations sent us all back home to our offices and businesses with a mandate to innovate through collaboration.

  • Gayle Fugguitt (former head of global insights at General Mills and current CEO and President at ARF asked us if we were ready to grow and change because “people make decisions, data doesn’t.” Gayle called for more discourse like the kind fostered by the conference and challenged us to“amplify your voice through partnership” to make our own luck.
  • Kyle Nel (Lowe’s) told a riveting story of using data philanthropy as a way to challenging us further. Not only should we partner and collaborate, but also we should try to do so with an unconventional partner. Kyle put forward that competitive advantage is achieved by combining forces with a company who is very different from our own services and priorities.

The momentum was palpable. I am confident that every attendee found at least one new way of looking at research, technology, and partnerships as a result of attending this conference.
If our heads were not spinning with inspiration enough already, a smaller set of attendees had the true privilege of attending a 3-hour workshop with Mark Earls. Mark took us through a series of exercises and games based in improve technique to show us how “playfulness makes us see things fresh.” These exercises continually confronted the assumptions that we all make about how customers (and people) think, make decisions and interact with others. They made us all aware that we think too much, that we try too hard to make sense of and control the situations around us. Isn’t this what we ask participants to do when we use projective techniques?

The workshop taught and reminded me of many things in my practice, including:


  • Participation – always do exercises I give to participants personally
  • Empathy – incorporate the mood and feeling of the room into my insights
  • Humility – remember that I’m just another human being, just like my participants

As a result, here’s what’s on my reading list now:

Thank you to everyone at Greenbook for putting on an inspiring conference! For those of you who didn’t attend this time, check out the Insight Innovation Exchange events scheduled throughout 2014, your chance to be inspired and challenged by the future of market research. Stay tuned for more information about these events!


Insight Innovation EU – Amsterdam – February 2014

Insight Innovation LATAM – Santiago de Chile – April 2014

Insight Innovation NA – Atlanta – June 2014

Insight Innovation AP – Singapore – August 2014

Insight Innovation Exchange #IIeX 2013: Day 2

The winner of the Insight Innovation Competition, in which six entrepreneurs had the opportunity to pitch their innovative concepts to the panel of investment judges, was announced today. RIWI (Real-time Interactive Worldwide Intelligence) has patented a process that captures users on web-enabled devices while they type into the direct navigation bar. These users are offered a survey, resulting in “Global, actionable data of online populations 24/7.”



The Ginny Valentine Badge of Courage Awards, awarded to those who fight “long odds and showed exceptional determination to produce great market research,” were awarded in March and promoted during today’s conference. Nominations are open for the next round, which will be announced and awarded at the fall IIeX in Amsterdam.

Many speakers on Day 2 focused on the need to reevaluate the current mindset of the research industry (and of it’s clients).  Attendees were called to view technology as an innovation tool to further understand people, not as an end in and of itself.

QRCs (qualitative research consultants) in the audience learned about new ways to understand our target markets by speakers such as:

  • Nils Schillewaert (Insites Consulting)’s Consumer Consulting Boards, that turns consumers into co-analysts through crowd interpretation.
  • Andrew Needham (Face Group) who enables consumers with technology to provide “socially intelligent research.”
  • Rick West (Field Agent) who worked with P&G to break barriers in in-situ capturing through mobile research.
  • Stephen Thomson (Ramius) encouraged us to move from being a moderator to a manager in the process; choosing intuitive, research-ready technology to build “great insight communities.”

Today’s speakers put the following items on my radar:

  • Agile Manifesto – A call to be pioneering and disrupting in software development.
  • Kickstarter’s “A bite of me” page – An indication of the movement towards user-content being king.

Members of the QRCA contributed to an afternoon track focusing specifically on qualitative research and what we can do to remain flexible enough in our methods and approaches to work with innovating clients.

  • Susan Abbott presented a case story about how to help client teams draw information from the research process in a meaningful way at the right moments within the process.
  • Dana Slaughter presented examples from a host of QRCA members that illustrated how mobile platforms are maturing and helping QRCs to gather insights via mobile.
  • Three other members (Susan Saurage-Altenloh, Ben Smithee and Kathy Doyle) compared their experiences moving qualitative towards an innovative space now that we have “unprecedented access” to information, emphasizing that we now have a more critical role to play as storytellers amid the abundance of data and technology.
  • Ricardo Lopez introduced us to his favorite “qualitative research techie” products and services: Evernote, Livescribe smart pens and tips on how to video effectively in online research.

It was a treat to see so many from QRCA attending IIeX, bringing qualitative research to the table alongside technology and end-client companies. Hopefully the discussion around how to use new techniques and technologies to better understand consumers will continue at the 28th Annual QRCA Conference – Mission: Exploration, held in San Diego this October.



Insight Innovation Exchange #IIeX 2013: Day 1

Posted by Katrina Noelle Tuesday, June 18, 2013 7:09

The 2013 Insight Innovation Exchange, held this week in Philadelphia, is over-sold and already brimming with exciting and inspiring information by Day. Over 450 attendees crowded into the Marriott today to hear from speakers throughout the research and innovation industries from research buyers to emerging technology entrepreneurs.

The conference is practically paperless, relying on Bizzabo networking app


and an interactive Zoomcube, helping attendees to keep on track with the agenda.


QRCs in the audience were challenged as well as inspired today by:

  • Charles Vila (Campbell Soup Company), who challenges his research vendors to get “digitally fit,” avoid buzzwords and to bring him new ways of engaging with consumers in meaningful and relevant ways.
  • Charles Trevail (Promise), who challenged attendees to see pain points as possibilities and for executives to form relationships with customers to create value in people’s lives.
  • Robert Moran (Brunswick Group), who emphasized the world of accelerating, discontinuous change we are all living and working in, encouraging the research community to stretch beyond capturing static “snapshots in time.”
  • Ryan Smith (Qualtrics), who stated the need in the industry to change the way research is being done to enable “insight seekers” within organization – not just “researchers” – to access data.
  • Jasmeet Sethi (Ericsson Consumer Lab), who discussed the necessity of being frugal in growth markets and how reaching consumers on their platform of choice can happen anywhere from a temple to an app.

Today’s speakers also put the following items on my radar:

  • Whatsapp  – An intriguing app that has been used as a frugal research platform.
  • The Lean Start Up  – A book that bring to life our world of continual, face-paced innovation. Where does research fit in this paradigm?
  • Buycott – An app that allows customers to research the company behind products in their consideration set.

Emerging methodologies and technologies filled the afternoon sessions including the Insight Innovation Competition, in which six entrepreneurs had the opportunity to pitch their innovative concepts to the panel of investment judges. Each of these pitches resulted in vibrant Q&A discussions and animated post-pitch hallway conversations, so stay tuned tomorrow for the winner!

Using Google Hangouts for Interviews: A cautionary tale

Pros, Cons and Tips for conducting research using Google+ Hangouts


Recently a client’s budget dictated that we find a non-traditional way of conducting remote interviews.  Since the client uses Google hangouts for its own internal meetings and the platform was cost-effective (aka free), we tried it out.  I have been asked many times how this experience – which I have repeated with other clients in similar situations – compares to the more traditional, hosted, supported research platforms.

Here are my lists of pros, cons and tips based on these conversations:

  • Cost: The most obvious benefit is that the platform is free to anyone with a Google account.
  • Accessibility: Setting up a Google account is easy for participants who don’t already have one.
  • Google allows you to record Hangouts and create a private link to send to your team.
  • Anonymity: Over the past year, Google has made it much harder to create anonymous account names.  A year ago, I could create an account named Cookware Research or Jean Study.  Today, Google will block your account if it is not named with a recognizable first and last name.
  • Technical Difficulties: I miss having the kind of tech support that traditional online research suppliers offer.  I find myself constantly having to handle tech support and troubleshooting issues with respondents.
  • Lack of Consistency: The Hangout platform, requirements and set-up steps are constantly changing.  Each time I employ this methodology I have to write a new guide for respondents to set up Google+ and join my circles in preparation for the interview.
  • Conduct a pre-interview tech rehearsal with each respondent to make sure that they can log in using the computer they will use during the interview.  The rehearsal should take place in the location they will be in during the interview.
  • Due to technical issues that may arise for respondents, make the recorded videos available to your clients after the research has taken place.  I have had too many clients try to watch the video feed live and been frustrated by the experience.
  • When creating links to the videos for viewing, stay vigilant about privacy settings to ensure that no one else using You Tube can view the research videos.
  • Ask your recruiters to select participants who have Google+ accounts as their first choice, and those with Google accounts as a second choice.  Only invite those with no Google account as a last resort.
  • Check and double-check your “guide” to joining and connecting on Google+ before sending it to respondents for your next study.  Do not assume the rules have stayed the same as they were when you did your last study!

Since this is a constantly changing platform, I welcome comments/suggestions from other researchers who have used Google Hangouts.

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