NewQual Diaries (Part 1 of 5)
The qualitative diary is evolving far beyond traditional pen and paper. Trends in social media sites, such as Facebook and YouTube, combined with pervasive personal technologies, have enabled the “newqual” diary which can include online, video, mobile and audio data. Two qualitative research consultants (Kristin Schwitzer and Dana Slaughter) share their experience with these new approaches, as originally published in QRCA’s Fall 2011 Views magazine.
Qualitative researchers have long considered diaries a useful element for insight gathering. Traditionally, respondents wrote their entries in notebooks provided by the researcher and then mailed the completed notebooks to the researcher for analysis or shared them during a subsequent inperson interview.
Today, it is increasingly common to have respondents execute qualitative diaries without handwriting any notes at all! Additionally, the diary information collected can be viewed (or listened to) almost immediately after it is collected, allowing for much-more-rapid learning, as well as for on-the-fly changes to data collection. Both of these shifts in qualitative diary work have been enabled by “newqual” approaches, including online, video, audio and mobile formats, which leverage technology to get closer to the actual consumer experience. In this 5-part series, we will share some of our experiences with each of these newqual formats in the hope that it will stimulate you to toss out the old notebooks and get online instead.
Uses of Diaries.
Fundamentally, qualitative diaries are used to better empathize with consumer experiences, and gain a deeper, more granular understanding of behaviors, motivations, emotions and unarticulated needs over a period of time. The range of common qualitative applications which we will discuss include the following:
• Capturing the details of behaviors of interest, especially to supplement recalled or claimed behaviors.
• Observing the use of a product or service, including drivers of (or barriers to) influencers, tradeoffs, satisfiers/dissatisfiers, etc.
• Sensitizing respondents to a topic before “going deeper” in a subsequent one-on-one interview or even possibly a group discussion.
• Gathering “stories” that can be used as the basis for communications, strategic positioning or new-product insights.
• Simply “bringing the consumer to life” as a foundation for greater empathy.
Technology, Transparency and Reach.
Consumers today are openly recounting their lives on Facebook and YouTube in a diary-like fashion, including sharing stories and snippets that relate to many classical diary topics. Already, 48%of the U.S. population posts snapshots capturing their daily lives on Facebook. Many post pleasant musings, like praise for a favorite restaurant or movie. It is common for people to share more intimate moments in their lives, including videos highlighting a growing child’s accomplishments. Many also share more introspective reflections, like their latest views on work-life balance. This increasing comfort with personal transparency online has afforded qualitative researchers a new method for gathering deep and rich information about personal routines and emotions.
This comfort with transparency is not restricted, however, to just the online environment. Rather, it extends into the mobile environment. It is staggering to realize that 98% of Americans have a mobile phone (many with picture/SMS and video capability), 30% of which are smartphones with email and web-surfing capabilities. This functionality allows people to capture and share what is happening in their lives from wherever they are — and in an increasingly media-rich way.
Newqual platform providers in the past year have sought to tap into this trend by allowing researchers to leverage the range of communication technologies on mobile devices — SMS, MMS, video, email, web-based, app-based and voicemail. With the permeation of technologies that encourage us to capture and share our lives, evolving the traditional qualitative research diary to follow these trends seems not only natural but also essential.
Next up in the series: Online Diaries. The qualitative diary is evolving far beyond traditional pen and paper. Trends in social media sites, such as Facebook and YouTube, combined with pervasive personal technologies, have enabled the “newqual” diary which can include online, video, mobile and audio data. Two qualitative research consultants (Kristin Schwitzer and Dana Slaughter) share their experience with these new approaches, as originally published in QRCA’s Fall 2011 Views magazine.