1. Involving the client more directly into the research – Recently I’ve convinced more and more of my clients to open an IM chat box with me so that I can get their thoughts while I’m moderating a live, in-person group on the other side of the mirror.
2. Combining different methodologies – Where we used to be innovative when we offered online bulletin boards for homework to be completed before in-person groups we now have a large variety of ways to interact with participants (from mobile platforms, webcams, Vlogs, Blogs, Social Media, etc.). These methods will be combined to ways that expand how we understand our consumers and the needs, wants, desires and benefits they expect.
3. Teams of Researchers – In the past if one decided to become a Qualitative Research Consultant (QRC) it typically meant working on one’s own. In the last few years I have had the opportunity to team up with other talented QRCers in order to accomplish more research in a shorter period of time. While timing was what drove the initial foray into this area, I found the creative jump of 2 or more QRCs working together provided far more than quicker turnaround.
4. Quali-Quant – While some of us have been offering this for 20 some years, there are now many more software platforms to make these projects turnaround faster and more cost effectively. The question will be whether the abbreviated qualitative information actually provides the depth to get below the surface.
5. Qualitative Social Media Research – Up until now, most social media research has been done with word and phrase counts. There are finally new methods that will help us dig deep into what is being said online without being swallowed whole.
1. Standard 2 hour focus groups – Yes, there is still a need to gather a specific group of consumers together and have them sit around a conference table to respondent to materials that have to be touched, smell, tasted, etc. Yet there are so many more ways in which to have this conversation, even if it is only changing the configuration of the room so that it is more “homey”.
2. Taking time to think about what was learned – At this point virtually all my clients are looking for a topline that includes specific recommendations, within 24 hours of finishing qualitative interviews. While we are still asked to put together a complete report on the findings – which then takes the time to analyze and think about what was said – few clients seem to read this. Are the topline and final report all that different – well first off, let’s say, gosh I hope not. But then let’s ponder whether one can’t help but look for what reinforces the decisions that were made in 24 hours or less rather than being open-minded while conducting the final analysis.
3. Small Business Consultants Most large companies that hire qualitative consultants are making it extremely difficult to stay in business. Payments, even for out-of-pocket costs, are now 45 – 60 days, consultants have to deal with SAP, and Ariba and various other elaborate accounting software that is of no use to a small business (and some require a company to pay to use them – which means we have to pay to get paid).