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I Underestimated the QRCA Annual Conference

Posted By Maria Virobik, ResearchScribe, Monday, November 13, 2017

I was a first-time attendee at the 2017 QRCA Conference in Los Angeles. Although I have been an independent QRC for 20 years, it wasn’t until the QRCA bylaws changed last year that I was finally (finally!) able to join the organization. I joined QRCA the day the expanded membership guidelines were announced and signed up for the conference soon after. The fact that it was taking place practically next door to me (I live in Pasadena) was just gravy.

Although it was my first QRCA conference, I was pretty certain what to expect: There would be interesting speakers and presentations, I would meet other QRCs, I would learn new things, and, of course, there would be dine-arounds. (Even though I had spent the preceding years being QRCA-adjacent, I knew about dine-arounds!)

I certainly wasn't wrong, but I definitely underestimated the magnitude. I expected “good,” even “great,” but the conference was AMAZING.

I attended presentations that filled my brain with tons of fantastic information, given by QRCs whose names I recognized as rock stars in qualitative research.

I learned new techniques and approaches and ideas. We were encouraged to approach and think about qualitative research in novel and surprising ways, and it all made me more excited about a field that I am already pretty darned excited about.

Perhaps the best part for me was connecting faces with familiar names as I finally met the colleagues “IRL” with whom I have worked with for years via phone and email. I also met many more QRCs that I only knew by name and reputation. In many cases, all I had to say was, “Wait, you’re So-and So?” and a fun and energetic conversation would take off from there.

And yes, I “dined around” and that was fabulous too – another opportunity to connect with colleagues and talk about anything and everything. Not just qualitative research or business or client issues or “work stuff,” but everything else under the sun. Dogs, favorite travel destinations, restaurant recommendations, you name it.

I came home every night too excited to sleep and couldn’t wait to get back the next morning. At the end of the conference, I had collected a stack of business cards from all the people I met, and had heard so much to inspire me and make me a better QRC. But the best part by far was the feeling throughout the entire three days that I had found “my people.” Working independently can be isolating and leave QRCs feeling like we are on our own with no backup or support, even just to commiserate about difficult projects or clients or respondents. For me, the conference was three solid days surrounded by nothing but support, collaboration, commiseration, and conversation with smart, friendly, interesting people who “get” what I do. I went expecting to meet colleagues but left with a lot of new friends as well. Needless to say, I am already booked for Phoenix in January 2018 and I can’t wait!

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  qualitative research 

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QRCA Annual Conference: Not Your Typical Event

Posted By Jennifer Dale, InsideHeads, LLC, Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Every year, all members of the Qualitative Research Consultants Association (QRCA) are invited to convene at the annual conference. With so many research industry conferences to choose from, why is the annual QRCA event always top of my list?

Because it’s worth it.

The cost of my annual membership and the one-time conference fee is nominal compared to the value I derive from the experience, both personally and professionally.

Since becoming a member of QRCA in 2006, I’ve missed only one annual conference and have no plans to miss another. Each year, I joyfully eject myself from the office and immerse myself in a pool of peeps whose interest in how people think is equally piqued.

The QRCA conference is not your typical annual bash, with a slew of pushy sales presentations. Instead, topics and speakers are heavily vetted, ensuring each conference includes the most relevant, useful, and inspiring learning sessions. Dedicated vendors support the conference by displaying and demonstrating the newest tools and technology for qualitative research. And members open their arms to welcome friendly hugs and share life stories.

For all who are QRCA, see you in Phoenix this January!

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Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  qualitative research 

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Millennials and Video Ethnography: So Happy Together!

Posted By Isabelle Albanese, Consumer Truth Ltd., Thursday, October 26, 2017

Using video ethnography with Millennials is a big win for researchers and marketers. Lately Consumer Truth has done a few video ethnography projects among Millennials in three different categories. They've all yielded tremendous insight and in-depth discoveries. An interesting finding about the "marriage" of the target and the methodology is that Millennials are more than willing to share their lives via autonomous video capture and perceived self-direction. What researchers and marketers can potentially get in return is a wonderful glimpse into their homes, their personalities, relationships, interaction with friends, family members and pets—and ultimately, their truths—who they are, what matters to them and why, which is our ultimate end game.

In fact, I've found this group much more willing to share feelings, concerns, wishes and desires via self-made video stories than they are in more traditional qualitative settings. And why not? Screens are a second-nature connection to them. Screens have been their preferred conduit to communication most of their lives. Screens are familiar, controllable—their friends! And what we as marketers get back are well-crafted, casually communicated stories about how they interact with products and services—and importantly, how they feel about brands. What's real. Their truths.

In a recent project we did with Millennials, one person—after having completed the assignment—contacted us and asked what more we wanted her to do. Are we satisfied with her feedback? Did we get what we were looking for? Was there anything else we wanted her to capture on video? While I appreciated the over-achieving effort, like any qualitative researcher, I asked why she was so willing to continue contributing beyond our initial "ask." The answer shed a lot of light on the relationship this demographic has with screens, video and technology overall—and what we as marketers can learn relative to successful methodologies.

"It seemed too easy! Like I should be doing more for the money you paid me!" Understand, this was after having her complete a three-pronged exercise spanning 3 days and submitting 15 minutes of self-made video. In 17 years of researching consumer behavior, I've never once had someone contact me after an in-person ethnography (or any other methodology, for that matter) to ask if there was something else I needed to ask them or for them to do. No. That did not happen. Ever.

"It's ...easy!" And if it's "easy," isn't it also more authentic, more natural and real?

Read the full blog post, and join me at my presentation at the QRCA Annual Conference in January 2018!

Tags:  market research  Millennials  QRCA Annual Conference  video ethnography 

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QRCA Annual Conference Preview: Using a Behavioral Economics Lens to Research Behavior

Posted By Lauren McCrae, Lux Insights, Inc., Wednesday, October 25, 2017
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Daniel Kahneman and Richard Thaler have both won the Nobel Prize in Economics for their work on behavioural economics, and since Thinking, Fast & Slow was published in 2011, discussion of the systematic biases in how humans think has become mainstream in the market research field. But is being aware of these biases the only thing market researchers need to do in order to obtain better insights?

I argue that we need to understand all the influences on human behaviour, beyond just what goes on in people’s heads, in order to structure our research so that we can truly understand decision-making. This includes the physical and social context in which decisions are made, the skills and capabilities individuals have, as well as their internal motivations, whether those are conscious or subconscious. How can we understand all of this through our research?

Here are a few approaches to help get a more complete picture of what drives behaviour, without introducing bias by asking participants directly:

§ Spend more time on introductions understanding how participants see themselves in general, probing on areas you want to know more about. It’s amazing how much you can learn from asking in an open-ended way for someone to describe themselves.

§ Ask family or friends about participants’ personalities. Spouses, parents and friends can all provide a different context, and reveal important traits of participants about which participants themselves may be unaware.

§ Ask about experiences that are similar to, but not exactly the behaviour you are researching. For example, if you want to understand online purchasing behaviour, find out about what participants do online in general, and why.

I will be talking more about the factors that influence behaviour, and how to create a discussion guide that will help you uncover the major influencers, at the QRCA annual conference in Phoenix taking place January 24-26, 2018. Please join me in Phoenix to learn more: www.qrca.org/2018


Tags:  behavioral economics  Daniel Kahneman  human behavior  qualitative research  Richard Thaler 

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The Best Conference Value Available

Posted By Janet Standen, Scoot Insights, Tuesday, October 24, 2017
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After 30 years on both the client side and the agency/consultancy side, I've been to more conferences than I care to remember, but the QRCA Annual Conference coming up in January 2018 in Phoenix is one that I will not miss. Each year, it is simply the most fun, the most welcoming, open and friendly, and the most informative of them all — that is, if you have anything to do with qualitative research and you want to remain or become one of the best qualitative practitioners out there!

It's a great chance to meet up with those I've met before, and connect with many I've worked with as a result of being a fellow QRCA member... and I always have a chance to meet a good few new QRCA members too. For the amount I get out of it in terms of business opportunities from working with other QRCA members, the amount I learn from the speakers, and the opportunity it provides to connect with all the different vendors (in a fantastically efficient way) who are part of the fabric of being able to deliver great results for my clients — it works out as the best value conference I can attend every year. I have never been disappointed.

Sometimes what I learn just helps me have the confidence that what we are offering at Scoot Insights is meeting a real need out there, but I also always walk away with things I can implement immediately (a new mobile provider, a new use for journals, a way to sharpen up share out presentations) and some things that get my brain fired up thinking about things in a new way, such as imagining myself as a "news reporter" when investigating my topic and writing up my findings! If anything, it is an over-stimulating experience — but one that's hard to beat!

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  qualitative research 

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Under 35? Applying for a Young Professional Grant Is a Must

Posted By Elizabeth Marconi, Catapult Marketing Group, LLC, Wednesday, October 4, 2017
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Applications are now open for the Qualitative Research Consultants Association (QRCA) Young Professionals Grant (YPG). Fifteen grants will be awarded to young professional qualitative researchers 35 years and younger to attend the QRCA’s 2018 Annual Conference: Elevate & Cultivate, to be held January 24-26 in Phoenix, AZ, a USD $1,300 value, funded by partners Schlesinger Associates, M/A/R/C Research and FocusVision.

Receiving the QRCA’s Young Professionals Grant was a distinct honor that came at the perfect time in my career. I had been working for four years at a large marketing research supplier and had been seriously considering joining my mother’s small qualitative consulting firm. At the 2015 conference in Orlando, I was able to speak with other independent consultants who offered encouragement and concrete advice. I also met a number of other parent-child MR pairings that really made me feel like part of a well-worn tradition. I made the career transition soon after the conference and haven’t looked back.

From the first activity – the “speed dating” between first-timers and mentors – I felt energized by the collective enthusiasm and vitality that filled the grand hall. Everyone was eager to learn about my background, interests and career goals – not surprising given that qualitative researchers are a naturally inquisitive breed. It was immediately apparent that QRCA members are genuinely vested in everyone’s professional success and personal happiness.

The sessions at the conference struck the perfect balance for me between practical and theoretical subject areas. As a former academic nerd in college, I appreciated the high-level presentations on more abstract topics like consumer behavior. In addition, the numerous sessions on everyday tips and tricks helped me leave with a significantly expanded market research toolkit.

I officially joined QRCA after the conference and have enjoyed deepening my involvement with the national group and my local Philadelphia chapter. The leadership team at the conference made it clear that there is opportunity for any member to actively contribute to QRCA, regardless of experience level. During my first year in QRCA, I contributed to VIEWS magazine and participated in the YPG committee. Over the past year, I became Treasurer of the Philly chapter, co-chair of the Membership Committee and participated in both the Conference and Young Professionals Committees.

I highly recommend that young professionals take advantage of this unique program. You will assuredly come away with a few new connections and a renewed excitement for qualitative research.

Visit qrca.org/YPG to apply or learn more.  Applications are due November 1, 2017.

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Tags:  QRCA  qualitative research  young professionals grant 

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What Made American Audiences Cry over a Coffee Ad?

Posted By Kay Correy Aubrey, Wednesday, May 31, 2017
What Made American Audiences Cry over a Coffee Ad?

An Interview with Dr. Clotaire Rapaille on the Culture Code

Dr. G Clotaire RapailleDr. G Clotaire Rapaille is a cultural anthropologist and founder of Archetype Discoveries Worldwide. He is best known for writing the New York Times bestseller The Culture Code: An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Live and Buy as They Do. QRCA member Kay Correy Aubrey interviewed Dr. Rapaille for our VIEWS magazine. The first part of the interview appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of VIEWS.

Dr. Rapaille explains that in humans, our reptilian brain always wins. “The reptilian (brain) is about basic survival, basic instinct. It’s short-term. It’s pain and pleasure. It’s so strong.”

That deeply embedded, instinctive feeling is what the Culture Code is all about. “There is no learning about anything without emotion,” Dr. Rapaille says. “The more intense the emotion, the stronger the imprint…. When you learn a word, you learn more than the word — the whole culture goes with it. It’s a package. You get so much with a word.”

Using this as a starting point, Dr. Rapaille and his associates take groups of people from a particular culture to do imprinting sessions. Going through that process with Americans in a project for Folgers coffee, the team discovered that Americans imprint on the aroma of coffee. “And what we said at the time is that Folgers should own the aroma, everything. And then we designed communication around aroma.”

In the resulting ad, a young soldier returns home from the military and makes coffee for his sleeping mother. She smells the coffee, realizes what it means, and rushes down the stairs to hug her son. “When we tested the commercial people were crying,” Dr. Rapaille says. “It’s not just coffee. It’s reactivating the first imprint of something that is so emotionally positive and associated with all the reference systems. So we discover these dimensions that are so powerful, but usually unconscious.”

Tags:  american audiences  clotaire rapaille  cry over coffee ad  culture code  kay correy aubrey  qrca  spring 2017  views magazine 

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Ditch the script; have a conversation instead!

Posted By Alison Rak, Monday, March 20, 2017

Nobody likes a telemarketer, so why use their techniques in recruiting? Why are researchers still  getting away with putting participants through long, boring, tedious screeners? A conversational approach to your recruit may seem difficult or impractical, but if done well can yield excellent results in the way of highly-qualified, happier participants.

What is a conversational recruit? It’s a way of getting all of the answers to your screener, and then some, through a friendly conversation. There are a few key requirements for success, however. First, you need to be completely aligned with your recruiter on your screening criteria. This typically requires a detailed conversation, backed up in writing, versus just emailing over a screener. Second, you need to trust your recruiter completely that they will not lead the participant, and that they have your best interests in mind. Finally, you need a recruiter who will have a small number of qualified, intelligent people who are well-trained with your project working for you, versus a firm that will put a large number of interchangeable dialers on your project.

Some researchers attempt a conversational recruit by writing a conversational screener, but these fall short. Potential participants can tell when someone is reading from a script and it’s a turnoff. A skilled, conversational recruiter, on the other hand, can knock off a number of screener questions in a brief exchange. Here’s an example of three questions from a typical screener:

First, a written introductory paragraph that, no matter how casual the recruiter tries to make it, will come across as a script and set the tone for the rest of the exchange. Then come the questions:

  1. What age range do you fall into?
    1. under 18 (terminate)
    2. 18-24
    3. 25-34
    4. 35-44
    5. 45-54
    6. 55 or older (terminate)

2. Do you have kids living at home? If so, what are their ages?

3. Do you or anyone in your household work in any of the following industries?

  1. Education
  2. Marketing
  3. Advertising
  4. Public relations
  5. Transportation
  6. Technology
  7. etc. etc. etc.

3. (Articulation question) If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go and why?

Now, imagine trying to achieve the same thing through a conversational approach.

After a brief introduction….

Recruiter: Tell me a little about yourself. For example, how old are you, what do you do for work, and who do you live with?

Potential participants: Well, let’s see…. I’m 42 years old, a stay-at-home mom. I live with my husband and two kids, plus a golden retriever who acts like my third kid!

Recruiter: “Oh, I love goldens! How old are your kids?

Participant: My daughter Izzy is four and my son Burke is eight.

Recruiter: Wow, you have your hands full. What does your husband do for work?

Participant: He’s a chef for Intuit.

Recruiter: Nice! Does he cook for you at home?

Participant: He does! He’s a great cook. During the week I usually feed the kids before he comes home but he will whip something up for the two of us and it’s always delicious. I’m very lucky!

You get the idea. The conversational approach got all of the key information from original screener, and then some. The participant is much more engaged, and an articulation question becomes irrelevant.

Taking it a step further, the recruiter now has established a rapport with the participant and can write up a blurb for the researcher, versus only typing stats into a grid. As a researcher, I appreciate getting an email with a blurb about a hold (e.g.“Rachel is a stay-at-home mom of two and very articulate. She meets all of the criteria but is a hold because her husband works in the technology industry (for Intuit), but as a chef.”) I can read it and quickly respond “Yes, let’s accept Rachel” (I was screening out people who work in tech, but a chef for a technology company will be fine for this project.) It’s far preferable over getting an email (“Attached is your latest grid, with a hold for your review”) which I then have to open and read through to find out the reason for the hold.

A conversational approach to recruiting brings about so many benefits but most of all, it’s consistent with our work and our industry values of being both qualitative and humane.

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Trust, Yet Verify: a new twist on recruiting

Posted By Alison Rak, Monday, March 20, 2017

Traditional recruiting methods typically follow a standard practice of keeping the study topic blind, or keeping a key screening criteria secret in order to weed out potential cheaters. Researchers have become skilled in drafting carefully-worded screener questions with the sole intent of beating these dreaded cheaters at their own game, and as we’ve done so the cheaters have become more skilled as well. It’s like a game of cat and mouse, and can be exhausting.

But what if we were to take a different approach? A “trust, yet verify” technique flies in the face of some traditional methods, yet can be more efficient and more effective, while simultaneously treating our participants with more respect.

How does “Trust, yet Verify” apply to recruiting? Imagine that you are looking for people who have purchased a specific widget online within the last six months. A traditional screener will likely cast a wide net, and then narrow it by asking potential participants a range of item types that they may have purchased, finally getting down to the specific widget. This may work, but is extremely time-consuming (in a day and age when screeners are getting longer, and participants have less patience than ever before.) In addition, it relies on the honesty and accurate recollection of potential participants, which carries inherent risks.

So how about just asking people up front: “Have you purchased an XYZ widget in the past six months? If so, we need you for our research study!” This will attract two types of people: (1) people who purchased the widget, and feel uniquely qualified to participate; and (2) a few people who have not purchased the widget, but want a way to make quick buck. It also avoids wasting valuable time of people who don’t qualify, but may have responded to a more general query and gone through the screening process only to be disqualified.

Next, you put them through a screening process that is quick and efficient (because they’ve already met your key criteria.) Finally, the key step: require proof of purchase. Have the potential participants email you a receipt of their purchase. Legitimate participants will have no trouble doing this, and those potential cheaters will quickly be weeded out.

We’ve used this method successfully in a range of ways, for example: to verify purchases as in the example above, to confirm subscriptions, to check job titles on LinkedIn, and to make sure the participant matches who they say they are by viewing public social media profiles. We’ve found that it dramatically increases the quality of participants and for a researcher, it’s great to go into a study with confidence that the participants have been carefully vetted. Of course, while most potential cheaters will simply make up an excuse to not provide proof (don’t believe it! disqualify them!) some will actually go to some length to continue their lie by adding said item to an online cart and then sending a screenshot of their cart, for example. By taking the time to vet people in this “proof” step, these tricks can be caught fairly easily.

Obviously if a project requires that participants not know that you are seeking people who have purchased this widget then this approach wouldn’t apply, but in most recruits there are at least some elements that can leverage this “Trust, yet Verify” approach.

It can also be a valuable step to avoid an honest participant or recruiter mistake. For example, if you want to make sure someone has just the right widget before you head into an in-home, have them send in a photo of it prior. Yes, it’s an extra step in the recruit, but is well worth it to avoid scheduling a two-hour in-home with someone who doesn’t own the relevant product.

With so much information available online, and with the increased tech-savviness of everyday participants, it only makes sense that we evolve our recruiting to keep up. So for your next project think about how you can trust, yet verify. You’ll be glad you did!

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QRCA Announces Annual Award Recipients for 2017

Posted By Conference Team, Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Qualitative Research Consultants Association (QRCA) recently announced the recipients of its association awards, which were given out at the organization’s annual conference in Los Angeles, held in mid-January.

Global Outreach ScholarshipOana Rengle, Bucharest, Romania

Introduced in 2008, the Global Outreach Scholarship is awarded annually to qualitative researchers from outside the US, UK or Canada. Because international qualitative researchers may not have high-quality professional development opportunities within their own countries, QRCA offers winners the opportunity to experience first-hand QRCA’s Annual Conference with its unique culture of learning and sharing. The 2017 winner, Oana Rengle runs her own qualitative consultancy, Anamnesis, in Bucharest. Oana is a force of nature with a larger-than-life personality. She is a driven investigator of all things qualitative. Oana explores, compares, and shares whatever she learns about methodologies and how to make them work for clients, transcending international borders.

Maryanne Pflug Spirit AwardSusan Sweet, Sweet Insight Group, Lafayette, Colo.

The Maryanne Pflug Spirit Award upholds and celebrates QRCA’s cultural heritage of collegiality among members and commitment to the organization, and is awarded to a member who demonstrates “spirit” in the association. The recipient is selected by a committee of former recipients, from candidates nominated by members. Susan Sweet is a former board member, committee leader and leader in planning the worldwide conference. Among the statements made by nominators, “When the association tries to settle into status quo, she pushes for fresh, young energy. When a committee starts to slog, she gives it life. She embodies Maryanne's qualities of friendliness, passion, and unconditional positive regard for all.  Her enthusiasm and passion are infectious.”

President's AwardLynn Greenberg, Lynn Greenberg Associates, Hastings on Hudson, N.Y.

This award is given for exemplary service and dedication to QRCA to a volunteer member who is not on the board of directors. It recognizes contributions within the past year and/or during a career/lifetime of work. The recipient is chosen by the board and the award is presented by the president at the annual conference. Lynn Greenberg is a past president, was the first annual conference chair, and remains an active committee leader. Some of the things said of Lynn by nominators included, “She's an Olympic-class collaborator. She is a dynamo… Lynn is an inspiration who constantly keeps growing, learning, re-inventing. She keeps it fresh and real. She’s a powerhouse of energy.”

Qually Award – Tory Gentes, The Palmerston Group, Lebanon, N.H.

The QRCA Qualitative Excellence Award is the premiere award in the industry and is awarded annually to a practitioner or practitioners who exhibit a mastery of knowledge of qualitative methodology and thinking. In the past this award was presented for a previously executed project; however, this year the award was based on the best response to an RFP for a hypothetical client. Submissions were made by QRCA members and voted on by QRCA members. Tory Gentes was recognized for her creative and innovative proposal addressing transportation challenges in California and received a prize of $1,000 USD and a trophy.

Rising Star AwardAnya Zadrozny, AnyaZMedia, New York, N.Y.

Introduced in 2009, this award recognizes QRCA’s newer, younger members for their leadership and significant contribution to QRCA. The recipient is chosen by the board, from candidates nominated by members. Anya Zadrozny is a past Young Professional Grant winner and active marketing committee member. In presenting the award to Anya, QRCA president Manny Schrager noted her achievements, including a significant contribution to several committees, “Anya is super talented and an ‘overachiever’ for QRCA, including producing a video that communicated the new QRCA brand position and coordinating videos that will be used to promote QRCA in the future.”

Tags:  2017 award winners  maryanne pflug award  presidents award  qrca  qually award  rising star award 

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