Qual360 in a nutshell – A Speaker Perspective, by Nina Keller


A couple of weeks ago I was a speaker at the 2018 Qual360 conference in Berlin, together with our wonderful client Susanne Stahl from KAO – in between moderating groups on the same day! We were talking about presenting complex results differently, aiming for deeper, broader and longer stakeholder engagement (!) – a fascinating case study, even though I say it myself.

I also managed to listen to many of the other talks and jotted down key themes that emerged, mosaic elements in the emerging new narrative of contemporary qual!

1. Time is the new money

For clients and researchers alike time is the key pressure point. 2 day approaches with emotional/ biometric measurements plus in-depth interviews cater for this need.

But even with complex methods like this you cannot explain the whole world in 48 hours, which is sufficient only for limited and very focused questions. So when offering quick and agile methods – expectation management seems key.

2. Deceleration is possible (sometimes).

Not everything needs to be quick, however. Some clients (e.g. Coca-Cola, Shell) understand that some projects do need time. Case studies included 40 ethnographic observations lasting 4 hours each to explore drinking occasions or researchers spending 3 days at a petrol station to gain in-depth understanding of truckers’ lives.

Whether deceleration is possible depends on how confident your clients need to be to move forward – and on how many insights your clients need to feel confident.

3. Being the consumer voice is our superpower.

Power is where the money is, as the head of in-house qual research from Sky put it. And consumers have the money. So being “the consumer voice” is – and will always be – very powerful. Despite Big Data, VR/AI and other innovative research approaches.

It really isn’t about always inventing new methodologies, it is about finding the right method for the question at hand and about representing the consumer voice.

4. Razzle dazzle stakeholders.

Stakeholder engagement seems to be an increasing challenge and a number of different solutions were presented – from offering multiple presentation of research findings with different focus for different stakeholder to amazing (almost over-the-top) TV-like formats and insight-based events.

Getting people to live and breathe insights, letting them feel and see the real world, making them experience and not understand consumers – it was all about making research more enjoyable and engaging.

5. VR/AI is hot

Some innovative approaches involving virtual reality and artificial intelligence were presented. They are interesting to many, frightening for others and challenging to all it seems.

The challenges of VR research involve having to establish new rules and behaviour in the virtual group room, new moderations skills which are required, new things to analyze (avatar choice instead of choice of clothing) and different technology levels of VR devices.

6. Let’s get visual

Most presentations were highly visual with large background images (thumbs up to Happy Thinking People’s new PowerPoint template!) and few words – sometimes too few so that lengthy verbal explanations are needed. The risk of using popular stock photos became obvious – with some pictures being shown in 3 different presentations. Visual methodologies in Snapchat-style were also experimented with, but seem to face the same challenges like our “Lost for Words” as presented at Esomar Congress 2017 in Amsterdam project.

7. Gen Z is still hot.

There still seems to be a lot of uncertainty about and lack of knowledge of Gen Z. But maybe it is not about the research, but about the clients’ attitude and research approach. The Global Head of Consumer Insights of Barclaycard presented some interesting Gen Z findings, but there was a sense of emotional distance. So maybe clients really need a Gen Z translator, a mediator, someone who speaks both languages and brings findings across more at eyelevel. Wonder who that might be ;)? Check out our work on Gen Z here:

8. Challenge yourself!

Overall I also felt that I should challenge myself more. Challenge the way I do projects – maybe it makes sense to involve consumers at different (or all) steps of the process: in the beginning in order to find the right questions, in the middle e.g. for analyzing data and in the end presenting results.

And challenge the way I listen to consumers – making sure to also listen to the unlikeable, the unusual and the under-represented respondents and don’t disregard their opinions as annoying or irrelevant.

Phew. That’s it.
If you’re interested to hear more about our presentation – how to presenting research findings differently, or any of the other talks for that matter – please get in touch Contact Us

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