Classic qualitative research studies using approaches like focus groups and interviews have a secure place in MDRG’s methodological playbook. However, sometimes newer methodologies are a better fit for the circumstances or requirements of a specific research question. In other cases, they complement classic methods and add value to research as supplementary approaches.
Some of these methods stand out because they produce deliverables that are more difficult (or impossible) to attain using more classic qualitative methods. For instance, Online Communities and Mobile Ethnography allow researchers to collect digital media like photos and videos. These are useful not simply for the analytical purposes of the researcher but are also often used by clients for their own purposes (e.g. as inspiration for marketing material).
Online communities are particularly well suited to multi-method approaches to qualitative research. They are often used as a part of an exploratory phase that provides a hypothesis or analytical framework that can be applied to subsequent research, such as focus groups, interviews, or even quantitative surveys.
At MDRG, we leverage online communities as a platform for our Whole Mind Approach to research. We call these communities Insight Communities because they allow us to integrate non-conscious methodologies into our qualitative research studies. This gives us a deeper understanding of the consumer as we are able to not only understand how consumers respond to brands in a conscious environment, but also offer deeper insights and open a path for further questioning. Below are three ways we maximize Insight Communities for our qualitative research studies:
As online communities are often used at the exploratory phase of research studies, understanding the non-conscious decision-making processes at hand for the consumer can give a level of insight well beyond Q&A style activities in short order. Integrating an OMET survey as an activity for consumers in a community allows researchers to understand some of the complex emotions respondents have regarding the research at hand. The data can then be leveraged for further probing and lead to unveiling deeper insights than traditional activities often allow.
One of the advantages of an Insight Community over interviews or focus groups is that respondents are engaged via their phone and computer over a long period of time. This makes it an ideal environment to perform some mobile ethnography activities for contextual research. Questions and activities can have respondents reporting on their real-life activities offering researchers context for the data collected and helping to frame up their analysis.
Video can be a powerful medium for researchers to leverage. What a respondent may write versus what they may say in a video diary entry can be very different. For starters, respondents don’t tire as easily in answering a question and therefore offer more details that may be left out of a written entry. Further, researchers can begin to understand the spoken vernacular or slang that is used to describe their brand or product. Often respondents filter their words when writing, with video data collection, researchers can offer marketers better insights into how consumers communicate about their brand or product.
With technology changing at break-neck speed, researchers are gaining access to more insights more quickly. Combining technologies can offer an even deeper understanding of a product or brand without adding significant time to a study and maximize the opportunity to learn from your consumers.