November 16, 2017

ESOMAR Qualitative Conference

5 Insights from ESOMAR Qualitative Conference

If there’s a must-go event for qualitative researchers, I’d say it’s the ESOMAR Qualitative Conference. This year’s setting was the lovely city of Porto. In this blogpost, I’d like to share my five key learnings with you.

#1 Bias, bias everywhere! But how can we deal with it?

It’s impossible to deny that we are all impacted by bias when doing qualitative research. Of course, we take conscious actions, stay away from judgment and try to walk in consumers’ shoes. But, we’re still human. This doesn’t mean we should stop looking for solutions to combat bias. How? For instance, we can look at the diversity within the research team. Not only in terms of age, gender and educational background, but also in terms of cultural background, religion at cetera.

Do you want to become a part of our diverse qualitative team? Check out our vacancy here.

#2 Mr. Popular: communication failures

Take a room, put it full of qualitative researchers and ask them where research mostly goes wrong. It appears that communication issues are the most frequent failure. Not only communication between the client and agency, but also between colleagues, project teams and so on. Of course, failures are there to learn from. And it turns out we already implemented some of the exchanged learnings here at Haystack. My two must haves for effective communication?

  • Have one SPOC at the client and agency side. Not two or three, just one: it’s called Single Point Of Contact for a reason 😉
  • Always double check the research question at every research stage. For example, at Haystack we add the research questions to the start of the discussion guide, mails, interim presentations, result analysis,…

#3 Books are the new PowerPoint

Visual PowerPoints are not enough anymore. The research output needs to be:

  • Spreadable: both online and offline, clients must be able to spread it around the company
  • Comprehensible: easy to understand, even if you were not involved in the research
  • Fast: no one has time to interpret a report for 2 hours. Insights need to be focused and relevant
  • Memorable: the conducted research was important, so they should remember what came out of it. Not just once, but during an extended period.

How can we accomplish this? One way to approach this is to make a book. Yes, a physical book that you can physically spread around the company. Now, this might become a bit expensive, but I liked the idea. Something a bit similar we do at Haystack, is delivering short movies or infographics. Clients can easily put such a visual with e.g. the 10 most important insights on their office wall and be reminded of the research results every day.

Discover Wim’s 5 Takeaways from ESOMAR Congress 2017

#4 Imitation and flattery: what market researchers can learn from the media

Nowadays, media could use some more facts and data (#fakenews). Why look at the media then? Well, media has this activist mindset. Media want people to wake up and act, to change their behaviour or opinion about something. Whereas media tell stories, researchers too often still just share data and facts.

Media research

We should create a bigger impact too. We should make sure to not only deliver the data, but also make the data come to life. So much that the data becomes undeniable. Actionable insights and very concrete recommendations are just one part. How we deliver the story is the second.

How can market research use more storytelling, you wonder?

  • The classic: have a clear, focused story and a good hook
  • Personalize and humanize! Media knows which shocking pictures to use to grab the attention of the crowd. Why don’t we make our data come to life more? Use pictures, quotes, videos, audio et cetera. And don’t only use the pretty ones.
  • Be original and use different formats (drawings, infographics,…) so reader can pick what (s)he wants. But keep it real!

#5 Human vs. computer? Human & computer!

Who does qualitative research better: computers or humans? It’s the question one agency tried to answer. First, they analysed the collected data in three ways: fully automated, partly automated and by using the good old human analysis. Then, they made three reports out of it and let the client be the blind judge. Exciting, isn’t it?

It turns out the combination of both human and computer does the trick. Letting the computer analyse everything gives a good overview of the data, but it lacks interpretation. Not using any software becomes very a time inefficient matter. The combination of human & computer resulted in half the cost and time. Even more important, it resulted in deeper and more actionable insights. Food for thought!

Computer vs. human

What’s the key learning of the ESOMAR Qualitative Conference that surprises you most? Let’s discuss!