February 20, 2018

Our key learnings from Qual360

The annual Qual360 European conference took place in Berlin this year. Senior client-side researchers from a range of industries and countries took the stage to share examples of how qualitative research – shortly qual – was adding concrete value to their businesses. So did our Research Director Laure Payen. Curious to know what she has learned? Make sure to read on, then!

#1 VR focus groups

Michael Björn from Ericsson Consumer Lab shared learnings from an experimental project with virtual group discussions. How the group evolved and how the participants behaved became almost as important as their arguments. Some remarkable discussion points:

  • The (female) moderator had to suffer from racist attacks and sexual harassment. A shocking lack of behavioral rules amongst truly uninhibited participants – trolling, making racist remarks and comments on the border of sexual harassment.
  • Participants felt free just to leave the group at any time. For that reason, a good training of the moderators is needed. So they can influence the actions of the participants.
  • The Avatar behavior of the participants in the VR room versus normal body language was remarkable. New analysis skills are needed.
  • Even if they could have created any VR environment, the facility was looking like any other central location. In the future we’ll have to recreate the surroundings and see how they can play an active role in the interaction.

Haystack has used VR for research, but so far not for discussion groups, so I am looking forward to see further developments of this technology!”


#2 Passive data collection as add-on

“We also took a look at a method that investigates behavior without asking questions. Why not observing the internet behavior of people, following their internet history with cookies? Respondi showed an example of a new way of tracking online behavior. A new way to explore consumer paradoxes, hesitations, associations…I believe it is crucial to combine traditional observation methods and live interactions with consumers.”

#3 Analyzing with respondents

“At Haystack we take the time to sit back and reflect together with the respondent to what they said. We also conduct reflector calls after the field, to see whether they wondered about anything or if anything striking stood out of the discussion.

But what I learned is that you can go further:

  • Make participants watch other focus groups (we were curious to think further about how to make this possible within the respect of GDPR regulation).
  • Show qual participants the results of the quantitative research in a simplified way.
  • Show videos on a YouTube-like platform where consumers could rank the insights and ideas and participate to the analysis.”



“There was much more to think about and to learn, but in summary the main take-out is that qual is embracing (new) technology. The gap between quantitative and qualitative research is becoming small as qualitative research becomes a mandatory added value in the research process.”

Want to know more about the learnings from QUAL360? Want to know more about how Haystack can help you with qualitative research? Reach out to Research Director Laure Payen.