Here, you will find information on qualitative research and a variety of suggestions to bear in mind when planning to carry out fieldwork in Spain. Most of the tips and articles are coined by us but we are very much in favour of making reference to other author's links whenever we consider they may be useful to market research practitioners.

jueves, 5 de diciembre de 2013

How to bring on new research suppliers: Part II

Article Abstract
In the second installment of a two-part series -see first part below-, the author follows up his advice for client-side researchers selecting new research partners and discusses how to bring the supplier into the fold and manage and monitor the relationship.

In my first article (see below), I shared the selection process I used to bring on new research partners during my time as a corporate researcher. But selecting the right partner is only half of the battle! The onboarding process is a one-time-only chance to motivate your new business partner. I've always believed that having motivated, challenged and happy partner teams makes a big difference.
I'm sure on the supplier side, clients have reputations and I always wanted my account to be one that the most talented people want to work on. So I would use the onboarding process to show the partner company that we were excited to work with them and were asking for - and expecting - a full contribution of their expertise.

Intelligent but naïve force
Careful consideration should be given to how the onboarding is done, what information is shared and who will be involved. We are enveloped in our categories and brands all the time and, as discussed earlier, the partner is coming in to the situation as an intelligent - but naïve - force. Often, observations the partner has early in the relationship can help you see your business situation in a fresh way. 

Of course, prior to the onboarding you can ask the partner firm what questions they have and what they would like to see. If the new partner is going to work with existing partners, it's a good idea to have representatives of the other firms there as well, if it makes sense and can be done efficiently. 

The ingredients of a quality onboarding include:

  • ·         Meeting all the critical stakeholders. This can be done during the onboarding meetings and socially, if schedules permit. Bonus points for including senior-level stakeholders.
  • ·         Providing industry, business and brand background. Don't forget to define industry jargon and acronyms!
  • ·         Crystallizing business issues and challenges you'll face. Most companies have a lot of data and information that could be shared but focusing on the most relevant information is a good place to start.  
  • ·         Defining success for the work and the relationship. Most of my partners were proactive in asking my team this, as it is critical to the health and success of the relationship but make sure you're clear on what success is. During the session you can define partner evaluation criteria and frequency of evaluation.
  • ·         Sharing the company's cultural values (e.g., communication style, decision-making process, timing of requests, how a work day is defined, etc.).  
  • ·         Holding an initial work-plan development session. Spell out a few choice wins to focus on in the first 90 days.
  • ·         Having fun! This is the beginning of a new relationship. There is no baggage and the two entities should work on becoming a team.

On track for success
Once the work has begun and the partner has all of the necessary information to move forward with the project, there are ongoing performance- and relationship-monitoring practices, such as formal reviews, that can ensure the work and the partnership are on track for success.
Formal check-in at 90 days
At 90 days, you will have worked together long enough to do a progress evaluation. If there are things that need improvement, it is early enough to course-correct. If at all possible, this formal check-in should be done outside of the client environment and as a standalone meeting. In my experience, it is less effective to have a check-in as part of a larger series of meetings. It should be a discrete event - not an agenda item. 

As always, the more specific the discussion, the better. Generalities don't add a lot of value and can confuse issues. The most senior people on both sides should be the main participants. Here are a few things to discuss:

  • ·         Is the work going as planned? What are the surprises (good and bad)?
  • ·         Is the client giving the partner what they need?
  • ·         Is the partner staying within budget?
  • ·         Is scope manageable or creeping?
  • ·         Are the wins being achieved?

Six-month formal review
The focus of this meeting should be to follow up on the 90-day topics. After a full six months, both sides should have a clear idea of what is working and what is not, as well as what is changing in the environment that will impact the rest of the year. Based on the discussion at this stage, the annual review should not contain any surprises for either side.
Annual review
This review should be a formal, in-person review and the client should prepare a thoughtful, written evaluation. The evaluation should be crafted against the key criteria identified in the onboarding sessions. At this stage I recommend soliciting perspectives from the stakeholder groups. The focus of the evaluation should be on how to continually improve the work and the value the program brings to the organization. After all, this is the ultimate - and shared - goal of both parties.
A large undertaking

Certainly the selection and onboarding of a new partner is a large undertaking that requires time and effort, but your investment of both commodities into making the process go smoothly will deliver a high ROI.
By Scott Aaron, who is a principal at Insights for Innovation, a Cincinnati research company. He can be reached at This article appeared in the June 10, 2013, edition of Quirk's e-newsletter.
Article ID: 20130625-1

How to bring on new research suppliers: Part I

Article Abstract
In the first installment of a two-part series, the author draws on his years of client-side experience to walk readers through his process of selecting a new research supplier. The second installment will address onboarding.

In my former role as consumer insights leader, there were several times when we brought on new suppliers (usually referred to as partners) and I'd like to share the process I used when selecting them. For the sake of this article, I'll assume that the partner being brought on is working on something of a sizable magnitude, like a customer satisfaction program or a brand and communications tracking study. All of these steps may or may not be necessary if the partner is not engaging in work that touches many internal customers but they are still good tools to have available.

Bringing on new partners is a great opportunity in many ways. I always looked forward to new perspectives, tools, techniques and meeting new, smart people. But perhaps what I looked forward to most was the chance to interface with experts on the supplier side who, in the beginning stages of the relationship, are somewhat naïve about the business but ready and excited to apply their knowledge. This naïve optimism can lend itself to breakthroughs in consumer learning.

Situation analysis

The first step in selecting a new research partner is to do your own evaluation of the current state of business. If a new partner is being brought in to revamp an existing workstream, ask yourself: What value is the current program providing to the organization? Have the key questions changed over time? What decisions is this work impacting? What is working well that we don't want to lose in transition? What are we missing?

As the insights leader, you are likely the best person to evaluate where and how a program could be stronger. With your understanding of strengths and weaknesses of methodologies, you are also in the best position to know what aspects of the current work need bolstering and what methods might improve the outcome of the work.

Your later stakeholder discussions around these questions will vary by group. The insights team may be concerned with methodology, data collection and partner responsiveness while internal clients may focus on delivery of insight, clarity of the information or actionability of the results. It's better to have a solid POV on strengths and weaknesses of the current scenario going into the selection process (i.e., prior to formally reaching out to the stakeholders) than to be totally open, if for no other reason than you can test and build your hypotheses as you go.

Developing needs, objectives and selection criteria

The next step is to investigate, interrogate, articulate and gain alignment with key stakeholders in terms of what you're trying to accomplish with the work in question. Key stakeholders usually consist of: 
  • ·         the internal consumer insights team;
  • ·         key internal clients (include key executives that use the output of the work or see the output consistently); and
  • ·         key external clients.

I would typically make sure I covered several points with the key stakeholders, including objectives of the work, desired outcomes and selection criteria for the new partner. If replacing one partner with another, I also tried to understand what the stakeholders thought was working and what could be improved. Here are some questions I would use to facilitate the discussion:


Why are we doing this work? What do we miss if we don't have it? How is this moving the brand or business forward? What is in-bounds for this work vs. out-of-bounds? What must be learned? Are there strategic changes coming in the business that will impact this work at a later time?

Desired outcomes

What decisions are being directly informed by this work? What is the risk level of these decisions? Is anything getting in the way of the team's ability to make the decisions they would like to (i.e., missing information, information that isn't clear, information that's difficult to interpret, etc.)? Is there something in what we're doing now that we don't want to lose? Some dynamic we have with the current supplier we want to avoid in the future?

Despite working together every day, these more strategic and reflective discussions with stakeholders could elicit new information or perspectives. These talks are critical and were always well worth the time.

Criteria for selection

When it comes to evaluating potential partners, consider including the following criteria: methodological savvy, analytical sophistication, innovation, service levels, people, communication of results, ability to synthesize insights across studies and expertise in the category or industry. Typically, some criteria are more important than others and should be weighted more heavily in making the final selection.

You can use your selection criteria and weights to develop a scorecard. For some really large projects, several stakeholder teams may contribute to the scorecard.

Final internal alignment

Once you summarize and synthesize the feedback, you should be able to precisely articulate the objectives of the work; what decisions you expect the work to influence and how; and what the selection criteria is for the new partner company. It is wise to get sign-off on this document, as it will drive your request for proposal (RFP) and will be what key stakeholders take away from your discussions. These documents are also crucial for the future. If needed, you can share this with new stakeholders, showing the key criteria and the selection process.

The search

I always liked to solicit proposals from a spectrum of potential partners. This can help you crystallize your objectives and criteria and help you see what you are missing now and - just as importantly - what you have today that is better than you might have thought.

This spectrum can be defined in several dimensions so you'll have to pick the most relevant dimension for the situation. I would advise having at least two suppliers that will view your situation somewhat similarly and bring similar tools and approaches. This can elicit some good thinking and help keep bids competitive.

Some of the dimensions I used in the past were boutique suppliers vs. large, more general suppliers; newer firms vs. more established firms; methodologically innovative vs. traditional; and current suppliers vs. new-to-our-company suppliers.

Developing the RFP

You will use the material you developed in the previous steps to create your RFP. I'm sure there have been great articles written on RFP development so I will simply offer some of my experience on this point, rather than relay best practices.

I liked to allow some room for creativity on the part of the potential partner. I always looked forward to seeing how different partners would approach the work and solve the puzzle. The more I imposed or stipulated in the RFP, the less creative thinking I might see. On the other hand, if the RFP's requirements are too loose or vague, you won't see good thinking either; guardrails keep people from driving all over the road.

I would typically allow for one round of questions prior to having potential partners present in-person or deliver the proposal. I usually did this discussion via phone so that if something wasn't clear in the RFP, we could address it prior to a lot of work being done on the supplier's part. I would do everything I could to ensure I gave each potential partner the same information.

One valuable lesson we learned through doing this is that the questions asked by the potential partner say a lot about them. Often we would get a feel for the level of engagement we were engendering and some idea as to how the potential partners approached problem-solving.

There is an opportunity during presentations for the potential partners to give you perspective on the work ahead, especially if it's new to you. (Of course, you have to signal that you are open to their perspective.) They can help set your expectations about the work so you can in turn better set internal expectations.

In-person presentations

I would only invite in potential partners that we believed to be the strongest to avoid wasting anyone's time. The two main things we would look for in the presentation were the quality of the approach and thinking and some sense for the culture fit between teams.

Another question worth asking is which supplier team members would be working on the day-to-day business. It is nice when suppliers have wonderful presenters but you really need to know who is going to be working with you and your internal clients.

Prior to beginning a new relationship, I would advise you talk to other clients of your finalists. After all, it's always smart to check references. Client cultures and situations can be fairly different so a variety of perspectives can be illuminating.

A winner emerges

After seeing the presentations, use your selection criteria and weighted scorecard to make your decision. There may be some close calls but if the team uses the criteria faithfully, a winner emerges.

Stay tuned for part two of this series where I will discuss onboarding and how client-side researchers can manage the process to ensure high-quality work from research partners.  

By Scott Aaron
Scott Aaron is a principal at Insights for Innovation, a Cincinnati research company. He can be reached at This article appeared in the May 20, 2013, edition of Quirk's e-newsletter.
Article ID: 20130526-1

viernes, 7 de junio de 2013

Tips from a traveling moderator: facility faux pas and fantastic finds

Article AbstractModerator Gwyn Gibbs offers advice on how qualitative research facilities can improve to be more accommodating to moderators, clients and respondents.

As a qualitative moderator coming off of a 24-city tour - visiting 24 facilities in under three months - I saw the good, the bad and the ugly in research facilities across the country. Based on my experiences, here are a few things you can do to help your facility stand out - and some ideas on how to make it happen. 

Do: Have great recruiting, with respondents who show up and who show up on time. Without respondents - and without respondents who arrive on time to get signed in and hear all of the introductions - we do not have any research.
Idea: One facility held an early-bird raffle to encourage early arrival. Participants who arrived early had their names put in a jar and the respondent whose name was chosen received a small reward.
Idea: One facility over-recruits by one respondent and does not charge the client for the extra efforts.
Hint: Do take the extra time to go over directions, traffic patterns and parking with respondents when calling to confirm.

Do: Know all the hotels in your area. Most moderators have no idea where they are or how far you are from their hotel or the airport.
Idea: One facility offered to send a cab to the hotel to pick me up.
Hint: Anyone answering the phone should be able to give directions from all hotels and the airport.

Do: Have a designated qualitative assistant. Moderators usually make all of the room adjustments, paperwork requests, copies needed and the all-important dinner questions right away. The hallways at facilities are atypically long to provide quiet and confidentiality to research rooms, however this makes for a lot of time and foot travel when I'm trying to find someone to help me.
Hint: Introduce the qualitative assistant and plan on them shadowing the moderator for the first 15 minutes after they settle in. It's a great help to have that person ready to answer and pitch in, and then the moderator can grab a breather or meet with a client.

Do: Make it easy to get from the research room and back room to the restroom, front desk and respondent waiting area. Some facilities are one big maze, and although you may know exactly where you are, the moderator, the other clients and the respondents are in foreign territory.
Hint: Wall signs pointing to these popular destinations can be very useful when things get busy.

Do: Supply focus room-friendly supplies. Because research minutes are very expensive, once the group starts there's no leaving for the moderator.
Hint: Have a large-faced desk clock (our eyes are old!), working flip-chart markers, non-sticky flip-chart paper (their sticky cousins don't travel well), a pad and pen, water, tissues and hand sanitizer.

Do: Have cost- and health-minded back-room amenities. With cost-conscious clients it is best to keep the food to a minimum to assist clients in maintaining strict budgets. With cold and flu season around, it is best to keep prepackaged snacks on hand.
Idea: One facility has a water cooler, which is much more eco-friendly than the 10 bottles of water I can drink in a research day, not to mention other clients or respondents.
Idea: One facility baked a small batch of homemade cookies. The cost was minimal and the experience? Priceless.
Hint: Wrapped granola bars, packaged nuts/dried fruit are great for healthier-minded, protein-wanting clients, and they are more sanitary than their open-bowl counterparts.

Do: Have something available to assist the moderator in transporting materials. Often the materials are hauled in manually by the weary moderator en route to the hotel or airport.
Hint: A recyclable bag with handles (and with your logo!) is great for carrying flip-chart notes, screener lists, research stimuli and bottled water. These are just a few of the items that may be in tow late in the evening.

Do: Partner with a great transportation service. Research often ends in the dark hours of the evening, and moderators (often traveling alone) are getting into unfamiliar cabs in unknown cities.
Idea: One facility had partnered with a car service. The Escalade arrived and was charged to the facility (to be billed later).  Another great feature was that the driver was very customer-service oriented because they wanted the facility business. What a great last impression!

Do: Get feedback from your moderator about the service of your facility. However, handing out those customer service surveys as the moderator is leaving is problematic. By then, I'm wiped out and the last thing I want to do is to fill out a questionnaire about someone who is standing in front of me.
Idea: One facility put the questionnaire in a small, lightweight goody bag with a self-addressed stamped envelope to return to the facility. 

As you can see, it's the little things that make the difference. Do your best to make it as easy and pleasurable for moderators, clients and research participants as possible, and you'll be surprised at how far these small gestures can take you!
By Gwyn Gibbs

Gwyn Gibbs is senior project director at Integrated Marketing Associates, a Bryn Mawr, Pa., research firm. She can be reached at
This article appeared in the February 8, 2010, edition of Quirk's e-newsletter.
Article ID: 20100225-1

Creative consumers are a good thing, really

This insight, written by Bryan Urbick, explores the grounds in which consumers’ creativity can really help to produce innovation in design.

I can still hear the voices, trying to persuade us against our idea.
In the mid-1990s when we first decided to progress with some new research methods we had developed, tested and refined, we had a few pushbacks. Stated simply, the methods involved working with consumers in the same way that teams develop new ideas – brainstorming, creative techniques to help people think out-of-the-box and utilization of various stimuli to help drive the creative process.
Of course the process was designed to ensure engagement and facilitated in a way that maintained focus on the project objectives. The crux of the objections and negative comments were based on the belief that consumers are not creative.
Our position then, as it is now, is that no one is creative when not in an environment conducive to creativity. The opposite is also true – anyone can be creative when the context is right.
Interestingly, the creative process was (and still is) a research tool we use to uncover opportunity areas. By evaluating new consumer ideas based on the prevalent themes, a picture of unmet needs emerges – and even if the consumer-created ideas are not pursued, the unmet needs can be clearly defined, with ways to address them clearly plotted out. The fact that by doing this style of research we were able to help facilitate consumers creating usable ideas was merely a by-product of the process.
Now, of course, consumer creativity is not a groundbreaking thought. Consumers, who were once deemed the last people a company would turn to for innovative ideas, are now often at the center of it all. Boundaries have blurred, hierarchies are flattening and at times it appears that everyone can be consumers, researchers, innovators and producers – all rolled into one.
I notice this much more these days when conducting qualitative research projects, from the more traditional focus groups to many of our non-traditional methods. It seems as if consumer respondents feel more ownership and genuinely try to help companies develop new ideas to solve their problems.
It wasn’t that long ago (1909 to be precise) that American farmers were lobbying car manufacturers for an automobile with detachable backseats. It took about 10 more years for Detroit to come up with the pickup truck. One can imagine what the car makers’ response might have been: “These farmers … what would they know?”
“How shortsighted! How narrow-minded!” you might say. And yet this attitude from the early 1900s is not that dissimilar from those naysayers just 15 years ago who felt the need to tell us that “consumers aren’t creative” when we presented our research methods.
Why is this? I believe it is primarily driven by two factors: 1) there is a desire that those hired to create new ideas maintain their worth; and 2) they haven’t seen the context in which a typical group of consumers can actually create anything of interest.
I am thankful, though, that more and more marketers and manufacturers leap with joy when new and obviously very necessary design innovation is suggested by consumers – and many take note and pursue those ideas. Open innovation schemes are becoming more prevalent and ideas are accepted from many sources, including consumers.
It’s about time that we acknowledge that consumers can be creative and allow ourselves to tap into the rich resource of consumer experience to innovate our products and services.

By Bryan Urbick 

Bryan Urbick is founder and chairman of Consumer Knowledge Centre, a London research firm.

This comment was originally published by Quirk’s Marketing Research Review in November 3, 2011 at 18:21.

viernes, 22 de febrero de 2013

El primer Grupo de Discusión. Impresiones

Si alguna vez se ha preguntado cómo es participar en un grupo de investigación de mercado, le gustará ver que dicen los que ya han participado. En este vídeo los asistentes a un grupo de discusión cuentan sus vivencias sobre la experiencia de haber participado en un estudio de mercado organizado por "A Window" en Barcelona, España; las impresiones fueron recogidas inmediatamente después de haber participado, por primera vez, en un grupo focal. 
ESTE VÍDEO TAMBIÉN PUDE VERSE EN El Primer Grupo de Discusión. Impresiones