Archive for the ‘Research’ Category


Research vs. Insights?

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Everywhere I look online, people are talking about insights.  It’s clearly a hot topic.

I’ve spoken about insights in the context of time…something all too rare nowadays.  The relationship between time and insights is crucial because while research can be done quickly, insights require time in order to actually put the pieces of the puzzle together. Here’s why: 

Insights are not immediately apparent.  They need to be poked at to reveal themselves, and that takes time.

Insights deliver a narrative that does more than summarize data, and that takes time.

Insights thrive with a consultative client partnership and that needs to be nurtured, which takes time.

Insights do more than meet objectives.  They provide perspective and recommend action, which of course, takes time.

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Haste Makes Waste

Monday, June 11th, 2012

There’s an interesting article on warning researchers not to rush through the qualitative screening process.  This has been a concern of mine recently.  Over the past few years, the lead-time for many projects has shrunk (along with budgets) while the pressure to deliver powerful insights has grown greatly.  It used to be standard to have two weeks for recruiting.  Lately, I’m routinely asked to recruit in less than one week.  Once I was only given three days.

Yes…this is doable, but not without trade-offs.  Finding articulate and creative respondents, simply takes time.  Sure, we can fill the groups.  But not always with the people we want.

Sometimes, just like life in general, it is better to breathe.  Slow down.  Be thoughtful.  After all, we’ll have time to do it over if the research is not helpful.  Why not invest just a little more time to get it right the first time around?

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The Magic of In-Person Research

Friday, September 16th, 2011

The Internet feels like it’s changing everything and social media is amazing.  There’s literally a conversation happening 24-7 about anything you can think of.  People share viewpoints in endless streams, and now even market research turns to the web for consumer insights.  Some even question why would anyone go to all the trouble and expense of having an in-person focus group.

Here’s what I think:  For the same reason you go to all the trouble and expense of visiting your family or traveling to a foreign city in person.  Even though it’s far away and costs a lot of money and you have to take off work and hire someone to walk the dog and water the plants, ultimately there’s still no substitute for being there.

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Can Decision Fatigue Skew Focus Groups?

Monday, August 29th, 2011

With great interest, I recently read “To Choose is to Lose” , an article in The New York Times magazine about decision fatigue.  Someone working in a social psychology lab uncovered the “decision fatigue” phenomenon by observing data showing that mental energy and the ability to evaluate options and make decisions is finite, and runs especially low toward the end of a day.

A postdoctoral fellow working at this same lab noticed this while registering for wedding gifts.  At the end of the day, when her mental energy was low, her tendency was to pick anything.  The burnt orange coffee pot?  Why not?  The Mickey Mouse dish set?  Fine, whatever!  Just no more thinking!  No more deciding!

I knew it!  This article confirmed what I’ve always sensed.  Having facilitated hundreds of evening focus groups, I now have a scientific name for what I sensed intuitively.  Consumers in evening focus groups suffer from “decision fatigue”.

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