Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Consumer Stories Are At Our Fingertips

Today's guest post is contributed by Steve August, Founder and CEO of Revelation, a partner of The Market Research Event 2011.  A pioneer in online qualitative research, Steve is considered a thought leader in the market research industry.  Prior to founding Revelation, Steve served as a principal for research consulting agency KDA Research, where he was responsible for business development and research, helping the company to triple revenue in three years.

Consumer stories are at our fingertips – if we know how to bring them to life…

We are living in a miraculous age. Until recently, researchers had little access to consumer experiences. In the context of people’s lives, two hours in a focus group facility or in a participant’s home represents a very narrow slice of people’s lives. Yet, many of the things we are most interested in understanding occur during the part of people’s lives when researchers cannot be present. This limited access to consumer experience has been a handicap to researchers in fulfilling the basic mission of market research: understanding people to answer business questions.

To borrow a phrase from the 1990’s ‘the paradigm has shifted’. Thanks to the age of social technology – web, mobile, rich media, social software - researchers have unprecedented, sustained access to people’s lives. Geography and time cease to be constraints; consumers all around the world are able to share their stories, the day-to-day experiences: moments of behavior, use, purchase and decision-making.

This shift has tremendous implications for qualitative research. Where once our options were to bring a group of people into a room far removed from their actual behaviors and experiences or spend huge amounts of money and time sending researchers into people’s homes -- now consumer stories are literally at our fingertips – if we know how to bring them to life.

This is where activity-based research comes in. It is an adaptation of methodology to match the interaction model of asynchronous online and mobile research. Activities can be diaries and journals, projective exercises, mini-documentaries, representational photography, personification exercises and a myriad of other possibilities. They can be used to explore behaviors, environments and emotions. Blended together in the right sequence this methodology makes you feel like you are in the room with your consumers, wherever in the world they happen to be.

Want to learn more? Please visit the Revelation booth (116) at TMRE!

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