In This Issue
This month, our colleague Jennifer Lacy was interviewed by Marty Traynor at Mployer Advisor about the research CSR has conducted on the topic of workplace insurance benefits. Check out any of the several very brief videos he created, the first of which is about what employers and employees really want from their insurance benefits.Questions? Click here to send us an email with your request.
- Vol. 16, Issue 2, June 2021
In This Issue
Recently, The Wall Street Journal published an article that we have been sharing with many of our clients and friends. We hope you enjoy our take on it in this month’s Research with a Twist, titled, “The Wall Street Journal has been reading our newsletter.”
Let us know, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, if you’d like a PDF of the article.
The Wall Street Journal has been reading our newsletter
We love The Wall Street Journal. We read it every day, and appreciate the thorough reporting, particularly the encyclopedic business coverage. Imagine our delight when reading a recent article, titled “Why companies shouldn’t give up on focus groups”, that seems to indicate that our love for The Journal is requited.
The article talks about the pitfalls of relying too heavily on big data to tell us what customers and prospects really want, and suggests that the antidote is listening to actual human beings — customers and prospects — speak for themselves. Based on the article, we are convinced that The Wall Street Journal has been reading our newsletter, and couldn’t be happier. The section titles for this edition of the newsletter, in bold, below, are quotes from the article:
“You can’t quantify loyalty, patriotism, affinity, trust, friendship or love.”
Our very first issue of this newsletter, published in 2005, titled “On a scale of 1 to 5, how are you?” says almost exactly the same thing. We don’t, in our day to day conversations, rate things important to us on a numerical scale. So, why do we think it’s a good idea in surveys? What do numbers really mean when considering what human beings really think or really value? Which brings us to The Wall Street Journal’s, and our, next point…
“Big data may help you recognize something is happening, but it cannot tell you the all-important why.”
In 2013, we published our first newsletter on the topic of big data, titled, Honey, I shrunk the (big) data. Back then, we said, “Big Data is massive, but generally very thin. As market researchers working with clients to help them generate insights and make intelligent business decisions, we want the opposite (Little Data?): Profound and in-depth.”
Not that we don’t see the value in big data, it’s just not great at explaining “the all-important why.” CSR has been devoted to uncovering the “all-important why” for more than 40 years; for another example of how we think about this, read our “Where’s the why?” newsletter from 2014.
“Focus groups require travel and hiring moderators, renting facilities and paying people to be in the focus groups. The cost runs about $5,000 to $9,000 per group.”
The Wall Street Journal agrees with us when it comes to the cost-value analysis of focus groups, but its emphasis on focus groups as the primary type of qualitative research is where we diverge a bit in our viewpoints. While we conduct focus groups frequently for clients, and find them useful in certain cases, anyone who has read our newsletter knows that we have a “twist” on qualitative that we believe is better and more cost-effective than focus groups in many situations.
Asking a series of scripted, open-ended questions of one person at a time enables a more thorough understanding of each person’s point of view than is possible in focus groups, providing much more value for the cost. And not to push our capabilities too strongly here, but, with CSR’s ability to code and analyze a relatively high number of open-ended interviews to provide quantitative results (based on how humans speak, rather than on numeric scales), including stat-testing when base sizes allow, we can provide far more value to our clients than through focus groups alone.
Here’s the Twist: While quantitative studies and big data can provide useful information, we can’t forget that the key to understanding our customers and prospects is actually listening to what they have to say. If you don’t believe us, then maybe you’ll believe The Wall Street Journal.
Mixology (Putting Research into Practice)
Here are some practical suggestions for making the most of your qualitative research:
- Allow research participants to describe their experience in their own words: There will be natural differences in how people respond when asked what they think of something — some will describe their experience very positively, some positively, some will be neutral, some negative, and some very negative. You’d be surprised how easily these differences can be teased out without a rating scale that no one really understands.
- Always ask for examples: One of the beauties of qualitative research is being able to hear people’s stories.
- When possible, count the responses: If you have a large enough base size, and often that can be as few as 30 participants, the frequency with which ideas are mentioned will really matter.
This month, our colleague Jennifer Lacy was interviewed by Marty Traynor at Mployer Advisor about the research CSR has conducted on the topic of workplace insurance benefits. Check out any of the several very brief videos he created, the first of which is about what employers and employees really want from their insurance benefits.
The Center for Strategy Research, Inc. (CSR) is a research firm. The “Twist” to what we offer is this: We combine open-ended questioning with our proprietary technology to create quantifiable data. As a result our clients gain more actionable and valuable insights from their research efforts.