Qualitative Research 101 | Daniel Berkal | Skillshare

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Qualitative Research 101

teacher avatar Daniel Berkal, Consumer Research

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (37m)

    • 2. 2 OVERVIEW

    • 3. 3 RECRUITING




    • 7. 7 OBSERVERS

    • 8. 8 ASSIGNMENT

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About This Class


The professional research business is often clouded in mystery.  How do research companies find the right people to take part in research projects? What are some of the considerations that you should have while designing smart research?   This class looks at three of the basic elements of the qualitative research industry.  We have a basic overview of how recruitment works, discuss various issues that can occur with participants and touch on tips to deal with observers of research.    After taking this class you should begin to build understanding of some issues to be aware of when designing research.

Meet Your Teacher

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Daniel Berkal

Consumer Research


Hello, I'm Daniel.  

I'm SVP and a partner at The Palmerston Group, a global qualitative research firm.  I've personally conducted hundreds of energetic interviews of various sizes, ethnographies, mystery shops and ideation sessions among consumers and professionals in North America, Central America, Europe & Asia.

I've had a stellar career working on some of the most innovative brands in business and have been best known for completely immersing myself in consumer environments in a creative way.  With projects featured in Fast Company and Forbes, I've been called "Hands down, the most unique, thought-provoking and game-changing qualitative researcher in the business. Period."  &nb... See full profile

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1. 1 INTRODUCTION: Let's be honest. The research business is full of mystery, and I often get asked lots of questions about how qualitative works. It's really that simple. There's a lot of confusion around where people come from who take part in research. There's a lot of confusion about the types of people you can expect to see taking part in your research projects. And there's also a lot of questions around how the best way is toe watch. People talk about its subject that you may or may not be interested in. And so I want to kind of break that all down in this class, and I want to talk about how qualitative works. So I want to look at three distinct areas. Area number one is recruitment. Where do people come from? How do they get from the world into a focus group room or into a on online project Number two? I want to talk about the participants themselves when you're talking to a group full of strangers. What kind of commonality is to expect to see amongst that group and the third area that I want to focus on in this class is really around. The idea of observers and how to effectively view good, qualitative research in a way that adds value to the project. And that is, uh is just smart. Um, after this class, you should walk away learning really the basics of how qualitative research really works. 2. 2 OVERVIEW: so thank you for taking this class. This is all about focusing on the basic building blocks of qualitative research. And we're gonna talk in this particular session about to read different things. One is recruitment. Where do people come from? How do they take part in research? What are the things to look out for? Where some good markets to recruit in If you're looking at a macro level and what are some things to be aware of and afraid? The second thing I want to talk about here is participants. And when you're thinking about looking at a room full of humans, you don't know there are gonna be some commonalities, toe look out and to be aware of. And I think that there's some value in talking about, um participants and folded of research on where they come from and also going back behind the glass or or into the world. How do you watch people talk about things, Especially when it's an issue? You're not necessarily that connected to what are some effective ways to manage the observers who take part in your research projects. So the third area that I want to focus on in this class is observing, and I think that I will try to give a quick overview of all three of those things and it should add some value Teoh to the work that you do. And it might even just be fundamental building blocks. I don't think this is a very advanced kind of look at things, but I do get these questions asked to me all the time. I think there's a value. 3. 3 RECRUITING: by far and away. The most common question I get asked is, Have you find people to take part in qualitative projects? Where did these people come from? How do you reach out into the world and talk to a media market you don't know or in a neighborhood, you know, contacts to And how do you reach out and talk to people and get them to a come to some session or take partner online Project and B. How do you get them, Teoh trust you and believe that you're not gonna do, you know, not being legitimate. And so I want to talk in this session about recruiting and recruiting is an interesting business. So there are three real kind of things that the first part of it is the client. So whoever you're doing the project for is going to reach out to you and tell you what kind of people they want to talk to. And so they might say, we're looking for all adults in a specific city in Chicago who drive a specific type of car . That would be a very easy recruit, right, very simple criteria of all in the way that happens occasionally, but more often than not, you'll get these very specific recruiting criterias to come up. And sometimes they'll ask you to answer a bunch of questions and have actually asked the respondents a bunch of questions to type them into a specific segment. Often you'll get some very specific criteria that are very, very hard to Teoh to find. Um, they might find all people in the market who are between the ages of 25 30 who are employed in a business that is very specified, who have a specific health concern who are, you know, um, more inclined not to answer it. Yes to the following three questions, but no to the following three questions. All of these things happen, and you get these requests from clients, but that's not your issue to do it. Your issue is, as the researcher as the person who's looking to conduct the research is to call a recruitment agency and and find out what they can find. So I'm talking here about standard reporting there. You can do organic recruits, and that happens. But in the standings recruiting process, here's how it goes. Step one is you give the client identify their target audience. Then you call the recruitment firm and they do something called checking the incidence. And so checking the incidents means how likely is it for these people you're looking to find? How likely is it for them to appear in, um e appear in the results and be willing to participate in the project? And a low incidence is gonna be more expensive and take a moment. So the third part is the recruitment agency makes a quote back to the research agency, which is giving you the timing and the cost expectation. So they may say we can do this report fast. It will take two days, and it will cost $70 a person to recruit. That's a possibility, and and they will also give you incentive cost. They'll say people will be willing to do this project for a specific amount of money and the specific about money to be very little were very high. Roughly, it's $100 give or take per two hour session, but the recriminations She may come back and say this is a very low incident recruit, and because of we have Teoh take a long longer, and we also have to charge you along more so you may get recruitment costs that are $500 a person or even higher for specific specialties in medicine, you get some very expensive recruiting costs and also some very hard times. The more busy potential respondents might be the more expensive they are Teoh to show up and consent to incentivize, to show up and also define the next step. After that all happens. Is the phone call start so you could read on a project with agreed on the people you're trying to find if agreed on having gonna find them. You've agreed on the costing behind what it will cost and how long it will take. But then the recruitment agency goes their phone center and the phone Gold star, and you can never overestimate the quality or skill of phone screening. Yes, sometimes it's good, but in general it's not very good. So even if you've written out a very specific script for the phone or toe the person making the calls to read, you can assume something's gonna go wrong. Something maybe mispronounced. There might be a just a lot of hang ups that's a hard job to do to constantly be calling people off awful list. Everyone hangs up on you. They're rude. But in general I find phone screening to be It's effective, but it takes a long time, and it's always kind of less than you wanted to be. In terms of quality. There are lots and lots of recruitment agencies. They all recruit a similar way in a similar fashion that is, panels and databases consumers that I have answered previous questions so they can pretty quickly kind of re broad issues in a population you. But again more specific. It recruit is the harder it will be for the even see to dio, the more expensive it's gonna be and the longer it will take. 4. 4 SCREENERS AND ARTICULATION: still talking about recruiting. Now we're gonna talk about how they find the right people so they do target in. They talk about things like incidence rates. They look at demographics and population. They look at seca graphics, which are, which are opinion statements. People will rebound to give their particular viewpoint on a specific issue. And what you have to do in finding all these things and kind of working with the elements air in front of you is you have to build a screener. And so here's one spinner that we've very samples that we've used. A screener starts off with a script that the person making phone calls will read and start self, usually by saying hello. My name is so and so I'm calling from so and so whatever the research company is. And then it's all these answers of yes, no, yes, no or ranking of scale numbers. And basically, the person making the phone bowls has to go through this whole list of things. And it's like a choose your own adventure book. Wherever it says. Yes, they go to the next line. Weapon says no. They terminate to call and you write in this indeterminate, um, the other part about a spleen screeners you could talk about for a very long time. But I think that the part that's interesting from my ankle is articulation. Questions you want to ask a question in The screener makes it very clear that the person you were recruiting for your research project on because this is qualitative. But it has to have, you know, these are people who have been speaking communicate their mind. So articulation questions are designed to ensure that someone who's answering all these kind of yes, no questions won't just show up to other a group or be part of the project and be impossible to speak. And so the one I like using is it basically goes, Hey, I know this is silly, but can you briefly describe to me the difference between an apple and orange? And you ask the phone spinner to record the answer of what someone says that if someone can respond with more than one line of consequence about the difference of an apple and orange , whether that is, you know one is red, one is orange or whether it's I think you do more than that that the depth of the peel, the fact that one's juicy ones tarp the fact that one is growing on on a certain kind of tree and one grows inert tech tree. It's absolutely hurt question, and I find that when you get record their enters back, you get some really interesting kind of random thoughts where I ask you to describe the difference a dog and a cat that that's a very good one as well and the whole goal. This is to make sure that someone just believed roll the questions, answered them all in a spirit of the right way and show to a group or to a project and be completely useless. In general, clients are very finicky with screeners. They want to get a specific. They want to get really specific with this winners, and they want to make it so They're only getting a specific kind of person in the group, But I find them when clients are too finicky with screeners, you end up with respondents who don't realist emir the population, and that's very detrimental to project. So I heard in an alcohol spinner I heard someone say we can't use participants who also like wrong as if every single category of alcoholism mutually exclusive, which it's not, or the last for a very specific kind of bands of income between 1800 Addison I've heard over and over again. So that means you exclude anyone who makes $79,000 a year or $101,000 a year. The more detailed spinner, the less you'll discover. That's pretty much the deal now with recruitment firms. You're going to get a number of different types of of ways that they reach out in the world and what you want to avoid, as you want to avoid recruitment firms who kind of turned the Craigslist or social media Facebook to source an audience. And the reason for that is that these are often places where you just get farms of Truls and thoughts, and people who respond guessed everything. And it won't give you really good representation of a community. So I always try toe wait, don't those types of places to look for respondents 5. 5 MARKET SELECTION: The next question almost always is. Where do we do this? Where in the country do we going fine people or a specific project? And when you're doing in personal research, you actually go to this place is and so choosing a market. It's representative of the issue you're trying to find is really important for general market things. There are certain cities. They're very, very good to recruit him. And when I say very good, I mean, there are loads of facilities, loads of recruitment firms and loads of people on the list who are willing to be contacted and who are willing to take part. And so the four big ones, in my opinion, are Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago in Atlanta. I think that Chicago in Atlanta, actually the biggest focus good markets in the world. Someone's gonna argue with me about that, but they're wrong, and that's okay. But those four markets are really good because they have huge numbers of respondents and they are there lots of facilities to. So if you're doing project that involves need for a quick kind of answer or a quick read, um, a population those markets are markets. I consistently hear clients wanting to go to. They also have good airports. Oh, for those subsidies and because of that, never used to get in and get out of. So for clients, that's good for you. That's good if you're a a traveling moderator. And so those are the four that within, like for for large scale projects. But certain markets lonely years. I mean, I don't research in almost every major American market, and what I've found is that there are a couple there five in particular that I really like for doing projects because they have great respondents. I don't know why that IHS thes aren't better or cities in other places, but they They have been very impressed with the quality of recruitment in these places. So one is Portland, Oregon. There's a really interesting kind of, um, place is defined respondents there, and it's worked out very well for us. Sacramento has a great facility, and it creates great recruitment network. It's also market that's far far enough away from Silicon Valley that you don't get that that kind of tech bubble effect. But still it's close nothing. Clients from school on Valley Drive to very easily and so doing tech projects. Sacramento's an awesome market for that. We like doing things in Austin. I think that again, you great recruitment firms in Austin, you have a large number of young people in a large number of people who are willing, take part in research what it used to the process. We've also had success in Cincinnati and in Charlotte, of all places, and that's not to say these cities or any better or worse, in other cities. They're just cities that we particularly have had good responses and and so their cities, like RECOMMEND is being interesting places to dio research in also building on the idea what markets to conduct research. I think it's mark to kind of design your projects if you're in the business of design. Richard projects, um, in a way that really kind of maximizes the entertainment value of the whole project. So when all other things are equal, I think choosing cities or markets that your clients went to college in B a very smart idea . People like going back to their college campus or koalas environment. I think it's also really smart to consider when you're choosing multiple markets for a focus group project, especially cities that are kind of on the same flight path. If you choose a hub city for your first kind of market, choosing the next hubs of village along the line that on a particular airline or a city it's well connected makes a lot of sense because you, uh, you don't worry about flights being cancelled, its screwing up your project. The third part of that is when you're looking at locations to do in person research. I think it's important to look not just at the city itself the metropolis but also the micro location. Looking at the the neighborhoods that might be more interesting to do research and all too often will get responsible will get clients who are looking for projects to be done in a specific place. And they don't think about the real neighborhoods that build up every city. And so you'll get clients saying they wanted things and for lender awesome because they're young and cool and they'll end up finding a completely different audience because they're choosing the wrong neighborhoods and the wrong kind of vibe of respondent 6. 6 PARTICIPANTS: There's a 1,000,000 different people in the world. There's actually many 1,000,000 different kinds of people in the world, and everyone's an individual snowflake. Everyone's different. Everyone's unique. That being said, who are the people that respond toe market research to recruiters? Who are the people who answered the phone and say yes when someone calls them to talkto? It's a specific type of person. So here's in generalities about participants. Um, we talk about participants. It's a word we use telling people participants. But there are specific things about participants that are pretty much, I would say, consistent across the board. One is that everyone lies about the ring. If you have an income screen on a spinner, people generally will lie about that. You're not tenacity. Their tax receipts, people will will lie often on the on the positive side. So if someone says they make a $1000 a year, they might not. They might know. And so I think it's important to know about that. It's also important to know that people are very bad. All of us are. I am. You are. We're bad at remembering our own behavior. We're bad at remembering what we did, even in the very reasons history. If I was to ask you, what did you have for breakfast three days ago? You might say something. It might be right, but it probably is a little bit off. And so there's that. The third thing is that people in general are not consistent. It will not say the same things over and over again. And so I think it's important to be aware of that. So when you're in a group or in a research project, you hear someone say something that contradicts themselves. That often is a result of people just not being consistent. There's a real dirty secret about the the market research industry and the dirty secret. Is there some people who participate in research projects as a job way? Call them professional respondents. The's air people who literally do focus groups. No one stop and they do it for a living. It's the it's their business. They know the way that people ask that recruiters ask questions on the phone. They're able to really telling you what you want to hear with provide shallow answers. These people are dangerous, not because it is dangerous for the validity of a project and the reliability of the data reliability and validity that I guess, and they're everywhere. Every market has loads the professional respondents, and so that's why often recruiters will ask potential participants. When's the last time you took place? The market research project and it was recently. Then it's it often exclude them, taking part in the future when you have participants, so you can never really there's things you can do. Never, ever make fun of participants thes air people who take their time out of their day to go and take part in your project, and you have to respect that. Everyone's different. It's really kind of a good thing. And so you may not agree with what they're saying, and you may not agree with how they say it. I'm really not, but you don't want to have let that disagreement be known. Part of wire talking to a lot of people is because you want to understand their own viewpoint and so winner, when you're responding to people, you have to remember that everyone's a mirror, and so if you so disgust or anger or or disagreement, people will respond back to us as kind. And so I always like to kind of get the A blank face kind of half smile for almost everything. I find that it's a really effective way of bean presence, being active, not being does not disagreeing, and also not no being offensive in any way. Here are six classic characters that you'll find in most market research projects. It's worth noting these pictures are not meant to be the actual people they're not and their names about their names and all males. Two females with females, males. But for a liberation purposes. Here we call so first eager Erin. This is a person who shows up to a group, and it's so excited to talk to you and so excited to give their opinion and can't wait to just look at the the satisfaction gratification you get by hearing their amazing words about the thing. Their hands are up constantly. They're always trying to be actively involved. Yeah, it's someone to be were you also might get a person. Let's call this person best friend ball and this personal often sit in the chair right beside you, and they'll want to be your best friend. They'll ask you what you think of their city, their restaurants. They'll try to make small talk in between set. As the session goes on after the session, they'll be looking for affinity and approval. They'll make smiles and you and ask you, Hey, do you like that to trying to get that that kind of information that that they want us well again, someone to be aware we're not trying to make fun of these people were trying just to kind of show some specific traits. 1/3 kind of character that we see often in groups is someone will call Shied Sound, and this person is very quiet and humble, and they won't readily volunteer information. So when you're moderating, it's important to go around and really make sure that people who are quiet are actually getting their voices heard and setting up potential ways for them to share the information , perhaps northern of public form. So either on spin confessionals after the fact or one on one interviews after the fact and this person, this side person is very cognisant Palin. Their words are being interpreted by others in the room. You'll get a person that will call negative. Nancy. Um, And again, it could be negative. It could be negative. Nor rain be negative. I'm running out of names, but this person will not like any idea. You show them. You see, these people come up all the time and creative testing. It's a lot easier toe. Have someone be opposed to an idea or opposed to a team than it is for them to be actively enthusiastic about. And so negative. Nancy is someone who just hates everything. That's not good. You hear that all the time. You asked. Okay, Well, how could it be better? What specifically do you don't like? And we, for every kind of answer, people who don't like a specific color or texture or actor or, um, I mean, these air Unpleased herbal people in a group setting and we hear pieces that a lot you see a person that will call class crown class clown Chris class clown. Chris is someone who is like the kid in the back of the class who is always trying to make a joke out of things. And the first time is funny. And the second time it's funny. And the third time it's getting a little bit less funny. And the fourth time it's really not funny at all on these kind of respondents or participants in a group. I often ask him to leave the room eventually, just because the destructive for born else and your old there for the same reason. And I find that it's not very legitimate the fact that they're acting a certain way. There are also ways to may not leave the room just by kind of plicating them or not responding to the the antics they do. And the last type of respondent that's a commonality is someone will call Paycheck Pete or paycheck Pam or pay check here. And this is a person who's just there for the money. He just wants to, like, sit there for an hour and 1/2 2 hours, answer three questions, leave and get money or, though kind of show up late, expecting to get paid before the group starts because we let people go beforehand and if they're late, they might be let go. These kind of folks, you hope you can screen out beforehand, but their people to be aware of so asking for active participation eyes a smart thing to Dio. I often will start off by saying, but trying to make it personal and saying Hey, I don't think it paid based on the quality of your answers and I find that most people are pretty cool with that, but you get all times. 7. 7 OBSERVERS: Whenever you're doing research, you're often gonna have clients. Either an advertising agency or a climb themselves. Want to sit in the back room or in the front room and take part of the research as observers. Because there is the thought that seen things in real life is better than seen. A report later on are seen some kind of, uh, video. And so let's talk about how to deal with observers when you're doing a project. So I always tell people number one, Pay attention. If you're gonna be observing a group, Oh, are observing some research or interview and you're behind a glass, pay attention and, like really actively pay attention. It's nice to meet, make a quiz sheet or make it into a game show where you've been asked the observers to kind of play an active part. Often, observers will be various levels of a client team. You'll get junior people, senior people, little people, and there's a bit of politics in the back also, but I always find people in the back row of a focus group room, always with their laptops, of trying to, like pretend they're not on Facebook and a bit annoying, but making people pay attention and forcibly be actively involved. I think is a really key part of that. I asked observers to share their thoughts with others, and so you try to build a narrative in the back room. We've also used moderators in the back room who are positioned as no takers, kind of secretly, just so we can keep the clients and check. It's important to be casual, comfortable. No one wants to be sitting in the back room for hours. We're in a student. I act in a specific way. There's a reason why there's Eminem's everywhere in a focus group facility, and we like to encourage observers that used the time to build legitimacy with others. So on their team, on your team, on the agency team, everyone's there for the same purpose. And I think there's a lot of value Teoh to to getting people to interact and be involved with each other. But what we do often is make client guides because you really can never assume too much. And the client guides are not meant to be offensive. But it's everything from a dress code to a code of conduct to how to approach that d of here in new ideas and new thoughts. To be engaged, not to make fun of people Teoh to show some deference, the person moderating just so because they're in charge and easier for everyone to be involved in age and to treat each kind of instance independently. Don't make conclusions off one piece of of, uh of data data set. So I think that there's, uh, it's probably a whole other skill shirt class waiting to be made about how to effectively manage observers in cold it of setting made house. 8. 8 ASSIGNMENT: all right for the assignment for this class. Here's what I want to do. I think you to take a very well known product and design a research methodology in terms of , let's say, city kind of interviews and group discussions. But I think you did choose markets and thank you to choose how or they could define the audience you're trying to talk to, um and if possible, right, A little bit of a screener on how you get these people. So the product is gonna be the New York Yankees hat. Let's say we were doing a project where we had to learn about, um, cultural acceptance of the New York Yankees hat. Where would you do this? And who would you be talking to and how we've reached his people in What would you have them say? And let's see what kind of weapons we hear about