Ep. 141 – Katrina Noelle – KNow Research – Qualitative Market Research Is On The Rise: 3 Keys To Maximize Its Impact

Today, my guest is Katrina Noelle, President of KNow Research, a qualitative consultancy based in San Francisco. Additionally, she is the co-Founder of Scoot Insights, a firm offering an agile qualitative methodology for decision-making. Katrina is an active member of QRCA which is the Qualitative Research Consultant Association, the Insights Association, Women In Research (WIRe) and ESOMAR. She is proud of KNow’s status as a certified woman owned business, and serves as a mentor through both WBE and WIRe’s mentorship programs.

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[00:48]

Over the last decade the market research industry has been disrupted.  Our largest agencies are struggling to keep up as their customers turn to newer, faster and cheaper data sources. Now we are on the edge of yet another major market shift. Now is the time for us to reassert ourselves as the rudder of the brands we love. Thank you for tuning in to the Happy Market Research Podcast where we are charting the path for the future of market researchers and businesses. Today my guest is Katrina Noelle, President of KNow Research, a qualitative consultancy based in San Francisco.  Additionally, she is the co-founder of Scoot Insights, a firm offering an agile, qualitative methodology for decision-making. Katrina is an active member of QRCA, which is the Qualitative Research Consultant Association, the Insights Association, Women in Research, and SMR. She’s proud of KNow’s status as a certified woman-owned business and serves as a mentor through both WBE and WIRe’s mentorship programs.

Katrina, thanks very much for being on the Happy Market Research podcast with me today.   

[02:01]

Glad to be here.

[02:02]   

So, tell us a little bit about where you grew up and how you parents influenced your career.

[02:07]

Yeah, so I grew up in the Bay Area before it was the Bay Area that we know today.  It was more about Hayes and Fisherman’s Wharf and things like that. It was not the tech center that it is now.  But I think the biggest influence on where I ended up was the fact that my parents owned their own business. So, I grew up as the second child next to an audio-recording studio, which is still going strong.  The main thing that really influenced me was the fact that that is okay to start your own business and to start it pretty young; that it’s kind of a default option rather than a rare enterprise. So I started my business fairly young, based on that inferred approval of the small business.        

[03:01]

Did you parents have any specific hard times that you recall they went through with their small business?

[03:09]   

I think it is tough.  I mean they co-owned a business and ran a family together.  So there were some general negotiations, shall we say, that went on while I was growing up.  But I think that is an industry that changes very much with the times and has to. And a lot has happened with audio over the past few decades.  So, I think just seeing the constant need to stay ahead of the game and keep track of what new technology and expectations are… Their client base has changed radically over the last years.   So, just watching that constant need to be agile and to transform with your industry… It was a challenge, but it was also very informative to watch.

[03:56]

Yeah, that specific industry has gone through massive disruption.  And it sounds like they were able to traverse these periods of time successfully.  As you think back on their ability to work together to negotiate both successful family and then successful business, were there some key takeaways that you learned, some behaviors that you adopted?

[04:26]

Yeah, I think one of the most prevalent things was the agility about what was going to walk in the door and present itself may not be why you set up the business.  They started with very small-scale production jobs: people who wanted to record books on tape or their own CD, or things like that. And it morphed into corporations needing voice mail and other kind of needs from the voice perspective.  So, that’s kind of sat in my mind as based on what you do, who might need this. And who might need this isn’t someone you might think of as the most immediate connection. So I think that that’s really stuck with me, that you have a set of assets and a set of services that you provide and to think really broadly about how to offer that and where to offer that set of services.

[05:20]

So, growing up in an entrepreneurial family is pretty exciting, I would imagine, and then setting off ultimately to start your own business.  How did you find yourself in market research?

[05:32]

As anyone who’s starting off in market research knows, it’s very irritating when people say they fell into it.  I think these days you can intentionally fall a bit better. But, when I started out, it was definitely not anything I knew about in college; it was nothing that I knew to study or prepare for.  I found myself right out of college in a marketing department sort of by…. You know I had a communications degree; I guess that’s what you went and did. And fairly soon after starting work, I ended up being borrowed by the Insights Department to go take notes on a set of focus groups, and I begged my boss at the time because, honestly, I just wanted to take the trip, right?  I just wanted to be able to travel around. “Sure, whatever this focus group thing is, I’ll take notes.” And it was within a couple of days of observing that process that I thought, “Wait, hang on. This is what I want to do.” It was more about which end of stick you’re holding, right? Instead of telling people what they might want and need, really listening to them and providing that feedback and loop back into the company about what they actually wanted and needed from the brand.  It just sort of struck me in the middle of that trip, and I don’t think I’ve ever really looked back from that. It took me a long time to get into the industry. I was trying to figure out how to do that. I was working abroad at the time. It was a visa thing; it was a lot of different things at the time. So it took me much longer to be doing what I wanted to do than finding out that’s what I wanted to do.

[07:10]

That’s super interesting.  So, originally the motivation there was simply just to exposure of other areas.  So, travel was kind of the big, baited hook for you into qualitative research.

[07:24]

Yeah.  I mean thank God, right, because that is a lot of your life when you decide to get into this field; so, you do have to have a certain amount of love for new places and continually stay curious about meeting new people and new places because that’s a big part of the job still.

[07:40]

So, when you’ve done it as long as you’ve have, do you…  obviously… The second or third or fourth time to London is really exciting still, right?  But like the twentieth time or whatever time? [laughter] I’m not saying like it goes away, but the enthusiasm sort of…  Do you have that, still that connection and drive and love for that aspect of the business or is it turned a little bit more into the work/grind?

[08:10]

It’s difficult.  I definitely preach better than I practice on that front.  Junior folks on my team know I tell them we have a trip coming up.  “Do you have any friends in New York? ‘Cause you should probably pad it.”  I tell them to do that, and I end up taking a red-eye. So, I try not to lose the love and the interest in it.  I think what’s it’s turned into for me is more than seeing different cities. That’s kind of a different soapbox that I’ll get to in just a second.  But you end up going back to the same places over and over again, it does lose a little bit of the mystique, but what it doesn’t lose is the fact that you don’t live in a bubble.  So, especially being based in San Francisco and in the Bay Area, it’s very different than most places in the state or country or certainly world, right? So, I think just the fact that we as a profession are lucky enough to meet people from so many different places and hear input and thoughts and really considered observations on life from a really diverse set of people, that to me never gets old.  It doesn’t matter what plane you’re on to what city, the fact that your world is that broad continues to be a hugely exciting benefit.

[09:27]

How does that inform then the insights that you derive from the qualitative efforts?

[09:34]

For a long time, qualitative has insisted quite rightly to touch base with a few different markets for any study, right?  These days it’s turned into doing a lot of digital qualitative and getting people on webcams from all across the country to get that multifaceted viewpoint.  So how we’ve done it has changed but, I think that impetus to get as many viewpoints in the mix as possible, you need to broaden the set. We know we’re not quant; we know we can’t get you statistical significance about X-region or X-country, but we can certainly get you depth and that depth is eroded by the fact that, if you only get depth in one area, right?  The whole point of getting depth is to have it be a very broad set of depth. So, I’m sort of talking in like a meta-speak right now, but I do think it’s important to get as many voices heard as possible. And, of course, that varies by project. So, if your client has a few targeted audiences, that’s what you’re going to dive into. But you still need to make sure you have representation from all the facets of that audience, which brings me back to the soapbox I was alluding to earlier.  We do go to the same cities repeatedly. I mean I can’t tell you how many times in the last year I’ve been to L.A., Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Dallas; this is where we go repeatedly. But there’s a lot of us who are pushing to get to second tier markets, to get to markets that aren’t heard quite as often – not only from a fresh participant point of view but just a diversity of perspectives in the insights really.

[11:18]

Yeah, totally.  There is definitely… I call the triple A teams, right?  The markets that tend to get neglected are the ones. But some good-sized populations have triple A ball teams like the one I am in right now – Fresno.  You got a million people that are in the center part of California, and they could not look more different than everybody else in the state: varying shades in some cases.  So you wind up… Go ahead.

[11:46]

I was going to say…  So, in those cases, actually we have done a couple of studies this year that have been in two markets:  San Francisco and Sacramento. It sounds kind of funny, but it’s very true. It’s very true that that’s two separate markets.  And, if you have a client whose travel budget…they still want to do in person, but they don’t have a huge travel budget; you have to think creatively like that.

[12:08]   

100%.  So, one of things that you had brought up a little bit ago is this general notion of pulling truth out of the groups.  My boss taught me this kind of saying (He certainly didn’t invent this; it’s been around forever), “Do what I want, not what I say.”  And that’s a big part… I mean I feel like that’s the crux of effective research, is intuiting what exactly the person really desires as opposed to trying to build the building based on the schematic that they verbally try to communicate, right?  So, how do you pull that out? Are there tips in your interviewing that you can give our listeners on ways that you’re able to kind of get to what the person is intending to say as opposed to just the quote?

[13:04]

Yeah, it’s a very hard thing to put like five tips to hear what they’re really saying.  That’s a hard article to write. A lot of it is very intuitive, right? It’s listening empathically and being intuitive.  

[13:17]

I just have to say that is the best SEO hook we could ever come up with.  [laughter]

[13:22]

Right?  Yes. Effective interviewing in five minutes.  I mean it’s just difficult. You have to get into it.  There’s a reason why clients ask what your moderation experience is and what kind of brands you’ve worked on and what kind of insights you’ve drawn because it takes practice.  There’s certain people who definitely come to it with a more innate ability to listen for the truth behind the words, right? I usually say it’s a process of being with the person.  Obviously, this is easier to do one-on-one than in a group, but it’s still possible to be in the moment, to be with whoever is telling you what they’re telling you. And if you are truly not worrying about your rapport or not worrying about your client behind the glass or… and have your discussion guide down so that you don’t have to refer to it by the letter, and you’re able to just communicate and say and be there with them, you’re going to be a lot further towards that goal.  The other thing we do which is actually much more of a tactic is once that discussion guide – the sort of formal interview guide to make sure that the client knows that you’re going to ask about all the important points is written – we then write a check list. So we say, “Okay. After this hour, I need to have understood these ten things from this person’s point of view. No matter what the questions are, how they are written, in what order they are – I need to walk out of this room with those ten answers.”  And that really sets your mind to listen, to understand them rather than to go through a set of bullet points in a “guide.” You just need to make sure you understand that many things about that person. And then you sit down with the next person; you understand that many things about them. So that’s as much process as we put around that.

[15:10]

I think that’s great, and then you move towards that empathy and pattern recognition, right?  In a lot of ways, as you’ve already said, interviewers or qualitative researchers in general are naturally intuitive.  With your team, are you cultivating that EQ?

[15:34]

Yes, I think it’s very hard to teach if it’s missing at all.  And I don’t, honestly, think very many people get involved in qualitative research if they don’t have a degree of EQ.  If they are not emotional, empathetic listeners to begin with, there’s frankly not a lot of interest to get into the profession, right?  You have to be passionate about it; you have to be curious about people; and you have to want to listen to them. It’s sort of entry level into qualitative.  If you don’t, then you can just do something else. It’s a lot of self-selecting: “This is what interests me. This is why I’m in the industry. Okay, now I need to know how to do it well because I have the interest in it.”  But maybe honing the skill is more necessary at that point. We practice a lot on each other. We’ll sit down; if someone is training, we pick another team member and have them run through that interview. We do observations so that a junior moderator will always watch a more senior moderator and sort of see how that process works, how it’s pulled off the paper because I think it’s very tempting to stick to the paper – it’s very tempting to stick to the guide.   But a lot of those insights aren’t going to come unless you can get off script, so to say, and run that conversation. So it’s a lot of practice partnering up, learning from each other that has to happen. There’s not a lot of remote “sit and read this,” “watch this course” that will really help you do it in the moment.

[17:09]

I really just complete transparency…  I really struggle with that or struggled even more so – I still do – but it’s been a journey having these conversations.  I critique myself afterwards. So, of course, have to listen to the damn episode multiple times; by the end of it, I feel like I need counseling.  [laughter] I’m a very bad self-critic, but the thing that I keep coming back to, as I self-audit, is this ask open-ended questions and don’t step on the points.  You can get better at the craft, but it takes a truck load of willingness to look, to develop self-awareness, I guess, and be willing to separate your ego from the opportunity for improvement.  

[18:07]   

It’s true and that’s a big part of this “one mouth, two ears” kind of ratio that goes on because you cannot be a moderator with an ego.  No one is there is hear you. The client is not paying to hear your wise statements or poetic turns of phrase. They’re here to hear the participants.  You’re really a conduit: you’re trying to bring something out of another person. And I think that is really key. I think that a lot of people think you have to be an extrovert, and you have to be a showman.  There’s a little bit of that to this. It’s very much not. Some of the best moderators that I’ve worked with check themselves at the door. This is really about the person in the room with you.

[18:56]

Right.  That’s exactly the picture that the customer is paying for:  what is the view of the respondent? In 2003, you got certified from the Burke Institute for qualitative market research facilitator training program.  How important do you see continuing education in a modern context now with Lynda.com and all these different online tutorials, etc., etc., versus more of the institutional way of self-improvement?   

[19:29]

To be honest, the main reason I went and got my certificate is because I had been banging my head on the wall for a little while, trying to get someone to train me

in-house and I finally… There were a series of corporate maneuvers that left me between departments continually.  I was a little bit of a mess when I was a younger researcher. And I said, “Forget this! I’m just going to go save up and get myself trained and then I’ll be legit.”  I talk to my younger self quite frequently, amazed at the kind of ego behind that particular maneuver. I recommend a lot of people to start off with an agency, and preferably a smaller one, that will let you do a lot of the work to learn on the job rather than thinking a certificate course in two weeks is really going to get where you need to be.  That said, I had an amazing training at Burke. I still remember poignantly quite a lot of the lessons and try to teach a lot of the lessons from that course. So I think that the robust training institutions are very appropriate if you’re interested in going out on your own, if you’re starting from scratch, if you don’t have a way to be mentored or learn within your organization and you really want to just dedicate a week or two to this process – invaluable.   

I think in an ongoing sense, it’s slightly different.  And you do want to kind of learn one thing at a time. The industry has changed so rapidly and grown in so many directions at once, it’s very hard to wrap your head around everything you “should be learning and doing at any given point.”  So I think the bite-size trainings now are so helpful: if you can just concentrate on a workshop, a day session, one webinar, and actually make sure you practice something from it within that week and sort of take a bite out of everything and decide what you want to get further into.  There are so many buzz words, and there are so many things you could be chasing after, you almost have to learn a little bit about something to understand, “Okay. Is this what myself or my firm wants to go tackle or is this something I just need to know enough about to have a conversation about and identify why we do something a little bit differently or a little bit not on that track?”  That’s a roundabout way of answering that question, but I think I might have gotten there.

[22:01]

Yeah, no, you definitely got there in a couple of different ways that is very valuable.  You’d mentioned earlier about qualitative tools. There’s been such a transition over the last 20 years in the creation and adoption of qualitative technology that’s just speeding things up, right?  And then on top of it, you’re seeing through sentiment analysis or face recognition or “you pick the thing,” a rise in qualitative scale, which is finally giving qualitative the scope to have a big enough base to say this might be representative of a sample.  Are you employing…. What qualitative technologies have you been using and how are seeing that evolve over the next couple years?

[22:59]

Yeah, that’s a big question.  I remember – it wasn’t that long ago – in 2014 or 2015, I think, I presented a very brief PowerPoint presentation of the tools you need to know.  And somebody asked me last year if I could update that. “No, I can’t anymore. Sorry.” There’s such perfusion; there’s such a perfusion of tools that are not only built for us but that we can use.  And I think that’s a lot of the difference. A lot of it is there are a lot of tools that are both purpose-built for the industry or you can tweak them so that they can be used by the industry. If you look at that in aggregate, it’s too much for any one firm to really get a hold of.  I think for our business, we try to make sure we have a set of tools that allow us to do synchronous, remote qualitative. So, anything where anyone is being interviewed somewhere where we are not physically, we need a set of tools to help us do that. Then we need a set of tools to help us moderate asynchronously:  so, if anyone is doing diaries or shopping or bulletin boards or any of that – it’s remote and we’re not there – we need a set of tools to do that. The third set you need are a set of tools if you’re there in person because you’re not enough these days. You need some tools bolstering that, recording it, getting all of that ready to be delivered to your client.  So those are the three buckets that we think of.

So we’re a smaller agency; we want to make sure we keep a lot of that capability

in-house and sort of judiciously bring in vendors and partners when we need them.  What we have not stepped into is forming a set of tools of our own to tackle some of the things you’ve mentioned, like text analytics or eye-tracking or things like that.  There companies that do that well. And if there needs to be a partnership… or our client asks us for something specific, we will pull them in and we will work with preferred partners.  I think you definitely need to make a decision what you’re going to keep close (develop your own guidelines, methods, tools, and relationships for) and what you’re going to treat as a partnership.  I think in a lot of boutique or smaller providers are just not in the place to be able to offer everything internally. And I think that’s okay if you’re upfront about it and you say, “These are our methods and techniques.  And for what you’re asking for, we have an amazing partner who does X. And so we’re going to put our pieces together and give you exactly what you need and work in tandem to do so.” And I haven’t found a lot of clients who are not okay with that kind of solution.  

[25:47]

How are you handling the…?  (I call it the “note under the door.”)  You know what I’m talking about, right? So, for those that don’t, the customer oftentimes sitting behind the glass will want to have communication or say in the direction of the dialog.  And so there’s a variety of different ways (all of them obtrusive) to pass that note. How are you handling that? Is there like a technology hack that you’re using nowadays or…?

[26:15]

I’m laughing because a very, very dear client of mine last week said, “Now, remind me, Katrina…  Can I text you?” And, apparently, I gave her a look that meant, “No.” [laughter] She’s like, “I’m sorry I must be thinking of someone else.”  because you’re right: it is one of the most distracting things. Not only does it remind participants that someone is watching them, right, which you’re trying to kind of dissuade them from remembering, but often it is something that you’re getting to or haven’t quite circled back to, or used those words, or something like that.  But, on the other hand, we work in a business where we’re third parties; we don’t know people’s business as well as they do. And sometimes those notes are really essential because we have gone down a path that maybe they can’t execute on or we’re brainstorming in an area that they know this product is not going to reach into. And, while it may be interesting for us – “Ah, it’s interesting that people want this,” that is not where we need to be discussing.  So it’s important to have a way to get a note under the door definitely. What we tend to say is we, in our guides, we create break points. We give our participants something to do, something to work on, some sort of worksheet, or just something without looking at their watches, right? And the client then knows, okay, at these two or three points, she’ll come back here and talk to us. So there’s just a reassurance of, “My moderator will come back and check in with me,” maybe it becomes a little less dire to put the note under the door in the moment.  And we try to create those with subject-change points so that anything that did not get covered in subject A, there’s a time to discuss that and ask those questions before you move on to subject B. Now this is similar when you’re doing something remotely in chat boxes to the moderator; we try to keep that same cadence. It’s much easier for people to put a note through the door when all they have to do is chat in a message box. But we try to keep that same rhythm in place. And also set a cadence whenever we’re doing anything asynchronously of saying “Send me your notes from Day 1.”  “Did everybody read Day 1 responses?” “Okay, feedback on that?” And give them a moment to send their notes so that we can integrate it and make it as fluid as possible.

[28:42]

So, how are companies (your clients, specifically) using qualitative research today?  And is it different from when you first started.

[28:52]

Yeah, I think it’s more entwined with other things they’re doing, which is a very good thing.  The worlds of qual and quant, like you just mentioned a few minutes ago, are getting closer. And, honestly, at the end of the day, the client wants insights.  It’s not about, “Did this come out of a focus group?” “Or did this come back in a customer satisfaction survey?” or “Did we hear this on Twitter?” They just want to know.  I think the integration or the fact that a lot different reports from a lot of different sources are being compiled together on the client side is happening much more – there’s more data sources.  But there’s also more emphasis on seeing it all under the same roof, which is great. But it also means that, as a qualitative supplier, we need spend a lot of time telling people what else are you doing, where’s this going, what is this getting pulled together with, laddering up to, supporting because we know we’re a bookend business.  Sometimes we’re the meat, but often there’s a big, juicy survey or some other kind of component of the work being done and we ARE in the business of complementing it and supporting it, And so it just means a bigger conversation about what the full scope of work is and what role our pieces are playing in it so that we can then create deliverables that can sync up with the other things being done on the client side.  

[30:25]

Are you seeing a shift in spend in qualitative over the last whatever it’s been… in your career?  In other words, are more dollars being sent this direction?

[30:38]

On a macro-level, I’m probably not the person to answer that, but in our experience, what we’ve seen is that if you are going to do “full-scale, traditional qualitative,” that’s happening less frequently and with a higher price tag because I think a lot of people are able to do quicker usability studies or customer-journey work or use their own tools, do DIY, mine their communities.  So some of the smaller-scale projects in qualitative are, we’ve noticed, being done in-house. That’s not a hard-and-fast rule, but we’ve seen that increase over the last few years.

[31:27]

So, small amount…  I want to make sure I understand.  So, it sounded like you said or what I heard you say is smaller projects are being… are more likely to be done in-house versus through an agency whereas larger ones are going to have a larger price tag but those are going to be partnered.  

[31:42]

Well, that was more concise, yes.  [laughter]

[31:45]

I just wanted to make sure I grabbed that one.  Obviously, you said I just… You know it’s an important distinction because we’re seeing the same thing on the quant side, right?  The flurry of DIY tools, whether it’s from Survey Monkey to “you pick the platform”… people are now empowered (I’ve been saying this for a couple years) from the intern to the CEO, they’re all doing surveys.  But when it comes to… it’s either… there’s a CYA element or it’s this really important project and it’s going to have a lot of eyeballs on it. That’s when you’re more likely to get the outsource scenario being conducted whether it’s through Ipsos or whatever.      

[32:34]   

I wonder…  I mean you guys probably have these similar conversations in quant where you say, “What do you not know?  So, what are you not getting?” because most clients now are getting something. There is a feedback loop. They’re using it.  When I started, it was like, “Oh, my God, how do we talk to our customers? Show us the light.” Now, there are so many processes in place to be able to collect data.  So, it’s like, “Okay, what are you not getting? What can we supplement?” It’s kind of hard to get lapsed users to organically talk to you or a new market segment or talk about a product that you haven’t released yet ‘cause no one can give you that data right now unless you push it out as a specific project.  So, I think it’s having that kind of conversation; it’s acknowledging how much is done in-house. And it’s not something to fight. It’s something to understand and say, “This is great because I am starting a step ahead of where I would have if you didn’t do this ‘cause now we can go after something really juicy.”  

[33:35]

But in the quant realm, there’s these longitudinal studies, which are large and whatever, and then there’s more ad hoc, right?  So, there’s budget considerations that are done on an annualized basis for longitudinal studies and then there’s, “Oh, we need to do this project because this executive wants an answer,” which are much more ad hoc in nature.  Does qualitative follow the same budget guidelines?

[33:58]

Yeah, so our equivalent to that would be ongoing communities versus ad hoc projects.  A lot of our clients do. And that’s to be determined if that’s done in-house or through a vendor, through a supplier.  But it’s a very good idea to get a group of people at your disposal to answer questions. And sometimes that can be a qual/quant situation, right?  You can still ask that panel of people survey questions, but it’s really nice to be able to throw a qualitative conversation in the mix every once in a while.  And we actually then partner a lot with our clients who have those communities set up to say, “Great! You have a community. Can we recruit out of that? Can we do these ad hoc projects actually from your long-term community?”  I think it’s again kind of playing around with the methods and playing around with the options to see what you can use. In my experience, a lot of those qualitative communities are run in-house on the client side, but there’s a number of people that I know (and we’ve done this with a couple clients in the past year) to have a small-scale, qualitative community, purpose-built for them.  It is usually to track something specific. “We’re going to change our marketing messages in the next six months. Let’s get this community involved to talk to us along the way. We’re rolling out in this new market. Let’s go find people in that market and have them communicate with us qualitatively while we do it.” So it’s longer term, but it’s often more specific.

[35:36]

So, how are you recruiting the people and then are you recruiting them to an Excel database or is there some sophisticated technology there?

[35:44]

Yeah, we usually use a platform.  It definitely depends on the needs of the study.  There’s a lot of great options out there, and it definitely depends on what you need it to do, but we definitely need a repository of some kind.  Now, recruiting can happen a couple of different ways: what we’re doing a lot more of is intercept recruiting. We have a lot of retail clients and, if we can get permission to be in stores or in shopping areas for them, we often recruit live.  It’s something we’ve been pushing a lot in current years to kind of do a lot of recruiting that way. Not mall intercepts with a clip board – we try to not come across like that. It’s more about finding people where they are in the moment to talk about that topic.  So, if they’re holding a bag, they kind of qualify, right? So you have a little less worry about fit and accuracy. “Do they really buy from this place?” “Are they really involved in the brand?” If they walk out of the store with a bag, you’re probably likely to get somebody who’s a “real” customer and most likely fresh from a market research perspective.  So we do a lot of that to build communities. We have to get trickier when it’s something that you can’t do out in public or it’s a different topic or it’s a different client, where it makes that less relevant. We can do pop-up booths where we entice people to come in with some sort of incentive to give some sort of feedback on a topic and then say, “Are you interested in doing another research activity or getting involved in the community?”  And then we work with a lot of client lists to do that as well. So there are a number of different ways of populating and then, I should say, the other important part of that is refreshing because not everybody who starts is going to be there with you six months later. So, of course, you have to continually refresh. But the platform itself really depends on how robust it’s going to be. Is it just somewhere that you have to send out a couple questions? Or people needing to record videos?  Are they needing to perform shopping exercises? Do you want them to do card sorts or creative activities? So, we have about three or four go-to platforms and pick depending on what we think that community is going to need to do on it.

[38:04]

So, what are you offering right now that is finding traction among your clients that you’d like our listenership to know about.

[38:12]

Honestly, the pop-up recruiting is really helping people.  Clients are kind of loving the fact that these are authentic people found in the moment whether it’s pop up or within a specific store. We’re really enjoying being able to offer that with almost the same turnaround time if not shorter than going out to panels.  So we’re a big fan of that approach. The other thing that we’ve been doing is trying to take our deliverables up to the next level in a few different ways. Most recently, we’ve been partnering with Nimble MR and doing podcast or audio reports. So, you asked me before if I was a podcast listener:  Yes, and apparently a producer if you call an audio report a podcast. But any of those kinds of things that either increase the quality of the data in or increase the engagement with the deliverable that comes out of the process. We’re really kind of concentrating in those two areas these days.

[39:24]   

So, I’ve got to go back to this whole like…  the trend thing that, you’ve really got me interested in this.  The theme that I’ve heard 50% of the time among the 36-38 people I’ve interviewed so far is consistently the human story is what resonates inside the organization that moves it to change, but it has to have the quantitative data behind it.  Are you seeing a closer tie with qualitative and quantitative, or are you seeing them still as the disparate bookends?

[40:05]

It’s tough.  To some degree, they are different animals in terms of how you conduct the research, but I think where they cross more now and where they need to be more integrated in how you feedback… how you read out on that.  So, I think what I’m finding is a much more entwined presentation of qual and quant or synthesis of the data all along the way and in the reporting deliverables where a few years ago I wasn’t seeing that as much. As a qual provider, you were lucky to be shown the quant report at some point like if you managed to get an email by mistake or something.  There was no withholding about it; it’s just like was not seen as necessary for what you were doing. It’s like here’s basically what we learned in the quant; now, let’s go do some qual. Now, we do a lot of persona development and do that very closely with a quantitative partner so that it’s almost like this entwined process where we learn from each other along the way; we recruit the qual participants from the quant survey that built the personas and it’s all very…  it’s all synthesized. And I think that’s what I’m seeing more of and so the result is this synthesized piece of information where the client gets things from both sources at once. But it is a bit tricky. The field work definitely has different processes and procedures, and that has stayed separate in most of the work I’ve done to date.

[41:44]

My guest today has been Katrina Noelle, president of KNow Research and co-founder of Scoot Insights.  Katrina, thanks very much for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast today.

[41:57]

Thanks for having me.

[41:58]

And thank you everyone who’s been liking our podcasts and providing feedback on Apple Tunes and Google Play.  Special thanks to RonerForever; he said or she said, “This is a must-listen-to podcast for anyone interested in quantitative projects.”  I got to tell you I think we just added a qual to the equation. Hope you guys found value. Please share episodes. Have a great rest of your day!