Ep. 510 – HMRP Monday Edition: How the 5-Whys are Changing how we Conduct Qualitative Studies

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Today is February 28, 2022. Happy Monday!

You’re listening to the Happy Market Research podcast. I’m Jamin Brazil, your host. 

Support for the Happy Market Research Podcast and the following message comes from Michigan State’s Marketing Research Program & HubUX. 

I’ve done hundreds of interviews with today’s top minds in market research. Many of them trace their roots to Michigan State’s Marketing Research program.

Are you looking for higher pay, to expand your professional network, and to achieve your full potential in the world of market research?

Today, the program has tracks for both full-time students and working professionals.

They also provide career support, assisting students to win today’s most sought-after jobs. In fact, over 80% of Michigan State’s Marketing Research students have accepted job offers 6 months prior to graduating.

If you are looking to achieve your full potential, check out MSMU’s programs at:

broad.msu.edu/marketing

HubUX is a research operation platform for private panel management, qualitative automation including video audition questions, and surveys. 

For a limited time, user seats are free. If you’d like to learn more or create your own account, visit hubux.com. 

This is episode 510 and, according to iTunes, Cold Heart by Elton John & Dua Lipa is the number one song across the globe. 

Today is the last day of February. We are 2 months into 2022 and already, things are crazier than we expected them to be just 60 days ago. There are two major issues facing the world, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and the threat of an economic downturn. 

But! This isn’t a show on current events. It is a show about the world of consumer insights. 

What I’d like to draw your attention to is that the world of consumer insights tends to operate at a micro level. What I mean by this is businesses have questions like…

  1. is my software easy to use, 
  2. do consumers like the way my product tastes, 
  3. what other products should we develop,
  4. are my customers happy, and so on. 

The answers to these research questions rarely are placed in the context of our broader world. 

Let me be clear. 

Much of consumer behavior is habit. From the beer we drink, to the fast food we eat, our choices are influenced by external factors. When making decisions, our subconscious is asking questions like these…

“Will learning this software improve my hireability?” 

“Do my friends like eating at this fast food restaurant?”

“Is the store located on my way home from school?”

“Are my peers investing in NFTs?”

“Will my date be impressed if I take them to an exclusive restaurant?”

“Does this watch make me look successful?”

“Will this diet program help me look as hot as their spokesperson?” 

These questions offer answers that start to uncover the true why behind consumer preference. 

All of us are consumers. We are fed information constantly. Wherever we spend time there are voices that seek to influence our decisions. And, while we like to think we are making rational decisions, we rarely do. 

So, for your research, try and pull back a little bit. Look at what is under the surface of the purchase decision. Try and tap into the consumer’s subconscious. 

How do we do this? Well, I like starting in a qualitative framework during one on one interviews. 

The method I use is usually called “5-Whys” or Causal Chain. Here is a 3 minute excerpt from the Lean Enterprise Institute that describes this approach to problem solving.  

You can apply the 5-Whys to your interviews. For example, I recently did some research for a  health and wellness brand. The objective was to uncover purchase motivators. 

After just a few interviews, it was clear there were three reasons people purchased from this brand: 

  1. Look good. They wanted to feel good about themselves. 
  2. Feel good. They wanted to avoid back pain. 
  3. Do good. They wanted to be competitive. For example, do well in their local 5k. 

But I started doing the 5-Whys. Here is an outcome from one interview on “look good”. 

Interviewer: Why do you care about looking good? 

Participant: I want to be attractive. 

Interviewer: Why do you want to be attractive? 

Participant: I don’t want my family to see my love handles. 

Interviewer: Why don’t you want your family to see your love handles? 

Participant: I feel like I’m supposed to set a bar of high fitness for my family. 

Interviewer: Why do you feel like you need to set a high fitness bar for your family? 

Participant: Because my father did and I feel like I’m not living up to his expectations. 

During this interview, the participant was blown away at their discovery about their motivation to look good. It wasn’t just about being attractive, it was about measuring up to someone else’s expectations. 

The clarity and specificity this brought to the “look good” persona was very useful for marketing to create empathy and understanding which can be used for connection. 

I know I started with, “this isn’t a show about global issues”. However, I do want to weigh in a bit. 

If we move into a period of economic distress, companies that supply services that support online shopping, work arrangements, and at-home substitutes for traditional services…these offer significant opportunities.

For example, if we hit a recession consumers are more likely to repair their cars rather than buy a new one. We are more likely to do home improvements and garden work versus have other people do that for us. 

If there are ongoing COVID-19 related business closures and an increase in household financial challenges, DIY activities will increase and likely include more industries than we have seen in any recession before. Why? Because there are a ton of “how-tos” available today. 

In fact, last week the 12 volt battery in my tesla went out. A simple google search and I was off to my local AutoZone. I followed the directions and replaced the batteries right in front of the store. 

According to Investopodia, consumer sectors that are poised for growth are Discount Retailers like Dollar General, Health Care, Food & restaurants like Kroger and McDonalds, Freight and Logistics, and DIY Repairs like AutoZone and Tractor Supply. 

I don’t know where we are headed. But, I do know that social media is offering us a front row seat. And that has its benefits and dangers. 

Here is an excerpt from an interview published on February 21st, 2022 with Charlie Munger, Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. He warns investors of what’s ahead for the markets. But, what I found that was deeply surprising was his view of what is the global purchase driver, envy. 

There are many who will use times of crisis to influence your perspectives and purchase decisions. So, be diligent in your pursuits. Consider challenging your own POVs. And, whatever comes, I hope you’ll be safe and happy with the things and people you have. Don’t be dissatisfied with the propped up facades you see on social media. 

For Further Consideration 

Thank you for listening to the Happy Market Research podcast. I’m Jamin Brazil. 

If you’d like to learn more about this show or our sponsors, please check the show notes. 

You are always invited to attend the MRxPros’ Virtual Lunch. This is a group of UX, CX, and market researchers that meets every week for 30 minutes to do 3 things: learn one new thing, make one new friend, and have fun.

Happy Researching! 😊 


References: 

Sponsor MSMU: https://broad.msu.edu/marketing

Sponsor HubUX: https://hubux.com

Elton John, Dua Lipa – Cold Heart (PNAU Remix) (Official Video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qod03PVTLqk

Lean Enterprise Institute’ Clarifying the ‘5 Whys’ Problem-Solving Method

“Most People Have No Idea What Is Coming…” – Charlie Munger’s Last WARNING