If a brand wants to use qualitative research to learn about a particular product, habit, etc., the researcher and the brand team spend lots of time crafting the perfect discussion guide – one that is typically long and filled with dozens and dozens of highly detailed, time-proven questions. This is a valid method of research that gets at the nitty, gritty details of a very focused area.
In a typical discussion guide, you might ask the following traditional questions to learn about habits and attitudes on a product:
- How many times per week do you use mayonnaise?
- What are your favorite ways to use it?
- What do you like best about mayonnaise? Least?
- What is missing for you when it comes to mayonnaise?
- Is there a time when you would have liked to use it but it just didn’t work?
These can be the most obvious questions that at times yield the most obvious, uninspiring answers. This traditional approach may not unearth those bigger insights that could be impacting the role of mayonnaise in their lives, and be the tip of a bigger insight ‘iceberg.’
To break out of the traditional approach one needs to turn the questions on their head. The goal is to ask things in a more thought provoking way that will open the door for consumers to get creative and unleash a wealth of fresh insights. Here are some examples of questions that could yield bigger and better insights:
- How would your life be different if you broke up with mayonnaise? How would you feel? How would things change? What would be the biggest loss? How might you console yourself with the loss of mayonnaise?
- What is your latest love/passion in your refrigerator now? (Or, what is the one food you didn’t know about 5 years ago that you just couldn’t live without today?) How would you rank mayonnaise against your new love?
- What is the biggest food struggle you had last week? How could mayonnaise have helped you with your struggle?
As you can see, this approach would yield a much different set of answers than the first set of questions.
So, the next time you go on a learning journey, don’t overload those discussion guides with all the traditional questions. Reframe them and you will be pleasantly surprised by what you learn. You might even utter a few ‘AHA’s’ from the back room!