We are very excited at Pink Sky for all the great press we are getting about the launch of our sister company, the Namery. The Namery is off to a very strong start working with both large and small companies on generating powerful, memorable brand names.
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!
Qualitative concept testing can be more of an art than a science. While a scientific approach can be incorporated into the idea evaluation process (avoiding order bias, adding objective grading scales, etc.), the rest needs to be all about the art of reading the room and overcoming obstacles that consumers will put up around getting solid feedback on ideas.
As a frequent moderator of concept evaluation groups, I know that it is critical to set the stage so that consumers are not put in the seat of ‘editor’ or ‘copy writer’. I tell them not to think about individual words but rather the intent of all the words together. I also give them different tools to make sure they stay as big picture as possible such as ‘Write a sentence to describe this idea to your best friend.”. Typically I find that creative consumers can go on the journey. However it’s those darn literal consumers who get fixated on specific words and cannot see past them to appreciate the core idea. I try to help respondents see the forest through the tree by having them cross out those trouble making words, add in their own words, and move on. It is important to not let a few words take down a good idea or derail the group.
Another big issue that happens is that a good idea is buried inside of all the wrong language. The language takes them to the wrong place, they get the wrong impression, and the idea begins to die a not so slow death. In this instance it is critical to have consumers turn over the concept sheet and forget the language on the page. Then I try to give them one sentence that summarizes the idea by saying… “Lets forget those words instead what do you think about a product that does X?” It is amazing how many times the core idea is highly appealing when stripped down to a sentence or two. It lets consumers get back on track. Once they do you can build the idea out from the core, as such saving it from an unnecessary death.
So, next time words are the enemy of a potentially good idea get them out of the room so the idea can live on!
From doing lots of research with busy, harried moms, we have found that they are battling the front lines every day right in their own kitchens. We think it is critical to be on the front lines with moms observing these battles, and always keeping them front and center when innovating for solutions to help them.
Her battles are complicated and include many routine challenges and many compromised solutions:
- Needing to please the whole family so she ends up dumbing down the entire meal for her pickiest eater.
- Wanting to make it healthy but needing it to be quick which makes her compromise with less healthy shortcuts.
- Wanting to try something new to break the boredom but being afraid it will be a flop so she sticks with the same boring options.
These daily battles are compounded by the fact that many find the entire task a giant, stressful burden – one that they dream of having lifted. Cooking doesn’t come easy to many women and yet they are forced into being chefs every single day. Their solutions for getting dinner on the table are as varied as their emotions.
A stand out moment in research came when I was interviewing a 25 year old mom with 5 kids – some her own and others older step children. Along on the interview with me was a corporate chef from my client’s team. In asking her about making dinner, she expressed all those challenges that we hear from moms- quick, crowd-pleasing, balanced with protein and veggies, etc.
Her solution to meet these challenges though was one that made the chef on the interview almost get up and run out! This mom served boxed macaroni and cheese to which she added a can of tuna and cut up tomatoes to. In her mind this was a very good solution to her dinnertime dilemmas. It was balanced with protein (tuna) and veggies (tomato’s), it was quick (under 20 minutes) and it was crowd-pleasing since every age group would eat it. In our minds though it was a reality check that despite all that great healthy products, and all the articles, recipes, and blogs about on how to get a healthy, nutritious dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less, etc. this is what a lot of women end up with as a family meal to address her challenges. Many times it isn’t aspirational but it gets the job done and that at the end of the day is all most moms are hoping to achieve.
As marketers and innovators it is important to understand the realities of how woman face their daily dinner challenges. We need to always be out there on the front lines with harried moms witnessing first hand how they get dinner on the table. The more we intimately understand her true struggles on the front line, the more we can help her. So don’t be afraid to get out there on the front lines…you never know where it will lead and how you can help women face their dinnertime challenges!