A few years back I heard Malcolm Gladwell speak at an industry conference and he had the audacity to say that “Focus Groups are dead.” I sat there steaming in the audience knowing that what he said wasn’t true. Qual research was everywhere, every day, all over the world. What was perhaps reflective of reality was that focus groups, at the moment, were no longer “cool” and in Gladwell’s world view, that meant they might as well be dead.
The great truth about qualitative research is that it will never die. The reason is that marketers, politicians, educators and the media will always want to know people’s opinions and there is nothing more immediately satisfying and useful than directly asking questions. Ad agencies in the 1950”s figured this out by having kitchen table coffee clutches with the “ladies in the neighborhood” and today, P&G, Unilever, YouTube and Microsoft all want that immediate fix of consumer feedback supported by the target’s own language and logic in almost every major country around the world.
What has changed, I am pleased to report, is that due to the advances in technology and human behavioral applications, focus groups and all the qualitative research methods that come with it, Qualitative Research is indeed cool once again – – and more than ever before. With never before imagined capabilities to make researchers lives easier, applications to find and organize data, AI to translate and transcribe and advanced methods to capture nonconscious emotional response to stimuli, we are operating in a whole different stratosphere where qualitative research is not only cool, it’s downright sexy.
Perhaps the biggest change is the explosion of digital online qualitative research who’s growth was propelled by Covid and the closing of focus group facilities worldwide. Necessity brought forth easy to use platforms where consumers or any type of respondents could easily be interviewed or join a discussion while the clients enjoyed viewing in the comforts of their homes or offices with all the comforts of a back room such as chatting and tagging, except for the M&M’s.
What is rapidly preparing Qualitative research for the new Golden Age beyond these breakthroughs is the advent of nonconscious measurement in a Qual context. Biometric response using heart rate and Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), Facial Coding and real-time sentiment analysis are all being finalized for introduction in early 2022. This means that the moderator can monitor emotional response with easy to read dashboards to immediately telegraph what the respondent or group is feeling in real-time. Moreover, they can probe based on the responses to get at underlying feelings about any stimuli.
HARK Connect’s full service is perfectly positioned to bring Qualitative Research into the world of neuroscientific measurement based on the leadership of it’s parent company MediaScience. MediaScience is a globally recognized neuro scientific research pioneer led by founder Dr. Duane Varan for understanding consumer response to media and marketing with state-of-the-art labs in four cities. MediaScience is renowned for integrating marketing communications research with academic rigor and advancing knowledge through research-on- research discovery via prolific academic publishing.
Also the Managing Partner of HARK Connect, Elissa Moses is a globally recognized thought leader in the application of neuroscience methods to marketing, having previous led the Neuro and Behavioral Science practice at Ipsos and prior as Chief Analytics Officer at neuro innovator EmSense.
Once neuro data is collected in a qual application, it can be combined with subsequent data collection over multiple sessions culminating potentially in a quant study for extended reliability all being instantaneously processed for client receipt.
With easy set-up and project management (HARK Connect uses human concierges and also AI assistants to guide you through your projects), focus group panels and global partnerships, real-time transcripts and translations in just about any language, automatic AI driven video and transcript coding, single button video clip editing and extractions, the world of focus groups has gotten exponentially more insightful, simple to maneuver and amazingly affordable.
The rest is up to you in the questions you ask. Unless, of course, you would like HARK connect to do that for you while you sit back and enjoy the “Golden Age of Qual”