Deep Foundation, Broad Offerings

The deep roots of our expertise in qualitative research originate with some of the first focus groups ever conducted for commercial research (including the earliest focus groups ever conducted with physicians) and the first publications describing marketing applications, including a landmark text. We have had a direct hand in shaping some of today’s most widely used projective techniques — but true thought leadership doesn’t rest comfortably on its laurels. Our repertoire today remains broad, methodologically authoritative, and always responsive to the many technological changes that create new ways of asking, observing, and listening to customers in their own environments.

From Insight Integration to Application

Because we are organized around solutions, not tools, we have a very particular philosophy about recruiting and training staff, and an approach that guides the way we integrate qualitative research into our assignments. Our qualitative specialists are all on staff, and most of our research professionals have extensive dual training. That ambidexterity promotes expert application of qualitative insight to quantitative design decisions, and ensures an integrative approach to analysis and decision support.  In fact, we make extensive use of approaches that directly merge qualitative and quantitative data in various ways to create uniquely powerful datasets, including some of our novel “Small Data” models.

Portfolio of Tools for Mapping — and Tapping — the Customer Mindscape

A critical success factor in research is not simply using tools well; it’s selecting tools that are fit-for-purpose. We are experienced practitioners of the qualitative craft, well-equipped to guide our clients toward appropriate techniques for the task at hand. All techniques are thoughtfully customized to fit the market, the audience, and specialized challenges posed by particular business objectives — including the development of creative stimuli to stimulate new thinking among various customer groups.

  • Group Depth Interviews and Focus Groups, in person and online, supporting a wide range of objectives, from market landscape and mindscape emersion, to survey design
  • Electronic Bulletin Boards and Social Forums that advance constructive dialogue among customers around the globe and effective problem-solving in specialized markets or customer communities
  • Ethnography, both in-person and online, to place customer insights in social context, and enrich understanding of customers through observation of behaviors and artifacts
  • Individual Interviews (and dyads or triads) for more focused case-study approaches, especially communications and journey maps
  • Delphi Panels comprised of hand-picked consumers, healthcare providers, or Business 2 Business purchasers, supporting innovation, co-creation, and specialized problem-solving missions
  • Advisory Boards and Opinion Leader Panels to seed innovation and guide commercial strategy with the help of market gatekeepers and luminaries
  • Workshops with Client Teams to guide innovation or problem-solving, including successful data implementation and development of new market frameworks
  • Training Sessions that help agencies and client teams make more effective use of qualitative research to fulfill their business objectives

Penetrating Analysis and Effective, Persuasive Reporting

The burden of mining for “customer insight” falls heavily on Qualitative Research because those data present us with the most intimate view of the customer we can ever get. Use of qualitative research to extract insight requires two critical things of marketing professionals: a finely tuned ear and an open mind — a willingness to reflect on information, both new learnings and old truisms, in fresh and sometimes uncomfortable ways.

Qualitative Research is always about the “how” and the “why,” using disciplined analytic tools that monitor event frequency, intensity, ambiguity, and apparent contradiction. We are highly skilled practitioners of the art — not just the art of asking and listening, but equally, the art of interpreting what we hear.  

The firm is known in the industry for well-written, coherent reports that organize insights in a way that makes for efficient, yet provocative reading. We are keen listeners, but we don’t just inventory what we hear. We produce astute analyses and link them clearly to business issues.

In the end, qualitative is all in the “experience” of learning and using those learnings to empower successful market action. If you’re not sure how what we deliver might be different, we’ll be glad to put you in touch with clients who can tell you in their own words.