Our take on research right now

This is certainly a unique time for Americans as we see bold steps being taken on a broad scale to curtail the spread of this virus. I have come to appreciate the prudent steps being taken and the unity that has emerged from people joining together to solve a shared problem.

Our Leadership Team at REAL Insight has been talking regularly and tracking the progress to better understand the potential risks of in-person projects as well as what research should be conducted in this environment. After all, we are big believers of context: both physical environment and mindset are both behavioral drivers.

REAL Insight has conducted technology-enabled mobile and online immersive research for over 7 years, spanning over 100 projects, in both domestic and international markets. If a remote testing option is the right fit, here is where and how we can help:

Foundational exploration into attitudes and behaviors?REAL Immersion: Moderated online/mobile study with video/photo/written response activities
Exploratory package design or creative development?REAL Iteration: An online multi-phase creative development process with the same group of consumers
Agile/Rapid Feedback on just about anything?REAL Agility Toolkit: A scrappy, not crappy REAL Immersion
At-shelf performance of concept product or packaging?Remote REAL Optimization: Mobile missions to shop specific store/category where prototypes are cut into the shelf
Keep a pulse on your foothold during this uncertain time?REAL Year: In-depth, small-scale virtual community available for bi-weekly or monthly touchpoints/activities over a 6-12 month period
Consumer or shopper journey mapping?REAL Immersion: Moderated online/mobile study with video/photo/written response activities

At REAL Insight, we feel our team, client, and participant safety is most important, which means limiting travel and in-person research for the short term. The good news is we have options and are here to help you think through these upcoming projects. Our commitment to you is to give our honest viewpoint about your current questions and if and how those are best addressed over the next few weeks.

Finding the Reality Amongst the Noise

In our modern world, the gap between in-person realities and online perceptions can feel vast.   Life, as seen on social media is filtered, perfected, and potentially polarized. These perspectives can feel exciting for those who have embraced this curated worldview and scary for those who would rather not. 

Connecting with people IRL feels much more familiar and normal.  I still have the same love for my kids. I still laugh and am silly with friends and coworkers.  I still have my hobbies, still celebrate birthdays and holidays, dinners still need to be prepared, etc.  Although my social media interactions have a big impact on the amount of dopamine I have coursing through my body, it hardly tells a full story of how I feel or what my life is actually like at that moment.

As marketers, it is important to acknowledge the macro noise we are inundated with via our devices while cutting through it to reveal actual behavior.  Feelings, attitudes, and senses of security can fluctuate rapidly, and keeping a current pulse on their key customers’ thoughts and mindsets can be very valuable for brand teams.

REAL YearLook is an online community solution we offer that goes deep with a small group of the right people over an extended period of time.  Over a full year, we connect with this same group for three days each month and look at happiness, confidence, shopping, and usage behaviors. Additionally, we introduce specific stim/concepts for feedback, when applicable, and tailor add-on activities to answer specific questions. This longitudinal look is useful for intuition building and concept feedback on digital messaging and communication, promotions, media/shopping channel prioritization, and innovation.  More importantly, the length of time in addition to our experienced researchers enable this digital method to move past the typical social media posturing to create a safe space where participants can be transparent and vulnerable, leading to actionable insights.

Our REAL Intuition Journey is another way to connect with consumer segments in a profound and authentic way while also providing brand teams with the opportunity to personally invest and be impacted by these connections.  This approach involves customizable online and in-person approaches with broad team engagement that builds strong, unified intuition across stakeholders.

We recently completed this type of project for a client in a unique situation. They had been hearing loud complaints from a certain segment of consumers, but simultaneously weren’t hearing much of anything from others.  By cutting through the filtered feedback gathered via social media, the press, etc., they realized there was much more openness and acceptance from the segment they assumed would be adverse, whereas there was more hurt and opportunity to improve relationships with the segment they hadn’t heard from.  This research had a big impact on how they expected to allocate their marketing dollars, the message to communicate, and the audience that needed to hear that message.

As you have needs to connect more authentically with a specific group of people, shoot us a note.  We would love to talk through which approach might be the right fit or at least send you white papers on these methods. 

No Churn? No Problem.

In a recent article published in Quirk’s, authors Niels Schillewaert, Steven Debaere, and Tom De Ruyck tackle the topic of how to foster a healthy online community. Given that not all online communities achieve their desired result, what are some things that moderators and market researchers can do to attain a successful outcome? The authors start by analyzing why people participate in online studies: although most join for some sort of monetary incentive, the only way to maintain good participation is if participants feel like they are getting something out of the study beyond money. If participants feel intrinsically motivated, there is a better chance they will continue participating.

What are the factors that contribute to a healthy online community?

However, participation itself is not enough. In order for researchers to get the insights they need from online communities, participants must be active, and give useful information. Known as churn, passive participation is a threat to the health of an online community because it allows participants to be involved without actually contributing anything substantial and thus devalues the quality of information. Factors such as community size; recency, frequency, and monetary value; as well as positive and negative emotions all affect churn, which in turn influences if an online community will fly or flop.

With the increased possibilities mobile and online studies give to market research, being aware of negative factors such as churn is essential for any company hoping to produce and maintain a healthy online community. Participants who do nothing more than check the boxes not only deplete helpful contributions, but if the community is socialized, they can also detract from other respondents’ experiences. Acknowledging this risk is important because it demands that moderators be aware of churn potential and not only structure, but moderate studies in such a way to decrease this possible detriment.

Many market research companies are dipping their toes into the waters of online communities, but not all of them have the experience and knowledge to structure and moderate studies in a way that decreases the potential for churn. At REAL Insight, online and mobile options are something at which we have a lot of experience and expertise. We have seen firsthand the incredible insights that can be gleaned from online communities when moderated competently and appropriately. Theoretically understanding how to avoid churn is important, but even more so is having the practice and track record of doing so. Keeping an online community healthy, merry, and bright is something at which we excel and are constantly improving. As the mobile game in market research heats up, we will keep our skills sharp, our insights actionable, and churn at bay.

-Mary Dolan O’Brien, Project Coordinator