Recollective Now Offers Private Messaging and More…

Out with the old and in with the new – although not stated exactly like this, that is my summation of this year’s GRIT report. As written in the opening remarks by editor Leonard Murphy, “market research is still changing, but at this point the change has been acknowledged by the majority and embraced by the many.” What this is referring to is the move from old research techniques, such as telephone surveys, to what is being called ‘New MR’.

Recollective is quickly making a name for itself as one of the most innovative new software platforms available to agencies looking to conduct New MR. Hot on the heels of the Video Task released only a few weeks ago, we’re delighted to say that we’ve further expanded the capabilities to include new private messaging, email broadcast and activity preview features.

Private Messaging Feature Update

Private Messaging is an important piece in a researcher’s community management toolkit. If you’re currently conducting a Recollective study, the Messages tool enables participants to contact you and for you to privately converse with them.

Messages are delivered to the participant’s web-based inbox inside Recollective. For participants these messages are viewed as a single threaded discussion, with responses kept inline below the original message. Admins see an index page listing all active message threads. Messages marked ‘Awaiting a reply’ by admins make it easy to identify any participants slow to respond to your questions.

Private messaging is important for researchers who want to probe for further insights from participants outside of a specific task response or open discussion topic. They can even be used for asynchronous text-based IDIs.

One of our goals is to make our customers jobs as easy as possible while using Recollective, so when it’s time to undertakde the task of analyzing messages, they can be coded, excerpted and included in transcripts just like any other participant data.

Email Broadcast Feature Updates

Not only have we tackled private messaging, but we’ve also made huge improvements to Recollective’s Email Broadcast feature.

Simply filter participants by the appropriate criteria, such as the date they were added to the study, last activity completion, segments – or hand select individuals using the people-picker. We’ve also included the ability to insert dynamic fields (such as first name, last name, or username) so that your emails can be professionally personalized to the recipient.

Task Preview Update

In addition to messaging, we’ve improved usability for researchers by introducing a feature to preview Activities before they are made available to participants. This enables researchers to experience the task flow as a participant to check logic and links, catch those typos and double check that it is what you envisioned.

I’m not sure how our team managed to pack all of this (plus some unglamourous bug fixes and UI updates) into one release, but they did. If you have any questions about these updates, would like more information on conducting Recollective studies or just want to chat with a friendly Canadian company, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. If not, then watch out for more changes coming to your Recollective site next month – of course we’re at it again!

Five Questions With Gen Lamorie-Wallace of Phase 5

Gen Lamorie-Wallace is a busy woman. By day, she is an Ottawa, Canada-based Vice President with market research consultancy Phase 5. By night, she runs a restaurant with her chef husband in a trendy city neighbourhood. Sometimes, Gen’s worlds collide and inspiration strikes. For her, it’s when a ‘foodie’ patron pulls out a smartphone and starts tweeting an online commentary about his dining experience. This experience as a restaurateur informs Gen’s belief that market researchers need to understand how our communication culture is shifting and to be able to offer to clients new approaches that mimic this “new normal” for communications. Following her presentation Lessons Learned When Adapting Technology Platforms for Qualitative Research at the recent MRIA QRD Conference, we had a chance to talk to Gen about the forces that are transforming consumer culture and the opportunities for businesses and MR.

How is a business/brand’s relationship with its customers and prospects changing?

Social media has ushered in a seismic shift in a business/brand’s influence and control. People expect to be treated as true stakeholders. The number of people in my Twitter feed that I see talk to or even yell at businesses/brands/government representatives is amazing. There is an expectation from customers for genuine dialogue and for their opinions to matter. And these opinions do matter — social media is a vehicle unlike anything we have seen before that lets customers have a significant influence on what is being said about a business or brand. Social media has made social democracy a reality and exploring a research approach that mimics this keeps us relevant as researchers.

What is “the new normal?”

Well, as an illustration, let’s say I walk into my local Starbucks and I see something I like or dislike. My first inclination is not to mention it to my friend or partner who is physically there with me, instead, I tweet it for all the world, or at least my followers, to see! A culture has developed where it is completely normal to publicize our every thought and observation that was once random or passing at best. And we now do this to the world!

We think the world is interested in this and it is our duty to communicate it to those in our circle, however small or broad that may be. This kind of normal is evidenced by the surging popularity of social media platforms like Pinterest which is essentially an online bulletin board that lets you “curate” and showcase your interests. My Facebook News Feed has surged with Pinterest mentions lately — everyone wants to broadcast their interests and hobbies to each other!

I have also really noticed the use of terms like “curating” and “curator” in casual conversation. In a previous life I worked in museums and these terms were reserved for that profession. Now, we are all curators of our own lives and our natural inclination is to broadcast to those in our circle of followers and beyond.

At Phase 5, we took notice of this “new normal” from a research perspective and came up with a social engagement process that relies on online technology to facilitate a holistic approach to engaging with “stakeholders” in the manner in which they are accustomed to.

Phase 5 has been in the marketing research business since 1991 and recently, launched a new division called Konnex. What prompted Konnex?

Konnex is a research-based consultancy that helps gain intelligence from and connect with audiences through social media platforms. Konnex is backed by Phase 5, which has more than 20 years of experience in research and strategy consulting. Konnex was formed as a sister company to Phase 5 as a direct response to the influence and importance that social media plays in today’s business environment.

We understand the changes to the marketing model that is, more and more, affected by social conversations. We help our clients engage audiences as meaningful stakeholders in important business processes. We offer methodological rigour, deep analytical skills and strategic insight that comes with a research background. The rigour and research background that we bring to the table are key differentiators.

Online social engagement technology platforms bring with them less structure than traditional research approaches like focus groups. Less structure is good from a participant’s perspective but, at the end of the day, having a partner that can apply rigour and traditional research management and interpretation principles is really key. The rigour and strategic insight that we apply to the findings are really what sets us apart.

What has you excited about the future of MR?

The evolution that I continually see. I recently attended a conference in Miami that was focused on social media and research. The industry is not staying still — there is a huge appetite for applying research approaches to this new reality. I think market research has a bit of a reputation for nerdy stats geeks, but it is anything but! Well, at least I think I’m not too nerdy!

It is not just the suppliers either who are innovating — I love the fact that I am getting more and more requests from clients to show them innovative approaches to conducting research. The fluid and interactive nature of some of these new approaches is really neat and the ongoing engagement you get with your participants — who are now our “innovation stakeholders” — is so much more rewarding. I much prefer these experiences to the more traditional qualitative techniques like one-off focus groups or interviews.

What keeps you up at night?

My husband’s snoring!

Seriously though . . . I guess just staying on top of the rapid changes in today’s social environment and always thinking of how this can be applied to our research approaches. As an example, the huge popularity of Pinterest or research industry buzz around gamification has me exploring how our online approaches can mimic these trends.

Thanks to Gen Lamorie-Wallace for taking time to speak with Ramius as part of our new “Five Questions With . . .” blog feature where we profile business partners and thought leaders who challenge and inspire us with their ideas. Disclosure: Ramius is a technology partner to Phase 5.

Recap: Truth, Lies and Ethnography

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the MRIA’s 2012 QRD (Qualitative Research Division) Conference in Toronto where one of the speakers was Dr. Sam Ladner. Sam delivered a presentation entitled Truth, Lies and Ethnography. Think of the talk as being an ‘ethnography 101’ — it was intended to help researchers in the audience learn “What to expect, how it’s done, and when you should do it.”

Sam began by stating that “ethnography is not 100% qual” and that the etymology of the term comes from the Greek:

ethnos + grapho

Where ethnos represents folk, culture or people while grapho refers to writing (or representing). So, one might say that ethnography could generally refer to ‘writing about culture.’

The ‘origin story’ of ethnography continued with Sam contrasting the work of Dr. Bronislaw Malinowski, a Polish anthropologist who focused on cultural research, with the work of Dr. Paul Lazarsfeld, lauded as the founder of applied sociology. Sam’s comparison of their interests and work helped to illustrate the differences between research methods like ethnography and focus groups. While ethnography seeks to understand culture, the researcher in a focus group is seeking more detail about an individual’s decision-making process.

As Sam described this, the pop culture fan in me recalled a Star Trek (TNG) episode which opened with a science team observing an alien village from a hidden vantage point. In that episode, drama ensued as the Starfleet Prime Directive of not interfering with an alien civilization was broken. If this science team were conducting an ethnography, they would be observing the aliens in situ — living among them and “going native” as it were. The science team would be looking at symbols and systems, documenting behaviours and experiences when and where they actually occur, with the goal of understanding and writing about the alien culture. Such observational research differs from a focus group where a moderator defines the research parameters, sets the context in which the research is to be done and takes an active role to guide participants through the inquiry.

Sam has made her presentation available on SlideShare and I have embedded it to the end of this post. You can, at your convenience, review her presentation in its entirety.

One slide that I do want to highlight is the one below where Sam has mapped out scenarios when a marketer might use ethnography. I think this slide will be very useful when working with my own customers and prospects. My clients develop online communities using our software offerings. There they might conduct ethnographies by observing what is going on in their online communities. Or, perhaps they are themselves immersed and directly engaged in the online community with other members. The slide can help a business manager consider the lifecylce stage her product is in and know that ethnography and/or data from ethnography can inform her decisions involving new product development, advertising and messaging development, customer experience improvement, etc.

Thanks Sam for your intro into ethnography!


Upcoming: Multicultural Media for Multicultural America Forum

For Americans and Canadians, multicultural consumers are a rapidly growing demographic. Understanding the social lives of such consumers — their values, beliefs, habits and preferences — is of great importance to brands and their marketers. An annual day-long event called the Multicultural Media for Multicultural America Forum will explore this demographic. Presented by marketing research consultancy Horowitz Associates, the March 21st, 2012 conference will focus on “. . . how the concept of community impacts programming, marketing, and advertising geared toward America’s new multicultural audiences.”

One of the new things the conference presenter will be doing this year is to conduct multimodal research to learn about the multicultural consumer who may, more and more, consume media on various platforms. Three reports will be presented during the event:

Viewing the Viewer — an in-home videography of multicultural households.

State of Cable and Digital Media — a quantitative survey of US-multicultural consumers

Consumer Voice Community — This 8-week research online community is focused on the media lifestyles of US-multicultural consumers and how they are adopting to a rapidly changing media world.

For disclosure purposes, Ramius, a technology partner to Horowitz Associates, is pleased to support the Forum with our new Recollective software which powers the Consumer Voice Community.

This new data should foster interesting discussion among the Forum delegates with confirmed representation by media organizations such as NBC Universal, Telemundo, mun2, Comcast, ESPN, Imagina US, History en Español, Ella (MGM Networks Latin America) and TV5MONDE.

Check back to this blog for an upcoming profile of Horowitz Associates and for a conference recap. For those who will be attending the Forum, we look forward to meeting you in New York!