Brilliant transformations: Inspiration from ESOMAR Qualitative 2013

Last week, ESOMAR organized the 17th annual international Qualitative conference in Valencia. This year’s theme was ‘Brilliant transformations’. And before the conference even started, it was brilliant already! As we got the chance to meet up with some of our colleagues of our Global Moderator Network in Valencia.

Setting the tone

The next day, ESOMAR council member Pravin Shekar officially opened the conference by sharing the first brilliant transformation example of the day: the Turia riverin Valencia. The catastrophic flood of 1957 destroyed the city and resulted in the decision to change the purpose of the river. Today, the river is a verdant sunken park that allows cyclists and pedestrians to cross major parts of the city without using the roads. How brilliant is that! The tone was set for the rest of the conference.

New value for qualitative research

This edition of the international conference celebrated the heritage of qualitative research while uniting brilliant minds of the global crowd to embrace new possibilities and determine a new value and relevance for qualitative research. Well… what new possibilities exactly? Three key transformations for the future of qualitative research were identified:


1. From outsourcing to collaboration

An increasing number of people from the industry would like to be involved in the dialogue with their customer. This development also affects the qualitative research industry. Instead of outsourcing, clients wants to be actively involved and collaborate with their consumers; they even consider DIY research. Ray Pointer questioned the audience on whether this does not bring about the risk that we will put ourselves out of business? The answer is no. In all aspects of life there are some things that we do not DIY – you refill your windshield wiper fluid, but would you repair your airbag? The same goes for qualitative research. The simple things will work through DIY, but we are an industry of talent and training which DIY simply cannot replace.
This shift is also occurring in our structural collaboration communities. Community gatekeepers from Alpro, Unilever and H.J. Heinz wanted to talk to the consumers directly as community co-moderators. They were trained by the InSites Consulting Academy to become community managers and received weekly coaching to develop their community management skills.

2. From qualitative to fusion research

A second transformation of the industry is fusion research. With quantitative research such as netnography and big data, a qualitative feel is needed – and vice versa. Anupama Wagh Koppar, Head of Consumer and Insights at L’Oréal India, emphasized that qualitative researchers should not only be obsessed with the depth of the analysis but should also appreciate diversity and scale to avoid losing logic. Another case study presented was from Mondelēz International and applied crowdsourcing to generate new ideas for chocolate tablets. While crowdsourcing is mostly evaluated under quantitative considerations, this study was done with a qualitative mindset. This approach provided innovative ideas and insights into consumer needs. Crowdsourcing can be more than an idea-generating tool.
We also believe in fusion research. Our recent case study for IKEA proves how research communities are increasingly becoming a true fusion research tool which allows for triangulation on different levels (data sources, research methods, research environments, theories and investigators), leading to more valid research results, fresh inspiration and a deeper understanding of the issue researched.

3. From insights to impact

A third transformation is the power of good insights. The challenge in research is to transform great insights into actions that have an impact. The tip from the presentation of It’s not about the tools, it’s about the way you collaborate that spearheads change., one of the leading companies in consumer genetic testing, shared their story on how they created a new category and transformed the market, based on great insights. The secret to their success was ‘intimacy’, in the way they collaborate with their customers, their clients as well as their colleagues. It’s about selling your thinking, not just doing.

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