As a small company committed to mitigating our impact on our environment we know that we can make a bigger difference if we act together as a sector. That’s why we’ve signed up to the Market Research Society’s Net Zero Pledge meaning we can be part of applying the scale of the market research industry towards a positive goal.
The Pledge means we sign up to four commitments:
1. Making our business net zero by 2026.
2. Tracking and publishing our carbon emissions, working to reduce and offset those emissions and publishing these figures annually in the Industry Report.
3. Collaborating across our sector and beyond, to share learnings and best practice to achieve the above goals.
4. Supporting and encouraging conversations and call outs by our employees, partners and clients about environmental concerns and viewpoints.
We believe we have a role in using our extensive understanding of consumer behaviour in advocating and supporting clients with their sustainability agenda. We also commit to educating ourselves and our employees to positively impact the planet.
Crow’s very own Gael Laurie will be speaking at the Soil Association Certification #OrganicTo2030 Trade Conference on Thursday 21st October. Book your free ticket to hear the most recent research focussing on changing shopper motivations and behaviours when making sustainable and organic choices here.
Howdy Crow Friends! Hopefully you’re all enjoying / have enjoyed or are about to enjoy some precious staycation. We’ve had a few questions on #market#research and specifically when face to face qualitative research can begin again. The answer is now – viewing facilities are opening up in a Covid secure way (and need our support) and many hotels are happy to welcome you.
However, it’s important not to forget the needs and current feelings of participants. Many people are nervous about turning up to strange rooms with strange strangers (and equally strange moderators!) for obvious reasons.
And as well as that, many people are working from home, making a trip to do research ‘live’ a specific destination rather than a convenient add-on. As always, the best advice is to think mixed methodology – targeted face-to-face, targeted online as both have brilliant strengths. In fact, there’s no doubt that going forward, the opportunity to blend approaches to get more actionable insight is enhanced as participants who were nervous about online research previously, now feel fluent and confident.
Brands have to inspire internally before they can excite externally – the sell-in is critical. That’s why we’re launching Crow Visualisation today (10th September 2020). We’ve noticed that the link between great thinking and action is often overlooked. So we’ve assembled a crack flock of Crows with specialist expertise from concept visualisation and prototype rendering, bringing insights to life, data visualisation and infographics, business presentations and “decks” and even storyboards, videos and animation. Our aim is to create hard working visuals that help you create momentum inside your business and with your customers and key stakeholders.
For a list of our specific services click on the link here.
I’m delighted to announce that Gael Laurie is joining The Crow Flies as Brand Building Director from 1st September. Gael and I worked together 20 years ago but fortunately having scared her away once, she’s still happy to work with me again! Gael has what we look for in all the Crows: a wealth of experience working on leading FMCG brands (across drinks, Pharma and personal hygiene) and with her previous creative consultancy experience, helping smaller and challenger brands build a strong platform for growth. As well as that, she has, by her own admission, a naturally nosy nature into what drives people’s behaviour – perfect for when we look to apply research learnings and insights into brand strategy and innovation plans to deliver brands with foundations of stone.
Gael takes over from Rob Parker – Rob has had a long term ‘itch’ around education and teaching. For many years, he’s been a leader in the Scout movement and took the opportunity of lockdown to start the process of training to be a teacher. He starts today (*gulp*) and whilst he is a loss to the Crow team, he will make a passionate, committed and inspiring educator and leader for young people. A cliché, but truly meant, our loss is education’s gain. We wish him well, but we know with his attention to detail and commitment to a cause he believes in, ‘good luck’ is something he will create for himself.
As the Government begins to ease us out of the lockdown, we’re getting a fair few enquires about what brands can and can’t do in terms of research.
As well as working on a number of online research projects through the pandemic, we’ve been listening to and contributing to different debates in the research sector and there are a few clear themes:
The pandemic is not having an adverse effect on recruitment quality (assuming you plan with care)
Yes, people have time on their hands, but there are no real issues with a rise in non-representative or ‘hobby’ participants
Quality of responses remains high (there was a fear that we would get people taking part to fill their time – turns out time is precious even during lockdown)
Face to face has stopped temporarily and will likely be slow to start up.
Research approaches A number of enquiries worry that Online Qualitative research is just a ‘Poor Man’s’ version of face-to-face. As with most things in life, balance is required: there are clear similarities online research needs to be seen as an additional yet slightly different tool in our armoury for understanding people’s behaviours and attitudes.
Face-to-face Groups (also Connections / Mini Groups and so on) There are two factors often overlooked in ’traditional’ face-to-face qualitative research which underline its real value.
Firstly, humans are a social species and Groups give the opportunity to observe social interaction – bear in mind, copying behaviour is enormously important in people’s lives and therefore understanding where there is agreement, dissonance and influence effects that change views, is incredibly valuable.
Secondly, and related to this, as we begin to understand more about the non-conscious pre-eminence (System 1) in our behaviour, so Groups give us the opportunity to study non-verbal behaviour and interaction as well as visual ‘ evealers’ of beliefs, values and behaviours – things like metaphors, for example. They allow us to get deeper understanding in a way that is not immediately obvious and a sense of how heartfelt or deep views are held.
But when can face-to-face start up in a safe way? Well, not yet, clearly but soon – and here are some of the things we’re planning for groups in the coming months:
run smaller groups so we can allow more space – think shorter, mini groups and more of them rather, than larger, longer groups
use well-ventilated spaces
allow longer for recruitment (the recruitment pool will temporarily shrink and we’ll need to reassure about participants well being during the process)
allow participants to bring their own food (no handling, no sharing platters!)
provision anti-bac hand wipes / sanitising gel
advise against sitting behind the mirror clients (who will want to sit in a confined space anyway?) – viewing in room, smaller numbers watching only, or potentially consider remote viewing / streaming too.
As the situation develops we’ll amend our guidance and advice – and obviously, widely available tests / vaccines will make a massive difference.
Online Focus groups, conducted in real time (synchronous) These are run using video conferencing software. They are particularly useful for observing instinctive reactions from participants to stimulus materials, and for verbal engagement between participants. In practice they are best run in a mini-group format with 3-4 participants. Whilst not welcome, a byproduct of the pandemic is making more people familiar with technologies such as Zoom and Teams, which means barriers to using video conferencing are falling (although this shouldn’t be overstated). And we’re learning a lot about the best way to set the calls up to ensure we can see people and their body reaction, not just hearing what they say (avoiding ‘Half A Head’ syndrome!).
The watchouts are that it requires more set up and time to ensure that the participants are comfortable, not distracted and ready to focus on the discussion. Stimulus is also trickier and we’ve been developing a few interesting ways to introduce stimulus and use it to good effect over the last few weeks. So – don’t think of online groups as a poor relation – they have clear differences and advantages which make them a worthy consideration depending on the project objectives and the timelines.
Asynchronous Online Focus groups and Bulletin Boards
‘Asynchronous’ is surely a high scorer in Scrabble, but all it means is that people respond in their own time, rather than in an immediate conversation with the moderator. We prefer the name ‘Bulletin Board’ for this reason – you post a message on the fridge door and they respond when they see it
These are run over several days, with participants spending 15-30 minutes each day answering the questions and replying to questions and further probing. They’re not ideal for group interaction, but they can produce good results when this is not needed; they’re great for individual reflection and they are a little more cost effective and faster (end to end) than real-time online groups or face-to-face Groups. At The Crow Flies, we like them, but generally would recommend that they support other methods. They’re particularly useful when used with ‘top and tail’ dialogue approaches for example, a video / face to face interview to kick off; then the online group and perhaps an interview to close.
Qualitative Online Surveys Sometimes people talk about ‘quali-quant approaches’ and they can seem either like a pragmatic badge of honour or a hybrid – somehow, there are methodological compromises. Well, Qualitative Online Surveys are a great reposte to that. If you do not need group interaction these online surveys may be something to consider: this method uses time controls and plausibility checks to elicit good quality answers, both instinctive and considered. It can also include probing, using a Virtual Moderator (which is a predictive AI tool that runs in the background). We can even build in IAT methods too (implicit attitude testing) to grab that initial ‘purchase moment’ reaction.
The depth of the qual findings isn’t as pronounced as in a Group of course, but they are really useful for identifying the fundamentals of what people are looking for – their immediate needs; the instinctive appeal of concepts or ideas (or lack of appeal!) as well as a good level of richness about what territories hold potential and why. There’s another inbuilt advantage – they give a bigger sample size than qual – 150 – 200 would be perfectly feasible here.
Digital Diaries / ethnographic
If you’re interested in how a pandemic affects daily life, or affects your brand / offer in real time, this is the way to go – a longer-term digitally-led approach. Here of course, people’s everyday behaviour has changed markedly through lockdown – this may make these approaches more or less valid.
Intercepts With the right permissions in place, intercepts are perfectly possible. Social distancing is fairly easy to implement and the presence of wearing a ruddy great mask may also help! Bear in mind, that strike rate is likely to be lower as people remain nervous (if you could see our hair at the moment, you’d be nervous too…)
Broadly speaking quantitative research continues as normal – the only thing we’re finding is that for longer surveys, drop-out rates are better – probably fewer distractions. Our development focus on quant is to push into understanding System 1 responses as much as System 2 – Implicit Attitude Testing, Find Time testing are good examples of this.
To chat through in greater detail, feel free to drop us a line.
We’re now many weeks into the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. We know that many of our brand building buddies are under pressure to deliver the necessities of short term operations, are furloughed or are facing redundancy. We’re pretty certain that there’s a recession to follow too, for that little extra kick.
It’s a situation that can take an enormous toll on our wellbeing and our wallets. It’s impacting families across generations.
What we can be certain about it that together, we’re better. So, to our clients and other Crow friends, if you want to chat, either just to chew the ‘brand-fat’ or chirp things through with a friendly voice and a listening ear, we’re here.
During this stressful time there’s one over-riding priority: stay safe, fit and healthy. When us Crows face a danger, we hunker down, stay in our nests, keep a stock of worms and keep an eye on the Crowlets. They can fledge later after all.
If you are a brand builder and you’re working from home, we have published a blog underlining why this is a (counter-intuitively) unique time to build a rigourous, focused brand and brand plan. We have been gifted the one thing that is a rare and precious resource in this day and age: time.
And we’ve just published what you can do with that time here – most brand building tasks can still continue, moving either online (research) or remotely (strategy, innovation, planning, visualisation).
If you are one of lovely clients or just a Crow Friend – new or future – and if you are struggling during this time either because of the impacts on your business, your family & friends or if you’re just feeling a bit low – please pick up the blower. Talking things through is an incredible tonic. You’re not alone. The might of the Crow flock is here and with you.
As the situation develops with Covid-19, we’re keeping an eye on the implications of the virus on face-to-face qualitative research. Clearly, both participants, researchers and clients may feel uncomfortable about sharing the same space at this time. However, both the MRS and AQR guidance is that we continue to recommend the appropriate methodology for the research, which may be Groups or similar, until further notice.
A number of the precautions and extra steps we are taking are:
building checks into the recruitment process on recent travel to affected regions or potential domestic exposure to the virus
ensuring that all participants are aware of the exact nature of the environment the research is taking place in and are recruited on this basis
bringing antibacterial hand wash and tissues to sessions for the use of attendees and providing (a little) more space in the room, where that is practicable
Beyond this of course, there are many alternatives to face-to-face research. From telephone or digital depths, digital diaries, online bulletin boards, tele or video conferencing – please let us know if you’d like to consider these options more fully.