By Carlos Montoya

It’s well known that inspiration and creativity are at the heart of innovation. That’s why today’s qualitative market research projects increasingly tap into resources that inspire creativity, ease and expression in respondents. Ideal research settings are those that adapt and adjust, improvise and innovate, and literally transform themselves into environments where organic qualitative studies can be carried out. These customized research solutions allow qualitative research to activate demographic/consumer responsiveness by designing environments that inspire spontaneity and disinhibition in conversations about existing elements, ideas, and/or products.

Powerful market research efforts can now look at how people interface in the real world with the ideas and products being examined by experimenting with behavioral indicators and simulating real world experiences or environments for respondents. It’s equally critical that the open communication generated by creative research methods be captured with audio-visual technology that allows clients to walk away with a virtual birds-eye view of even the subtlest respondent reaction or gesture… documenting every wink of the consumer’s eye.

Research facilities, in their never-ending quest to meet the needs of their customers, will need to evolve into something quite different from the traditional qualitative interview suites of the past. This transformation will be necessary to ensure that researchers competently and efficiently utilize the novel, increasingly sophisticated qualitative research tools and techniques that are continually emerging.

The key question for research facilities is the following: within the confines of their existing facilities, what types of structural and process-oriented modifications will literally make life easier for researchers employing these sophisticated techniques, and ultimately result in new business. For example, with projective techniques, the researcher hands out a variety of materials ranging from objects to photographs then requests that respondents make a choice (often with emotion as the overriding determinant factor).

The researcher notes the respondent choices before querying each of these on their specific choice process. The materials are collected, and the process begins again with different materials. Is there a way in which the facility by design and by process can be better suited to facilitate the overall process and increase the amount of information flowing to the researcher in the time allotted?

At LexPark Studio we have been grappling with the issue of market research innovation for the past several years. We are focused on continually anticipating and meeting the evolving needs of our research customer base with innovative solutions that promote efficiency and accuracy. The vision behind this blog is that this issue, and those that spin off from it, should be addressed in a step-wise fashion, beginning with general problem identification, and progressing through a series of steps leading to the ultimate design of the Uber-facility. So, first some general problem-id questions for the audience:

Have you had a research project that would have been better served by some modification in the research environment or the processes associated with that environment?

Do you currently choose a facility based on its ability to customize the research environment in a way that optimizes your research process and research outcomes?

Thinking out of the box: Would you modify your current research processes with suitable flexibility in the research environment, and if so, how?

To reiterate, if at all possible, we would like to focus at least initially with your comments on the area of general problem definition, and gap analysis - that is, the determination of unmet and anticipated needs. Let’s try to avoid at this stage the practice of jumping to solutions.

In future issues, the focus will be on specific problem areas (like projective techniques) and related unmet research needs.

Eventually, with enough “out of the box” thinking, we will be able to address the design, composition and processes associated with the Uber-facility and thereby address the majority of these most important unmet and anticipated needs.

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