Passion Points and Soapbox Orations
Date: February 14, Katrina Noelle
A soapbox orator is someone who “who makes an impassioned, impromptu speech.” Here at KNow we often get impassioned about project design and optimal methodology choices and end up getting on that soapbox in impromptu moments with colleagues, suppliers, and clients.
To be a little more ‘promptu’ (is that a word?), we listed our passion points here; our 5 most common soapbox speeches.
Passion Point #1: Groups vs. Interviews
Our golden rule when deciding between doing a group activity (e.g. an
online community, digital discussion board, or focus group) or an individual
exercise (e.g. an interview or diary study) is: how do people naturally
discuss the topic of the research?
If the topic is something that you’d naturally talk about in a casual
setting with your friends, family, or colleagues, then you can definitely
discuss it in a group during research.
This is especially important when the topic is social by nature. Topics that you ask your community about
actively (and want their opinion on), are even better targets for research in
- Natural Discussion Topic Example: Food and beverage, transportation/travel, and entertainment; the very topics you probably talk about with your social circle daily!
- Socially Active Topic Example: Moms are concerned about what’s best for their kids, whether that be related to food, toys, or screen time, for example. Mom groups are great because they bounce ideas off of each other, and share tips, links, and hacks during the research, just like they do in real life. Encourage the conversation!
However, if the topic of the research is not something you’d
likely talk about socially/publicly, then it’s best to use a one-on-one
research methodology. This is important
not only for sensitive topics (e.g. hygiene, health, finances), but also for
customer journeys completed by browser or app, since that is a private
experience by nature.
- Sensitive Topic Example: The most natural examples here are medical topics; people want a safe space to share their experiences with a moderator. Also consider financial topics like investments, insurance, wealth management, and credit/debt; these topics are difficult to discuss with strangers, let alone people we’re close to!
- Individual Customer Journey Example: We make more and more digital purchases every day, sometimes late at night or while on the go. This is an individual process and should be researched 1-on-1, so you can observe how people actually use a product/service. You can then assign key tasks to participants, and analyze their performance and experience along the way.
Passion Point #2: Optimal Group Size
Again, think about how people communicate naturally. (Sensing a
theme here?). When you go out to dinner with your friends, have you noticed
when the group splits off into separate conversations? Probably when there are
more than 5 or 6 guests, right?
So schedule your group discussions like you’d schedule a dinner party,
invite no more than 6 people. If you get some no-shows, that means you just get
more quality time with the people who are there. That’s right! Each person at
that table contributes more the fewer people they are sharing the time with.
- Real KNow Example: Recently we were hosting a webcam group of 4 people, and the topic of online support groups for the brand came up. A participant said, “I’d like it to be no more than this, like 4 or 5 people. More than that and I’m not connected to you guys. Everybody wants to be heard. Everybody wants to express themselves.” We couldn’t have said it any better ourselves, and we try to design groups to let everyone feel connected and heard.
- Big Caveat: Robust sample sizes are still important. So if you do smaller groups, do more of them so that you still hit your total sample size goals! Our sister company Scoot Insights’ Scoot Sprints prioritizes more groups that are shorter and smaller as well.
Passion Point #3: Secondary Markets First
Qualitative insights professionals clock airline miles every year
frequenting the major metro areas. We
see cities like Chicago, Atlanta, LA and Dallas often because they are easy for
research teams to get to and have been assumed to ‘represent’ their surrounding
However, those markets tend to be over-saturated with research
facilities, panels and databases, making it difficult to find the fresh
recruits we’re all looking for. We at
KNow have made it a priority to suggest alternatives to these big markets. Cities like Kansas City, Minneapolis, Charlotte, Nashville,
Indianapolis and others are filled with amazing participants who are eager to
take part in research.
As Simona says when recommending choosing an alternate spot on the map:
“Primary markets are oversampled and may not be representative of the
general consumer in America. In order for us to better hear from our
prospective or current users, we look to secondary and tertiary markets for a
- Bonus: Moving an in-person study just one town over also ensures client teams are continually hearing new perspectives during their research, crucial for all brands!
- Real KNow Example: Participants drove through a snowstorm in St Louis to get to their interviews because they were so excited to have an opportunity to be heard by a brand that has a big impact their lives. Thanks for braving the storm guys!
Passion Point #4: Inclusive Recruiting
While you’re at it, include more voices in the conversation! As an industry, we need to cast a wider net
in every direction to make sure that all audiences have a chance to
contribute. Here are some
thought-starters on how to do so:
- If you’re doing a parenting or beauty project these days,
be sure to be expand your expected gender assumptions and get all voices
who use your product heard!
- Use intercept recruiting to include voices who may not be
found on panels and databases (e.g. uninsured, lower income, unacculturated
- Re-think cutting off participation at 55 or 65; Boomers
are a key customer group for most brands, with opinions that need to be
- Heartwarming Example: Leann recalls one of her favorite projects, conducted in a senior living facility: “The participants were engaged, lively, had a wealth of knowledge and experience, but most importantly, were overjoyed to be included. Aren’t those the types of participants you want in a study?” When Leann completed the conversation with the seniors in her group, they lined up at the door thanking her for listening to them and making them feel like they were important to the sponsoring company, a big bonus from a brand touchpoint perspective!
- Digital Caveat: The very nature of conducting research through digital means (e.g. diary studies, online communities, webcam groups) allows for a broader reach. However, there are other watch outs; be careful not to eliminate the voice of the less technically savvy! Sonya points out the need to offer options in the event your participants need more traditional methods of communication in her recent blog post here.
For our best practices on how research can generate insights to guide brands in their inclusivity and diversity efforts, download our white paper, co-authored by Shira & Katrina
Passion Point #5: DIY for Quality
Quality is our priority at KNow.
And what better way to ensure quality than to be as close to the process
as possible? We have implemented many scrappy measures to get as close to our
participants as possible and ensure the smoothest process for them and our
- We use our own video recording and streaming equipment
for all in-situ research to ensure maximum flexibility, security and
reliability. And we’ve learned along the way! We now have microphone and camera
options for all kinds of set ups and a full set of instructions and guidelines
for all situations.
- We have implemented a successful recruiting method
through the use of “Scouts”; participants who recruit their
friends/family/community for friend parties, student groups, mom discussion
boards, etc. Sonya, our scout leader, has noticed that “those who have been
recruited by a friend are more likely to show up and participate meaningfully.
It also saves time vs. recruiting every participant individually!”
- We’ve taken the extra time and training to learn how to
program our favorite digital tools so that we can make timely adjustments to
activities and exercises.
- DIY Tip: When being scrappy, your DIY tools tend to change/upgrade without warning. So be sure to write your own instructions/guidelines for using the tools and check your updates often. Because every once in a while our friends at Zoom move something on us, and the worst moment to notice it is mid-fieldwork!
What are your passion points? Get
up on your soapbox and tell us about it!
Learn more about KNow’s methodologies here , or contact us today to find out how we can help your brand gain new insights.