I walked like Gucci, learned how to reduce analysis time by 80%, and was interviewed as an industry expert at the Qualitative Research Consultants Association Conference last month. It was great!
The QRCA conferences are always energizing and enlightening. I want to share a few of my favorite highlights and how I plan to use them at The Olinger Group.
Pedal to the metal
The conference was held in Charlotte, NC, and we started with a bang at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. My race-car-driver dreams (LOL) were ignited! The tour and simulator experiences were very apropos, given all the marketing messages and split-second decisions consumers face every day.
And yes, I absolutely took my turn in the race car simulator! I stepped into it full of confidence. (Sigh.) I didn’t finish last; let’s just leave it at that. It was a lot more complicated than I expected. But again – apropos. Qualitative research is complex and requires some serious skills, which, I am happy to say, I have honed to a sharp edge over the past 20+ years.
Session: Sharpen Your 6th Sense: Trust Your Gut with Applied Improv
Hosted by: Marc Engel and Pascal Patenaude
I have a theater and improv background, so I immediately knew I wanted to take this session. And it did not disappoint!
The instructors led us through several exercises, including one where we had to walk like a brand. Think about that. How would you walk if you were Gucci? How would you walk if you were Levi’s? I was totally into it. Even now, I am taking on those personas again. (Good thing this isn’t a video blog!)
The exercises forced us out of our comfort zone, opened our minds to new ideas, and helped us connect with the people around us. Those skills are critical in qualitative research.
As researchers, we often talk to people in situations very different from our own. Being able to step outside of ourselves promotes empathy, understanding, and connection. If we, as researchers, can be open and vulnerable with people, they are much more likely to be open and vulnerable with us.
Session: Reflections of a Researcher
Speaker: Malena Donas
As Chapter Co-Chair for the Southeast Chapter of the QRCA (which encompasses six states), I was one of the interviewees in this session.
Researchers learn a lot of details about the brands and products they work with, which can lead to biases. And yet, we still operate as consumers. This session looked at how our professional and personal lives impact each other.
For example, I tend to get very loyal to brands and products I have worked with. I think I feel connected to them because I know so much about them, including their values and goals. So, my work affects my purchasing decisions, but knowledge of what drives those decisions makes me a better researcher.
Session: Unlock your research superpowers and reduce analysis time by 80%
Speaker: Kathryn Topp
The BIG news of the conference is the incredible ways AI can improve qualitative market research. Everyone’s jaw was on the floor. This is our future.
Qualitative researchers must analyze hours of transcripts and videos, looking for recurring themes, sentiment, and key words over multiple interviews. The time requirement is intense. AI can reduce those hours and hours of work to mere minutes!
Now, analysts analyze. It’s what we do; it’s kind of like breathing. So, you can be sure that we will review the AI results and compare it to our own thinking and recollections of the interviews.
Basically, AI does the messy work. It cleans up the mud and paints a good picture as a starting point for analysis. Researchers can then focus on tightening up the insights to fit the client’s needs, being strategic, and making recommendations.
I am super excited about this! I’m not an expert yet, but I am on my way. At The Olinger Group, we understand that AI is a powerful tool for qual research, and we are excited to learn more and more. We will absolutely be sharing that knowledge with our clients.
Thanks for letting me share some of my favorite highlights from the QRCA conference. Let me know if you want more info. I am more than happy to oblige!
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