Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pop-Up Focus Groups…A Tasty Solution Akin to Pop-Up Restaurants

The food and beverage industry is cooking up more events than ever before and the fastest growing trend these days is the pop-up dining experience.  Similarly, in market research, Pop-Up Focus Groups are all the rage these days as qualitative research professionals and their clients want to shift the venue for data collection out of the traditional focus group facility and conduct the research in alternative forums.

Sometimes, a study’s objectives warrant conducting qualitative research in secondary markets, where no (decent) focus group facilities exist.  Other times, it simply may be more appropriate to hold groups in other sites, perhaps to stimulate more participant creativity, or for some other important reason.

While these studies can be doubly more challenging than facility-based research in terms of the required logistics, we urge you to rely on our unique Pop-Up Focus Group services to handle all logistical/setup elements that will make your project a success.

Moderators have enough to do.  We know that.  We want moderators to allow us to sweat all the logistical details in terms of technology, equipment, set-ups, shipments, and supplies.  We want moderators to focus on their work…that is, question guide development, leading groups, and managing their own clients.

Accelerant Research Pop-Up Focus Groups is the solution you need for these study occasions, and we have proven, bullet-proof protocols and processes that you can rely on, study after study.  As such, we invite you to send us a bid request and we’ll be happy to describe our services in great detail to reassure you that you will be in good hands with us on the road.

For more information about our services, please visit us at:, or email us at or call us at 704.206.8500

Best regards and safe travels

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Excellence in Qualitative Recruitment: It’s in our DNA

Recruitment of qualified research participants requires a complex set of skills and abilities, but providing excellence in this service is simple:  start with great people and train them well.  Because that is our approach to everything at Accelerant Research, when we began offering recruitment services to the research industry, hiring and teaching our recruiters properly was already in our DNA.  So we did that the way we do everything else.

Hiring and training are two areas taken very seriously at Accelerant Research.  In many cases, our new-hires are those at the early stage in their career as professional researchers.  After they have completed their undergraduate or graduate program requirements, they intern at the firm as trainees.  And it is only those in whom we see talent and motivation that we invite to stay on in full-time capacities.

Training Well-Rounded Researchers
Written manuals represent only a small fragment of the training our staff receives.  To begin, all our staff, regardless of their background and experience, are trained to be problem solvers, first and foremost, and this level of worldliness is utilized as an invaluable resource by all clients.  Furthermore, all new staff rotate through recruitment and study-related positions.  As a result of this combined set of experiences, recruiters learn firsthand exactly what is entailed in full service project work, and research staff develop an intuitive understanding of what is entailed in recruiting study participants.  These perspectives are passed on to our clients that find working with us is easy.

The Outcome: Serving our Customers Better
As a result, whenever you are dealing with anyone on our recruiting team, you are dealing with a researcher, one who has served as a team member of a group that manages full service studies.  Getting a complete picture of the research study process enables our researchers to better serve our recruiting clients as they are trained to and tasked with immersing themselves in the study objectives and have the ability to weigh-in and offer ideas and plans for conducting the research.  Moreover, our staff recruiters know how to effectively communicate to recruited participants whether the study method is in-person, online, or over the phone.

High Quality Participants
We invite you to request a cost estimate from us.  Immediately, you will get the sense of dealing with professionals.  If you choose us as your recruiting partner, you will see the difference in quality of our recruitment.  For example, across hundreds of studies for which we have recruited thousands of participants for our clients, we have a 95% show rate.  That means, we always deliver what the client hires us to do for them.  But best of all, our clients find that our recruits are well managed and come to the study ready to opine.  They are verbal and articulate, which does not happen by magic, but rather the way we screen for verbosity.

We know what counts most for our clients when it comes to recruiting participants.  While our fees are competitive, it is our quality that is sort by new and old clients.  The last thing the moderator wants to worry about is that participants do not show up, are lost, have forgotten the study details, or are shy and quiet.  We know all this because of how we have all made our careers as researchers, able to empathize with clients on what is needed.

For more information about our services, please visit us at:, or email us at or call us at 704.206.8500

Monday, March 7, 2016

Journey Mapping: A Rose by Any Other Name

What better way is there to inform business decisions than to use research designed to understand the entire process that customers go through to obtain something they want from that business?  It is exactly that process, starting when a person realizes that something is needed, and ending when he or she has acquired it, that sheds the brightest light on how businesses should develop and improve their products and services, and devise strategies to most effectively communicate with their target population.  Nowadays, this research is often called a journey mapping study, but historically, has been known by a number of different names.  Nevertheless, journey mapping is an important program of research regardless of what it is called, and yields insights that are foundational and pervade a wide variety of business goals and objectives.

A map of a people’s journeys details the exact steps they take, what stops occur along the way, the amount and types of information that are collected, the importance of various reference sources with which people interact, and the amount of time each step (and the entire process) takes.  In addition, studying journeys shows exactly where pain and pleasure points exist, and this helps organizations pinpoint how to win the hearts and minds of customers and prospects.

Journey maps provide a “walk in customers’ shoes” viewpoint for marketers to fully appreciate people’s perspectives on important customer-felt relationship aspects and other matters concerning the relationship between a brand and its customers.  Simply put, a journey map enables organizations to empathize with their customers.

Journey mapping may be considered a conceptual framework used to capture respondents’ descriptions of the sequence of events that transpire as consumers interact with brands whose products and services are sought for purchase.  This type of research has far-reaching effects in that it can be used to inform business decisions about product development/refinement, advertising/communications testing, and customer experience optimization programs. 

However, while journey maps may currently be all the rage in marketing research, in fact, this sort of research has been around for a long time, being known by different names, variations on a theme, and methodologies.  One can argue that any kind of research study that centers on revealing processes that people go through in order to accomplish a task or achieve a goal involving the purchase of a product or service, or the use of what was purchased, may be considered a journey map study.

For example, ethnographies entail the study of the culture of a behavior, according to anthropologists.  By using a combination of observation, interview, and participation, ethnographers seek to reveal how individuals and groups, formed on the basis of some commonality, interact with other people, places, and things.  The ethnographer documents these interactions and postulates cultural themes and collective schemas on how people behave and the attitudinal drivers of that behavior.  Indeed, the term “Deep Hanging Out” was coined by anthropologist Clifford Geertz to describe the anthropological research method of immersing oneself in a cultural, group, or social experience on an informal level for the purpose of studying processes that people go through in their interactions with an environment.  As a result of this kind of study, journey maps may be delineated.

For that matter, your typical, garden variety shop-alongs, in which participants are recruited to go on some kind of shopping expedition while an interviewer observes and queries the shopper to understand behaviors being witnessed while probing to unveil key attitudinally-based drivers of those behaviors distinctly resembles journey mapping.  In a shopalong, there is a starting point and an ending point, and in between there are various stops along the way that indicate the underlying consumer psychology that is sought by marketers to inform the development of their programs and business initiatives.

Journaling may be considered another close cousin to journey mapping.  This kind of research requires participants to compile their relevant experiences in a place that can be reviewed and analyzed by the researcher.  Specifically, participants are given incentive to document their experiences in a central site in dealing with an organization’s products and/or services.  It has a start and finish line, and everything in between becomes the grist for the mill in devising strategies and tactics that enable an organization to improve its offering to the market and strengthen its position in a competitive landscape.

I, myself, have been closely involved with journey mapping studies, both qualitative and quantitative in nature.  Of course, years ago, we called these studies by different names.  Sometimes we called them “purchase cycle” studies; other times we called them “path to purchase” studies; other times we called them “purchase process” studies.  Regardless of the different monikers, they are all quite similar.  They could be qualitative, quantitative, or a hybrid of both methodologies in some way, but all journey mapping studies must have the following characteristics to qualify as one:

  • Members of target populations (i.e., qual participants and quant respondents) that reveal their needs, goals, thoughts, feelings, opinions, expectations, and pain points that are relevant to the journey traveler;
  • A timeline that represents the chronology of the journey, with a distinct beginning and ending;
  • Emotional hot buttons for pain and pleasure experienced by the traveler during the journey;
  • Traveler touchpoints for when interactions occur with the organization, its people, policies, practices, products/services, and prices;
  • Channels where interaction takes place and the context of use (e.g. website, native app, call center, in-store); and
  • A practical map as the key deliverable to the study such as the mock example below.

Journey Map of New Checking Account Customer

For some of the more sophisticated journey mapping studies that provide the luxury of ample quantitative data collected from a survey, the set of items can be used in a series of multivariate statistical techniques to summarize the data (factor analysis, regression analysis) and segment travelers into different groups (k-means cluster analysis, discriminant function analysis) on the basis of the patterns observed in their journeys.  In other words, a journey mapping study can be executed with a segmentation analysis overlay.

But complexity of project notwithstanding, journey mapping research may be considered the one study that is uniquely and distinctly designed to imagine the travelers’ journey as a recorded video.  The researcher’s job is then to ask the traveler to access that video, rewind it to the beginning, and then hit ‘Play.’  Viewing people’s journey’s this way is an enlightening and advantaged position to be in vis-à-vis the organization’s competitors.  So, no matter what the research piece is called, it should be valued as a rose by any other name.