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Show and Tell: The Power of Images in Qualitative Research

March 4, 2011

If deprived of favorite OTC brand

Want to get richer, quicker, deeper feedback from your qualitative research?

Give collages as a homework assignment to participants before conducting your research.  Even the least articulate respondents may have a lot to tell you, if you just let them show you what they mean.  The image to the left represents the depth of feeling and consequence a consumer said she would feel if deprived of a certain OTC product she regularly uses.

Collages may be about needs, brand image, “ideal” products, or anything else you’re exploring.   Here is another example showing how listeners of a particular radio station they preferred felt, and how they would feel if the station were taken off the air:

Life with favorite radio station

If favorite radio station were taken off air

In both cases, these and other images in participants’ collages, helped us understand how their morning “dose” of radio had an important impact on their day, including their mood and their interactions with coworkers and others throughout the day.

When interpreted in the context of verbal responses, such images provide another window on how respondents think and feel.  Collages may lead to a fresh line of questioning that may be stimulated by a particular image and its meaning to the respondent. And the net effect is a richer yield in terms of findings and insights.

Don’t know how to do it? See this article Got Pictures? to learn more about the benefits of collages in qualitative research, as well as step by step instructions on how to set them up.  Meanwhile, if you’ve done them, please do add your own experiences with collages!  What works?  What doesn’t work so well? Let’s hear it!

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