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The NGMR Top-5-Hot vs. Top-5-Not: From “Fixed” to “Fluid”

March 8, 2011

Upon invitation by Next Generation Market Research Group, bloggers from around the world each contributed to a group post Top 5-Hot vs. Top-5-Not’ topics in market research.  What follows is this blogger’s take on the topic.

The Qualitative Arena: A more flexible, “fluid,” modular approach is what’s hot today, requiring market researchers to be faster, more flexible, and more nimble on their feet than ever.  That’s because of many factors, including:

  • The Economy. Today’s economical challenges that make clients more aware than ever of value for the money
  • High Tech. The advent of new technologies (e.g., flipcams, smart phones) that enjoy increasingly widespread penetration and enable faster, more flexible feedback from participants
  • Greater Demand for Speed (side effect of high tech). The demand for fast turnaround times given the faster pace of doing business (thanks in part to technological innovations)
  • Facebook et al. The growth of social media, providing raw data and the potential for real time research (as well as the risk of misusing the information)
  • Going Global.  Greater globalization requires methods that can handle physical, linguistic, and cultural “distances”

So, in accordance with these trends, here are the top 5 Hot and 5 Not Hot Not ways of doing research these days:

What’s Hot:

  • Hybrid research, including qualitative forays during, before, and/or after quantitative surveys–as a way of streamlining the process and getting faster actionable results
  • “In the moment” ethnographic type research following respondents wherever they go, in shopping, or performing specific tasks, as a more “naturalistic” method, and a check on more traditional methods
  • Multidimensional input (pictures, video, audio, behavioral, etc.) to enhance and extend participant’s verbal responses
  • Client participation in research/research design (with, at one end, do-it-yourselfers trying to make sense of social media and panel participants themselves, without the guidance of research professionals)
  • Global projects requiring guidance and materials sensitive to language and cultural differences and here in particular, the need for remote, online methods

What’s Not:

  • Large-scale studies with slow turnaround and hefty, wordy, reports
  • Studies using only face to face, or one means of gathering data
  • Geographically dispersed studies that require travel to all locations (instead of, say, in-person portions combined with remote techniques)
  • Groups based on wide screening criteria (i.e., tighter demographic clusters representing greater diversity more the norm)
  • Strictly verbal reports of what’s happening/what’s happened (instead of watching it occur, or learning first-hand through respondent diaries)

So what else is hot or not these days?  Please feel free to add to the list!

9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 8, 2011 3:46 pm

    In 2days market, being flexible is too rigid; you need to be fluid.

  2. March 12, 2011 12:36 am

    Hi Elizabeth: Great post. Definitely agree with your third hot topic. I’ve found multidimensional inputs particularly interesting when exploring the context of products and services in people’s lives. Great for eliciting metaphors I find. Can’t say that I’ve thought to use pure audio before; any chance you could share an example of how it would be applied? Nick

    • March 12, 2011 10:38 pm

      Hi, Nick: Thanks for your comments! Yes, the more you provide for respondents to express themselves, the richer, deeper, and more evocative the output. As for the audio question, see the link I’ve now provided above for “audio” referring to music elicitation in qualitative research. I have not tried that particular technique myself, but having done qualitative for lots of music-driven radio spots, I’ve seen the power music (and sound effects) can have on eliciting and understanding responses. One thing I have done, with consistently good results, is to ask respondents to conjure up the type of music that think goes with a particular product or service. Given the powerful emotional tug of music, it offers great potential as another type of projective technique.

      • March 13, 2011 7:01 pm

        Thanks for the link Elizabeth. I’ve added the ESRC site to my favorites; need to set aside some time to explore it. Also, thought you may enjoy the following site ( Provides access to a large body of German qualitative research and methodologies.

      • March 13, 2011 8:27 pm

        Hi, Nick:

        You’re welcome. And thank you for the link you sent in return! I’m always on the lookout for new sources, and this one looks very interesting. I am looking forward to seeing their articles.


      • March 13, 2011 8:36 pm

        By the way, I found your post on the 5 top-hot trends spot on. I especially liked the research re-integration idea..a unique and fresh way of highlighting this trend (and need for more of it!) Also, the increasing influence of neuroscience inf (how could I have missed that one!) I was on my way to say this on your blog, but don’t see a place for comments.


      • March 28, 2011 8:37 pm

        Hmm. Thanks for the tip. I’ve now re-labeled ‘comments’ to ‘leave a comment’ at the bottom of the posts. Nick

  3. March 15, 2011 3:05 am

    Betsy – thank the gods we are indeed seeing the end (almost, but not quite entirely just yet!) of hefty, desk-crushing printed reports! They put clients to sleep in 15 minutes of reading and market researchers to sleep after only an hour’s work. Plus, they ultimately show nothing, nor do they allow clients to “mingle” with clients/potential clients in the same ways that online, on-social-media or a mix of both of the latter two options can.

    Great post, Betsy. Can rest easier (and work even less!) knowing that you’re pulling all of these trends and changes together for us,

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