21st Century wishlist
Qualitative research provides not just insight but also a way of evaluating marketing communications. However, given the complexity of the post-modern world, international markets and the pace of change, qualitative researchers need more imaginative methods to extract the most relevant data and to bring a variety of theoretical perspectives to help optimise analysis. In other words, clients will expect more of moderators.
It's tough assessing the "cerebral capital" of untried qualitative researchers for a domestic project, but with international projects you may need to assess a panel of 6 to 12 local researchers. The high cost of the latter should mean that evaluation of an agency goes beyond those fronting the research, yet tight deadlines make this difficult.
In one recent proposal the only reference to moderators was that they would be experienced psychologists; another made no reference to their background at all! I would like to see more agencies offer full portraits of those likely to be involved at the sharp end. Where possible, I would like to talk to the probable moderators about the project via a video/audio Internet link. I want to "feel" their thinking and enthusiasm.
I am also very interested in how agencies think technology may enhance the international qualitative research process. My impression is that US agencies are forging ahead with these while European counterparts are less eager.
Finally, I often come across translation problems, in particular with stimuli, and would welcome more rigorous translation controls offered by international qualitative research agencies.
This article was first published in InBrief magazine, November 1999
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 1999