Alicia Clegg interviewed a number of AQR spokespeople for her article in Marketing Week (19 April), exploring new and revamped directions for qualitative research.

Observation and 'participant' observation (the researcher joins in!) are increasingly being used to examine consumer choices and behaviour that are difficult to access in a group.

"There are some thoughts that people only have when they are actually involved in a situation," says Philly Desai. "If, however, you show them a video of what they were doing it can set the thoughts in train again." It can also generate ideas.

"Observation can act as a stimulus to thinking ­ building hypotheses that can be verified later by more conventional research," says Matt Kingdon. Projective techniques have long been used in groups to encourage people to respond more instinctively, now hybrids of observation and projective techniques are being explored.