The Association for Qualitative Research
The Hub of Qualitative Thinking

Search for eternal youth

Researching cultural and youth trends in less developed markets takes an open-minded and resourceful approach. Alyson Fydler shows the way

Is 'innovative' research actually innovative? The jury's out, according to the trade press. What is evident, though, is that while it may not be seen as such within the UK and other well-developed marketing countries, further afield it's a different story.

Methodologies required for studying youth culture and trends ­ like observational research (observation easy, analysis the issue), filming, style leader and opinion leader recruitment, moderation and analysis, behavioural analysis, even pre-placement of video and cameras ­ are all very new. This makes the execution and delivery of innovative quality global research among the young more of a challenge.

It begins with finding an appropriate research partner, and one with real 'youth' credentials is a good start. The trouble is, as all international researchers know, agencies that haven't got youth want it and are not always truthful about their experience. Innovative behavioural youth research requires more than moderating a few groups with teenagers on packaging design.

Sometimes, the right partner is anything but an agency. Meeting agencies face-to-face often reveals a traditional and fixed approach. The best approach is to be flexible ­ find open-minded partners who are keen to experiment, develop their own skills and who, of course, possess an affinity with youth. We have actively chosen very junior researchers and TV researchers with great success in some markets.

As for youth recruitment, it's challenging in the UK so just imagine what it is like in Russia and Mexico, say. Research partners need to be prepared go beyond their norm ­ get out on the streets, get on the phone and schmooze their way to good recruitment. Some feel that this is beneath them, so again a different approach can work, guiding a style leader through the job or using TV researchers ­ often more open-minded in their methods.

Analysis requires close collaboration. Unsophisticated markets are very used to reactive research ­ i.e. 'What do you think of that?' ­ but analysing what makes the market tick poses all sorts of problems.

Filming is a perennial problem. The criteria are a research-friendly service, affordable price, and finding people willing to venture into areas like football hooligan pubs in IstanbulŠSo, we have had to do this element all in house.

Researching cultural and youth trends in these markets takes an open-minded and resourceful approach both in methodology and project handling in the end market. Don't expect good results from innovative methodologies with a UK approach ­ be resourceful, stray from the norm and take (calculated) risks.

 

Alison Fydler
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