Qualitative Market Research Consulting

Focus Groups

Projective Techniques Customized to Maximize Consumer Revelations

Rudick Research approaches qualitative research as an art as much as a science – and that includes its use of projective techniques customized over two decades of experience to uncover deeper consumer insights.

Scientific research has proven that consumer decisions about products and services happen at a less than conscious level. Enabling consumers to connect with their deep-seated emotions, beliefs and attitudes in qualitative research can be pure art.

As a veteran focus group moderator and research consultant, Mindy Rudick Powell has mastered standard projective techniques – and taken them to a higher level. Over time she has given these often-creative exercises her own stamp to allow consumers to more readily engage. The projective techniques, therefore, reveal more useful learning.

Rudick Research puts the following projective techniques into play as appropriate in projects for its Fortune 500.

IdeaArt – Often assigned as pre-work, IdeaArt unleashes consumers’ creative juices to come up images executed in collages, pictures, drawings, paintings, poems and other artistic ideation. These express less conscious existing associations about the brand, product, advertising or packaging – or even consumers themselves. Jump starts communication/learning and sets the stage for free-er sharing in the group setting.

Blogwork – Assigned as pre-work in advance of in-person sessions, consumers share their experiences by blogging in a secure environment, giving researchers upfront information that can help shape focus group/interview directions and maximize time spent on other objectives. Also an efficient way to understand product usage in the home.

FreeMind – Probing to bring forth consumers’ existing words, feelings, visual images, moods and other aspects of their experience. Helps consumers to imagine the ideal product/service, reveal unmet needs and dissatisfactions.

On Balance – Helps research participants examine and express positives/negatives and strengths/vulnerabilities – leading from individual contribution to group consensus.

How Bad Is It? – Identifies key barriers to trial and usage – whether a concept or product feature is a real stopper for consumers or what it would take to get beyond the negative. This exercise often reveals directions that would make resistant consumers adopters and even advocates.

Pickturing – Rather than setting consumers free to create images as in IdeaArt, consumers are asked to choose from pre-selected pictures those that best communicate their responses to the exercise objective. Useful when time is short and the project can benefit from a more directive approach.

Who’s the Product? – Helps get to a deeper level by asking consumers to describe products/services in terms of human qualities, including physical characteristics, behaviors, values, lifestyle, goals, etc. – personifying them on either a stand-alone basis or in a competitive context. One scenario: Asking participants to imagine and describe a product, its competitors and the consumers who might purchase each as attendees at a cocktail party.

Doodling – Provides consumers with pencil, pen, colorful markers or other drawing implements and asks them to ‘doodle’ – less threatening than requesting ‘drawing’ – about a product or packaging. Useful in assessing visual equities, including memorable or unique characteristics and icons, color associations and preferences, impressions of or fantasies about product actions.

StoryMaking – Asks consumers to build a story around an ideal product or brand. Good for stimulating imagination to reveal how products could or would be used. Consumers project themselves into a utopian product world, describe the place and role of the product in this environment.

Tell It to Sell It – Engages consumers as sales people or ad agency for the product to learn how they would present features and benefits in a storyboard. Good for assessing the flow and emotional take-away of a concept from a need to its fulfillment.

The Mixer – Puts the marketing team in the room with consumers for direct interaction. Valuable for evaluating more ideas/concepts than could be assessed in a standard focus group timeframe. The Mixer group zeroes in on the strongest alternatives. Subsequent group/s can then delve into those ideas/concepts in depth.

An extended Mixer can be structured as a creativity session. Additionally, the technique can be used to leverage different groups in the same room, for example, management and category experts.

Team Creative – Mindy Powell leverages her training in Synectics to facilitate marketing/management/R&D team creative ideation sessions for a variety of objectives including product development, positioning, brand and culture evolution, advertising concepts, etc.