Monday, October 24, 2011

Qualitative researchers face many challenges

Our publisher, Jim Madden, recently attended the annual meeting of the Qualitative Research Consultants Association (QRCA) where he met many of our customers. Qualitative researchers are a dynamic and wonderful group, sharing ideas with each other and working hard to understand how the new social platforms are impacting their business. Bestselling titles at the QRCA event were two Paramount titles, Laurie Tema-Lyn's Stir It Up and Moderating to the Max by Jean Bystedt, Siri Lynn, and Deborah Potts, and Martha Guidry's new book, Marketing Concepts for Success.

Qualitative researchers are probably the most entrepreneurial people among the self-employed. In order to make a living, they first have to be marketers, finding clients who will pay them to moderate focus groups, do in-depth interviews, and write reports with recommendations based on their findings. In order to be successful, they have to immerse themselves in a variety of industries.

They have to be highly organized and tolerate a great deal of travel, often going from city to city in a few days. They have to maintain a group of "associates" who help them recruit respondents, provide facilities, and help them out when there is simply too much work for one person. And they have to be creative, because one size never fits all.

But it's getting even harder to make a living as any type of independent researcher, in part because new technologies are leading companies to believe that they no longer need in-depth research.

Robert Kahle, author of Dominators, Cynics, and Wallflowers, shared his thoughts on the challenges for qualitative researchers and indeed, many types of independent researchers.

Corporate research budgets get cut and executives think they can survive on the results of on-line surveys, monitoring chat rooms, and doing internet searches for free information.

When budgets are cut, managers expect qualitative and other independent researchers to cut their rates to accommodate, forgetting that they are paying their own health benefits, their own social security at the full rate, buying their own equipment, etc. as well as trying to support a family.

At the same time that corporations have technology departments and webmasters to support their employees who are trying to cope with new technology, independent researchers have to be their own webmasters and technology departments and there is a lot to keep up with these days.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Do great ideas sell themselves?

Author Dave Siegel  will speak  about the innovation myth "Great Ideas Sell Themselves," at the upcoming PDMA/AMA conference on innovation in Cincinnati on Nov. 17th.  His book, Innovation Myths and Mythstakes, is a bestseller for PMP.

Dave says. "One of the biggest reasons behind great ideas ultimately failing to achieve success lies in communication.  All too often, what could be a great idea is misunderstood within the company itself.   Too often great ideas never hit the marketplace because a key member of the decision team never truly understood how it benefited them.  CFO's want profits, CEO's want growth and ROI and company fit. Sales teams need to know how the idea fits with the rest of the line they sell, etc. etc. etc.  The innovator?  Well he just has the "idea!"

"Then, there is the huge challenge of communicating the idea to the consumer.  Oftentimes the idea is researched with full blown, well-stated, highly illustrated concept statements.  Yet, when it is time to actually introduce the idea to the marketplace, the only communication consumers  see is a small burst on a package or a 2 inch internet banner ad or at best, a 15-second commercial.  It's a shame, all that work by R&D, Marketing, Sales and Research and then the consumer gets a tiny message and goes 'Huh?'"

You can learn much more about myths included in Dave's book by clicking here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

For Asian shoppers, seeing is believing

The Far East will be the next middle-class market for retailers and manufacturers in all categories. Name brands are sought, especially when they are sold in department stores where  customers can be assured they are not fakes. Retailers such as Carrefour, Walmart, and Tesco are already well established in many Asian countries, but there is plenty of room for modern retailers as consumers gain more discretionary income.

Author Laurent Sausset has been conducting surveys of shoppers in Asia for many years and his new book (released Oct. 3, 2011) details the unique characteristics of shoppers in this rapidly emerging middle class market.

Shopping Behavior in Asia: What Retailers Need to Know for Success in the Far East discusses the importance of observation among Asian shoppers.  For example, Sausset writes that Asian shoppers will rarely ask for help in a store because the staff members look so busy and shoppers are unwilling to interrupt their work.  A woman in Bangkok relates that she was not respected in a store because she was just wearing sandals, not leather shoes, and she lost face in the eyes of the sales associate. If shoppers see a line forming to take advantage of a special deal, they will probably join the line even if they aren't sure what is on sale.

Moving from the general to the specific, Sausset discusses the nuances of location, traffic patterns, product assortment, pricing, parking, store design, signage, loyalty programs, promotions, employee training, and even shopping carts. County-by-country, he details the relationship of retailers to shoppers in categories such as apparel, furniture, do-it-yourself, and packaged goods.

Seeing is believing in the minds of most Asian consumers and Sausset helps you "see" how to succeed in Asia.

How Chicago is Developing Latino Leaders

Cristina Benitez writes, "In the span of a quick week, Chicago witnessed more steps, más pasos, of developing young Latino leaders and further Latinization of the US. Instituto Health and Science Academy for high school kids and New Futuro for potential college students launched and Latino Media and Communication at DePaul University celebrated the beginning of year two. 

This is positive news that supports the recent report from the Pew Hispanic Center touting a 24 percent increase in college enrollments among Latinos. The Pew report is good news to be sure, but the trick is keeping these kids in school. This is how we are building Latino leaders in the windy city."

Here is the contact information to find out more about these programs in Chicago.

In 2008, leadership from Instituto del Progreso Latino (Instituto) began exploring the idea of creating a new high school that could help serve Chicago’s pressing need for high quality education within urban communities.  Last week Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy (IHSCA) opened a new charter high school in Chicago that serves 600 youth, grades 9 to 12 from Chicago communities, and paves the way for the next generation of doctors, nurses, information professionals, and bio-technicians.

New Futuro provides Latino families with tools to get their students into college. Parents and students gain access to free, bilingual information and tools to create a step-by-step plan. Using a user friendly “10-step roadmap” the program created a simple formula to a college plan with the goal of enrolling 10,000 new college students.  New Futuro enhances the probability of success by connecting members with non-profit organizations and educational institutions via New Futuro’s website, magazines, and neighborhood outreach efforts. 

In partnership with Allstate, New Futuro has created “Road to College Workshops” a series of college workshops every week in the Chicagoland area, giving a $1,000 scholarship weekly.  These smaller workshops will culminate with a major education summit at the UIC Forum, 725 W. Roosevelt Rd., on Nov. 12.

Today’s communications scholars recognize that Latinos are shaping communication and contributing to the Latinization of U.S. culture. DePaul’s program in Latino Media and Communication offers high caliber courses based on an awareness and appreciation of Latino cultures in the U.S., grounded in history, communication, culture, performance, and sociology.  These Latino focused courses are in Public Relations & Advertising, Intercultural Communication, Journalism, and Media & Cinema Studies.
LM&C is open to undergraduate and graduate students within the College of Communication and other Colleges and offers a minor or a concentration, taught by outstanding faculty and develops culturally sophisticated and savvy global citizens

This is the action we need to support the success of Pew’s promising news.  This is Latinization and development of Latino leaders.