Image via WikipediaLast Wednesday, 11/23/11, I took part in a webinar sponsored by Vision Critical and featuring Ray Poynter, author of Handbook of Online Research: Tools and Techniques for Market Researchers. It was my first official webinar (at home with computer and headphones) and it was also my first introduction to where marketing research has taken qualitative research. It was a come uppance.
I had a vague notion that things were going on online with marketing that I needed to know about, but it was very interesting to learn how marketing research had formalized their qualitative research approaches in this area.
Terms that were new to me:
1. Community Panel: Primarily quantitative 2-5,000 members. Within the community panel a variety of activities can occur--surveys, autoethnography, and MROC's.
2. MROC's=Marketing Research Online Communities;Qualitative Research groups (short or long term) of up to 50 members.
3. Autoethnography as Poynter was using it. In the MR world, autoethnography refers to data that others go out and gather as "slice of life" experiences--through cell phones, journals, etc. This is not how I would have used this term, and it caught me by surprise.
In terms of future directions, Poynter stressed: the evolving possibilities of Bots and what they could be in a future generation.
He also talked about the crowd sourcing that "branded presences" are drawing upon, using the "My Starbucks Idea" as an example.
I have been struggling for some time with the idea of where does qualitative research fit within the world of Big Data. It seems that MR has already taken on that issue with the ways they are thinking about combinations of online communities (quantitative and qualitative).
Gamification was another approach that is growing in the marketing world. Researchers are seeking ways to make the processes of their research more engaging and allow them to get into greater depth with the responses participants give.
Hearing Poynter's talk set me off on a search for some of the resources in this area. Poynter's blog is very informative: http://thefutureplace.typepad.com/
Reading this took me to Mr. Netnography, Robert Kozinets. His blog--is another goldmine in this area: http://kozinets.net/about.
I also realized that I am actually a member of his netnography linked-in community, but I haven't been paying attention to the messages! Egg on my face.
I also made my way to the Lovestats blog (which is surprising for me), but on it I found this posting of a talk by anthropologist of social media Mimi Ito: http://lovestats.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/anthropological-use-of-mobile-tech-by-mimi-ito-tmre-mrx/
Finally, Power Solutions provided more information on the ways qualitative research is being used in marketing research: http://www.powerdecisions.com/qualitative-market-research.cfm#.TtDjnHpZ71E
It is a vast new world out there. It's not reflected yet, that I know of, in much of the teaching of qualitative research in higher education. I am amazed by what the business side of things is doing. It makes me feel like someone who is still using a manual typewriter.
I think my next step needs to be to find my way into an MROC and experience what it is like--unfortunately I am not a very conventional consumer, but I am going to search this out.