Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Is it Gut Reaction Research or Context-Driven Qualitative Research?

I remember a scene from the movie “Cool Hand Luke” where the warden, after beating the insolent Paul Newman character, says “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” Marketers have a similar problem—a failure to communicate-- and this appears true if you’re selling research as well. Context-driven qualitative research is descriptive, but not inspirational. I am thinking of changing the name to Gut Reaction Research.

People understand when I say that my pictographic-driven research seems to be the only methodology that captures “gut reactions or gut feelings.” What I get from pictographs is gut reactions and this appears to be the most important information that a marketer can receive.
Marketers, what do you really want to know? You want gut reactions to your product or service, everything else is pablum.

Examples of our findings that reveal gut feelings include: “It’s a great place to get mugged” (about attractive, private entrances); “I don’t want to graded” (about a new school providing adult ed); and “Car salesmen are jerks” (about people who feel pressured in that environment).

When someone asks about why my approach is unique, I am going to say because it is gut reaction research. And I may no longer call it Context-Driven Qualitative Research. Comments? For more information, e-mail

Monday, August 17, 2009

When Consumers Are First Thinking About Buying

In researching such things as automobile purchasing, computer shopping, and mall shopping I have found an interesting phenomenon that I call “purchasing triggers.” It involves those factors related to what a consumer is thinking when they are first considering purchasing something. In the case of an auto purchase the trigger might be a car breakdown, a neighbor buying a new car, or a bonus at work. I use pictographs to show these types of situations.

It is at the “buying trigger” stage that the consumer is most candid in telling the interviewer what it would take to get them to make a purchase. The rest of the pictographs provide the context for a specific product or service. For more info email

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Over the Shoulder Shots Draw Them In

As readers of this blog know, I use pictographs to duplicate the purchasing scenario for profiled consumers related to a specific product or service. This allows the respondents to explain their purchasing experience step by step. A bonus of this type of research is that it captures both emotions and resonant statements.

As is well known, emotions play a big part in purchasing behavior, and resonant statements are important as well. Who can forget the phrase from Wendy’s advertisements “Where’s the beef” or ’Avis’s “We’re number two but we try harder.” These two examples came from the minds of marketing geniuses but oftentimes context-related consumer comments can help the process along.

There are three types of pictographs that are used - those that set the scene (situational), those that show some interaction with the product or service (interactive), and those that provide an opportunity to comment about the previous two types of pictographs (reflective).

Here, I will discuss a specific type of interactive pictograph called the “Over-the-shoulder shot.” This is an example:

This shows an individual looking at an automobile sticker in a showroom. This type of pictograph quickly puts the respondent into the picture. They often preface their comments with “I.” An over-the-shoulder shot allows the researcher to place the product in the consumer’s hands. After this pictograph, it is possible to magnify various aspects of the product and the respondent will assume that he or she is still subjectively involved.

For more information, e-mail