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QRCA 2019: Charting Our Best Course.

Here at Fusion Hill we are passionate about keeping up with industry trends and ensuring our methodologies and deliverables keep us ahead of the curve and providing successful outcomes for our clients. Where better to brush up on our skills than at the 2019 Qualitative Research Consultants Association (QRCA) annual conference in Savannah, Georgia, with over 250 of the industry’s top qualitative researchers? Here are some of our key takeaways from this year’s event:

Neuroscience: Using behavioral science to understand decision-making, elicit deeper truths and be more memorable 

From storytelling to design study, a basic understanding of neuroscience and behavioral economics provides the rationale for our best research practices, ensuring that we are communicating the most valuable findings in the most memorable way.

People will forget 90% of what you tell them, so it is critical to be intentional in crafting your content and the 10% your audience will remember. Framing key takeaways in familiar mental models and heuristics ensures they will strike a chord with your audience. Bonus points for adding small twists and surprises that balance familiarity with novelty and leave your audience intrigued.

Consumers also expect to communicate within familiar mental models. When in the field, researchers must be aware of the various outside factors that color a participant’s behaviors and responses – everything from the words we use in our questions to current events can affect how participants respond.

Even more than mental models, behavioral science tells us that emotion is a key driver for adding meaning and getting to deep truths. Good researchers know that fact does not necessarily equal the teller’s truth and that by following the emotion, we are able to evoke meaningful and rich insights that are invaluable for strategic business decisions. One way we use the power of emotion is through storytelling. Studies have shown that storytelling creates emotional resonance and produces high levels of oxytocin for both the audience and the storyteller, leading to a more unforgettable presentation. By seeing the story in everything, we are able to provide meaningful and memorable detail that may be unavailable otherwise.

Design thinking: Moving from moderating to strategic facilitation

Design thinking is a method of analyzing research findings and turning them into actionable business opportunities using collective, solution-focused thinking. In design thinking, researchers are more than just moderators; they are strategic partners and facilitators who use their experience and empathy skills to keep the ideation process rooted in the consumer’s needs. Design thinking is an increasingly popular insights method as clients face ever tighter deadlines and shifting business targets. At Fusion Hill we have always had a strong focus on actionable insights and have facilitated ideation sessions that allow our clients to quickly translate customer feedback into here-and-now business strategies.

Creative approaches: Thinking outside the question-and-answer box

Our team is always on the hunt for creative, new qualitative research techniques. This year’s QRCA sessions focused heavily on refreshing tried-and-true techniques, from theater games and improv to quick get-to-know-you activities. Good qualitative moderators know that even a 5-minute activity can have immense benefits ­– energizing participants, shaking up group thought, breaking down self-censors, and triggering new ideas and connections. When used correctly, these out-of-the-box techniques help us push both clients and respondents out of their comfort zones and illuminate previously inaccessible connections and insights.

Role-play is another creative approach for getting deep insights when dealing with sensitive topics. Role-play helps us get to truer conversations while protecting privacy and avoiding the logistical hurdles associated with on-site ethnographic research. This is especially true in health care, where gaining access to confidential patient-doctor conversations is not only tricky but also sometimes unethical. Our team attended a fascinating session on using medically trained actors as a methodology for interviewing doctors. This creative approach allows researchers to better understand language around a topic or product, as well as explore decision-making in the moment and test how variables may shift it. If you are interested in pursuing this methodology, let’s talk!

Keeping the conversation going

Reach out to us at Fusion Hill to learn more about our approach to qualitative research and how we are continually improving our ability to answer your most pressing questions.


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