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5 Ways to Work it Like a (Go) Pro


5 Ways to Work it Like a (Go) Pro

We love doing in-context or ethnographic research.  It’s so fun to immerse ourselves into a respondent’s environment and learn “what’s really going on” vs. “what respondents say” in a focus group setting. And, yes, video is a great way to effectively capture the interviews – it provides authenticity but also comes with some drawbacks. Regardless of someone’s moderating skills, it’s more awkward for a respondent when you add a video camera to the mix.  For the last few years, we rarely take video during our ethnographies due to the “cumbersome nature” of the equipment.


To solve one of these problems, we could enlist the help of our clients. However, walking them through operating a camera is technical and takes away from the ‘in the moment’ learning. 

At ABRG, we found a small and mighty answer to this multi-layer dilemma. Insert GoPro Hero 4 Silver! We chose a GoPro because its versatile capabilities allow flexibility for any ethnography or in-context research situation. 

  1. Mounting accessories:  we love the Go Pro’s various accessories and bought the suction cup, flex clamp, and hand grip. These make it easier to walk with it or mount it wherever you need to take video – bathroom, kitchen, etc. The clamp accessory especially, is useful doing in-homes because furniture can easily become camera equipment.
  2. Size:  It’s tiny, which is another asset when recording. Because it’s not bulky, respondents don’t notice it when they are being interviewed – it fades into the background. 
  3. Great quality video at close proximity – the video quality on a GoPro is stellar, especially when it’s put on the “narrow” setting.
  4. Mark-up ability: it is easy to mark up interesting, noteworthy parts of the interview in the moment!  This makes sorting through footage later so much less painful! 
  5. Remote control via iPhone app: the GoPro contains a remote feature that allows you to control angle, start/stop, etc. from your iPhone, which is awesome.  If needed, the interviewer can both record and conduct interviews without enlisting the help of another team member or client.  

All of these features are great but getting up to speed and feeling comfortable with it requires bit of “ramp up”. We believe in creating step-by-step Process Documents to keep us from reinventing the wheel so we put all our knowledge into words in the format of a laminated Process Document containing the ins-and-outs of “how to use a GoPro.” To easily access this guide when we are in the field, we made it so that it easily fits inside the GoPro’s case and color-coded it based on topic. Additionally, the GoPro, its parts and mounting accessories are labeled and correspond with the user guide as reference.   In conjunction with the process document, we also labeled all of the parts of the GoPro and the different mounting accessories. Wherever the GoPro goes, a user-friendly guide goes with it. 


To GoPro or no?  That is the question.  So far, we’re loving it.


Uncharted Territories for Prestigious Summer Art Exhibit


Uncharted Territories for Prestigious Summer Art Exhibit


Jeffrey Johns of Northstar consulting recently presented on “Using Insight Innovation to Re-Invent a 247-Year Old Institution” at the 2016 QRCA Worldwide Conference on Qualitative Research. His investigation piqued our interest and made us want to dig deeper to understand his methods and findings. The Summer Exhibition at London’s Royal Academy  is one of the most significant and unique visual experiences in the world due to the combination of works from emerging and established artists. However, since its inception in 1769, the structure of the exhibit has remained largely unchanged. But for the upcoming 250th Summer Exhibition, London’s Royal Academy intends to make changes that incorporate the needs of a new generation of visitors as well as other trends from our changing world.

Consulted for their expertise on customer-related research, Northstar was brought in to help The Royal Academy as it moves forward with its redesign. Northstar’s undertaking of this project was unique because The Royal Academy had never consulted with researchers before, thus making the collection and presentation of findings original and unfamiliar. In fact, Northstar’s insights were reflected in the 247th Summer Exhibition in 2015 and visitor volume and art sales were noticeably higher; a good indicator of the impact they will have on the 250th anniversary. The study itself was unique because of its short timeframe and methods used, unlike those commonly used in ethnographic research where experiments are long and data collection is extensive. Northstar’s goal with this immersive research was to provide consumer insights that could make the Summer Exhibition more popular and enjoyable.

Northstar conducted its research within the institution and yielded 16 hours of data and 400 photographs. Their qualitative, ethnographic approach included methods such as listening in on visitors’ conversations, observing gestures/interaction of visitors with art, and conducting ‘non-interview-like’ conversations with visitors. The research uncovered trends such as “Visitor control”, “family”, and “divergence” which rose to the top across many exhibit visitors. But how does this help the London Royal Academy? What do these trends mean? “Visitor control” meant that visitors liked that they weren’t guided through the exhibition and were free explore on their own. “Family” referred to the fact that the exhibition has become well known to families who have made visiting the exhibition a tradition. “Divergence” showed that the combination of both emerging and establishing artists is a positive for the exhibit because it reflects inclusivity. By understanding these trends, the Royal Academy will have a better understanding of what is needed for the redesign of the Summer Exhibition.

Northstar’s innovative research methods provide d actionable insights for an institution that did not formerly utilize qualitative research. Utilizing qualitative research may be something that the London Royal Academy will continue to do given its increase in art sales and visitor volume since changes reflecting the trends of control, family and divergence were made. Entering uncharted territory was a success for Northstar because this unique methodology resulted in positive outcomes for their client; indicating that innovative methods could be advantageous and should be implemented in other non-typical areas.


TMRE: Shifting to an Emotional Lens in the Drive-Thru

TMRE: Shifting to an Emotional Lens in the Drive-Thru

The majority of our thoughts take place in the subconscious mind. Usually, we don't know WHY we are doing something if we are asked directly, but there is usually an emotional reason for it hidden in our subconscious. The folks at Coca-Cola were curious to learn about people's experiences in the drive-thru. Instead of conducting this research ethnographically, which would involve being right there with consumers in the drive-thru to observe their actions and emotional reactions, Coca-Cola decided to take a different approach and do 30 one-on-one IDIs (in-depth interviews). 

The way they did this successfully was by asking respondents to go through the visualization process, to mentally bring them back to their drive-thru experience. "If you ask them to tell you about one of their memories or experiences, they tell you something you might not have heard otherwise," says Kristian Aloma from Brandtrust. His team even asked respondents close their eyes while answering some of the questions for better recall of the event. "The key is NOT asking them why. There are ways a trained researcher can get past the surface to uncover their actual experience," Aloma states.

To Coca-Cola's surprise, many respondents revealed very emotional experiences at the drive-thru. For some it was a place where they could go in the morning to brighten their day; for others it was a get-away from their hectic routine where they could have someone else take care of them. It was a part of their ritual, and it made them feel good.

The presentation was definitely intriguing, and it was also very educational. I learned a lot about the different techniques that can be used to get respondents to open up about their experiences, especially if an ethnographic study is not possible. I'm eager to tell my team members about the interesting findings of this research!

Mayuri Joshi isResearch Magician at April Bell Research Group, a boutique, full-service marketing research firm, committed to delivering fresh insights you can act on! Learn more at

The G Trend

The G Trend

Over the past year, we have watched our economy going deeper and deeper into recession, with a lot of the blame being placed on one thing, GREED.

Through this a marketing trend has emerged-the G Trend. Consumers, or Generation G, are looking for the exact opposite of greed, which would be Generosity and Giving. defines this Generation G as this:

"Captures the growing importance of 'generosity' as a leading societal and business mindset. As consumers are disgusted with greed and its current dire consequences for the economy—and while that same upheaval has them longing more than ever for institutions that care—the need for more generosity beautifully coincides with the ongoing (and pre-recession) emergence of an online-fueled culture of individuals who share, give, engage, create and collaborate in large numbers.

In fact, for many, sharing a passion and receiving recognition have replaced 'taking' as the new status symbol. Businesses should follow this societal/behavioral shift, however much it may oppose their decades-old devotion to me, myself and I.”

The G trend was what sealed the deal for President Obama getting elected back in November. He positioned himself as “one of us”, and regardless of your political beliefs, you have to admit he did a great job in his campaign of relating to the workingman. In the wake of the financial meltdown, people were not only ready for change, but also longing for someone who truly cares for others and has our best interest in mind.

The G trend is also why cause marketing has become such a buzz term. People have become more passionate about making a difference in issues they believe in, and they want the world to know about it. That’s why the Livestrong and the RED campaign have both been so successful. It’s fashionable to be generous.

To become more favorable to the consumer, companies need to get in touch with their sweet side. Playing nice is the name of the game. Being nice to not just the consumer, but nice to their employees, the earth, the community…you get the idea.

What Women Want

What Women Want

“Tahiti is sexier than selling toilet paper.” Graceann Bennett from Ogilvy Chicago grabbed everyone’s attention in one of the early morning sessions yesterday. She, along with Debbie Solomon of MindShare and Beth Uyenco of Microsoft led an incredible workshop: From Dull to Delightful: Digital Paths to Filling the Shopping Cart! In their work for Kimberly-Clark, they knew consumers felt that shopping for toilet paper is the #1 most annoying thing to shop for. They wanted to know, "how do you create and build true brand management with a product that is annoying?"

Well, you guessed it, they conducted a LOT of research! It included 62 media diaries, 12 insight group discussions, ethnographies, idea stations (an online chat room), mindshare omnibus study, digital domain, digital trend analysis, and cultural deep dive. And they did this with women across all life stages. Whew!

They conducted the research with women across life stages…and they learned a lot about women, especially what women want in the “digital” arena.

During the workshop, they gave us a little quiz to test our female I.Q. Let’s see how you do…

• How many words does the average woman speak per day vs. men? (answer: 7000 vs. 2000)

• How many women have smart phones? (answer: 10 million and this number doubled in the past year)

• How many women are gamers? (answer: 59% of women are gamers and 70% of women played a PC game in the last month)

Through their research with these women, they found 3 distinct “digital segments: Digital Outliers (9%), Mainstream Users (75%) and Digital Divas (16%). And while they cited many life stage differences across the segments, they also noted several commonalities. Primarily, women like real content by real people. Women are not only trusting friends for advice on products, they are also using “advice from strangers” as a source for help. YouTube has become a primary source for getting “product advice” because of the high touch content it provides. This YouTube video was cited as a touching example of a father explaining to his daughter how to cut a mango.

Good example of online content women want.

It was interesting to note that when you’re selling products that are “annoying” such as toilet paper, you don’t necessarily have to be top of mind, you just have to make it easy for her and it is becoming critical to do that online. One consumer quote they gave says it best, “I actually have a subscription for my paper products and detergent on”

Tomorrow's Agenda at The Market Research Event

Tomorrow's Agenda at The Market Research Event

I have a full agenda tomorrow with an early start at 8:15 a.m. for the first workshop. Still trying to decide on some of the workshop choices.

I will certainly be at Kelley Styring’s welcome keynote at 5:15 p.m. where she will talk about her ethnographic journey learning about the “Archaeology of the American Handbag,” And I wouldn’t miss the cocktail reception at 6:00 so please find and introduce yourself—I’ll be curious about your day here at The Market Research Event!

Shoot me a note at if you want to give me a tip on what I should cover while here at the conference.

Interesting Learnings about "the experience generation"

Interesting Learnings about "the experience generation"

I had the pleasure of meeting both Tamara Sachs, CEO and Robert Miner, President of SachsInsights at The Market Research Event in October.  Their compelling qualitative research work is supplemented with high quality "video storytelling", and it's fascinating!   Here is a small clip of the workshop Robert Miner gave on "MilleniAdults--the experience generation."

Mr. Miner mentioned several key points that define this segment:

  1. Belief in a Kaleidoscope of Options
  2. Definition of Success Varies Across the Segment (financially secure, life experiences, making a difference)
  3. Entry Level Debt
  4. Online Social Networking

For more video footage of the ethnographic study conducted by SachsInsights, you can visit their website.

Good stuff!!  


The Art of Listening

The Art of Listening

That's what we do as qualitative researchers...we listen...and we gain insights from listening, right? Not always easy after multiple interviews spread across any number of days, especially for those of us who have trouble remembering people's names upon initial meeting...

How do you train yourself to listen it even possible?  Not sure for everyone but here's how I do it when I'm moderating.  I have to start out the first few minutes of an intro REALLY listening (in a group or an IDI or an ethnography), and if I do that, something clicks and I'm able to focus throughout the remainder of an interview.

So, how do I REALLY listen?  You guessed it...visually, with a picture!  Yep, we are all familiar with the images we want respondents to use to share their deepest emotions.  I love using these in intros for two reasons:  1)  it gives respondents and clients a high level, metaphorical image about the subject at hand and 2) it gives me a greater mental picture to help me stay focused for the rest of the gives me art for listening!