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What I have learned (so far) working with a great client

By September 18, 2021Insights

The power of collaboration
Sophie Lewick

Over the summer I spent a lot of time working on insights projects with a consumer goods company. We’ve had a constant stream of projects, mainly on new concept design and product development work. I would like to share two tips – one on the research side and one on the process side – that helped me along the way.

The power of quali-quant!

This client, like others, conducts survey research with us to determine statistical differences. For example, will package “A” sell more than package “B”? Yet when conducting research on concepts and package designs, it is common to see very close results that are not statistically different. So unfortunately the data, the numbers, do not always reveal a clear winner! And sometimes when the rule of thumb suggests there is a statistical difference, the tests turn out equivocal. Enter the “quali-quant.”

The quali-quant survey is what we’ve been calling a survey that has a healthy number of qualitative questions – open-ended questions that ask “Why?” We will also off-ramp participants to video responses. It’s something I’ve been using that has been invaluable to our projects. Two package designs might be very close in participants’ ratings, but the diverse answers to open-ended questions helped reveal very different reasons behind the numbers. Having access to respondents’ thought processes often reveals that one design resonates with the goals of the project or brand more than the other. Using direct questions and projective techniques helps. Overlapping quantitative and qualitative methods can help uncover insights that get you closer to an answer than just a quantitative approach. I am a convert to quali-quant!

Collaborating with the client

Some clients need us to “just” do the research and deliver the answers. We take that responsibility seriously. Other clients want the answers, but they are keener to collaborate throughout the research project. This desire for collaboration is often due to both (a) wanting to be immersed in the customer perspective, and (b) knowing that conversations with the research team can spark other ideas or paths that otherwise would not have been taken, creative nuances that would not have been spotted; these can make a big difference, so clients want a deep engagement in the process.

Engaging deeply means going beyond the initial research brief and goal-setting for the project. It includes healthy debate over questions, methods, and design iterations.

It is also finding time to share background research that either the research or client team has conducted. Great outcomes are more likely to happen when we make time on both sides to come up with better survey design and analysis, and even, as one client put it, “to fight to the death” over question specifics.

Good engagement also ensures the client has no surprises, and that their goals are being met every step of the way. The client should never need to call or stress about how the project is faring, and that is important no matter what their engagement level! Wherever possible, I am a big advocate for the view that clients and researchers are always better collaborating.