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					Exploratory (Qualitative) Methods
Dr. Mary Wolfinbarger

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Exploratory Research
Use when don’t understand issues very well Examples: faculty response to merit pay, employee responses to advertising

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Exploratory Research
Helps to define constructs which are multifaceted Examples: customer satisfaction, quality, value

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Exploratory Research
It is typically recommended that exploratory (“qualitative” or “humanistic”) research precede other research It often “stands alone” May follow other types of research

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Exploratory Research
Qualitative “purists” argue their research may be less “precise,” but it increases understanding, allows for complexity and depth Quantitative “purists” find qualitative research to be “fuzzy” and “subjective”

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Exploratory Research
The appropriate research tool depends on the information required, time and budget You be the judge.

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Exploratory Research
Focus Group--most common exploratory technique “A loosely structured interview conducted by a trained moderator among a small number of informants simultaneously.”

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Exploratory Research/ Focus Group
 6-12 informants in a group  1 1/2 –2 hour session  1-way mirror/client may sit behind  relaxed, “living room” environment  qualified moderator  conversation may be video and/or audiotaped OR notes may be taken  focus group guide

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Exploratory Research/ Focus Group
– Example: Questions for PSSI decision makers

1. In general, how confident were you in the outcome of your college’s PSSI recommendations? (Probe.) 2. Did you and other members of the committee read the PSSI document?

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Exploratory Research/ Focus Group
– Do you feel that your committee followed the intent of the document?  3. How did you ensure accuracy in the application?  4. How did your committee evaluate the applications and decide who would be recommended for PSSIs? [For instance, did members evaluate applications separately before meeting, or did you decide together in a meeting? ].
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Exploratory Research/ Focus Group

– Were any of the three areas -- teaching research, and service -- considered to be more important than the others? 5. Do you believe it is appropriate to make acceptable teaching a requirement for the

award?[If so,] how was teaching evaluated?
 How were research and service evaluated?  How did you evaluate the application when a candidate claimed to be meritorious in all three areas? [Etc…..

]

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Exploratory Research/ Focus Group
– The conversation is organic – Moderators are trained to get participants to explain answers fully – Challenge “easy” and “socially desirable” answers – “Replicate” results across focus groups and segments

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Exploratory Research/ Focus Group
Advantages of Focus Groups – Quick and Dirty – Flexibility in covering topics – May uncover unanticipated ideas that are important – Can define constructs of importance – Gives “flesh” and connectedness to real consumers/people

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Exploratory Research/ Focus Group
The connectedness comes from “verbatims:”

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Exploratory Research/ Focus Group
Internal Marketing Study Example: Theme: using employees in company ads
“I worked at Ford when I started to see the commercials. I knew one of the people [in the advertisements]. I thought it was good. Ford hit a low when I was there. The quality campaign and the slogan “Quality is Job 1” was initially laughed at at Ford, but the company stayed with it and made it stick. They did incredible things, built up the stock and everything. I always thought we should do it” (Image Tech manager).
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Exploratory Research/ Focus Group
Internal Marketing Study Example: Theme: portraying organization accurately
[From the report] Managers, scientists, and administrative personnel complained that Useful Science advertisements implied that employees were “empowered” and encouraged to take risks, yet Useful Science was perceived widely as a conservative, bottom-line-oriented company that desired its employees to be risk-averse:
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Exploratory Research/ Focus Group
Internal Marketing Study: [The verbatims] I like to think it’s this way [at Useful Science], but researchers aren’t this empowered (Useful Science scientist). The bottom line is you get rewarded for the dollars that you bring to the company, not for taking chances (Useful Science scientist). When we decided we wanted people who would be big in assuming risks, we made sure we called it “prudent risks,” whatever the hell that is (Useful Science manager).
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More on usage of verbatims: Online shopping study: Theme Freedom and Control
Outcomes Desired: Freedom and Control Moderator: What is the single most important factor in
your satisfaction with shopping online?

Answer:

The freedom to shop when & where I want…so easy & convenient. (Online)

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Theme: Freedom and Control
Outcomes Desired: Freedom and Control
“You probably saw the large ad in the newspapers for HomeGrocer…I live alone and recently I had pneumonia. I think I would have starved to death if I hadn’t had access to that. It will enable me, I’m 8i1 now, to live at home alone a lot longer because when I get home at night, I’m not going to walk to the grocery store to buy a half gallon of milk.” (Offline)
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 Increased Stock “The [retailer has] all these things in the catalog
and when you go in the bricks and mortar stores they are never in stock. Online it’s always there because it comes directly out of their warehouses.” (Offline)

Theme from online study: Selection

 However, selection on web is good; selection at individual sites is often lacking

“You know the selection [offered by the seller] is really huge, but you go to find something [on their web site and] you are given like 16 and you know they make 50…you think, well gosh, why aren’t the other Research 35 there?” (Offline) Marketing

Information Search
A major motive for using net, both for surfing and shopping
“I like getting information. I like to find out everything about everything before I make a decision… And it’s hard to get for a lot products, before it was impossible, now you can.” (Offline)

Consumers want to find relevant information quickly Information increases freedom and control in online shopping environments
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Theme in online shopping study: Lack of Sociality
 “Freedom. 90% of hassle is dealing with people. I need them, but not as much as they think I need them.” (Online)  Also note linkage: lack of people online associated with freedom and control.

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Exploratory Research/ Focus Group
Disadvantages of Focus Groups – Results dependent on skill of moderator in running the group and analysis – Groupthink – Small samples

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Online Focus Groups
Focus Groups: 8-12 participants talking about an issue/product How is online different? No body language Harder to read emotions Again, sampling issues Software controls for faster responders
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Online Focus Groups
Ability to show websites to participants Clients “lurk” in “chat room”; can send questions to moderator Transcripts produced automatically

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Online Focus Groups
How is online different? Disadvantages: No body language Sampling issues (who is more likely to participate?) Can last up to 2 hours – can cover about 2/3 of what would cover 3D Difficult to probe Sometimes asynchronous
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Online Focus Groups
Advantages  Ability to show websites to participants  Clients “lurk” in “chat room”; can send questions to moderator  Transcripts produced automatically  Participants can be geographically diverse  Software controls for faster responders, so more even participation
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Online Focus Groups
Individual responses can be tracked (can’t in offline or “3-D” focus group) Many people are more open when NOT face to face Friendlier, more humorous online

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Exploratory In-depth Interview
– An unstructured personal interview which uses extensive probing to get a respondent to talk freely – Purpose: to probe informants’ motivations, feelings, beliefs

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Exploratory/ In-depth Interview
Description: – Lasts about an hour – Interviewer creates relaxed, open environment – Wording of questions and order are determined by flow of conversation – Interview transcripts are analyzed for themes and connections between themes
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Exploratory/ In-depth Interview
– Example 1: Study of Consumer Perceptions of Earthquake Risk Asked questions about earthquake experiences; knowledge, folk theories and beliefs about earthquakes; earthquake preparedness

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Exploratory In-depth Interview
– Example2: Skydiving study: – Questions involved why and how skydivers got started, their perceptions of risk, why they continued to enjoy skydiving, managing impressions to outsiders (The study also involved participant observation)
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Exploratory In-depth Interview
Example2: Skydiving study Themes in Study: – Communitas – Transcendental Experience – Identity Construction

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Exploratory In-depth Interview
What about these topics might might lead to a researcher choosing in-depth interviewing?

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Exploratory/ In-depth Interview
Advantages of In-Depth Interviewing – Tendency to have a freer exchange – Can probe potentially complex motivations and behavior – Easier to attach a particular response to a respondent

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Exploratory/ In-depth Interview
General disadvantages of in-depth Interviewing – Qualified interviewers are expensive – Length and expense of interview often leads to small sample – Subjectivity and “fuzziness”

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Exploratory/In-Depth Interview
The Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique

– Participants are told the topic of discussion – They are asked to bring 10-15 pictures/images which represent their feelings and reactions to the topic – They are asked to compare and contrast pictures – They are asked what else might be in the picture if the frame is widened
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Exploratory/In-Depth Interview
The Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique – They are asked to describe a minimovie which describes how they feel about the topic of interest Example: Topic: How Managers Approach Ill-Structured Problems

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Exploratory/In-Depth Interview
“It would start with me screaming down the street at the thought
of solving another problem…”No! I don’t want to do it!” I want to run away from it. Before you go there, you just think it’s dark and scary and unpleasant….But it’s not so much that you’re afraid you won’t be able to solve the problem. It’s just …the work and the intensity of the effort required. But then I force myself to enter the land of the problem, going inside the pyramid. This is the incubator…Once you get in there, you’re no longer afraid because you’re so wrapped up into it and there’s a sense of enjoyment in actually doing it when you go through the process of gestation for a couple of days….all kinds of screaming into this place so they’re all like thought rays and working rays and stress rays. And then you pop out of the other side and instead of running, screaming, fearful, you’re running, screaming, happy.” (Research director of a major consulting company.)
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Exploratory/In-Depth Interview
Last step: “The Digital Image” The consumer creates a summary image of their feelings

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Exploratory/In-Depth Interview
Zaltman’s rationale: A good deal of thought, especially thought with emotional content, is processed in images and metaphors -- typical focus group and in-depth methods rely too heavily on verbal stimuli

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Exploratory/
Projective Techniques
– An indirect form of questioning in which an environment is created which encourages the informant to freely project beliefs and feelings into the situation

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Exploratory/
Projective Techniques
– Methods from clinical psychology – Ernest Dichter: father of “motivation research” techniques in marketing in 1950s. – Techniques used in conjunction with focus groups and in-depth interviews

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Exploratory/
Projective Techniques
Some projective methods: – Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) A neutral stimulus (usually a line drawing) of a situation of interest is presented to the subject who responds by telling/writing about what s/he believes is going on in the picture

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Exploratory/
Projective Techniques
– Example 1: Rook’s analysis of hair grooming as “ritual magic”

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Grooming Study Methodology
“Two Grooming Thematic Apperception Test (GTAT) stimulus pictures were selected…The two GTAT stimuli included pictures of: (1) a young to middle-aged woman in curlers applying make-up and (2) a young man blow drying his hair. These symbols were presumed to be of near universal familiarity among the young adult population.”
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Grooming Study Methodology
“The projective hypothesis…suggests that respondents’ imaginative stories, articulated in response to the pictorial stimuli, will reveal unconscious and other hidden aspects of their grooming behavior.”

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Grooming Study Results
Three themes: – Breaking Away – Vocational Placement and Performance – Intimacy Aspirations

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Grooming Study Results
Breaking Away Verbatim: “Jim is supposed to stay home and study tonight, but he’s getting ready go out anyway. He’s hoping to meet some hot chicks and wants his hair to look just right” (male - 20)

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Grooming Study Results
Vocational Placement and Performance “Susan is getting ready for her first presentation and she’s very nervous. If it goes well, maybe her boss will help with a downpayment on a new car. (female-21) “Joe Hearn gets up every morning at 6:30, showers, and blow dries his hair…he is an FBI agent and has to look sharp in his sunglasses, or he’ll lose his job. (male-25)
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Grooming Study Results
Intimacy Aspirations “Rhonda was amazed that the cutest guy on the beach had walked over to her and asked her for a date. As she was applying her makeup, she wondered if this was a dream. (female-20)

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Grooming Study Results
Intimacy Aspirations mixed with Vocational Concerns “It must already be 80 degrees, and it’s only 7 AM. By the time I finish blow drying my hair I’ll probably need another shower…It feels like it’s blowing 150 degrees of heat into my face…but who cares? When I finish using my Mighty Mite I just look so good. All the girls in the office will want to play in my hair. (male-26)
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Grooming Study:Conclusions
“Young adults appear quite willing to suspend their disbeliefs about the miraculous properties of grooming products and procedures. Not infrequently, the subjects described various grooming effects that can be characterized as ritual magic. …Respondents may not actually believe in grooming’s mystical powers, but they see no harm if grooming somehow encourages Lady Luck. Another magical
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Grooming Study:Conclusions
effect ascribed to grooming flows from its role as a psychic energizer. Grooming is valued as a mechanism for overcoming introversion, and some stories resonate like tribal war chants with themes of off-to-social-battle. These internal exhortations focus like a mantra on confidence-building sentiments and whip up the requisite energy for the situation at hand.”
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Exploratory/
Projective Techniques
TAT Example 2: Gift-giving TAT (Sherry, Levy & McGrath, Journal of Retailing)

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Exploratory/
Projective Techniques
A twist on the TAT: – Ask subjects to draw cartoons and write about the subject of interest – Example: Roach Killer...

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Exploratory/
Projective Techniques
Another Projective Technique: – Shopping Lists -- Ask respondents about the type of person who would buy a particular group of products

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Exploratory/Projective Techniques
– Shopping Lists -- An example: Instant Coffee in the 50s

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Exploratory/Projective Techniques
Instructions to Subjects: “Read the shopping list below. Try to project yourself into the situation as far as possible until you can more or less characterize the woman who bought the groceries. Then write a brief description of her personality and character. Whenever possible indicate what factors influenced your judgment.”
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Exploratory/Projective Techniques
– Can you guess how the woman who purchased the instant coffee was viewed as compared to the one who bought the coffee that had to be percolated?

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Exploratory/Projective Techniques
Another technique: Word Association – Subjects are asked to write down or voice all associations to a brand name, a product, a product category, etc. – In “laddering,” associations are probed for further associations

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Exploratory/Projective Techniques
– Example: BIC associations – Are these associations consistent with the notion of BIC perfume? BIC pantyhose?

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Exploratory/Projective Techniques
Two other techniques: Sentence and Story Completion

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Exploratory/Projective Techniques
Story Completion Example: Department Store Patronage Project
“A man was shopping for a business suit in his favorite department store. After spending 45 minutes and trying several suits, he finally picked one he liked. As he was proceeding to the checkout counter, he was approached by the salesman, who said, “Sir, at this time we have higher quality suits which are on sale for the same price. Would you like to see them?” “What is the customer’s response? Why?
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Exploratory/Projective Techniques
Sentence Completion Example: Department Store Patronage Project
A person who shops at Sears is _____________________________________________. A person who receives a gift certificate good for Nordstrom’s would be ______________________________________. J. C. Penney is most liked by ________________________. When I think of shopping in a department store, I ______________________________________________.

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Exploratory/Projective Techniques
Advantage of Projective Techniques: – They help probe consumer motivations by enabling a subject to project their own psychological material in a nonthreatening way

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Exploratory/Projective Techniques
Disadvantages?: – Subjectivity – Rely on analytical expertise/background of researcher – e.g. Rook’s analysis reflects his training as an anthropologist

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Exploratory/Projective Techniques
Disadvantages?:

– Is the psychological material uncovered related to the topic or to the person?

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Writing Exploratory Reports

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The Report
“Although client spectators are frequently present at group interviews and may even be prepared to take initial action on the basis of immediate or “topline” results, careful and deliberate analysis remains crucial to sound qualitative research. Just as the power and validity of th analysis are contingent on well-run groups, so does the value of the groups depend ultimately on skill and depth of interpretation.” --The Group Depth Interview, Alfred Goldman and Susan Schwartz McDonald
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Writing the report
Part I: Introduction Background of research, research objective Sample characteristics Procedures and materials used Cautions about limitations of methodology
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Writing the report
Example of limitations section:
“The reader is cautioned that the findings reported here are qualitative, not quantitative in nature. The study was designed to explore how respondents feel and behave rather than to determine how many think or act in specific ways. Therefore, the findings cannot serve as a basis for statistical generalizations, but should instead be viewed as working hypotheses, subject to quantitative validation.” “Respondents constitute a small nonrandom sample of relevant consumers and are therefore not statistically representative of the universe from which they have been drawn.”

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Writing the report
Part 2: Data Analysis

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Part 2: Data Analysis
Tapes and transcripts may be used; notes may be taken during the group Take notes at the end of each focus group session to identify important themes which may structure future groups’ questions Don’t ignore the lone wolf -exceptions
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Part 2: Data Analysis
Transcripts, stories, etc. must be coded for over-arching themes (example-- ad/employee study): major themes were accuracy, valuecongruence and effectiveness) Analysts look for connections between themes as well (e.g. effective ads resulted in expressions of pride in the company)
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Part 2: Data Analysis
Fuzzy numerical qualifications may be added, such as “many,” “few,” “most,” “widely,” “typically,” “occasionally” There are word-counting programs which will offer more quantitative analysis

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Part 3: Marketing Implications
Suggest opportunities and limitations Examples: “The qualitative findings give reason for optimism about
market interest in the new product concept…We therefore recommend that the concept be further developed and formal executions be tested.” “The results of the study suggest that ad version #3 is most promising because it elicited more enthusiastic responses and because it appears to describe situations under which consumers actually expect to use the product...
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