ESOMAR Fusion wrap up: day three and four

I attended ESOMAR Fusion in Madrid a couple of weeks ago. In my last post I explored three key themes of the day one and two, which were all about analytics and big data, you can read it here. In this post, I summarise the most important topics of day three and four, which were all about qualitative research.

On days three and four we switched gears to ‘the human side’. All things qualitative were discussed: tech solutions, empathy, political correctness and actual vs stated behaviour were some of the most interesting topics. As a (mostly) quant researcher, it was a lot unexplored territory for me.

Here are the three main themes that stuck with me:

1 / We are all human

The fact that we are talking to consumers and that we, ourselves are consumers, users and customers is something we can’t forget. Through research we are looking to improve consumers’ lives and to make more meaningful connections. Empathy plays a critical role in our ability to understand human behaviour, and it is very important to apply it in the research setting.

2 / Qual is all about engagement

Through the two days, many tools were presented. StreetBees introduced their platform where consumers participate over a chat in real time, Scoop from Brazil explained how they developed an app that allows for online co-creation workshops, and VisualFocus from Holland made us think again about asking focus group respondents to put away their phones as they initially do short polls with the group and project them on a screen to increase engagement.

But engagement also means that the role of the moderator is key to ensure good quality data. ESOMAR Fusion’s winning paper, from Jigsaw Research, explored how political correctness can hinder groups management and that as researchers we need to detach ourselves from our beliefs and keep our project objectives always in sight, even when it’s hard to do.

3 / Fusing qual and quant is key

I feel this is a very obvious one, but qual and quant combined are powerful. Qual helps explore the why more deeply while quant offers us the what and a robust validation of hypothesis.

What’s more interesting is how we now source data. For the quant side, this is now changing and it can be from surveys, behavioural or transactional data or a combination of all, and that is a shift we all must be willing to make. And from the qual side there are many tools and tech solutions that allow us to get closer to consumers digitally and in the moment. The ‘why’, and human interaction will always be needed, it’s just the means of how we get it that are changing.

FUSION was a great event packed with case studies and thought leadership on the digital, the human and the two combined. I am taking a lot with me and I thank ESOMAR, the organising committee and the speakers for making (my) last conference of the year a very useful event.