Edinburgh Conference Report

The AIMRI meeting held Friday June 12th 2009 took place at the Royal Terrace Hotel in Edinburgh. The topic of the conference was ”New trends in qualitative research” which was covered through seven interesting sessions.castle

The first paper “Online qualitative groups, blogs, online research communities, bulletin boards… what do they mean?” was presented by Jo Densley from EBOX, Scotland and Robin Shuker, BIA Research, London. Jo and Robin started off by giving us an overview of the recent developments in online research methods. We saw examples of how user-friendly bulletin boards can be used to gather data from hard-to-reach respondents and other target groups. The growth and role of online communities was discussed, and it was explained how and why online focus groups can be an excellent alternative to traditional focus groups. Jo and Robin offered AIMRI members the opportunity to conduct one online focus group for free.

Session two was about mixed methods “Combining telephone interviewing with online focus groups”. Clare Wade from Mindspace, Scotland told us how she has obtained good results by combining telephone and web. On the phone, respondents and moderator can hear each other and there is no delay on the audio as it is often the case with web-based calls. While the telephone meeting is going on, the web is used to show pictures and complete tasks presented by the moderator. Clare also raised the question if the research industry is more excited about the methods than the clients who often prefer to do it the traditional way.

After the coffee break John Clay from Research 4, UK, presented a paper on social media platforms and asked the question:“Can they complement research?”. Things don’t stand still and social media like Facebook and Twitter has a tremendous growth in number of users. It is a fact that there is a shift towards online research methods. John showed examples of how for instance LinkedIn can be useful for competitive intelligence, and how social media is another valuable tool to enhance market and customer insight if used appropriately.

In session four Adam Gac from Healthcare Landscape, London talked about the topic of blog analysis in healthcare “It’s not rocket science – it’s relationships…”. Herbert Höckel from mo’web research in Düsseldorf should have been co-presenting this paper, but unfortunately Herbert had problems with his flight connection so Adam had to cover the presentation on his own, which he did well. Adam explained how they have developed a system in which respondents who are screened out are invited to take part in a blog on the same topic. Also, a new tool for blog analysis, BLOGIQ, was demonstrated. It is used to illuminate the hidden facettes of brands, products or topics. Adam concluded that blog research is an insight rich and now robust methodology.

It is always good to learn from real cases and Neal Sandin from SIS International Research in New York presented one under the title “A successful project for a budget retailer”. Step by step Neal took us through all the phases from methodology overview to conclusions and recommendations. It was interesting to hear about the challenges that SIS had to face in the process and how they were dealt with in order to fulfil the purpose of the project.

After a nice lunch in the hotel restaurant, Jo Fawcett from George Street Research in Edinburgh presented a paper on “Research among financial advisers and other business contacts”. Jo identified the different barriers a researcher had to confront in order to do proper research among financial advisers and other professional audiences. The use of rewards and benefits for participation was discussed and results from a real case study showed the motivation factors and benefits for each stakeholder in the research: the respondents, the client and the researchers.

To end the day our new AIMRI member Michael Zhao from CBC Marketing Research in Shanghai gave us an insightful presentation on “How qualitative research is developing in China”. The current spend on MR in China was estimated to 750 million USD in 2008 and a growth of 12-15% is expected in the future. 83% of the research conducted is quantitative, 15% qualitative and 2% other. Focus groups and In-depths interviews are well established and widely used qualitative methods. Online research is not popular yet. Of a population counting 1.3 billion people only 240 million had internet access by the end of 2008 and 640 million had a mobile phone.

In the evening we had the pleasure of dining at the Royal Over-Seas League restaurant on Princes Street with a great view of the impressive Edinburgh Castle. As usual this was an excellent arranged AIMRI meeting with a lot of good presentations, Q&A sessions, informal discussions and networking between members. 

Johnny Heinmann Analysegruppen A/S Denmark

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