|Monday, October 08, 2007|
This is my last post on this blog. Radio Userland has served me well since I started blogging in 2003. I will post more details on the transition, at my new blog - for now I just wanted to make this announcement, and provide the new url and feeds.
My old blog will be archived at its old url (http://radio.weblogs.com/0121664/) and I will keep the archives going. Stuart, who has worked out the platform for Conversations with Dina on Wordpress has done some neato hacks - one that I love a lot is that the search function will not just search the new blog archives, but also my old Radio blog archives. And he has managed to transfer some of my posts over too. That's so cool!!! Lots more needs doing there ... and that will emerge I'm sure.
12:26:59 PM comment  trackback 
|Friday, June 29, 2007|
I was driving back from a meeting when I had a few bloggy thoughts ... long drives in traffic and beating rain tend to do that to me! It was a good meeting - regular (I actually said that!!!) qualitative research project among IT students and professionals to understand motivations that drive them to join certain sorts of organizations in a highly competitive field, to figure out a strategy to draw them to my Client's organization. As we were discussing the research, I suddenly felt - wow - this is the perfect case for a social media / new media strategy ---- you have young professionals, in the IT industry, probably heavy users of the internet, a captive target audience that must be familiar with blogs, social networking sites, youtube and the like! When you think of motivations and drivers for this segment, how can you not think of The Influentials, who help them frame their opinions. Am waiting eagerly for my copy which is winging its way here currently. It would be neat to figure out who or what they are in the project I am doing. So somewhere midway in discussing sample definitions, I broke away and asked my client - do you have a social media or blogging strategy - you need one! She was interested I think, particularly since one of her marketing objectives is to build a powerful corporate identity in order to attract the best talent.
2:13:54 PM comment  trackback 
|Thursday, March 29, 2007|
I've known Shubhangi for almost 15 years. We worked in the same company then. We still do. She's been my mainstay at Explore Research and Consultancy, ever since she came on board way back in 1999. I've never known her to panic, feel out of control and never once has she met any of my requests (however absurd they may seem) with anything less than a smile and a "we can do it". She makes my life so easy really.
8:28:03 AM comment  trackback 
|Monday, March 26, 2007|
I was thinking back on my last post ... and asking myself will blogs kill focus groups? I hope not, as that will mean I am out of business as a conventional qualitative researcher :).
"Based on our findings of our regular market research on the fashion
series models of Nokia and insights on youth, we tried to validate it
with the qualitative research conducted through the content found on
online blogging sites and discussion forums," said Anjali Puri,
director, Winsights AC Nielsen ORG MARG.
1:33:30 PM comment  trackback 
Maggie Fox has a neat post on How Social Media is Changing Everything
Blogs in particular and social media in general can offer incredible insight for a relatively small investment (your time is another matter!). When I speak to clients about investigating a corporate blogging strategy, I often refer to it as "low cost market research", something I’m sure we’d all like to see a little more of!"Belonging to the qualitative research industry, this resonates big time with me. Blog Influentials, in July 2005 had called blogs the 'market research of the future'. Again, way back in 2005 I had said:
While nothing beats face-to-face contact, blogs can be a great space to have conversations with customers - Scoble does it every day. In other cases, customers are the ones encouraging marketers to engage in conversation - SkypeJournal is a great example of heavy users of Skype providing constructive feedback both positive and negative, observations and ideas. They're even writing poetry in the form of a Skypku :)
Are marketers listening and engaging in dialogue? Maybe. Maybe not. Are marketing departments afraid of this? I think they are.
Blogs may be one such tool available to us - there are so many more that can reveal and understand the motives and the process of emergence in conversations as they manifest in conversations between marketers and users. I met Jim McGee in Chicago last year and we had a lovely discussion about how blogs might change the nature of market research and how the notion of oral culture in organizations might help explain the relatively slow take up of blogs in the firewall. From his post after our meeting :
Almost a year ago, I had recruited participants for some usability testing focus groups through my blog. Am now working with some clients, where we are building news aggregators of target audience blogs. And involved currently in a project where we are evolving a sms-blog research interface as a research tool for participants, in the Twitter convention. And we even have proof of concept now .. a recent article in the Economic Times talks of how blogs are boosting sales of bikes. Keeping track of blog conversations replacing traditional market research survey methods! Giving rise to a new breed of blogo-pologists and the field of netnography!
"What started as platforms to share passions and frustrations of bikers are now being tracked by corporates to fine-tune their offerings. Instead of tedious market surveys and data crunching, companies now get reviews within hours of product launch, courtesy blogs. “The first review of our latest Pulsar was on our table within three hours of its launch in Chennai thanks to bloggers,” Bajaj Auto VP (marketing-two wheelers) S Sridhar told ET. A dedicated team at Bajaj Auto now regularly tracks discussion-boards and review section of blogs and online biking groups and provides feedback to company’s marketing and product development group."
Much better than having professional respondents in a conventional focus group or unwieldy questionnaires which are filled up so superficially isn't it?
Tags: market research, marketing research, qualitative research, ethnography,social media,blogs,blogging,focus groups
11:01:03 AM comment  trackback 
|Monday, March 19, 2007|
Social discovery, presence, "party-line", RSS for people with not much to say, potential for use in saving lives during disasters, publish on the go, ambient intimacy (link found in a comment at Ross Mayfield's post on Moodgeist, Skype and Twitter IM Overlay], the future of presence, push technology, keeping track of yourself and friends, a false sense of "I'm connected", microblogging and Twitter-only blogging, group or public IM system, swarming and smart mobbing, blogging on 'crack' ..... these are some of the words I've been seeing associated with Twitter in many blogs.
Om Malik links to WebWorkerDaily which has come up with a list of eight ways Twitter can be useful professionally. More mashups and applications such as Twittervision and Twittersearch would be useful. Here's a wiki on Twitter with a listing of comments and views, user stories, mashups and applications, complaints and wish lists too.
I'd love to know, what areas or applications you feel it would be useful for?
11:38:57 AM comment  trackback 
|Monday, January 08, 2007|
What should marketers be looking at in 2007?
TRANSUMERS from GENERATION C(ASH) living transient, connected, participative lifestyles, showing off their STATUS SKILLS, experiencing TRYVERTISING, masters of their YOUNIVERSE, indulging in TWINSUMER ventures, within the TRANSPARENCY TYRANNY of the GLOBAL BRAIN moving ever closer to CROWD CLOUT.
(Images from the trendwatching website). Go there to find out more on status, transparency and consumer power, the online revolution, more adventurous consumption, and a shift from consumption to participation.
"GENERATION C(ONTENT) is joining GENERATION C(ASH). If consumers produce the content, if they are the content, and that content brings in money for aggregating brands, then revenue and profit-sharing is going to be one of 2007's main themes in the online space. It's not like brands will have a choice: talented consumers are going to be too sought after to remain satisfied with thank you notes. Get ready for an avalanche of revenue sharing deals, reward schemes and sumptuous gifts aimed at luring creative consumers."
"TRANSUMERS are consumers driven by experiences instead of the 'fixed', by entertainment, by discovery, by fighting boredom, who increasingly live a transient lifestyle, freeing themselves from the hassles of permanent ownership and possessions. The fixed is replaced by an obsession with the here and now, an ever-shorter satisfaction span, and a lust to collect as many experiences and stories as possible.* Hey, the past is, well, over, and the future is uncertain, so all that remains is the present, living for the 'now'."
"(Oh, and just wait for TRANSUMERS to be amongst the first to accept if not desire virtual goods. After all, the more time they spend online, the less need they have for expensive, fixed, hardly ever used physical goods. But we're getting carried away here...)"
"emerging TWINSUMER trend: consumers looking for the best of the best, the first of the first, the most relevant of the relevant increasingly don't connect to 'just any other consumer' anymore, they are hooking up with (and listening to) their taste 'twins'; fellow consumers somewhere in the world who think, react, enjoy and consume the way they do."
"Now, through an onslaught of new collaborative filtering software, millions of new personal profiles, exclusive communities and what have you, the TWINSUMER phenomenon is turning millions of reviews, ratings and recommendations into truly valuable results fitting one person's very particular preferences or even lifestyle. Whether it's a one-off TWINSUMER union or an ongoing relationship. TWINSUMER therefore isn't about access to reviewings or ratings or even trust in general (those are fast becoming hygiene), but about relevance."
"At the core of all consumer trends is the new consumer, who creates his or her own playground, own comfort zone, own universe. It's the 'empowered' and 'better informed' and 'switched on' consumer combined into something profound, something we've dubbed MASTER OF THE YOUNIVERSE. At the core is control: psychologists don't agree on much, except for the belief that human beings want to be in charge of their own destiny. Or at least have the illusion of being in charge.
"And because they can now get this control in entirely new ways, aided by an online, low cost, creativity-hugging revolution that's still in its infancy, young and old (but particularly young) consumers now weave webs of unrivaled connectivity and relish instant knowledge gratification. They exercise total control over creative collections, including their own creative assets, assume different identities in cyberspace at a whim, wallow in DIY / Customization / Personalization / Co-Creation to make companies deliver whatever and whenever, on their own terms".
"Remember the promises of flawless matching of supply and demand, and limitless consumer power, when the web burst onto the scene a dozen years ago? While the last few years didn't disappoint (consumers are already enjoying near-full transparency of prices and, in categories like travel and music, near-full transparency of opinions as well), 2007 could be the year in which TRANSPARENCY TYRANNY really starts scaring the shit out of non-performing brands."
11:30:37 AM comment  trackback 
|Saturday, December 30, 2006|
.... has been a great year for me in many ways. Rob, in a recent post, wonders:
It started off with the Brand 2.0 workshops I conducted with Stuart - thanks Vamsi from Starcom and Rajeev at Western Union for trusting us and giving us this first opportunity. More Brand 2.0 in 2007.
I've also been so fortunate to be part of a pure Open Space Meeting coordinated for NPR by the amazing Rob at the New Realities Forum in Washington DC in May. The agenda was set completely by participants - if I remember right, there were more than 300 participants. However, it had a core theme - a very clear objective - and was really well-organized in terms of a lot of care taken in figuring out the venue, the rooms, making it easy for people to navigate through the free-flowing structure, and run by a real maestro in Johnnie Moore, who Rob describes as "an exemplar of calm courage and astonishing presence" which is a really perfect description of Johnnie. Thank you Rob - and Page and Dana from NPR, for allowing me into this amazing space you have created and for trusting - we hadn't met face-to-face until then!
The other area that my blogging has taken me into is
activism of sorts - which started in December 2004 with the tsunamis
blogging efforts - and this year, we formed collectives and groups to
battle internet censorship and help out when we had the serial bomb
blasts in Mumbai. Here are some links: MumbaiHelp blog and wiki. The Bloggers Collective was formed and we fought against blogs being banned, against censorship, and demanded our right to information.
On research projects, I've done some interesting work for Unilever this year - have spent many days in rural India, facilitated a creativity session for one of their product groups, and I think (I hope) managed to sell them the idea of doing Brand 2.0 workshops :). I'd also say here I have thoroughly enjoyed working regularly with Pat and Lizzie at Social Solutions Inc and Gerald Lombardi at GFK-NOP through whom I've enjoyed working with Dean Gaylor, Chai Ki Lim and Sharon Asker at HP, who had come down to India. Also through SSI - I've done work for Kraft.
Some of my new clients this year - Nicole-Anne Boyer, a colleague from Worldchanging got me to do a learning journey and a few sessions with a bunch of French retailers here in Mumbai. Smita Pillai and Sanjay Gupta of Vistakon for whom we did a study, where we merged approaches from ethnography and more traditional motivational research. In November, Stuart Penny and Jude Rattle from Flow Interactive UK contacted me through my blog, and I did a small study on cell phones for them.
Its all paid really well - and most importantly has been a lot of fun! Thank you all for making this year a really fun and productive one.
For me its also been a year of change - with joys, frustrations and disappointments too. Many many thanks to my family and friends for supporting me through a really busy and somewhat difficult year.
End of mush :)
Looking ahead to 2007:
10:59:45 PM comment  trackback 
|Wednesday, November 08, 2006|
Wow .. this is just fantastic. The folks at Savage Minds have set up an open access wiki on anthropology journal articles and papers, and have created a discussion list and IRC channel for those interested in anthropology to hangout at:
Learn about the issue
Sign up for updates
Join the conversation
10:30:25 AM comment  trackback 
|Sunday, October 15, 2006|
"A camel is a horse that was designed by a committee. In my experience, market research can sometimes feel very much like "design by Committee", which can spell disaster with a capital D. Your product, or service, can't be all things to all people, even those within your target market. So beware of embracing the committee mentality. Sir Barnett Cocks said it best: A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled."
Danielle Rodgers reminds us of some of the challenges in traditional Market Research and shares some boobytraps to watch out for.
8:48:48 AM comment  trackback 
|Tuesday, August 22, 2006|
I discovered and enjoyed a series of qualitative user research reports by Nokia researcher Jan Chipchase, who takes some amazing photographs and blogs them with observations at Future Perfect. [link via Chetan Kunte via Adaptive Path]
"What sets these locations apart from cities in more 'emerged' markets? Aside from the scale of what's on sale there is a thriving market for device repair services ranging from swapping out components to re-soldering circuit boards to reflashing phones in a language of your choice , naturally. Repairs are often carried out with little more than a screwdriver, a toothbrush (for cleaning contact points) the right knowledge and a flat surface to work on. Repair manuals (which appear to be reverse engineered) are available, written in Hindi, English and Chinese and can even be subscribed to, but there is little evidence of them being actively used. Instead many of the repairers rely on informal social networks to share knowledge on common faults, and repair techniques. It's often easier to peer over the shoulder of a neighbour than open the manual itself. Delhi has the distinction of also offering a wide variety of mobile phone repair courses at training institutes such as Britco and Bridco turning out a steady flow of mobile phone repair engineers. To round off the ecosystem wholesalers' offer all the tools required to set up and run a repair business from individual components and circuit board schematics to screwdrivers and software installers."
Not so different from what I had described in this series on culture of business in India.
And more - some observations and insights into non-literate communication practices - wow - this is a staggering fact - "Everyday many of the 800 million non-literate people in the world use phones and mobile phones to communicate."
"We noted that textually non-literate users of public call
offices often took a scrap of paper with a phone number scrawled on
it to the owner and asked them to dial the number. This system is
open to errors caused by inaccuracy, either because the number was
not clearly transcribed, or simply because the paper on which the
number was written was worn and faded from being carried.
User interface designers often talk about the user's mental model of a system, and how it maps to the reality of how a device actually functions. It is typical for designers to use metaphors such as the 'desktop' or 'soft keys' to support the building of an accurate model. Textually non-literate users will not have access to textual cues, so their mental model may well be poor. Whilst a poor mental model is not a problem within a limited range of (rote learned) tasks, if and when errors occur users may adopt the wrong strategies to correct the problem. Designers use a myriad of audio, visual and textual cues to support the user's understanding of how the mobile phone works. Literate persons are able to quickly absorb (and subsequently ignore) this textual information and apply the knowledge in practice. A positive outcome reinforces their understanding of how the system works and helps build an accurate mental model. Textually non-literate people are required to make assumptions for the textual prompts based on how the device responds to their actions. A plausibly positive result is sufficient to believe that is how the system works regardless of how well it maps to the actual system."There's also a brief report on 'Mobile Essentials - Field Study and Concepting' (download paper, 0.4mb). The paper introduces three interrelated ways to understand human behaviour - centre of gravity, point of reflection and range of distribution.
"The second idea is the Point of Reflection - the moment when leaving a space when you pause current activities turn back into an environment and check you have the mobile essentials. Typically this involves looking at the Center of Gravity, sometimes tapping pockets, sometimes speaking aloud. Not seeing the objects where they are supposed to be (the Center of Gravity) can be a sign that they are already carried."
Great stuff ... and no wonder then that Nokia is always stretching the boundaries of mobile phone usage in India. All images here are from Nokia and Jan's blog ... thanks for sharing these reports and observations ... it is is not what most 'corporates' believe in or do.
Tags: qualitative research, ethnography, india, mobile technology
9:16:24 AM comment  trackback 
|Friday, June 16, 2006|
This is the last in the series of Cultural Insights for doing business in India. Just wanted to say these observations are based on learnings over 18 years of doing qualitative research in India. It's interesting to see how some things have changed, while others remain constant, over generations.
Many thanks - to all those who have commented and linked to this series of posts - I love the conversations around these issues - keep them coming - and I will add my two-cents shortly!
5:37:35 PM comment  trackback 
|Thursday, June 15, 2006|
Value for Money Equations
1:12:35 PM comment  trackback 
|Tuesday, June 13, 2006|
This is the second in this series, the first post on Culture of Business, Service and Consumption is here.
Tags: qualitative research, ethnography, india
9:35:02 AM comment  trackback 
|Monday, June 12, 2006|
My colleague Shubhangi and I put together
some cultural insights on a recent project for an International Client. I
thought I'd share some of these on my blog ... obviously, any reference to the
Client's product has been removed. These are our views, and while, by no stretch
of imagination are complete, they try and hopefully go beyond what your Business
Etiquette manuals tell you about doing business in India :). Guilty on the images that are all 'stolen' off Google images and Flickr.
I'll be doing a series of posts on these:
Culture of Business and Service
Tags: qualitative research, ethnography, india
10:09:57 PM comment  trackback 
|Friday, May 26, 2006|
I'm currently working on a study for a Client around building new applications on Skype, that would be of benefit to users for both business and personal use. To this end, we're organising some focus group discussions with dinner or lunch as appropriate, on June 2nd at 7 pm or June 3rd at 10 am. The discussion will be for about 2.5 hours, with about 6 persons, and will cover three basic areas:
6:08:32 PM comment  trackback 
|Tuesday, March 21, 2006|
Or web-ethnography. Corporate India analyzes content on blogs and online forums as a form of research:
Recently, Nokia India, through its research partner AC Nielsen ORG MARG, conducted web-ethnography (webnography) based on blogging sites and online discussion forum to get a feedback on its fashion series models.
“Based on our findings of our regular market research on the fashion series models of Nokia and insights on youth, we tried to validate it with the qualitative research conducted through the content found on online blogging sites and discussion forums,” said Anjali Puri, director, Winsights AC Nielsen ORG MARG.
“Largely the findings were validated and that too at a much lesser cost. So, now we are taking the research methodology of webnography to other clients too,” said Puri.
Through web search engines, the research firm used a simple methodology of finding relevant content in a natural context on online blogging sites and discussion forums. As these contents occurred naturally on the web, it was real consumer context as opposed to the contrived/constructed contexts of focus groups used in qualitative research.
After the content was collected, it was processed through the regular marketing research methodology. Then the respondents were identified and informed about their opinions expressed being used for analysis. But there were no questionnaire put up before them to maintain original views.
The pilot project research conducted by the research firm validated Nokia’s earlier findings on the functionality of its mobile phone model 7260 and 7280. Similarly, webnography also validated youth insights such as growing social consciousness found in earlier research. Ruchika Gupta, consumer insights manager, Nokia India said, “Webnography could work as an early warning system and identified issues can be further taken forward for traditional research.”ethnography
9:51:23 AM comment  trackback 
|Monday, March 13, 2006|
Charu is sick of Focus Group bashing, and feels, Don't Shoot the Messenger!
Tags: qualitative research, ethnography, india
8:33:45 PM comment  trackback 
"If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse."-- Henry Ford
8:30:34 PM comment  trackback 
MindSpeak. I loved this post on A Research Metaphor , where she leans on The Quilting Bee as a metaphor to describe the differences between qualitative and quantitative research. Just borrowing her qual and quant quilts here .. go read her post for more details. Can you guess which quilt is for qual and which one represents quant ? It's not rocket science !!!
8:02:10 PM comment  trackback 
|Thursday, March 02, 2006|
My friend and client, Tracey Rankin in Australia, sent me mail :2. What makes a really good qualitative researcher - tied into point 1 - and extending thoughts there - I feel some of the key qualities in really good qual researchers are :
I've been asked to prepare a talk for the Australian market research society on interviewing techniques. The audience is mainly young and less experienced qualitative researchers. I thought it would be nice to provide some input from other experienced qualies around the globe on what you would recommend to a young moderator.
So, if you all don't mind, would you answer these brief questions...
1. Tips and hints for moderation/interviewing
3. In a country as diverse geographically, culturally and linguistically as India, its important to have good 'teams' of qualitative researchers who can pick up on local nuances. I remember one of my international clients, Debeers, was so stunned in discovering the diversity in jewellery culture and traditions across the different regions in the country that they said India is more complex and diverse than all of Europe put together. It is so important also, to understand and be aware of local mythology and popular culture -- I remember my boss at IMRB telling me I must read the Ramayan and Mahabharat for instance, before I could use some projective techniques efffectively, otherwise i wouldn't be able to pick up nuances -- she even gifted them to me :). Thanks Kamini !
Tags: qualitative research, india
10:32:34 AM comment  trackback 
|Sunday, January 15, 2006|
I finally got around to doing some
housekeeping on my blog. Have edited the categories and links - am
hoping they will render alright. The nice thing is each of them
acts as a separate blog - so readers can subscribe separately to
specific categories that interest you!
Here they are - links and RSS feeds
1:19:43 PM comment  trackback 
|Saturday, December 17, 2005|
Hemant just told me a little anecdote that made me smile
and despair at the same time. Smile because I've experienced much
the same and despair because it begs the question of who is literate in
our country, and how many.
They were trying to explain this
difference to a client, who didn't quite know how to resolve this
difference - and wanted to essentially figure what is the bang for his
bucks. But he just wasn't able to grasp it (I don't blame
him!). After trying all the technically 'correct' angles to this
says he threw his hands up in the air, and a senior industry leader
took it upon himself to explain it - and was tremendously successful at
This is the gist of what he said (he needed 15
minutes to get
his point through). He has a maid who has been with him for
over 10 years now - everytime she takes an advance of even as little as
Rs. 10 (less than 25 cents - USD), and this happens every other
day, he makes her sign a receipt which is like an IOU. She signs
it in perfect English although she can't read or write anything else in
English or in any other language. And everytime she irritates him, he
her a piece of his mind in the Queen's English, she is completely
impervious to it, stares back blankly and goes back to doing just the
thing that he was berating her about.
11:31:34 PM comment  trackback 
|Saturday, October 15, 2005|
Testing ... i think my blog is back :).
9:33:57 AM comment  trackback 
Copyright 2007 Dina Mehta