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Feeling the Squeeze

Blog post   •   May 25, 2017 19:16 BST

Feeling the Squeeze?

Do you ever get the feeling that qualitative projects are getting smaller but the demands on the project are getting bigger? Smaller time frames, less budget, longer lists of objectives, more channels, less time with respondents and a larger geographic area to cover.

We get it of course. There’s pressure at every stage and research is but one of the cogs in the wheel. I guess what keeps us up at night, wearing our proposal writing nightcaps, is wondering at which point a budget might be stretched so thin that the business won’t truly get what they need? Will we be able to squeeze everything out of the objectives to help clients confidently make those critical, next step decisions

Did someone mention compromise? ‘Project Architecture’ sounds less frightening! That is, with the clients help, fitting everything the client needs into the project design on budget and on time. The reality is that project budgets don’t always match the project aspirations and part of our job is to flag these bumps in the road, making sure our clients recognise this and trust that we will look long and hard for more creative approaches to get what they really need.

And this is the big point, working out what clients really need to move forward and what would be nice to have, or in some cases not required at all. Fundamentally, what does the business need to know and how will it be used. Take a purchase decision hierarchy for example – these are often asked for by internal clients as a must have for the project output, but, in reality they may not be the best way to identify fixture optimisation or evaluate a store refurb. What’s more, we need to speak to a lot of people to validate any sort of hierarchy or purchase flow, which can eat up valuable budget the project doesn’t have. So, then it comes down to identifying what actions the business is looking to take off the back of the research, and then finding the best, price-sensitive, methodology to match these ambitions.

So, if budgets are tighter than usual, we start with identifying the CORE objectives (what will take you forward) and then we all need to take a step back and decide if these are exploratory or deep-dive objectives.

If it’s an exploratory brief on a ‘tight-rope’ budget, we think about ways to gather multiple perspectives on the same questions. Throw it wide. Widen the insight lens. Consider expert interviews, one to ones, retailer safaris, staff interviews, social media ethno platforms or perhaps some good old desk research before we even start.

If the brief is ‘deep-dive’ and the budget is tighter than usual, then we focus the insight lens, speaking to more people with a similar profile to create deeper understanding. Focussing the lens on a tight budget is scary… where do we aim, what if we miss the stuff we need? This is where the CORE objectives are the tool for sharpening the project architecture and the qualitative eye … can we reduce location? What about the audience – who matters most? Perhaps it’s the channels that we need to activate?

Sleepless nights are few and far between here at Shoppercentric, but the most common offenders are the mammoth briefs on a shoe-string budget, but we’ve learnt that the solution is about clever project design and sticking to the game-changer core questions. Which bits of the project truly needs bells and whistles and where can simplicity shine? By working together with our clients at the outset to identify not only what the core research objectives (really) are but how the business wants to use the insight, we can cut the cloth to fit your budget - without stretching the seams till they break.

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