Market Research Methods: How to Leverage Activities to Better Understand Motivation
Activity-based Research vs. Online Bulletin Boards (OLBB)
As humans, we’re a tricky lot to figure out. One of our biggest human issues is we can’t always tell you why we do something. We try. We come up with rationales that attempt to explain our behavior, but we don’t fully get it right. Sadly, this is the story behind many marketing failures. People said they liked it but then they didn’t buy it.
At Aha! we believe there’s a way to better understand motivation when conducting online market research. It’s based on asking respondents to do activities that reveal their motivation instead of just talking about them in a discussion. Asking respondents to do tasks, tell stories and project emotions reveals their true motivations without ever having to ask them directly.
Our online market research platform often gets lumped in with online bulletin boards and I feel that sells us short. When clients ask me whether we’re an online bulletin board (OLBB), I say no. Yes, we’re 100% online but we’re activity-based and that’s different than being an OLBB in some really fundamental ways:
Uncovers deeper motivations
Private, unbiased, more like a one-on-one
Interesting, varied, individual tasks
Analytical tools to reveal, organize insights
More focused on quick reactions or opinions
Group-based, bias can be a factor
One discussion topic and all participate together
Long discussion threads to review, analyze
What is an MR activity?
- In our world an activity is a 30-45 minute exercise where respondents react and engage with the exercises you create.
- Activities can combine exercises such as image or video uploads, collaging, storytelling, diaries or perceptual mapping. Or they can be focused more singularly on tasks such as shop-a-longs, in-home use testing, closed-end survey questions, journey/decision mapping or concept evaluation.
- Activities can be created in a way that doesn’t feel like research (i.e., work). They can be customized and gamified. They can be fun and interesting. There are lots of opportunities for creative and strategic design.
What is an activity-based study?
- A typical study can be 3-5 days with a series of activities. I often describe these activities as a tapestry, weaving together the tools that will best uncover the insights to deliver on your study objectives.
- Our activity-based studies are largely 1:1. For the respondent this creates a more intimate environment where they feel heard and understood. They also tend to be more honest because there’s no bias created by group interaction and strong personalities. This all contributes to a higher level of engagement and completion rate (over 90%).
- Activity-based studies replace a discussion guide with an activity guide. It lays out the specific tasks, questions, exercises and context for the respondent.
What about the analysis?
- Our platform helps you pair the optimal analytical tool with an activity. This makes the analysis much clearer and easier to develop. So, it’s easier for moderators or strategists to organize and structure their analysis.
- Motivations emerge from content analysis tools as well as the ability to see composite collages and image sorts. It’s much easier to identify who is motivated by what and therefore provide a more compelling analytical story.
Determining true motivation is tricky. If it weren’t someone would have figured it out a long time ago and we’d all know exactly what to do. We feel your chances are better when you ask respondents to do activities that reveal more about them vs. asking them why they do what they do.
So, there you have it. Our take on how to leverage online market research activities to better understand motivation. I hope you’ve found it useful.
And as always, if you have a MR project you’d like to discuss, please reach out to me here.