Archive for qualitative research theory

Letter from the Dragon Mountain

Posted in Qualitative research analysis with tags , , , , on March 30, 2009 by Cristi Popa

platypus1 In my latter post I was arguing that qualitative research should not relay on preconfigured models of analysis especially when coming to segmentations/ positioning. My plea has found a sympathetic ear in 近义词`s person and all platypuses are now declared endangered. Such despicable practices as cutting their tails off are now banned from the Dragon Mountain. Also, 近义词 announced me that in his wisdom he decided to rethink his analytical model. Although the great Dragon God didn`t allow him to share the model`s principals with us, he could provide us with a small sample of what this model can do in the context of a positioning study for one of the platypus food makers, HappyPlaty:

HappyPlaty brand is perceived as the most dominant, spontaneously creative and extrovert brand from its category. It is seen as an ambitious, courageous, strong willed, positive, independent, self-confident person.
The platypuses thought to be loyal users of this brand are seen as uncomplicated, knowing exactly what they want and using all their energies, creativeness and resolution to get it, as well as being certain that they will get whatever they are after.
Still, the brand is seen as also displaying a set of negative traits: extreme arrogance, autocratic pride, haughtiness, and excessive temper. When confronting its rivals, HappyPlaty will not hesitate to use cunning, lies and trickery to discredit them. Self-centeredness, greed for flattery, boastfulness and bombast, pomposity, snobbish superiority are also traits that were used to describe this brand.

Although I wasn’t blown away I have to admit that it made me curious. What model was he using? What were the dimensions on which the model was based? How many clear positions did it have?
I couldn’t sleep for three nights. I totally forgot about my family and friends. I was obsessed with this. The more scrolls I read, the more colleagues I asked, the more complicated and obscure the problem appeared to me. Until this morning, when finally I had a breakthrough.

At first I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was so obvious, so simple…it was a stroke of genius. My friend 近义词 is using one major polarity – positive/masculine (extrovert) and negative/feminine (introvert). So he has two big spheres onto which he further applies four principles he calls fire, water, earth and air. In this manner he obtains 12 quadrants/ territories in which he distributes the brands.

I came across this when reading my horoscope here.

“The Leo type is the most dominant, spontaneously creative and extrovert of all the zodiacal characters. In grandeur of manner, splendor of bearing and magnanimity of personality, they are the monarch’s among humans as the lion is king of beasts. They are ambitious, courageous, dominant, strong willed, positive, independent, self-confident there is no such a word as doubt in their vocabularies, and they are self-controlled. Born leaders, either in support of, or in revolt against, the status quo. They are at their most effective when in a position of command, their personal magnetism and innate courtesy of mind bringing out the best of loyalty from subordinates. They are uncomplicated, knowing exactly what they want and using all their energies, creativeness and resolution to get it, as well as being certain that they will get whatever they are after.”

How many brands out there are running their strategies based on zodiacs even if they are called differently?

Qualitative research has to save the platypuses!

Posted in Qualitative research analysis with tags , , , on March 23, 2009 by Cristi Popa

platypusLong time ago in the second reign of the Chinese Emperor Chung Ling there was a qualitative researcher – 近义词 – who had to do a study on pet food. The pet food shop was owned by the king itself so there was no room for screwing-up.

近义词 was a master in the art of doing a special type of qualitative research – the Dragon research. Only few people in the kingdom knew it, as this art was taught only by the monks in the remote and dangerous caves on the Dragon Mountain.

The secret teaching of this art, the one guiding principle that could make anything clear for the Dragon qualitative researchers was that all animals could be included in one of the following categories: (a) those that belong to the emperor; (b) embalmed ones; (c) those that are trained; (d) suckling pigs; (e) mermaids; (f) fabulous ones; (g) stray dogs; (h) those that are included in this classification; (i) those that tremble as if they were mad; (j) innumerable ones; (k) those drawn with a very fine camel’s-hair brush; (l) etcetera; (m) those that have just broken the flower vase; (n) those that at a distance resemble flies.

In accordance with those categories the animals will eat a certain type of food at certain times.

One day, 近义词’s people accidentally recruited a platypus (for South Park fans, the manbearpig would do). They’ve never seen something like it. He looked at it, analyzed it, but something was not quite right. With all his experience and training he could not put this animal in any category with an easy heart. Sure it was not a suckling pig or a mermaid but it just broke a vase moments ago, could be that it belonged to the emperor and with that tail it could look like a fly in the distance.

After many, many days 近义词 had no clear answer and the emperor was getting tired of waiting.
In the end 近义词 decided to put the platypus in the category of animals that belong to the king. After all everything belonged to the king. So he should be safe. The next morning he would show his finding to the king and everything was going to be all right. Still that night he could not sleep. He felt as something was not right. That thing really looked like a fly in the distance. And the king surely is going to notice. There was only one thing to do: cut the platypus’ tail. This way it would look more like a bee in the distance. But there was still the vase problem. The broken vase. But maybe he could replace it with another one. Of course he could. He had an identical one. So the problem was gone.

This is the main drawback when using predefined models in analyzing research data. Most often the researcher will not even have the sleepless nights 近义词 had. He/ she will probably unconsciously disregard the data that conflicts with the model from the very beginning. If she/ he will suspect at some later point that the data just does not want to be put in the prepared boxes then the data will be modeled to fit. And even if the researcher is fully aware that he/ she is bending the data and finds it wrong, in all probability she/ he will not be able to step outside the predefined model as his/ hers only training was that of choosing which piece of data goes in what box.

Of course that there is no such thing as theory free research. All of us have their assumptions, our ways of making sense of the data, which always are impregnated with diverse theoretical elements.
And of course that any model is essentially different from reality in its simplicity (the whole map and territory thing). But none of those reasons gives us a license to think so narrow minded and to cut the platypuses tails.

So if you are very fond of Maslow, Freud, Jung, Dichter, Berne, Heylen, Adler or any other founding fathers of different models, if you think that:
• some brands are embodying the Leader archetype
• or are being used to resolve a tension between the society and self
• or that your brand resembles Grumpy while the competition brand looks like Sneezy
• that your brand is Hera while another reacts like Hephaestus
• that one brand is Kyle and another Cartman
try to look in your closets and number the tails you have in there only for the sake of some models.

Please save the platypuses.