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Losing an opinion can seriously hurt your session

One thing I often ask when I talk to clients about online market research and virtual advisory boards is “how can we modernize participants more efficiently, especially when online”. This is especially important for the following reasons:

  • You can often have a specific set of personality profiles during a session
  • Being online and not face-to-face can exacerbate certain behaviors described below
  • The computer session needs to be modified to get participants’ attention

In this article, we will discuss the issues above and how, simply by using multi-user interactions, we can effectively mitigate them and gain a better, in-depth understanding of the opinions and advice provided by the group.

Is this an important question?

Yes, very much. Once you have an online group, especially experts in their field, you will find some personalities reappear. Among them will be dominant people who can speak first and loudest and can be quite intimidating to others. Participants who are shy and want to avoid confrontation without necessarily revealing what they really think. Those who play the Devil’s Advocate, adopting opposing views. Experts who are distracting by email or your smartphone. Or people who are preoccupied with something else and never really deal with it. Although a good moderator may mitigate this to some extent, the risk is that they will progress during the session, some of these factors will still remain, which adversely affect the quality of the report.

What technique can help?

We define an e-watt capture paradigm that uses specific interactive sequences at the beginning of each section of the virtual advisory board to mitigate these issues. A simple example would be a section where you will talk about who the important manufacturer is for you when you decide to buy a new car. Anyone could just ask a question, but if instead of showing important interaction on a ladder to a group, and they all used it to express their opinions in isolation, we could pass that information on to the moderator or chairman before we started the discussion. There are several advantages to using this technique over rich qualitative discussion. Everyone posts an opinion that allows the moderator / chair to effectively direct the discussion, spot any subgroups of opinion, effectively focus time by spending more time on topics where there are key differences, and see if opinions change after the discussion.

How does it affect personalities?

Using this technique at least at the beginning of each topic of discussion ensures that all opinions are expressed without dominant characters influencing others, giving those who are intimidated by an equal voice, keeping professionals interested and engaged through activities and preventing people with a tendency to play Devil Proponents can do so because they are not aware of other opinions when they vote.

Further interaction – your ideas

The example above is simple voting, but there are many other types of interactions that have proven useful, from drag and drop, timelines, to brainstorming. Do you have any ideas about interactions that you’ve seen working well with live focus groups or advisory panels and wondering how they can be provided online? Use the link below to view the full article on the Online Market Research Tips portal.

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by Chris X Harrison




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