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    Nobody pays me to write any of the copy on my blog, and should I ever have the good fortune that they do, I will declare it. My main employment is as the owner and principal of The Future Place consultancy. The Future Place provides two key services 1) training and services to industry and academic bodies and 2) consultancy services to companies. The details of the companies I work with are a private matter, but if I blog about any company who has paid The Future Place more than expenses recently (approx. two years) I will mention that they are a client. I hold equity in Virtual Surveys and provide consulting services to them from time to time. I am paid to run courses for a number of trade bodies and over the last few years clients have included ESOMAR, AMSRS, MRS, and MRIA.

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Ray Poynter

Hi Diane, you raise an interesting point and one that is certainly worth a separate conversation/post. I think it is important that clients understand how much confidence they should have in the findings, but much less important that they know about our epistemological definitions.

Diane Hessan

Is there any way to stop classifying what we do as "quant" or "qual"? Our organizations don't think of what we do that way, and I experience the lines blurring most of the time. Perhap a separate post, Ray.


First - thanks Ray, for an incredibly topical post. Pleasantly surprised to have stumbled upon this thread :)

I agree 4% is a reasonable estimate, and without a doubt, MROCs will become the hub of MR, not just qual (as pointed out by Jeffrey), driven largely by the CPG giants. They may even start rivaling online panels, and will likely be limited only by the global internet penetration & adoption rates.

Having said that, are MR companies prepared for the impending mobile wave? Questionnaire, and sample design comes to mind. Also, how will MR companies be using the plethora of SM platforms to refine, and target their research better? Thoughts?


Ilka Kuhagen

I agree that is is probably over two thirds (and that is a qualitative pov) if not more that is being spent in the North American market for online qual - no surprise as this market in Europe is just evolving.
As for the MROCs: they are probably good for both (qual and quant - call it market research!), but can be used for really good and in-depth qualitative research if the right technics and methodologies as well as analysis is applied. I do not think it is taking away from us 'in the focus group industry' - actually it is adding and will increase the overall market!

Bettina Wagner

Also think that 4% might be reasonable figure here and I I agree with Jeffrey (like so often :) that there will be a shift from offline-focus-groups to MROCs.

But I don't agree that one should count MROCs automatically as "qualitative". In qualitative research there is a distinct separation between in-depth research which covers psychological aspects thoroughly and 'somehow qualitative' - as I call it - which means you ask open questions, ask people to deliver coloured content and (mostly) don't count noses.

In respect to in-depth qualitative I doubt that you can apply online methods solely. I guess you always have to have eye contact and nonverbal communication to evaluate certain points. Nevertheless I appreciate very much the support by usergenerated content and online goups rsp. online explorations.

In respect to the shifting to MROC's we face the same challenge as offline quantitative: Can we convince buyers of #mr that in-depth qualitative gives them access to actionable clues that have a positive ROI - rather than other methods in a specific field? As a fan of in-depth qualitative I am convinced that we always will have our market, because our insights are needed to truly understand market dynamics.

Jeffrey Henning

I think 4% is an utterly reasonable estimate. I think MROCs have to be counted as qual - even when they are coupled with panels for quantitative research, the MROCs themselves act as a hub for all types of *qualitative* research.

I think it's important because spending on qualitative research will shift dramatically in the next five years. With apologies to my friends in the focus group industry, but you are going to see your customers shift their spending to MROCs, as General Mills has already done. I would expect MROCs will represent 51% of qual by 2015.

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