Saturday, June 7, 2008

Good moderation: what does it take?

I’ve poked a few sticks at quantitative market research practices recently. And why not? Sitting pretty from the observation deck, it’s always easy, and so much fun, to see what someone else could be doing better.

But fair is fair and now it’s time to look at qualitative research. And let’s pick on focus group moderation.

Before I go on, a little story:

When I was just starting out in qualitative research, I was based in London. Fine city, but I seemed to spend an awful lot of time out of London, on the road, conducting focus groups anywhere but London. I must have covered every corner of regional England, and a fair chunk of country-side Scotland too.

Not surprisingly, these were groups that the client didn’t see: couldn’t make it to, or didn’t want to travel for. Those who sent me off to such remote parts were clever enough to know not to put a junior moderator in front of a client. They obviously knew what any experienced moderator knows. Good moderation comes down to experience, and lots of it.

Junior researchers (JRs), perhaps straight out of university or a year or so into their careers, really shouldn’t be allowed to run client-paid groups.

There are two main reasons for this. Stay tuned...

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