skip to Main Content
Insights From The Outside

Insights from the Outside

Kids in Colorado and across America believe that when their pajamas are inside out, they’ll get a miracle – a snow day!

Outside-in thinking can yield an approach so fresh it feels miraculous. Earlier this month I attended the QRCA conference seeking industry inspiration and was surprised that freshest approaches to insights were often inspired from industries outside of market research.

Whether exploring how to energize a lifeless group, navigate privacy/security, or ensure internal clients engage with insights, other industries inspired QRCA researchers to use fresh approaches, sharing very specific tactics.

From the Coaching Industry – how to meet underlying needs Rather than directly rephrasing a client’s research objectives, first seek to understand their greater underlying need and solve for this. To get there, consider asking thought-provoking questions about why they want to solve these objectives and how their consumers’ lives will be different after the solution is found.

From Theater – use improv approaches to energize a group Build camaraderie, foster empathy, break out of a shell, encourage creativity, or identify subconscious associations with improvisational games, such as:


  • Yes/And exercises teach brands how to overcome objections with a product or service.
  • Exaggeration games can highlight benefits and detriments.
  • Rhythmic/chanting games (i.e. Concentration Now in Session) help identify subconscious associations.
  • Putting on masks offers a safe way to discuss private topics or helps respondents open their mind with what super powers could bring to your product or service.

From Theater – role playing can combat challenges of privacy and sensitive topics 
Break through barriers of privacy, clarify in-the-moment decision-making and how external variables drive choices. For example, when seeking to better understand how physicians interact with patients regarding complex treatments or medications, you can recruit actual physicians but hire actors to play the role of patients with certain conditions. Then different actor responses and lines of questioning yields varied learning driven by changing variables.

With Videoconferencing – find engaging solutions to travel challenges
When respondents are nationally dispersed and clients don’t want to travel, teams often turn to online research. However, it can be hard to engage, and the team may need the magic of the backroom for strategic decisions. Solution: Host online focus groups from a conference room onsite at the client office – clients view ‘live research’ in the same room with the moderator. Bring in food/drinks and encourage the clients to be quiet during the live session.

From Television/Entertainment Industry – keep internal clients engaged with insights 
Instead of a traditional report or video vignette, take insights a step further and present them via a reality show format, where different consumer segments come together in a house, enabling their varied habits, practices, language used, hopes and dreams to be clearly portrayed in an immersive fashion. Think Real World or Our House, reworked for corporate insights.

From the Podcast Industry – build empathy and improve interviewing 
Instead of traditional reports, retell consumer stories with audio clips from their interviews in podcast format to best build empathy. Additionally, podcasts can be used as secondary research on any topic by listening to targeted podcasts (these opinions are essentially IDIs on your topic). Finally, podcasts can provide fresh inspiration for interview tactics or storytelling approaches.

So, the next time you’re struggling with an issue or seeking a fresh approach, take a cue from kids across America. Put your pajamas on inside out, hit the sack, & seek revelation from outside the industry. Sweet dreams!

Debbie Balch

Debbie Balch

Founder and CEO
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @Elevated_MRX

Back To Top