In this case study, we pick apart the recipe for a successful multi-method research project, and highlight some key techniques and tools applied to ensure that multiple techniques really do add value- and not unnecessary complexity!

It may sound exciting to use multiple methodologies in a project, but do they really add to the overall impact of the research?

On a recent project, our client’s objective was to update and deepen their knowledge of the constipation category, to ensure global launch success and sales growth of their product. Specifically, they were seeking to get to the heart of constipation sufferers’ experiences and treatment choices.

We chose four key methods to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the sufferer experience: in-depth interviews, duos incorporating our proprietary technique SoulmateTM, accompanied shops, and an online community. In addition, we also incorporated the healthcare professional perspective to provide a fuller understanding of the consumer ecosystem.

It may sound like overkill, but each method provided a unique layer of insight that ensured our client obtained a nuanced understanding of the consumer experience globally. And it was truly global – we conducted this research in 5 countries across 3 continents!

In-depth interviews (IDIs): These interviews provided a detailed, holistic exploration of the individual’s constipation experience, management, unmet needs and treatment perceptions. We were able to get to the heart of the consumer journey both between and during constipation episodes, understanding their individual patterns of behaviour, and underlying drivers and motivations.

Duos with SoulmateTM: Changing the interview dynamic gave us an opportunity to access unknown unknowns. In an IDI setting, consumers tend to be more reactive; in a duo setting, when two consumers are in the same interview, we can get a deeper understanding of the emotional experience and influence on decision-making by observing the discussion and debate between respondents. Through our proprietary SoulmateTM approach specifically, the questions they ask each other are a treasure trove of hidden insights. The beauty of this methodology is that we don’t know what we don’t know, and in an IDI setting, respondents are less likely to raise topics spontaneously, especially if they feel the moderator might not ‘get it’. Duos with SoulmateTM help us to get closer to the emotional heart of sufferer attitudes, behaviour and experience.

Accompanied pharmacy shops: This methodology added a further element, giving us a view into constipation sufferers’ ‘in the moment’ thinking, emotions and behaviours that occur at the point of purchase. This helped us to understand motivations in-store and interactions (or lack thereof) with professionals. This methodology was an important aspect of the research as it enabled us to avoid the post-rationalisation bias that comes from consumers reflecting on how they behave in-store. In addition, the accompanied shops gave us an opportunity to understand the pharmacy context in the different markets – where and how treatments are displayed and grouped, as well as a view into any communication materials that were being used in the pharmacy.

Online community: The online community took us even further on the insights journey, giving us a longitudinal perspective on sufferers’ experience, and enabling us to build on the insights gathered through the other methodologies. Given the sensitive nature of the topic area, the online community created a safe space for sufferers to share their experiences anonymously and provide detailed feedback on a wide range of topic areas over a couple of weeks. This methodology enabled us to walk along the journey more closely than is possible in a one to two-hour interview session. It also gave our clients an opportunity to test concept iterations – we were able to feed newly developed concepts back into the community to receive further feedback.

Healthcare Professional web-IDIs: We also incorporated the HCP perspective to explore the wider consumer ecosystem and understand the role HCPs can play in treatment advice or recommendation for consumers. We included GPs, pharmacists and gastroenterologists (depending on the market) to give us insight into their knowledge, interaction, strength of recommendation, as well as their perspective on the consumer experience.

In summary, there was huge value in taking a methodology melting pot approach to this research. Each methodology added a new dimension to our understanding of the constipation consumers’ experience, providing nuanced insights both within and across markets. It has meant that our client has had a strong basis for developing a global brand architecture and product positioning, with a deep understanding of the consumer experience at its heart.

For more information about our mixed qualitative methodologies, get in touch.


By Robyn Laurie

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