Superpowers and Princesses: A Three-minute Lesson on Projective Exercises

Superpowers and Princesses: A Three-Minute Lesson on Projective ExercisesProjective exercises—the presentation of calibrated stimuli onto which a respondent projects their feelings, attitudes or beliefs—are a critical asset in the qualitative researcher’s emotional toolbox. The technique offers the promise of achieving greater depth and validity of insight by facilitating expression of subconscious or difficult-to-articulate feelings that are less accessible using direct “Q&A.”

But what makes for a good projective exercise?

We put learning into action at a recent market research conference by testing a series of probes that revealed some lessons about projectives.

First, we asked visitors to our booth to help us learn about, “What makes great qualitative research.” We then invited them to post onto a chalkboard their reactions to a probe related to the goal of understanding how to deliver great qualitative research. Our lesson on projectives focuses on contrasting two of several probes that we asked:

  1. What is your qualitative superpower?
  2. What Disney princess would make a great moderator?

Before reading on, what do you notice about these questions? Is one easier for you to answer? Do you suspect one would elicit superior insights vs. the other? Let’s explore what we observed and discuss why one question might better achieve the promise of projective techniques. Continue reading

The Power of Brand Identity Research

The Power of Brand Identity ResearchEvery impression counts when promoting and maintaining a successful business, and managing your brand identity is a major factor in that success. Whether it’s your logo, your website or your business cards, your customers build an impression of your company through every interaction they have with it. Each touchpoint adds up to create your brand image. But in today’s dynamic digital market, customers have more ways than ever to engage with brands.

New and evolving technologies demand that businesses account for the myriad of platforms that can promote as well as demote their brand. Brand research across a diverse range of markets has shown that your customers’ opinions, needs and expectations can turn on a dime, particularly in the court of social media. As a result, the challenge for businesses is to navigate these platforms to ensure they don’t get lost in the crowd, or worse, stand out for all of the wrong reasons.

What Is Brand Identity and Brand Image?

Brand identity is the way a business defines itself to their target audience. Every element that helps define your brand, from name and logo to color scheme and even the language you use to communicate with your audience come together to create your overall brand identity.

On the other hand, your brand image is the perception that customers have of your brand. It is the aggregate of every experience, interaction and association that people have with your organization. Continue reading

New Research: Pharmaceutical Companies are Overlooking a Key Audience

Pharmaceutical Companies are Overlooking a Key Audience

I never used to pay attention to anything in the healthcare industry. As someone young and healthy with no medical conditions, I rarely went to the doctor and ignored drug commercials. That all changed when I met my husband. After we had been dating for a while, he let me know that he had been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (commonly referred to as UC) when he was 20 years old, and it was not well controlled. My mindset quickly shifted, and I took on the role of a caregiver to someone with a chronic illness. Suddenly everything about the pharma industry fascinated me. I quickly went to find all the information I could on the internet, but it turns out there aren’t a ton of resources available to caregivers for this non-life threatening illness. It was frustrating, to say the least. The lack of resources directed toward caregivers of people with UC seemed to delegitimize their role as caregivers, like they are not even a part of medical decisions.

Luckily for my husband and me, my new-found fascination with the world of pharmaceuticals led me to Market Strategies, where all of my healthcare market research colleagues had seemingly endless knowledge about how to find deep information on diseases and current treatments, as well as treatments in development. I did some independent research on UC and discovered there were better options for my husband than what he was currently prescribed. With my encouragement, he found a more open-minded doctor who prescribed a new medication I had suggested. This new medication was a self-injectable. My husband is brave in a lot of ways, but shots are not his favorite thing. For this new medication to work, I would have to administer the shots. I went with him for his initial loading dose at the doctor’s. My presence at the medical office was viewed as normal, it seems a lot of patients are accompanied by caregivers. The nurse showed me how to inject the medicine and gave us some material from the drug manufacturer.

However, once we got home, it was clear that the manufacturer did not consider the possibility that someone other than the patient would be reading the materials or administering the injection. They did not acknowledge the role of a caregiver at all, which made me feel a little strange as I’m a big influence when it comes to my husband’s medical care. Even after reading the patient-facing materials, I still feel a little bit nervous when I give him his shot, even a year later. That part may come as a surprise to my husband, as I get the feeling he’s pretty confident in my ability. He has to be.

Continue reading

Measuring Physician Relationships in a Changing Pharma Environment

cover image

The world is always changing, and the pharmaceutical industry is no exception.

The Way Things Were

Customer experience research in pharma used to be heavily centered on sales representative performance because they were the “face” of the pharma company and the primary touch point with physicians. They had significant opportunity to form close, personal relationships. Research studies focused on whether sales reps were knowledgeable and professional, respected the physician’s time and helped enable physicians to better take care of patients. But a lot has changed in the past few years…

Continue reading

Doctor’s Orders: Why Patient Engagement Matters

Doctor’s Orders: Why Patient Engagement MattersEnsuring that patients understand, accept and follow recommended treatment plans is the first step towards the best possible outcome—medically for the patient and financially for the healthcare delivery system. Similarly, physicians are in the best position to individualize this treatment plan to one that is optimal for the patient.

Yet all too often patients resist their physician’s recommendation immediately or at the pharmacy, or they initially accept only to abandon treatment later. Why does this happen and what can be done about it?

Continue reading

Why Pharma Ethnography is a Critical Investment

Alice in Wonderland

In the 1951 Disney adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, our protagonist finds herself in a bit of a predicament. Eager to catch the White Rabbit as he scurries off, Alice is too large to squeeze through the door to continue her pursuit. In frustration, she calls out to the doorknob, “I simply must get through!” The doorknob replies, “Sorry, you’re much too big. Simply impassible.” Confused, Alice responds, “You mean impossible?” Doorknob: “No, impassible. Nothing’s impossible.”

Impassible versus impossible. It’s easy to see how Alice was confounded by these two very similar looking and sounding words. However, the dialogue between the doorknob and Alice is more than clever wordplay; it’s sage advice. If a path meets an obstacle, change the perspective and try again. Seemingly impassible problems are opportunities for adaptation, creative thinking and novel solutions.

Continue reading

Are PAPs the Panacea for What Ails Pharma Companies?

Are PAPs the Panacea for What Ails Pharma Companies?

Sixty percent of Americans suffer from a chronic disease, making the need for affordable treatment options critical. Even with health insurance, sufferers struggle to manage their condition as prescription costs continue to rise and shift to the patient. The repercussions of this trend cascade through the patient-provider relationship, which now includes insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

Market Strategies International recently conducted a study of more than 1,000 adults age 18 and older to understand the impact of rising prescription costs in three key areas:

  1. Intentional prescription non-compliance
  2. Consumer attitudes towards healthcare providers, health insurance providers and pharmaceutical companies
  3. Consumer awareness and enrollment in patient assistance programs (PAPs)

What we found is a huge gap between needs and value as well as a strong indication that PAPs may be the panacea for improving compliance and attitudes towards pharmaceutical companies.

Continue reading

What Zika Virus is Teaching Us About Credible Healthcare Information

Zika Virus

As a first-time mom to an 11-week-old girl, the growing concern about the Zika virus has captured my attention. Daily, I count my blessings that both she and I are healthy, having come through pregnancy and labor safely. As a researcher focusing primarily on pharmaceuticals and healthcare, I spend a significant amount of time learning about devastating diseases, but this one has really hit home.

It was almost exactly a year ago, while traveling for in-situ research with healthcare providers, that I called my husband from a hotel room early in the morning to tell him that we were finally pregnant. That same week, I flew to four different states as my research continued, and the next week three more. Within a month, I was onto another project and literally circling the globe to conduct interviews with oncologists in Asia and Europe.

Travel has always been–and will continue to be–an integral part of my life and work. I was fortunate that morning sickness was the only ailment that I had to worry about while traveling so broadly. What would I have done if the Zika virus had been spreading then? How would I react if research was going to take me to South America? I can only imagine I would have immediately begun doing the thing I’m probably best at – asking questions.

Continue reading

Genetic Testing: Would You or Wouldn’t You?

Genetic Testing: Would You or Wouldn’t You?

In 2013, actress Angelina Jolie announced that she had a preventive double mastectomy after genetic testing revealed she carries the BRCA gene, putting her at an 87% risk of developing breast cancer and a 50% risk of developing ovarian cancer. The announcement, shared as an essay in The New York Times, sparked a national conversation about genetic testing. Since then, there seem to be daily news reports suggesting the findings of new genetic mutations that may be linked to risk for certain diseases or used for diagnosis of a disease.

We were curious how the populace is feeling about genetic testing—do they see value in knowing the future, or do they find peace in not knowing? To find out, we conducted our own study with 1,006 people in the US to understand what they know about genetic testing and what they think of it—what we learned surprised us.

Continue reading

Online Ethnography Captures Rich Digital Life

As my friends and family spread out around the globe, my community is moving steadily from meeting in coffee houses to meeting up online on SnapChat and WhatsApp. I prefer the semi-impermanence of SnapChat. It’s like my best friend taps me on the shoulder and says, “Hey, look what I just saw? What do you think of that?” even though he’s living thousands of miles away in rural Africa. My online world is only a shade less vibrant than my “real” life. If I were to invite you into my home, introduce you to my family, neighbors or friends, you would only be seeing half of my life. With international relatives and most friends living over an hour away, I am increasingly living my life online.

Online Communities as Sources of Comfort & Friendship

I’m not alone. The mass migration to digital life can be seen everywhere. The diversity of idea sharing comes to life online—look at the richness of any comment section associated with a major newspaper and our conceptions of community can only grow broader. We are constantly presented with voices that dissent from and endorse our world view. In our private lives, online communities are sources of comfort and friendship. Take for example patients or caregivers in the health-medical space where it can be difficult to gain access to others with similar experiences in their “real life.” Having a rare disease can be isolating when there are no other patients in the region to connect with in-person. Increasingly, people are relying on online communities for information and human connection.

Continue reading