Woodslane Online Catalogues
The Consumer Insights Handbook
Unlocking Audience Research Methods
- At its core, consumer insights research is fun. Fast-paced, creative, and exciting, working in this field means constant interaction and engagement with people, concepts, and ideas. Consumer insights researchers get to spend their days partnering with clients to solve complex and knotty problems across all mass communication industries, including film, television, digital, advertising, and public relations. They do deep dives to understand the perceptions and perspectives of target audiences using a wide range of approaches and methods. On every project, hours are spent playing with data and ideas, coming up with creative and innovative ways to approach problems and uncover the insights that will lead to effective audience engagement. This work is dynamic and intellectually challenging, celebrating innovative approaches that lead to unique explanations of-and solutions for-important problems. It also is essential to success: Whether you are working on a media product or a strategic communication campaign, successfully reaching your audience and meeting your objectives requires good research. Unfortunately, this is not what our undergraduate students currently experience when using the existing crop of research methods textbooks. Even though journalism, media, applied communication, advertising, and public relations programs typically offer-and often require-at least a foundational research methods course, most undergraduate students do not leave those courses with an accurate understanding of what this field actually entails. Typically written with an emphasis on academic research, those books often are intended for those who plan to follow a very specific path-conduct scholarly research, primarily using quantitative methods. The scientific method dominates this perspective, and students are taught to prioritize the concepts and conditions central to academic research. While useful for those who are interested in continuing for graduate degrees, these textbooks do not adequately represent the world of-or prepare students for-the realities of consumer insights research. This book represents a much-needed alternative. This textbook flips the typical model presented in mass communication research textbooks. In these books, audiences often are primarily framed almost exclusively as participants-presented as a means to generate data. Instead, as students will learn through this text, data should be used to understand people as thoughtful, deliberative audiences. As such, research should be done with the goal of better understanding target audiences in a meaningful way. With this orientation in mind, these insight-driven research projects allow media practitioners and strategic communication professionals to tap into audiences' wants, needs, and desires through messaging and products designed to resonate. This textbook is born of necessity. I have taught undergraduate students in advertising, media production, and public relations research methods courses since 2007. In the ensuing years, I have spent every conference scouring the book publisher's displays, trying desperately to find a book that would do what I needed: accurately reflect the joy and excitement of consumer insights research. I wanted something that would prepare my students for what jobs really look like in this field, while also offering tips on how to do the fast-paced, low-cost research that can be conducted over the course of a semester to give students a "real-world" perspective on how to uncover, interpret, and apply consumer insights. Guided by both my own experience in the field as well as interviews and recommendations with current practitioners on the client, boutique, and agency sides, this book will offer students an accessible, thorough, and compelling perspective on how to plan for and complete a consumer insights research project from the initial request for proposal (RFP) to the final presentation of findings. Features: Each chapter will include: a guide for how to conduct in-class research quotes and recommendations from experts in the field (including representatives from research and insights boutiques; advertising agencies and PR firms; and a wide range of industries (media, consumer packaged goods, travel, finance, etc.) case studies & real world examples
- Danielle Sarver Coombs is professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State University. She is the co-author of Female Fans of the NFL and author of Last Man Standing: Media, Framing, and the 2012 Republican Primary. Coombs has also co-edited three anthologies-Debates for the Digital Age, We Are What We Sell, and American History through American Sports (2012)-and has published research on sport fans and fandom in journals, including the Howard Journal of Communications, Liminalities, the Journal of Sport & Social Issues, Sport in Society, International Journal of Sport Communication, and Public Relations Research.
- Revised to Reflect the Reviewer Feedback Part I: Preparation Chapter 1: Introduction and Semester Overview This chapter orients students to the world of consumer insights research, offering important context to why this is important to learn, why this textbook was written, and connecting both of these to the field of applied consumer insights research. This will include basic information on how the ways we see the world influences our approaches to research, as well as more context for how multi-phase research is done in the field. Because students often do not realize how robust the field is for consumer insights researchers, this chapter also will highlight the career paths available. Within this structure, readers will learn about how teams work and learn some best practices for organizing and working with teams, based on specific feedback and suggestions from practitioners. This chapter will also address how media and strategic communication practitioners engage with research in their own positions, even if they are not specialized in the field. Finally, the differences between in-house, agency, and research boutiques-including titles, responsibilities, and reporting chains-are examined. The chapter will conclude with an overview of how the book is structured and how to best maximize value over the course of the semester. This is designed to help students draw connections to and plan for their own semester-long experiences, including tips on finding a client, managing expectations, recruiting and conducting research, final presentations, etc. Chapter 2: Working with your Client This chapter focuses on all of the pieces that go into ensuring your client (whether an external partner or internal team) and you are on the same page. This will include responding to requests for proposals (RFPs), helping understand and assess needs, establishing and working with budgets, understanding business objectives and research objectives (and how they are linked), and developing actionable research questions. Chapter 3: Secondary Analysis Projects often should start with a secondary analysis of available information, whether from public or private sources. In this chapters, students will learn about a range of tools that they can access (U.S. Census, publicly available datasets) as well as strategies for conducting assessments of media coverage and in-house materials. Chapter 4: Ethics Perhaps the most important chapter in the entire book, this chapter explores the ethics of human subject research. Examples of past failures will be explored and best practices will be introduced and explained, including brief discussions of new and emerging privacy laws and controversies over collection and use of data from vulnerable populations (such as children). As is the case throughout the book, this will have an explicitly applied focus, looking at situations that might come up when conducting consumer insights research and encouraging students to think through how to deal with them. Part II: Qualitative Research Chapter 5: Research Design and Considerations In this chapter, students are introduced to the various methods of data collection in qualitative research, both face-to-face (primarily interviews, ethnographies, participant observation, and focus groups) and online (online communities, digital ethnographies, etc.). The strengths and weaknesses of each method are examined as well as advice on how to design the best possible research project while balancing your objectives with available resources (time and money). Finally, we will discuss how you ensure rigor in qualitative research. Chapter 6: Qualitative Data Collection While students are exposed to qualitative methods in the previous chapter, this chapter on data collection is focused on how you do these. How do you write an effective instrument? How do you prepare? What techniques can you employ to ensure you are getting good, quality data? What sorts of innovations are happening in the field? How do you adapt and iterate, based on your target audience? We also will revisit ethics, specifically in the context of qualitative research. Chapter 7: Using Creative Techniques for Deeper Insights Because creative techniques (projectives, card sorts, ideation, mapping, etc.) play such an important role in qualitative research, this chapter will give specific information on what they are, how and when to implement them, how to "sell" them to participants, the role they play in both data collection and analysis, and strategies for using findings specifically grounded in creative techniques during your client presentation. Chapter 8: Qualitative Data Analysis Coming out of the creative techniques chapter, this chapter will cover the various strategies for qualitative data analysis, including the importance of debriefing and the roles each team member can-and should-play in the process. This chapter also is intended to help students transition from their roles as students to researchers, particularly in terms of finding the story grounded in the data versus their own personal experiences. Chapter 9: Reporting Findings This final chapter in the qualitative section of the book offers basic best practices on how to present qualitative data to your team and/or clients, including a wide range of written and multimedia formats. This also will give advice on how to draw insight from the qualitative findings to transition to a quantitative phase of research in a multi-method and/or multi-phase project. Part III: Quantitative Research Chapter 10: Research Design and Considerations As was the case in the qualitative section above, this chapter is intended to ground students in common quantitative research practices. This primarily will focus on survey research, including an overview of probability versus non-probability samples, recruitment strategies, and basic considerations when determining sizes for samples and subsamples. This chapter will include a separate section providing an introduction to quantitative concepts and terms, intended to provide a basic foundation. We will reiterate that students will not learn to do sophisticated quantitative analysis through this textbook, and provide suggestions for online courses and commonly used university course title for those interested in pursuing that field of study. Chapter 11: Quantitative Data Collection The emphasis on survey research will continue in this chapter, including specific recommendations and guidelines for writing quality survey questions that address your client's objectives and research questions. This will include extensive examples of question and response types and strategies for ensuring you generate the best possible data through your instruments. Chapter 12: Quantitative Data Analysis The consumer insight roles that most communication-based undergraduate students would take on do not require advanced knowledge of statistical testing. In this chapter, we will focus on the types of data analysis consumer insight researchers would more typically do (usually in collaboration with a statistician), including information on which tests to run, how to look at correlations, and how to derive meaning to tell the data-based story to your client. This will also include cluster analyses and typing tools, a commonly used approach to audience segmentation, as well as quick overviews of the purpose behind other statistical approaches (factor analysis, conjoint, etc.). Chapter 13: Reporting Findings As was the case in the qualitative section, this chapter offers best practices on presenting quantitative research findings to your client. This will include specific instructions and recommendations for data visualization and how to present data effectively. Finally, we will offer recommendations for how to use quantitative findings as the foundation for a qualitative "phase two" in a multi-method research project. Part IV: Reporting Findings Chapter 14: Writing your Report While proposed Chapters 11 and 15 focus on the individual pieces, this section brings the methods together in the context of a full-scale research report that includes all findings from multi-phase research projects. This chapter focuses on written, document-based reports, including executive summaries and full-scale reports. This also will include a section on recommendations. Chapter 15: Developing your Visual Presentation Decks are the backbone of consumer insights research. This chapter outlines what should be included, makes recommendations for structure, and helps students start to think about how they can effectively tell their research story to the client through a combination of evidence and insight. Furthermore, emerging modes of presentation-dashboards, newsletters, infographics, etc.-are introduced along with suggestions for how to fit your visuals and presentation to your client's wants and needs. Chapter 16: Great Research, Great Design While other chapters touch on design, this chapter foregrounds the importance of good design in both written documents and visually oriented materials. This will include examples of both good and bad work as well as specific recommendations from those working in the field. Finally, an overview of basic tools will be given to help students develop their own work. Chapter 17: The Client Presentation Consumer insights researchers often find themselves presenting their work to a room full of clients and executives. This chapter gives recommendations for students as they prepare for and conduct in-person presentations, including strategies for internalizing (rather than memorizing), sharing information, and answering questions. Chapter 18: Parting Thoughts In this final (short) chapter, advice from current consumer insights professionals and final recommendations and reminders will provide a useful, upbeat conclusion to the textbook.
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