Qualitative research is the insight in front of and behind the numbers and data. It is the art and science of observing and speaking with people in order to appreciate and understand their beliefs, needs, wants, fears, and motivations, for the purpose of making lives easier, safer and better. It identifies real product and service needs and opportunities and is crucial for informing, inspiring, and empowering innovation, brand growth, and communication that resonates. Qualitative research provides the insight into the who, what, where, when, how, and why – and is made better by great moderators. Great moderators impact business success. 

Qualitative Research Impacts Client Success

Great moderators help get our clients from where they are to where they want to be. The most highly effective moderators know our clients’ objectives, vision and values. We understand their challenges and the different roles and responsibilities of the teams we work with. We are trusted business partners. Our clients trust us – the insight experts – to deliver insight that impacts their business and market share. It’s through partnering with our clients  that we’ve taken beverage companies from small regional players to Wall Street darlings and helped transform food, foodservice and healthcare brands. 

The Best Moderators Bring Depth of Experience to Every Conversation 

Great moderators have in-depth client-side experience and a broad spectrum of clients. We know that different clients have different values and cultures and work differently. Highly effective moderators have a variety of techniques, and we customize our work to meet our clients’ objectives. Because we meet with all kinds of people – clients, customers, consumers, experts, friends, fans and strangers – we encounter all kinds of experiences. We know things change, to expect the unexpected, and we know what to do when the unexpected happens. Great moderators pivot in real time and are flexible to the nth degree. 

The Most Effective Moderators Are Inclusive

Great moderators are interested, interesting, and open minded. We have big hearts and bring the voice and experience of the customer to the table We listen and learn and create. What matters is the truth, the insight, the opportunities, and making the world a better place.  That’s what we listen for and uncover. Highly effective moderators welcome everyone.  I have learned that everyone shows up for a reason. We don’t dismiss the outlier – the person outside the two standard deviations – because they represent a truth and an emerging or unrecognized trend.

I’m reminded of a woman we met during an in-home study a couple of years ago. She had plastic grocery bags full of food stored in every room, and three second-hand refrigerators and deep freezers between the kitchen, garage, and basement. To save money, she buys in bulk and on sale. She explained that she sleeps better at night when she has backup supplies, and she distributes them with her girlfriends during food drives. At the time, she appeared to be an outlier, but during the early months of the pandemic, as people searched for everything from toilet paper to pancake mix to help to feed hungry neighbors, she was the prescient one – and we had early insight into pandemic consumer buying behavior. 

Great Moderators Engage Audiences

The best moderators are practiced in the art of conversation and communication. We know how to start a conversation and how to keep it going. Moderators create a safe creative space for people to feel comfortable. We break the ice with small talk, ask questions that draw people into the conversation, and focus on the opportunities that are emerging in real time. Great moderators bring our experience and empathy, and our clients’ vision and goals, to every conversation. We listen well – to what’s said as well as what isn’t said, read body language and feel energy.  We have discussion guides, not rigid questionnaires because the people we are talking with are partners in the conversation. Sometimes they lead, but we always guide. We know when to ask more, and where the boundaries are. We stay focused on client objectives and successful outcomes. And we communicate effectively with our clients.

Great Moderators Are Comfortable at Every Table – Including the Board Room 

We know our audience and what their objectives and challenges are. What one department wants to know is different from what the C-suite wants to know. We engage effectively with everyone in the organization. When presenting to the president of a major beverage company, he asked us to tell him three actionable insights and what to do about it to grow his business by $50 million. The CEO at another beverage company asked us how to get his best customer back. Great moderators can answer those questions. The most effective moderators impact their clients’ success. We’re known for transforming brands and businesses. 

Great moderators work at the intersection of insight, innovation, communication, and strategy. Clients benefit from working with highly effective moderators who lead the discovery and insight that grow their brands and businesses.