Flash Qual: When you need valuable qualitative insight, overnight


By Jessica Benoit, Senior Qualitative Analyst

It's no secret that we live in a fast-paced, multi-tasking, smartphone-reliant, Google-searching society. We've grown used to quickly finding the answer to any question by simply reaching for the closest source of the Internet and accessing the information we're looking for. In fact, instant gratification has increasingly become the norm for society everywhere. So what does that mean for qualitative research? Fast-turnarounds and last-minute research questions are becoming a part of everyday reality; we need answers, and we want them now. So how can we find answers to our research questions as quickly and efficiently as we can find out where our favorite band member enjoys dining on the weekends? Well, maybe we can't find all the answers quite as quickly as doing a Google search (yet). But as it turns out, with a new method C+R dubs "Flash Qual" we are able to gather meaningful qualitative consumer insight in as quickly as a few short hours.

C+R's online qualitative department recently conducted a study using the Flash Qual method in order to understand the overall perceptions and attitudes toward the New Year, and to measure the significance of New Year's resolutions. Using a variety of open-ended questions, photo uploads, and links leading to print and video stimuli, we were able to find out that the great majority of people feel positive and hopeful heading into 2013. Getting a fresh start and setting new goals create a refreshed feeling of having a "second chance." Most people take the opportunity of a new year to set new goals, both for the year and as a part of their overall life's journey. Beyond the typical resolutions of losing weight, eating healthy, and saving more money, many people see the new year as a chance to live more meaningfully, to spend more time with loved ones, and take a few more time-outs from technology each day.

Furthermore, we were able to quickly garner detailed feedback and opinions on advertising that uses New Year's resolutions messaging. Similar to how they are feeling about heading into 2013, we discovered that most people find advertising using New Year's resolutions messaging to be motivational, personally relevant and a gentle reminder of their goals surrounding feeling healthy in the New Year.

So how were we able to find this out in a few short hours? Thanks to the GutCheck research platform that enabled us to recruit respondents and instantly send them into a brief but interactive online community, we were able to quickly interview over 30 respondents and find the answers to our inquiry that very same day. Using our Flash Qual method, we were able to:


  • Quickly access and recruit respondents

  • Instantly create an online community

  • Directly immerse ourselves in a back-and-forth online discussion with respondents

  • Inexpensively acquire valuable input that could potentially inform time-sensitive business decisions

Flash Qual thrives because it focuses on collecting rich, top-of-mind key findings; respondents are able to provide colorful feedback and creative, to-the-point responses without unnecessary distraction. We heavily screen for articulation and set high expectations upfront for what we are looking for from respondents. By limiting the number of questions we ask, Flash Qual doesn't waste any time getting to the main point. Though the collection of responses is not quite as holistically involved or in-depth as a typical-length online research community, the results nonetheless yield purely qualitative insights and top-of-mind key takeaways needed for quick insight and last-minute decision-making time crunches.

As the phrase "fast-paced society" continues to mean an exponentially quicker pace and greater satisfaction with instant access to information sought, Flash Qual is likely here to stay for the long run.