Working in market research provides an opportunity to find out about a huge range of products and services and sectors. This variety helps us to stay fresh for each new project and provides continuous education for us and for the clients with whom we work. Whilst we relish all areas of our work, it can feel even more rewarding when a project is so closely in tune with ‘real life’ and indeed with improving the products and services provided for ‘real people’.
Over the years we have worked on projects involved with alcohol dependency, with smoking cessation, with teenage sexual health and with specific health issues like stroke, diabetes and cancer care. These projects are not only rewarding in themselves, they also teach us about aspects of some people's lives we as individuals had not previously appreciated nor understood.
Most recently, two projects, one about adoption and one about foster care, introduced us to worlds we had not been a part of before and worlds inhabited by caring people, many of whom we felt privileged to meet. Many invited us into their homes and told us their experiences, giving us an honest glimpse into a mind-set, an attitude, a way of life.
Their situations were different, their stories were often very moving and the insight we gained have helped our clients move forward in their quest to improve their offer and the promotion of these real life services for real people.
The fieldwork for such projects is obviously very important in terms of how interviews are conducted and ensuring participants are handled with sensitivity and with respect. But the debriefs for these pieces of work are also crucial in ensuring that the research is not only understood but is also delivered in an empathetic fashion.
A couple of years ago we were involved in a piece of work on post natal depression, the debrief on which saw some members of our audience moved to tears when they heard about the people we had interviewed and the tales they had to tell. Again in our debrief on foster care, one client commented that she felt the work had been ‘beautifully presented’ and another said that the messages delivered were ‘clearly heartfelt’.
We thrive on the continuing education which working in qualitative research can provide. This all plays forward, meaning every new brief, for any industry, is approached from a perspective of everything we have learnt before. Techniques, empathy and understanding can only improve with every single project, and that's what we pride ourselves on delivering.
Fostering Fortnight, which is running until this Friday, gave us the chance to reflect on what we have learnt during our work on foster care, and then on our work in other related sectors. Real life, real people, real understanding.