How to get the most out of online conversations (Guest Blog)

Not every project that our clients approach us with requires the same set of services. Some need help with recruitment, others bring their own participants. Some clients moderate their own sessions, some like to use their own familiar moderators, and others need help finding a professional moderator for their sessions. No matter the case, – the online conversations platform – can be flexible in customizing the research to meet their needs.

Jenny Karubian, Founder and CEO of Lotus Research LLC, is an excellent example of a professional researcher that we partner with when a client requests help with moderation, research design, and/or reporting. Karubian recently conducted a series of IDIs on the platform and contributed a guest post on our blog. Read Jenny’s advice on how to get the most of online conversations below.

When asking women to recall the brands of cosmetics they use, most can name their favorite items. Most women know what brands they are loyal to, the products they buy, and what functions they serve. However, research has demonstrated to me, time and again, that cosmetics enthusiasts are only able to name a portion of the brands and products they use when unaided. To remedy this issue, I have created a variety of workarounds in qualitative research.

The approach that always works is to do in home ethnographies. Spend time interviewing consumers in their homes, comb through and inventory their cosmetics, and ask them to demonstrate usage. This might take the form of having them wash, condition and style hair; do full makeup as if they were attending an event, etc. It is a time tested approach that yields rich ethnographic data.

The drawback to in-home ethnography is the time commitment. In-homes take longer, require more logistic considerations, and typically require the team to travel to a preferred market. It is not the most efficient approach when time is of the essence and your client needs fast answers.

A webcam IDI can be used in place of an in home and yield rich insights when done correctly. Because respondents are in the comfort of their own homes, the brand recall issue is easily solved. Here are a few pro-tips to make cosmetics research as ethnographic as possible without being present in the consumer’s home:

  • Ask respondents to make sure they are conducting the interview in their homes instead of at work or some other location.
  • In preparation for the interview, request that they have all of the products in question next to their computer so you can conduct a show and tell. Make sure to specify that you want to see all products in the category (all of their makeup or all of their skin products).
  • When you conduct the show and tell, ask them to rank the products in order of frequency of use.
  • Lastly, ask them to submit photos of where they apply these products when they are in their homes (bathroom sink, vanity, etc.)
  • Make sure to do the show and tell exercise before launching into the questions about the product you are testing so that they are unbiased. This exercise works very well as a warm up activity.

Live conversations through save time, while still allowing an intimate understanding of consumers’ lives and behaviors. Start a conversation with to learn more about how your team can engage with consumers around the globe, online and in real-time.