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Back to the Basics of Face-to-Face Communication

The giant leaps forward in technology in recent years have served the industry of market research well—we’re able to collect data from the masses quickly and efficiently, allowing us to provide detailed and valuable insights to our clients in a short amount of time. Technology helps us immensely as we collect quantitative data, and it can help us gather qualitative data through online focus groups, bulletin boards, and as an add-on to an online quantitative survey. Without technology, we can’t thrive in our profession.

But we at Advantage Research believe that sometimes going back to the basics of human interaction—face-to-face communication with people in their homes--can yield some of the most valuable insights, opinions, and ideas. Focus groups held in a facility can make some people uneasy, sitting among strangers in a room with a large mirror, perhaps not feeling comfortable enough to convey their true thoughts. We’ve found that getting a group of people together in someone’s home is an excellent way to generate deep thoughts and honest opinions, particularly with topics that might be sensitive for people to discuss—like sharing thoughts and concerns about their health, the health of their family, how they make decisions about their healthcare, or what they really think of the care they’ve received.

With our approach, we recruit the ideal candidate. We ask them if they’d be willing to host a session at their home and share a list of 5-7 additional people to potentially invite. We screen those people and select the ideal composition of the group. Participants hanging out with their friends in the comfort of home allows us to dive deep and uncover their most honest and candid thoughts. It’s a casual atmosphere, with food and drink, and we’ve been told by many participants that they can’t believe they’re getting paid. Well, we can’t believe how great their insights are!

We know our clients want to feel like they’re in the room, learning with us, so we bring recording equipment and provide transcripts of the conversation. Sometimes we even have our clients in the room as ‘employees’ so they can get a first-hand experience with what people are saying.

Once we’re together in someone’s living room and do a couple of warm-up questions, you can see the willingness of the participants to share their thoughts, and that they aren’t uncomfortable with further questions or follow-up. When they’re among friends they share their childbirth experience, boast about their doctor and share their horror stories about that bad experience they had with a nurse. And since the groups are smaller, we can understand the nuance in order to provide greater detail and richness to our clients. It’s the details that matter to people, and knowing them will help your healthcare system grow in your ability to provide top notch care in a competitive landscape.


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