Like many in the Market Research world, Ashley D’Annunzio found Market Research — and her talents for Qualitative — unexpectedly in college. It isn’t exactly a career that people seek out from a young age. But Ashley fell in love with the creativity, flexibility and innovative ways to connect and engage with those around her inherent in qualitative research. We aren't surprised; the most powerful research insights across both consumer and shopper research solutions work hard to amplify the consumer voice. Ready to fall in love with Qual? Let’s hear what Ashley has to say as a RIVA-trained moderator with more than 12 years in the MRX industry:
Getting Close to the Consumer with Qual
“A pleasant surprise has been that, even after almost twelve years working in qualitative research, it’s still so exciting!” For Ashley, a career in the Insights industry has offered the opportunity to continue learning and growing her understanding of consumers across categories, adapting to changing sentiments and trends along the way. Elaborating on the authenticity imparted in a qualitative research project, Ashley shares that her favorite methodology is one that, “will get me as close to the consumers’ reality as possible.” Tactics such as in-home ethnography, shop-alongs, and even virtual methodologies such as Launch & Learn communities get to the heart of consumer’s day-to-day activities and offer researchers like Ashley a rare glimpse into the global and cultural experiences that make research communities so unique to work with.
A Deeper Understanding
Recounting one of her favorite qualitative projects, Ashley shares the experience of performing a large exploratory study to obtain a foundational understanding of four skin care product categories. “This research was conducted in both the U.S. and in Asia,” she shares. “...so as you can imagine it was really interesting to immerse myself in understanding beauty standards, trends and motivations through this international lens.” But beyond the differences between the cultures at large, the greater impact of the qualitative lens in this project was, for Ashley, the ability to truly engage and garner enthusiasm from participants. “Using creative elicitation exercises I was able to get beyond just the functional product wants and needs and uncover the aspirational product experience to provide guidance at the product and brand levels,” she noted.
Finding the Balance between Empathy and Technology
While Ashley believes it is imperative that researchers adapt and utilize emergent technology to gain greater insight into consumer behavior, she’s enthusiastic about the need for empathy and human connection in the qualitative approach. “In my opinion, nothing will ever fully replace the qualitative researcher that leads with empathy and develops a personal connection with respondents,” she urges. Thankfully online platforms have arisen to both support virtual research methods without diminishing the impact of qualitative research. “At the end of the day, the key is doing our own due diligence in exploring and vetting the tools and tech that we keep in our toolboxes so we can make the best recommendations to meet the needs of our clients,” she notes.
Nuanced Research, Rich Insights
“I think Qualitative research can be intimidating, to some,” Ashley shares, “because it's not as structured and clear-cut as Quant. It's directional, relying on synthesis and interpretation to make use of the insights.” In her opinion, the lack of understanding around qualitative research and its potential starts early. “Prior to joining my first agency, I had little knowledge of all that Qual entails beyond just the moderation-side of things. Since then, I have grown to appreciate and embrace the nuance and freedom that exists within qualitative research. Once you understand the basics, it’s a little bit of a ‘choose your own adventure’ type of job because there are so many applications and ways to implement the methodologies.” For Ashley, curiosity is at the heart of qualitative research, as well as a desire to try new things, step outside one’s comfort zone, and find the magic in the mystery of what makes us all unique. “I’m naturally really curious,” Ashey enthuses, “and Qual is the perfect marriage of using innovative ways to engage and connect with people. When I connected with AMC Global, it felt like such a perfect fit!”
Thank you, Ashley!
AMC Global's research philosophy has always been consumer-centric and valued understanding the consumer voice via qualitative research. From foundational research to shopper insights, we lean into the powerful combination of qual and quant insights to find solutions and pathways for our clients. The creation of Ashley’s Director of Qualitative Research role allows us to double down on qualitative capabilities.
Ready to tap into the power of qual and truly understand your customers? Reach out for more information on how qualitative research can amplify your insights.