The New Normal Being Close from a Distance: Pre-conference Interview

Pre-conference interview: The New Normal – Being Close From a Distance

We are now only 2 weeks away from QUAL360 EUROPE, the virtual event bringing together the qualitative market research community from around Europe and the world.

As part of our pre-conference interviews, we recently spoke with Thomas Diehl from Leifheit and Barbara von Corvin from Happy Thinking People about their presentation on ‘The new normal – being close from a distance’ that will answer the burning question if online can deliver an alternative to offline face to face.

Question #1: Without giving too much away – what is the core message of your talk and what would you like delegates to remember?

Thomas and Barbara: Digital and ethnography is no contradiction. Digital ethnographies work well – when you know-how! They deliver granular, valid, and robust insights, and are in many ways more agile than face-to-face, especially in terms of geographical reach. They’re also more natural than F2F– consumers don’t have a researcher in their homes for a few hours!


Question #2: Why did you choose the topic of your talk?

Thomas and Barbara: Close from a distance – it’s THE up-to-date topic, the central challenge of the present time. In private life as well as in qualitative research during the current rapid switch to digital, engendered by COVID-19. Our case study is a great illustration of that journey, and we hope to reveal learnings that have broader applicability for the wider qual community.


Question #3: What motivates you to join QUAL360 2021 and what are your expectations?

Thomas and Barbara: New developments in qualitative market research of course. Qual360 has been a great source of inspiration for us over the years – interesting case studies from a broad range of perspectives, both client-side and agency. This year is different – it’s digital, so networking, meeting new people, making new connections is going to be a learning curve for us. We’re looking forward to it!


Question #4: There is a lot of talk about the current state of consumer insights and the impact of technology. How would you sum up the current state of the industry in 1-2 sentences?

Thomas and Barbara: More broadly: AI (Artificial intelligence) helps insights folk handle ever-larger data sets, at speed – sorting, structuring so that the insights manager can focus his/her time on making sense of it all and focussing on the business implications. Specifically, digital ethnographies is still a young but constantly growing field which will become the new normal in a post-corona future. Overall, we strongly believe that the future will be digitally-enhanced, but conversations between humans are always going to be key for insight generation. Data isn’t the same as insights.


Question #5: Looking back on the past months please share your thoughts on the impact of COVID-19 on qualitative research and consumer behaviours in general. 

Thomas and Barbara: It’s surpassed our expectations – digital qual works really well, once you know how – the rules of online engagement are different. It’s also helped accelerate the shift to online that was in place already and broadened our digital qualitative toolkit.


Don’t miss this insightful session and many others and join QUAL360 virtual now!


You may also be interested in: Scaling up Qualitative Findings: The Hundred Voices Program at Colt



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