You know this one, right? The market research project with a great recruit, good feedback, and actionable information. The segments you targeted were well represented, and a comprehensive view of the problem being studied was presented.
Then it happens. The curse strikes! The discussion during the report presentation focuses on just one participant: Some individual who was dynamic, funny, and perfectly represented a specific view of one of the study sponsors.
So why is that a curse? If the fascinating participant is an outlier who represents a view that is not in line with the majority of the study, then you have a problem. The opinion of one participant should never be over-weighted, no matter how articulate they are.
A couple of tips for how to handle this:
- Make sure the client observes enough participants to balance out any single point of view
- Look for cues that you have seen the “Fascinating Outlier”. Then, in the “post-research huddle” immediately put the input in perspective. If you’ve seen enough participants, strongly point out how unusual the participant’s point of view was. If it’s early in the study, set the stage for different input with a comment like “we’ll of course have to see what turns up during the rest of the study.”
- Specifically call out the outlier’s input in the report. Have a section labeled “Outlier Input” (or “Off-the-Island Input” if your audience isn’t market research savvy) that includes an analysis of the persona, why they were different, and why their feedback was not in line with the rest of the study.
Energetic, passionate, articulate research participants are great, and outlier opinions are important to balance any study. But following these tips will help put their feedback clearly in context.