A Time for New Beginnings

By Caroline Volpe, Compass Market Research, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, caroline@compassmarketresearch.com

Last spring began an unprecedented year, and those difficulties unfortunately are still with us as the pandemic, social unrest, and divisiveness do not have quick and easy solutions. As we enter a new season, I think of it as a time of renewal and growth, which makes me want to look for the positive in the past year that I can take forward with me into this next season.

We have all had to change and adapt to this “new normal.” They say that pressure makes diamonds. While there has been plenty of pressure in the past year, I’m hopeful that, as a result, we can all find some diamonds in our lives. It could be something personal: learning a new hobby or having time to focus on an old one; learning more about yourself and what is important to you; or learning how strong you can be and what you can cope with. It could be something professional: a challenging business question that you were able to address; finding a way to pivot a research study that traditionally would have been done in-person to online; finding a new way to leverage your skills as a qualitative researcher; or having time to focus on areas of your business where you might not have had the time before.

This past year, QRCA delivered. We responded by aiding our members in making the transition to online research and what the return to in-person research would look like, helping our members understand the social unrest and how to consider diversity and inclusion in our research, and providing personal and social connections. We have also seen the organization pivot in our approach to our events due to the pandemic. Most notably, our annual conference moved to an all-virtual event.

Based on conversations with other researchers and the findings from QRCA’s member survey, there appears to be a resurgence of qualitative research as we settle into this new reality. Companies and organizations need to understand how the experiences of the past year have impacted their target audiences. What better way to understand a person’s story than through qualitative research.

As we move forward, we will likely continue to see an evolution of qualitative research as we address new business questions, and continue to leverage online techniques, but also as we each consider if, when, and how to begin doing in-person research again—as there are benefits to being able to have that in-person interaction.

I look forward to seeing how QRCA leverages our experiences and learnings from this past year in the coming year and into the future to continue to do an even better job in meeting the needs of our members.

Spring is a time of new beginnings and growth. As Steve Southerland said, “I believe in process. I believe in four seasons. I believe that winter’s tough, but spring’s coming. I believe that there’s a growing season. And I think that you realize that in life, you grow. You get better.” I wish for all my qualitative colleagues a season of growth.