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How are the clients feeling? Research observers need wearable tech, too!

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Photo Courtesy of MRMW Asia 2014. Copyright Merlien Institute

There has been much excitement lately about ways to incorporate wearable technology in marketing research — everything from smart shirts with heart-rate monitors to smart glasses with facial-coding capabilities.

In the world of qualitative marketing research, it’s our job to understand the entire Gestalt of human interaction with products, services, brands and communications — exploring how people think cognitively, how they feel emotionally, how they react physically, what they say (or don’t say) and how they behave in the real world.

So, as researchers, we spend most of our efforts focused on the participants we have carefully recruited or sampled, sometimes incorporating new technologies and techniques to arrive at a set of “truths” that will enable our clients to optimize their business and marketing decisions. Clearly, uncovering key insights, suggesting possible implications and making well-reasoned recommendations are our top priorities in the scheme of things.

However, one of the most important — but often overlooked — aspects of research is client engagement. Marketing researchers should be asking themselves some important questions at every point along the research project continuum. For example:

•    How are clients feeling about this study overall?
•    What issues are various internal factions facing?
•    What is the organization’s current political landscape?
•    How well engaged are clients with the fieldwork?
•    How can we help them feel more energized and motivated by the research?

Whether our clients are briefing us on a project, observing our work in the field or watching us present results, there are times I wish we could get a better read on their feelings and perceptions. If our clients were “wearing their hearts on their sleeves” through the use of technology, that might help us to make the research even more engaging and, in the end, more effective.

I realize this is an unrealistic fantasy at this point — and the issues are a bit more complicated than I’ve laid out here — so thank you for indulging me. But wearable sentiment analysis and biometric technologies for clients — I rather like it!

How do you feel about that idea? I welcome your comments online or if you are heading to the MRMW North America conference on May 27-30 in Chicago, we can discuss in person!

About The Author

Rebecca Kuchar

Rebecca S. Kuchar is a senior director of qualitative insights at Sundial Market Research, Inc. She has conducted studies across the U.S., as well as in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. As part of a team engaged by the U.S. Census Bureau, she was awarded the Advertising Research Foundation’s 2011 David Ogilvy Award in the multicultural category. Rebecca earned her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. You can find her blog about qualitative marketing research at

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