Uncovering Passion with Probing

While attending a conference a few years ago, I was listening to a keynote speaker expounding on the differences between “us” (mature marketing researchers) and youngsters (tweens, teens, technology-savvy college students, etc.). I believe the overall session was focused on how the use of technology is evolving. However, I distinctly remember that – to highlight the difference between “us” and “them” – the speaker posed the question, “When was the last time you heard someone use the word ‘stoked?’”

Problem – I hear, read and (please don’t judge me too harshly) use that word on a weekly or even daily basis. My name is Hannah, and I’m a rock climber.

Not only do I love the actual activity of rock climbing, I love the lingo. Climbers aren’t just happy or excited … we’re pumped, stoked, or maybe even pumped to be stoked! Climbs aren’t just good or bad … they’re crimpy, intuitive, juggy, slopey, cryptic, tenuous, chossy, spicy. Routes aren’t just long, tall, hard … they’re intimidating, airy, sketchy, exposed, and epic.

If you wanted me (or any climber) to answer questions about rock climbing, I can pretty much guarantee we would be some of the most engaged respondents to ever cross your path. We love talking about climbing and when we’re not talking about climbing, we’re probably just waiting for someone else to say something that justifies us bringing it up again.

It’s always on our minds because it’s what we’re passionate about, and getting rich, detailed information about a topic that a person is passionate about is easy. It’s getting them to stop talking that’s hard.

However, as researchers, we often don’t have the luxury of talking with someone about a topic that naturally generates a lot of passion … but that doesn’t mean that the topic is unimportant to people AND it doesn’t mean that the passion isn’t there. It might just be a little buried.
As a researcher, that is what I love about working at Quester.

When I explain my job to friends and acquaintances that aren’t familiar with the market research industry, I’ll sometimes give an example like, “right now, I’m doing a study about a brand of chips,” or, “I’m learning about what makes a good candle.” I can immediately see their eyes start to glass over, and I understand why. Those types of products may not seem inherently exciting.

However, through the way that we frame our questions and our ability to probe respondents for further information and clarity, we have the ability to uncover what those products really mean to people. I’ve learned how candles can transport people to another time and place, and make their entire home seem more inviting. I’ve learned how people get carried away by the burst of flavor when they eat that first chip of their favorite brand.

As a climber, I often run into people who don’t have the typical office jobs, and can’t understand “how you do it.” I’ve given a lot of thought to why I love my job and, honestly, I’m totally stoked that I get to spend my days uncovering passion!

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