originally published in the September 2011 issue of Medical Marketing and Media
Last month in this column, Richard Vanderveer predicted that “hard” researchers exploring things like formulary decisions, access and reimbursement would be in greater demand than “soft” ones dealing with brand personalities, corporate image and the like.
Let me introduce a new kind of “soft” researcher that I predict may be in increasing demand: a “CreaSearcher,” someone who combines creative and qualitative research, bridging what has traditionally been a gap between the two. CreaSearchers recognize that qualitative is not, nor has it ever been, “research” in any scientific sense of the word.
For decades researchers have tried to gloss over qualitative’s unscientific nature by dressing it in the trappings of the scientific method. Focus groups are held in faux laboratory settings. Moderators take a passive approach, rarely interjecting their opinions.
CreaSearchers have a different method, because they have a different goal. Their objective is not mining data, but telling stories. Their focus groups are less like therapy sessions and more like talk shows. The CreaSearcher acts as a creative guide, an imaginative peer who interjects opinions, gently points out contradictions and formalizes points of view.
The expertise for this new kind of market research will not be the social sciences, but disciplines like journalism or screenwriting or directing.
Driving it all will be the need for greater efficiencies, including those provided by new media technologies.
But an even larger factor may be the need for narrative in an increasingly complex and fragmented world.
In an idea-driven economy flooded with information, turning research truths into coherent stories may be what’s in greatest demand of all.