What is your full name?
What is your role at RIVA?
Director/VP, Operations for the Research & Training divisions.
How long have you worked here?
Wow! That’s quite a number of years. What are some of your most memorable experience(s) at RIVA?
Oh, there are so many. When I was hired, Naomi and Luc came out of Luc’s office dancing down the hallway and offered me my job. I said yes on the spot and wondered what I had just gotten myself into. It has been an incredible ride! Others would be some of our RIVA Day events as well as comments I’ve heard during QRE’s. Respondents continue to make me see things in a different perspective.
What aspects of market research do you enjoy the most?
I love seeing projects all the way through and of course viewing the research sessions themselves. The information that respondents give is so rich and sometimes just funny. It’s a real eye opener for many of the topics I’ve viewed. There is never a dull moment.
What’s one piece of good advice that you’ve received?
You learn from your mistakes. If you mess up, you probably won’t do it again. On the same note, if you do something really well and get recognized for it or realize it works, you’ll do it again.
Finally, what are 3 things we should know about you?
I love being at the beach with my family. It’s one of my true “happy places!” I volunteer a lot with my kids’ school as well as in the community and I’m a native of the Washington, DC Metro area.
While no QRE [Qualitative Research Event] is ever “easy,” there are some topics that are not all that challenging to a seasoned moderator. It is not difficult to present several concepts to respondents and have them pick a winner after discussion. It is not particularly challenging to have respondents review several storyboards and pull out the key themes and the RTBs [Reasons To Believe]. It is very easy to talk about what respondents like and don’t like about their last big ticket purchase.
It is a challenge, however, to talk about terminal illness with a cancer patient or talk with family members about losing a child due to an accident or malpractice. It is wrenching to talk to widows about how they plan to manage death benefit payments 90 days after the funeral of a spouse. As well, it is challenging to talk about gay rights, racism, discrimination, and obesity.
It is hard to be dispassionate when a respondent describes what rage feels like when challenged after presenting food stamps at the cashier and being told “baby diapers don’t quality under the food stamp program.” When the respondent is on the program because she lost her job due to grief when her husband died in Afghanistan, leaving her with twins babies. Even seasoned moderators have concerns when topics like these appear on the horizon.
While the four stages of a QRE [intro, rapport/reconnaissance, in-depth investigation, and closure] are the same, regardless of topic, the way one enters and exits a difficult or sensitive topic is very different. The ground rules vary, the requests for altruistic contributions vary, and how a moderator manages his or her own emotions is very different from a classic QRE on purchase intent, interest in a line extension, or choosing a delivery systems for a new lotion.
It is important to start a QRE on the right foot when the topic is difficult or sensitive and one needs to have mechanisms in place for handling both respondent emotions and the moderator’s own emotions. The interventions or projective techniques have to be chosen with care so they can deliver more than top of mind responses but not so deep that the moderator has entered the “therapy zone.”
There are times when moderators should recuse themselves when they don’t feel they can handle the issue or the emotions in a QRE study and to do so with grace and dignity, giving the client alternatives for how the study might be conducted with another researcher. For example, it would be wise for a female moderator to rescuse herself for a study involving convicted murderers in a maximum security prison on the topic of the additional services that could be offered by the Chaplain’s office.
In summary, the possibility arises that every QRE can be a challenge and a seasoned moderator can often rise to the challenge and obtain key information for client decision-making. However, when the topic is difficult or sensitive, a new set of standards and boundaries come into play and a wise moderator knows if they are up to task when the bar is raised.
I will be presenting a webinar on this topic on September 12, 2014. With years of experience moderating difficult and sensitive topics, I am excited for this opportunity to share my own tools and tips for other moderators. If you are interested, please visit our website for more information or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
RIVA Director, Amber Tedesco, shares from her experiences as a project manager and director of a successful qualitative research company.
We talk about how kids are our future all the time. The role of kids/teens has changed over the past decade and they have become the partial decision-maker in a lot of households. Since kids/teens interact with so much – consumer goods, electronics, automobiles, almost everything adults do – it’s a good idea for companies to make sure they get their view point in their marketing research.
If you’ve ever tried to interview a kid/teen you know it’s not the same as interviewing adults. As Pam Goldfarb Liss mentioned in her blog article, the group size and length are different, questions are phrased differently, sessions are timed differently, even the food you serve isn’t the same.
As the director of RIVA, I have seen the benefits of having an in-house person trained to conduct kid/teen qualitative research sessions for their company. There are those instances when the moderator that was hired for the work becomes ill last minute or has an issue which doesn’t allow them to conduct the sessions. By having an in-house person trained they could step in if needed and are able to work with outside moderators more effectively on the research design.
Since 2012 RIVA has offered a Kid/Teen moderating course that speaks directly to the differences moderators face and how to deal with those changes in qualitative research sessions. This class is very small – only 4 to a class. Our upcoming July 9-11, 2014 class has 2 open seats. Registration is first come/first serve.
This is Part One of a multi-part interview series with RIVA Staff. Today we are talking with Tori, receptionist and hostess for RIVA. If you have been to RIVA as a student, you have seen how hard Tori works to make each person feel at home in our office. Feel free to ask Tori additional questions in the comments!
What is your role at RIVA?
I am the receptionist/hostess. I sit at the main desk and am the first face people encounter here at RIVA. I also think of myself as the hostess for the students, a qualitative research assistant, and a personal assistant to our trainers.
Tell me a little about yourself. How long have you been in the area?
I’ve been in the area for a year and a half and I was born and raised in Baltimore County, Maryland.
What brought you to RIVA?
I’ve always had an interest in market research and focus groups. I also liked RIVA as a company. From the beginning, RIVA seemed like a tight-knit group and everyone was so friendly. My first meeting with Naomi was incredible, when people first meet her they are blown away. She has such an impact.
You have been at RIVA a little over a year now. What has been your favorite experience at RIVA in the past year?
Definitely taking classes – that has been amazing. Also, the camaraderie among the staff. We celebrate anniversaries and birthdays together. At my first Christmas party, I had to solo a Christmas song and I sang “Grandma got Ran over by a Reindeer.” We always have so much fun!
What aspects of market research do you enjoy the most?
I like how in Qualitative Research, it dives further into the consumer’s mind. It is interesting to see how people think. People never cease to amaze you.
If someone asked you what coming to a RIVA training class is like, what would you tell them?
It’s scary and intense but also really fun. You feel like you have never taken in so much information in one day in your whole life. Our trainers are so knowledgeable. It doesn’t feel like you are in a class, however, you are just talking and laughing and everyone is learning from one another. It is really neat.
Lastly, if you were to star in your own reality TV show, what would it be called?
“Pups and Crafts”! My dog, Nitro, is my best little buddy and I love doing all kinds of crafts whenever possible. I am always working on a project.
On Thursdays, we re-post an article from our archives. Good moderating principles never go out of style.
Great Training Produces Great Moderators
By Naomi Henderson
Originally Posted: 17 February 2012
While signing out at a facility with multiple rooms, and picking up DVDs of the sessions at the front desk before exiting, another moderator stood nearby, awaiting his turn to do the same.
While watching staff make the labels and sort items into tote bags, he turned and said: “Are you Naomi Henderson?” I acknowledged his question with a nod, but wondered why his face did not ring any bells of recognition. He continued: “The reason I’m standing here waiting for materials at a focus group facility is because of a course you and your husband, Luc, taught more than ten years ago. I can still hear your voices reminding me to:
“Be with people, not with paper.”
“Watch what respondents do – not just what they say.”
“Keep the study purpose in mind with every question asked.”
He went on to say that his company sent him to RIVA for Moderator Training and that he got a lot out of the course and collected great data for his company’s clients. But, frustrated with working for others, he branched off on his own. He went on to say: “I’m doing well…and it is so nice to see you to say ‘thanks’ in person.”
Hearing his accolades reinforced the key principle of the moderator courses at RIVA: “Marry best practices to authentic interviewing styles and the result is a moderator who is present in the moment, focused on achieving client goals, and keeps his/her ego in a suitcase outside the focus group room to be picked up on the way out the door.”
I am a proud “Mama” hearing him praise his training experience and his longevity as a freelancer. I know that RIVA has produced lots of moderator “babies” who have now grown up to become outstanding qualitative researchers. I remember the reason I started teaching courses for market researchers more than 30 years ago: I wanted to leave my industry better by having been in it. Talking with that RIVA graduate is proof that I’ve achieved that goal.