Three Qualitative Research Suppliers That Do It With a Twist

Three Qualitative Research Suppliers That Do It With a Twist

In past articles we’ve talked about the shortcomings of focus groups, how I prefer to do them, and the importance of in-home ethnographies.  One thing we have only briefly touched on are qualitative research suppliers who do these things well.  There are many great qualitative research companies out there. There are even more independent moderators who are equally fantastic.  However, if you want a qualitative research experience that is really unique and impactful, consider working with one of these three companies for your next round of quals.

The Seek Company:  Qualitative Research With Empathy

I love the Seek Company’s focus on empathy.  Several years ago, I had the opportunity to take Seek’s “Red Door” training.  It was over a day of training and then several days of hands-on note-taking and moderating.  The folks at Seek are humble, and they will tell you that is not the recruiting, or their mastery of logistics, or the talent of the moderators that make their research projects great — it’s their empathic approach to research.  Incidentally, Seek does all those other things well too — which was a delighter for me as a client.  I love how Seek trains their business partners to meet the respondents “where they are” and treat the conversation like a conversation between real people.  What I found most unique about Seek, and why I recommend them as one of my favorite qualitative research suppliers is:

  • They teach their clients what to look for and how to think as qualitative ethnographers.
  • For each interview there was copious note-taking covering all 5 senses.  Seek was strict.  They did not allow the research team to even talk to each other until all of our sensory insights were captured.
  • They make the debrief the most important part of the research project.  How many times have you called it quits after the last respondent and let all the insights get away?  Seek makes the debrief worthwhile and business-changing.

I don’t want to go into too much further detail, but if you have the opportunity to attend a “Red Door” training session, do it.  If you need moderators who think differently about how to talk to consumers, call Seek.

Illumination Research:  Qualitative Research Meets Technology

In a future article, we will talk about the merits and challenges of doing online qualitative research.  Illumination Research will not be mentioned in the challenges section.  Illumination Research is a consistently excellent recruiter, has very capable moderators, and a whole arsenal of online qualitative techniques.  Having worked in a global research assignment, being present in multiple countries for research was a challenge.  With Illumination’s global online qualitative capabilities, I could field the same piece of research in five countries simultaneously. This led to greater efficiency and faster project timelines for worldwide research.

Further, if you are looking to do fast, insightful work domestically, Illumination’s Speed Suite offers a variety of capabilities to deliver qualitative research quickly and on-demand.  If you have been soured to the experience of online qualitative research by other qualitative research suppliers, don’t give up on the method until you try Illumination.

Beall Research:  Qualitative Research Meets Behavioral Psychology

Let’s say that you have a very difficult business question.  Let’s say it’s also very political.  And you need the highest level of credentialing possible to satisfy your audience.  Sprinkle in the fact that the project has to be qualitative.  And you need the deliverable on tight timing.  I’ve been in this scenario and Beall Research delivered tremendously well.

Dr. Beall and her team of PhD’s, behavior psychologists, and expertly trained moderators are brilliant.  They execute well.  They approach their research with a sense of urgency.  And their pedigree as researchers is tremendous.  However, what I love about Beall Research is that it provides two layers of analysis to help you discover the truth.

The first layer is traditional qualitative interviewing.  Unfortunately, there are just some questions consumers cannot answer well.  They may give an answer, but its totally spurious.  What would happen if your high-pressure research was full of these respondents?  With many qualitative research suppliers, you’d be in trouble — unless you had a second layer of analysis.  That is exactly what Beall Research provides.

The second layer of analysis is Beall’s “secret sauce.”  This second layer is intense study of behavioral and non-verbal cues during the research.  Throughout the interview process, Beall’s trained researchers are also analyzing the non-verbal communication and behaviors of the respondents.  They take copious notes and record even the most minute details of the respondents behavior during the interview.  In their final deliverable, they expertly analyze both the spoken feedback AND the non-verbal feedback of the respondents.  Not only does this help deliver more accurate analysis of the responses, it also adds a safety-net of insight and credibility to even the most difficult projects.


There are many good qualitative research suppliers available in the market.  I have had great experiences with many more than I mention in this article.  However, these three suppliers offer a unique twist on traditional qualitative research.  That is why I feel confident recommending them to anyone looking for something “special” from their next qualitative research project.

Have any qualitative research suppliers you think are particularly excellent?  Feel free to share your recommendations in the comments below.

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