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Non-Traditional Qualitative | Ad Testing | Ad Tracking | Taste Labs | Brand Equity | War Games | PowerGroups | Design Superwalks | Name Generation | Product Concept Test | Package Testing | Idea Generation | Triads

Non-Traditional Qualitative Techniques

Research Dimensions has developed a number of non-traditional qualitative techniques including: 

POWERGROUPS Locates Product Gaps, generates New Products and Product Positions

NAME GENERATION Creates Brand Names

PROJECTIVE GROUP Uses Projective Techniques in qualitative research situations

PRODUCT UTILIZATION WORKSHOPS Creativity Workshops which help your organization make better use of research

POSITIONING WORKSHOP Creativity Workshops designed to generate product positioning options

WAR GAMES Creativity Workshops designed to develop competitive marketing strategies.

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Advertising Testing

When advertising is being developed, Research Dimensions generally recommends qualitative research with focus groups conducted during the early development stages, and triads or individual interviews conducted during later stages.

When the advertising is being evaluated, we recommend quantitative mall intercept/ target group studies.

The key measures that we examine are:

Breakout: the ability of the creative to break through clutter and demand the viewer's attention

Message Comprehension: the creative's ability to effectively transmit key selling propositions

Appeal: the sensory appeal of the creative. Music and production values contribute to this dimension

Image Modification: the ability of the creative to transmit key images and to make the viewer feel positive emotional responses to both the product and the advertiser. Positive image modification scores correlate strongly with longevity.

Creative can also be tested in 5 to 10 second segments to evaluate individual product messages and supers on a segment-by-segment basis

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Advertising Tracking

Research Dimensions:

  • measures awareness of advertising by:
    • target demographics
    • region
    • lifestyle segment
    • media recalled, etc.
  • validates the effectiveness of the media mix
  • measures awareness of competitive advertising
  • tracks image and attitudinal data.

    Tracking can be conducted monthly, quarterly or semi-annually, on a sample of 300 to 1000 adult Canadians.

    Findings can be combined with client-supplied data on GRPs, growth, profitability, sales and units sold in order to derive a Predictive Advertising ROI Model"

Research output includes:

  • Awareness Index
  • Popularity/Burnout Ratio
  • Advertising Efficiency Ratio
  • Image Momentum.

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Taste Labs

Taste Labs provide product guidance for new food products and reformulations.


  • Three structured Focus Group Discussions are conducted in one day.
  • In each group discussion, target group respondents try one formulation.

    They rate this product using a formal questionnaire with rating scales on key attributes. They then discuss the product qualitatively.

    Respondents then try a second, then a third formulation, each time repeating the process of rating and discussing the product.

  • Then respondents create the Ideal Product, combining the best characteristics of each formulation (eg. the sweetness of formulation 1, the colour of formulation 2, etc.)
  • This ideal product is then discussed in terms of usage, substitution, and its place in the respondents' portfolio of foods/snacks.

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Brand Equity Research

Research Dimensions conducts a variety of research studies evaluating brand equity.

  • Pricing studies; Price laddering:
    Evaluates the effect of branding on acceptable prices. Assesses the value added by the brand.

  • Branded vs. blind in-home product studies:
    Evaluates the effect of branding on product perception (efficacy, etc.) and purchase interest;

  • Brand loyalty studies:
    Evaluates the degree of loyalty to brands in a competitive set, including store brands;

  • Brand elasticity/extension studies:
    Determines the extent to which a brand can be extended to other products and line extensions.

  • Brand image studies — qualitative and quantitative:
    Determines the brand image and provides perceptual maps of brands in a competitive set.

Research Dimensions uses projective qualitative techniques to determine the brand involvement and the perceived relationship between the consumer and the brand.

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War Games ©

War Games© is a Research Dimensions technique designed to help marketers develop new competitive marketing and product strategies in situations where:

  • a new product is to be launched
  • a competitor launches a new product
  • a price war is initiated
  • an advertising war is initiated.

Led by two facilitators, this simulated marketing battle uses a five-step, Idea Generating process in order to develop optimum strategic options.

  1. Corporate history, product objectives, preferences and limitations are determined in discussion with the client.
  2. Client participants are recruited, divided into two teams (THEM and US); Referee/Planners are selected and all are given "homework" assignments in advance of the War Games.
  3. A one day War Games session is then conducted in which the US TEAM develops its initial strategies in an Idea Generating work session led by a Research Dimensions facilitator.

    These initial strategies are presented to the THEM TEAM who, in response, develops counter strategies in a session led by the second Research Dimensions facilitator. These counter strategies are presented to the US TEAM, and new US TEAM strategies are developed in response. In this way, a series of strategies and counter strategies are developed.

  4. A "chat down" takes place at the end of the session in which all ideas are reviewed and evaluated.
  5. A debriefing War Games Wrap Up is held within one week among the key participants in order to establish priorities, responsibilities and timetables for action.

The results are a series of best strategic options, and a group of participants who have the commitment which comes with involvement through the entire process.

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PowerGroups© is a technique developed by Research Dimensions to:

  • locate unfulfilled consumer product needs or image gaps
  • generate new product ideas designed to fill those needs or gaps.

PowerGroups combine Idea Generating techniques with consumer research. The session is conducted by two moderators.

PowerGroups are held with 8 to 10 articulate, future-oriented, and creative consumers.

Clients are involved in front of the mirror as participants and guides. They contribute ideas and select those ideas which should be developed more fully in the PowerGroup.

A five step process is used.

  1. Corporate objectives, product preferences and limitations are determined
  2. PowerGroup target respondents are recruited and given "Homework" prior to the PowerGroup in order to begin the process before the actual session.
  3. The first part of the PowerGroup is a consumer research session conducted to identify and understand existing products or services. These are mapped qualitatively. Purchase motivating factors and product gaps are identified.
  4. After a break, the second half of the PowerGroup focuses on New Product Development / Idea Generation.

    Participants are divided into teams and encouraged to devise new products, new marketing and positioning ideas (sometimes) in a competitive format against other teams. Teams reconvene to present ideas to each other. Card-sort, idea-shuffle and ranking exercises as well as various non-logic exercises are employed throughout the session.

  5. At the end of the PowerGroup, ideas are reviewed and ranked by participants.

This method has been used to design Executive Class for Canada's national airline, a premium credit card for one of Canada's leading financial services providers, a new marketing strategy for a premium range of office products and a range of new insurance products.

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Design Superwalks©

Design Superwalks© is a technique developed by Research Dimensions:

  • to obtain consumer input to the interior and exterior design of stores, restaurants, bank branches and other customer contact locations
  • to determine consumer reaction to proposed designs in terms of:
    • Colors
    • Floor plan/traffic flow
    • Textures
    • Decorations/Pictures
    • Materials used
    • Display counters
    • Lighting
    • Seating/Tables
    • Plants
    • Signage
    • Uniforms/dress
    • Cash register/order desk, etc.


In-store interviews/idea generating sessions are conducted by a senior moderator.

Focus group discussions, triads, quads or individual interviews are conducted in-store, depending on the store/restaurant/branch environment. Consumers discuss the actual or proposed design(s) in terms of needs, reactions, perceptions, feelings, images conveyed. Renderings, models or rough sketches are used as input.


Results include recommendations for refinements, improvements, and an understanding of what works among consumers.

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Name Generation

Name Generation, a technique developed by Research Dimensions, uses idea generating techniques such as suspension of evaluation, headlining and non-rational exercises to generate new brand names. The technique rests on two assumptions:

  • a brand name can communicate a message about a product
  • everyone has the potential to be creative.

Research Dimensions Name Generation technique has five stages.

  1. Determine the brand name objective, for example, to convey that the product is durable, reliable, effective, offers best value, etc.
  2. Explain the product and review the criteria with a linguist who provides general principles applicable to the product.
  3. Conduct a half day or evening Name Generation Workshop in which consumers and client personnel participate as equal partners. The Workshop includes:

    • reviewing and possibly revising the name objectives
    • generating name alternatives for each objectives (e.g. creating names that suggest durable, names that suggest effective, etc.)
    • choosing those names which best fulfill the total set of objectives

  4. Review the preferred names with the linguist.
  5. Issue a report with recommendations.

Results include a list of the five to ten best names in descending order with a description of why they are considered the best choices. Ten to twenty other recommended names plus as many as fifty names that are also considered acceptable are described. All other names generated in the Workshop are also listed in the report.

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Product and Concept Testing

Research Dimensions conducts a variety of research studies evaluating product performance and consumer interest in new product concepts and advertising concepts.

Product Labs: Creates ideal products from formulation alternatives

Concept Labs: Creates improved concepts from concept alternatives

Multiple Concept Screening: Quantitatively determines the best or most advantageous of a large field of product or advertising concepts

Delta Concept Test: Overcomes the ambiguities of norms in the process of evaluating a new product concept. The Delta technique measures the appeal of a new product in relation to the "ideal" product in the category

Branded and/or blind in-home product studies: Evaluates reaction to products tested and purchase interest.

Research Dimensions uses a variety of qualitative and quantitative techniques to evaluate reaction to new products and new product concepts.

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Package Testing

Research Dimensions regards packaging as part of the entire communication program.

Packages are tested using similar methods and question areas used in advertising and other communications test devices.

Investigation includes:

  • impact
  • likability
  • image
    • quality
    • efficacy
    • price
    • value
    • for people like...
    • etc.
  • appropriateness
  • degree of difference

Qualitative and quantitative methods are used.

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Idea Generation

Idea Generation techniques were called Brainstorming in the 1960's. In the 1970's, organizations such as Synectics in Boston and the Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI) developed idea generation techniques that became the industry standard for creating new concepts, new solutions to problems and new products.

Research Dimensions staff, having been trained initially by Synectics and by CPSI, advanced the techniques to include new idea generating exercises, new preparation methods and new closure methods.

Research Dimensions has further refined these techniques to fulfill specific tasks (Name Generation, PowerGroups©, War Games), which are described elsewhere. Idea Generating is built on the following assumptions and procedural requirements. Assumptions:

  • Everyone is creative
  • Obstacles to creativity, (i.e. evaluative judgment, criticism, territory) can be put aside during Idea Generating sessions.
  • An independent, non evaluative, "neutral" facilitator is needed. (The facilitator does not have to be an outside consultant).

Research Dimensions frequently uses two facilitators.

Procedural Requirements:

  • All ideas are valuable. Any idea can be a springboard to new ideas.
  • Everyone participates.
  • The facilitator keeps participants focused on the tasks.
  • A "designated client" decides which ideas to pursue in greater depth.
  • Excursions are used to generate ideas which are out of the ordinary.
  • Analogies, music and imagery exercises are used. l Solutions from other industries are used as starting points.
  • Ideas from other spheres are used (e.g. How do bees communicate? How can we build on this method?).

Research Dimensions has been successfully applying and developing these Idea Generating techniques for the past 15 years.

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Triads are three person focus groups plus a moderator.

Triads last one hour to one and a half hours. More triads can be conducted in an evening or a day than focus group discussions. Typically, more triads are conducted in a triad research study than a focus group research study. This provides greater opportunity to carry learning from one session to the next.

More in-depth information can be obtained from each individual participant during a triad than during a focus group. Disruptive or unproductive respondents can be controlled more easily than in focus group discussions.

Triads more closely mirror the dynamics of human conversation, which takes place in groups of three or four rather than in traditional focus groups of eight to ten.

Most importantly, triads can very effectively be conducted in-situ, where normal eating, buying or visiting behaviour can be experienced rather than simulated. Research Dimensions has frequently conducted triads:

  • in restaurants - to help reposition or redesign the restaurant
  • to develop new restaurant concepts
  • in retail outlets - to help reposition or redesign the outlet
  • in grocery stores - to develop new products and product packaging
  • in bars/pubs - to develop new merchandising and event ideas
  • on-board aircraft - to develop new "products"
  • in automobiles - to determine the selling "hot buttons". (during test drives)

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