For Discovering Guidelines that Work
If you want to develop creative guidelines with real substance, here is a way to get them. Grounded Theory procedure makes it possible to find out the underlying attributes that consumers actually respond to. You can project from how they react to existing materials to how they will respond to new ones, even before they are made.
A revolutionary new technique. The traditional technique of the social sciences has been to build theories by testing pre-existing hypotheses that came from somewhere else. Grounded Theory development procedures use data in a new way: to stimulate, and then to shape, the inductive thought processes of the researcher. It is a systematic approach to hypothesis building and theory testing. And it has proven to be very powerful.
History. In 1967, two academic sociologists, Barney Glaser & Anselm Strauss at UC-San Francisco put forth Grounded Theory Development as a systematic approach to generating new conceptualizations of what is going on in newly emerging areas of study. Their seminal work, "The Development of Grounded Theory" (1967), moved researchers past the hypothesis-testing uses of raw data into the hypothesis-generating potential of their observations. The approach has been steadily expanding its reach within academia - through sociology and social anthropology and, more recently into applied disciplines like educational research.
Applications. Grounded Theory methodology has led me, working in consumer behavior, to some very useful findings with an amazing degree of generality. I have used it to find out about:
Validity. Time after time, the attributes that have been uncovered by this analytical process have proved to have a high level generality, as attested by their predictive power:
Future applications. We are just beginning to explore the potential applications of Grounded Theory methodology for studying consumers. It has already shown itself to be a powerful way to get at the consumer-critical attributes of complex stimuli like toys and TV material. Other applications, just waiting for an opportunity, include other product categories, other media (like print, radio, interactive or outdoor), and package design, displays, or promotions, too.
If you want to know the attributes of products or media that your consumers react to, Grounded Theory Development, coupled with the right data set, can find them out. I have a paper that summarizes most of these studies.
Computer platform under development. I have written a computer-based platform for conducting grounded analyses of several kinds of data sets (including word-use-frequency data to open-ended questions and answer-frequency scores to closed-end questions), This platform is still being readied for market and is probably not yet fully bug-free. But if you'd like to look it over go to the Downloads page on FieldKit website to download the most recent edition.
Please e-mail me for more information.