FOQUS (FRAMEWORK FOR QUALITATIVE RESEARCH IN SOCIAL MARKETING)
We conduct qualitative research to provide rich, action-oriented evidence for program planners. This evidence helps program planners to develop interventions and health messages that will successfully reach target audiences.
Our “Project FoQus” is qualitative research that emphasizes audience-centered, qualitative methods such as photonarratives, collage-making and theatre presentations, as well as in-depth interviews and small group discussions. FoQus is conducted as a collaborative process between program planners, marketers, researchers and members of the target audience to inform intervention design.
FoQus most often serves as formative research to develop campaign strategies and messages, and is usually conducted when interventions are being designed or modified. FoQus studies provide insight into how target audience members make health decisions and which messages are likely to resonate to change health behaviors. In certain cases, FoQus is used during program implementation to clarify or redirect program and marketing strategy.
We began training researchers in the FoQus approach to qualitative research in 2008 and scaled up globally in 2009. By 2010, the FoQus approach to qualitative research was well established at PSI, and it continues to evolve.
FOQUS FOR QUALITATIVE SEGMENTATION
Like FoQus for Marketing Planning, FoQus for Qualitative Segmentation is the process of profiling target audiences and identifying actionable opportunities to connect with these people in order to strongly position particular health products, services and behaviors. Unlike a FoQus for Marketing Planning study, the qualitative segmentation study sometimes serves as a surrogate for the quantitative segmentation table normally generated by a TRaC study. In other cases, it is used as an input to a TRaC study design and questionnaire.
FoQus for Qualitative Segmentation is recommended in situations where a target audience is poorly understood (usually because it is new) or where it is impossible to collect TRaC data (usually due to political or cost constraints).
The strategy for collecting data and completing the resulting qualitative dashboards (see inset) for FoQus for Qualitative Segmentation and FoQus for Marketing Planning are largely the same. However, there is an additional level of data analysis required for a segmentation study: major themes that emerge from the study transcripts must be identified. This is the formative data analysis component of the segmentation process (where the “input” would otherwise be a segmentation table from TRaC). This layer of analysis enables the data to be distilled into the predefined dashboard items so that marketers and researchers can produce final interpretations together.
The sections of the dashboard on “Beliefs to Change” and “Beliefs to Reinforce” are more in-depth for a segmentation study than they are for a marketing planning study. Rather than limiting the ideas to one or two constructs, the process of prioritizing behavioral factors is dynamic and happens while researchers work together with program planners. This portion of the dashboard identifies the appropriate marketing mix and defines the positioning statement for the brand (of the behavior, product or service). The completed dashboard provides the concept that is then used as an input to the marketing plan.
FOQUS FOR MARKETING PLANNING
Like a FoQus for Segmentation study, FoQus for Marketing Planning is the process of profiling target audiences and identifying actionable opportunities to connect with these people in order to strongly position particular health products, services and behaviors. Unlike a qualitative segmentation study, the FoQus on Marketing Planning process begins with input from PSI TRaC studies (quantitative studies) to identify primary areas of inquiry: the behavioral factors that will be researched and targeted through branding. Data are collected using qualitative methods that have been adapted from the for-profit sector.
Our researchers, in close collaboration with our social marketers, interpret the data to first develop an archetype – a “typical” member of the target group in which to anchor the research findings. Together, they then generate a short document (the “dashboard”) that contains the following information: the archetype’s beliefs to change; beliefs to reinforce; strategies already used to behave; perceptions of the current brand’s position and personality; and the archetype’s opportunity, ability, and motivation to process communications.
The final portion of the dashboard is completed by identifying the appropriate “marketing mix” and generating a positioning statement that includes the archetype, the frame of reference, and the functional and emotional points of difference for the socially marketed brand. The completed dashboard is then used as in input to the marketing plan.
FOQUS FOR SALES & DISTRIBUTION
FoQus for Sales and Distribution (also known as FoQus on Traders) pairs researchers with our sales and distribution teams to understand the beliefs, attitudes, drivers and barriers of retailer stocking and selling behavior related to our products. The findings present a portrait of retailers and identify key actions to improve the efficiency and sustainability of our distribution systems – for example, by integrating products into existing supply chains, better educating retailers about particular health products, or supporting retailers in promoting health products.
The typical output of a sales and distribution study may include short photo/video narratives that capture key decision-making beliefs, behaviors and experiences of retailers; and a two- to four-page “dashboard” that describes the beliefs, behaviors and contexts of an archetypal retailer.
Flash FoQus is a suite of three quick-to-administer and inexpensive tools to address marketers’ needs when planning interventions. Each of the tools is designed to take two weeks or less and to produce evidence to answer narrowly defined questions at the intervention design stage of the project cycle:
FOQUS ON PROVIDERS
A FoQus on Providers study creates a profile of healthcare providers (for example, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, traditional birth attendants, community health workers, etc.) and service points (clinics, pharmacies or community gathering spaces, for example). This profile helps us to identify the drivers and barriers to treatment provision – to understand what makes providers and their service points function well or poorly. This information allows our program planners and technical staff to design strategies to improve the quality of care and other important aspects of service delivery.
A FoQus on Providers study typically uses small group discussions and one-on-one, in-depth interviewers. It also includes a visual component, such as photonarratives of a clinic, spoken narratives about cases, and/or observation of clinics and/or patient interactions.