The Who and the How: refining research needs

When presented with a brief, researchers tend go through similar motions: get a better understanding of the question being asked, think wider than the problem presented, think about what you already know and then ultimately think about the ‘who’ and ‘how’. Who do you want to speak to (if at all) and how — so that you can answer the question. This is usually the tricky part, especially when you also have to factor in timing, budgets, multiple countries, multiple stakeholders, resources and rapidly changing products.

In this blog post I’ve outlined a few techniques I’ve used in the past to help me ensure the research I do is both effective and efficient:

When you should look closer to home

At the pace that Deliveroo has grown, it is not always obvious what we already know. Nuggets of information that are often taken as a given by one team might be unknown by another. I’ve recently conducted research reviews to take stock of broader subjects covering multiple teams (consumer, rider, restaurants..and beyond!). A quick round of stakeholder interviews and a good dig into the user research back-catalogue quickly reveals commonality and themes across teams. It also surfaces what is out of date and what we need to know more about, providing an informed starting point for further research.

When you need to understand the ‘who’ in another market

So far I’ve been focused on looking at the consumer product, understanding not just the UK consumer but how the product works across markets. It’s easy to broadly understand the UK consumer — I live here so can often experience this first hand. For researching in other markets, I found going to both the Market Intelligence team and the Insights team really useful to refine the scope of work. They look at metrics like top of mind awareness and claimed usage, to give an initial picture of our place within other markets. Building on what we already know about our consumers and prospective consumers helps to define who we really want to speak to. This way we end up speaking to the right amount of the right types of people, to understand their views in-depth, delivering richer insight.

When you want to understand differences between actual and claimed behaviours

Defining who to speak to in other markets is one use of the data we already have. I’ve also found it useful to build on this, by collecting further quantitative data to refine what we already know.

In a recent project, we needed further data to address questions such as, do people know about the product? Do they think they were using it? Why have they stopped using it? Do they know they’d stopped using it? We wanted to understand user perceptions of their behaviour, not just what we knew they were doing.

To do this, we first looked at it quantitatively by sending a survey to specific consumer groups. This helped us to build a richer picture of the profile of the users and highlighted some interesting behaviours to focus our qualitative efforts. Starting with a survey also created a neutral and relatively anonymous environment for our respondents to share their true habits and opinions — there are some elements of ordering food people don’t necessarily want to share face-to-face or over the phone.

We were then able to use the data we’d gathered through the survey, combined with the behavioural data, to identify who would be the best people to follow up with.

When you have a one-line brief

Researchers can sometimes be faced with projects which begin with a very broad question, for example ‘tell me more about offers in Asia’ or ‘what does health mean for our customers?’ These are often exciting briefs as they cover so many teams and can be approached from so many angles, but with that comes a relatively large scope to frame research within.

For these types of projects, I’ve found it useful to speak to everyone whose work could be touched on by the research (even if it’s loosely) and getting them to tell me what they know and what they would like to know. This helps to formulate a bank of questions and hypotheses that feed into that one line brief and it soon becomes clear what the ‘who’ and the ‘how’ for these types of projects will be.

‘Who’, ‘How’…say what now?!

In general, when it comes to refining research needs and defining the ‘who’ and the ‘how’ I found the best place to start is by asking questions, and a lot of them. It’s not always clear at face value what the research objective should be and often there are other angles and audiences you need to think about.

Sometimes small-scale work is just as valuable, collating current understanding can answer the question and act as a jumping off point for refined research. Using other data sources and survey data to inform who you speak to also saves time and makes sure your discussion is targeted, getting you to your answer quicker.

And this is by no means an exhaustive list. This is just a few ways I’ve got to the bottom of the ‘who’ and ‘how’ so far. If you can think of any other way, why not come and have a chat? We’re hiring.