I’m just back from the annual Qualitative Research Consultants Association’s annual conference. On Thursday we had a luncheon speaker that, to be honest, didn’t go over that well as we had to sing a lot. But early on, he asked a question that got a very interesting response from this 250+ crowd of focus group moderators:
What does an authentic voice sound like to you?
People called out answers from the audience. A rough estimate was that 80% of them said things like “warm,” “caring,” “open,” and “soft.”
I was in the minority. For me and others, an authentic voice sounds “experienced” and “trustworthy.”
We all know that authentic means “real” or “genuine.” Why I found the answers interesting is that I think we interpret “authentic” through the prism of our own strengths. To explain what I mean, a short story…
Many years ago, when I was Research Manager at Denny’s Restaurants, the SVP of Marketing stopped me in the hall and said “if you could use one word to describe yourself, what would it be?” Without thinking much, I replied by saying “if you asked my mother, she’s say ‘sweet.'” Barry was shocked; he said he’d say “smart.” Six months later, out of the blue, he stopped me again and said my mother was right. (We’re friends to this day.)
While I want the world to see my warmth and kindness first, and I work at that, I do tend to go through life leading with my left brain. In public, when interacting with others, my BS meter is set to read the veracity of what a person is saying or feeling. I have a harder time gauging if a warm person is genuine or false.
What this has to do with marketing research is hard to put into words, but it should say something to those buying qualitative research services about what they look for in a moderator and how this can vary project-to-project.
I’ll leave it here for now, but, as always, I’m interested in your thoughts and feelings.