Qualitative Research Consultants Association (QRCA) - QRCA Views Magazine, Summer 2019

12 QRCA VIEWS Summer 2019 www.qrca.org T H E B r e a k i n g C e i l i n g n TOOLBOX n By Michael Carlon n Founder, Vertigo Partners n Stamford, CT n michael.carlon@vertigopartners.com There is a new, growing industry cropping up throughout the United States. Perhaps you’ve heard of it— cannabis. While legalization is in its infancy, the legal marijuana space reminds me of another industry I was involved in very early on—digital mar- keting. Entrepreneurs involved in the production and selling of legal cannabis products face the same problems e-mar- keters faced in the 1990s. And, those in the cannabis industry stand to benefit from the types of research we conducted back then to illuminate consumer needs in a rapidly evolving space. Allow me a brief trip down memory lane. In the mid-1990s, I worked for a com- pany called Modem Media, which billed itself as the world’s first interactive agency. Our clients included big brands such as Delta Air Lines, Citibank, AT&T, and JCPenney, and we were tasked to build or rebuild their early websites as well as create advertising designed to drive users to these sites. Here is the thing: since the Web was so new, no one knew what consumers wanted in a website for Citibank or in an online booking experience for Delta. That’s where research came in—we turned to tried-and-true research methods, including traditional focus groups and surveys, to uncover con- sumer needs and evaluate concepts. Additionally, we employed usability testing to work out user experience G r a s s