Projective techniques are useful on a number of levels, and are useful for providing something ‘different’ to moderated discussion and for delving deeper into the sub-conscious. Projective techniques are also useful when exploring subject areas that consumers might not necessarily find it easy to elucidate an opinion (e.g. brand perceptions). The key to success from the moderator perspective is to remember why the projective technique is being used! Knowing that a brand is similar in personality to Simon Cowell is one thing, but understanding the relevance of those personally traits and how they come to light is where insights can be formed.
Here are our thoughts on the Top 10 projective techniques (and how best to use them!).
10 – Bring an item…
This doubles up as both a pre-task as well as a projective technique. At the point of recruitment, respondents are asked to bring to the group an item that they associate with, or makes them think of the brand in question. They are given creative licence! Ci Research used this technique recently when researching a range of kids multivitamins. Not only did it act as a great warm up to the group – setting the precedent for a creative session – but it also revealed a whole host of emotional attachments to the brand.
9 – Planets (and guided fantasy)
The ‘Planets’ projective technique involves quiet-time on the part of the respondents. They are asked to close their eyes whilst the moderator guides them on an imaginary journey through space. From leaving earth in their space capsule, all the way to returning again at the end of the expedition, they are asked to think deeply about the experiences and emotions associated with a visit to ‘Planet Brand X’. For example, What does it look like?, What are the people like?, What are the buildings like?, How do you feel?, What do you see?, What do you hear?, What do you smell?, Where do you go?, Who do you talk to? What do they say?, How do you feel about spending 6 months here?, How do you feel when you’re asked to leave?. During the course of this ‘guided fantasy’ they can visit other brand/planets and compare and contrast the environment, how welcoming it feels, how much they enjoyed the visit, etc. At the end of the projective the group make their notes and debrief to the moderator / each other. We find this delivers much deeper insight and more colourful descriptions of the customer relationship and/or experience.
8 – Psycho-drawings
Psycho-drawings are most commonly pre-prepared sheets of paper, with stick men and women and an empty speech or thought bubble. They are useful for capturing individual views on subjects, and particularly the ‘how would this make you feel?’ type of customer insight. This is a handy technique for respondents that might be initially reticent about verbalising their own emotions in front of a group of strangers, as it also allows us to use a third-party perspective e.g. “this is how I feel most customers would react to this service experience”.
7 – The Treemen
The Treemen is another great example of using stimulus material to encourage respondents to disclose their feelings and emotions. Respondents can be shown pre-prepared drawings showing various characters living and interacting within a tree environment. Respondents can select the characters within the drawing that best represent how they (or someone else) might have been feeling in a given scenario. The insights are generated not by noting the individual tree character selected, but by questioning the respondent to understand specifically why that character was selected over others.
6 – Courtroom drama
The ‘courtroom drama’ projective technique is often used by Ci Research when using focus groups to conduct concept testing and creative development projects. Most often used towards the end of groups, respondents break into teams and are asked to use the preceding discussion and their own opinions to form a ‘case for’ or ‘case against’ the client preceding with one or more concepts or service improvements. Various interesting twists can be added. For example, taking respondents and asking them to ‘defend the indefensible’ by arguing the case for concepts that they were initially critical of. Teams can be constructed to balance the views of respondents that are more opinionated and vociferous in their views.