In this article we discuss various projective techniques which can be used in Market research. However, first let us understand what are projective techniques?
What are projective techniques?
In Qualitative research, the main aim of a researcher is to know about the deep behavior, opinions, and attitudes of people or subjects under research. However, most of the times, people themselves are not aware of why they behave in a certain way and are not consciously aware of the reasons behind their behavior. Because of this reason, projective techniques are used by researchers to find the true views of participants which might remain hidden otherwise.
These techniques are helpful to get the answers to those questions whose answers are difficult to put into words. For example, a participant might find difficult to express his views about a certain brand, therefore, the participant can be asked to choose a product that they would relate with the brand. Emotions play an important role even in business. people make decisions based on emotions and their decisions are far from being rational. This behavior is not only limited to consumers.
Even in Business-2-Business transactions decisions are more emotion driven and irrational. Therefore, projective techniques along with direct questioning are used in marketing research to get deep insights into human behavior.
Projective techniques were initially used in clinical psychology and later many projective techniques were modified to introduce in marketing research to understand the preference and views of people better. One popular psychological test is Rorschach Ink Blot Test, where a participant is shown pictures of ink blot, and asked to describe what they see and their perception is analyzed to understand their personalities and state of mind.
Many Projective techniques same as Rorschach Ink Blot Test are modified to use in market research. In this article ahead, you will learn about various projective techniques used in marketing research.
13 Projective Techniques in Market Research
1) Planets :
In this type of projective technique, participants are asked to close their eyes and try to imagine and follow the space journey guided by the moderator. They are asked to imagine their journey from earth to a “planet brand X” and they are asked questions like what does it look like? How do its people look? How does its building look like? What sounds do you hear? What do you smell? How do you feel about being there? Who do you talk with? What do you talk about? How are they responding? Do you want to live there forever? How would you feel if you are asked to leave this planet?
It requires creative dictating skills on the part of a moderator. With the help of this “guided fantasy”, they can elaborate better what they feel about a certain brand and they can also visit other competitor brand planet and can compare their feelings about it. At the end of the process, the moderator asks them to write their answers on paper. In this way, they can understand the relationship of their customers with the brand.
2) Bring an item :
This type of projective technique is coupled with “Focus Group” interviews where each participant is asked to bring an item with them which they associate with the brand or in some way reminds them of the brand and before the interview starts, they are asked to talk about or explain why do they choose that item to associate with the brand. In this way, they are asked to use their creative side.
This technique is quite successful to understand what people think about their brand and also reveals their emotional attachment with the brand.
3) The Treeman :
This is another interesting projective technique. In this technique, stimulus material is shown to the participant to know about their emotions and feelings. In this technique different pictures or drawings presenting various creatures or interacting or living within a tree environment and doing various activities like hugging, climbing, falling, sleeping, hanging etc. participants are asked to choose one of these characters to represent how they will feel in the same scenario.
Later, a participant is asked questions about their choice and even they can also be asked to explain why they choose that character. On the basis of that explanation, the moderator can draw a conclusion about what the participant feels about the brand.
4) Psycho-drawing :
This projective technique is used to understand a participant’s view or feelings about a brand with the help of drawing abstract forms on blank paper. Sometimes they are also given figures of man or woman already drawn on the page with a blank thought bubble and are asked to fill that bubble with their own views about the brand.
This technique is useful to draw information from those participants who are shy or reluctant to express their feelings in verbal form. In addition to this, they present their views as a third person. People usually find comfortable to express their views as a third person.
5) Role Play :
This is a fun and effective projective technique to get to know about the views of the participants. This technique can be collaborated with “Focus Group”. People who are shy in nature or have performance anxiety might be reluctant to participate in this activity.
In this technique, the participant is asked to play the role of either a very good customer service or a very bad customer service. While one participant will enact their experience and other participants should be asked to respond or react to the role play.
A moderator should observe the word and expression used by the participant while their role play to understand their satisfaction level with the service of the brand. This technique will get you quite honest views of people.
6) Courtroom Drama :
This projective technique is usually used at the end of the Focus Group session. In this technique, participants are divided into two groups and are asked to use the previous discussion along with their opinions to form a “case for” or a “case against” the brand. They are asked to use various concepts and service improvements to defend or attack the brand. The situation can be made more interesting by adding various twists such as asking them to defend the indefensible.
7) Time Machine :
This projective technique is used to kindle future thinking in the participant of the Focus Group. For example, a group of participants will be asked how much pocket money children used to get 20 years ago and how much do they get at the present time and how much they will get in the future?
In this way, participants are stimulated to think and express that how do they perceive that trend has changed. Similarly, questions can be asked to participants on the subject of discussion and you can get insights on the expectations of participants from the brand in the future.
8) Brand Personification or Brand obituary :
This is also another fun projective technique which is used by the moderator to express their feelings and views about a brand in a fun way. For example, you can tell them that if brand X grew arms and legs and turn into a human, who would be it looks like? You can ask people to provide their answer with the names of celebrities or famous spokesperson etc.
In this way, we can know about the personality of the brand in the eyes of its customers. similarly, using brand obituary technique people are asked to assume if the brand has died and they have to write an obituary about the brand on the basis of things that they will remember about the brand, will they miss it or not? Who will miss it more? Using this method, you can know about the views of participants about your brand.
9) Withdrawal Technique :
This is a unique projective technique where we ask a participant to imagine their life without the brand or certain product and ask them to explain how will this affect their life? or how much difference will this make in their life?
You can also go a one step ahead and recruit loyal customers or brand advocates of your product and ask them to deliberately live for few days without that product and ask them to express their views using by recording a video or by voice recording or writing a diary. In this way, you can understand the relationship of people with that product and how deeper it has penetrated the life of your customers? this information can help you to approach potential customers better and you can also work to improve the quality of the product.
10) Mood Boards :
In this projective technique you will ask your participant do design the mood board using products like magazines, newspapers, color-pens, glitter-pens, and fabrics etc. give them a specific time duration within which they should design their mood board. You can understand their feelings or emotions toward your brand by looking at the elements of the mood board. For example, you can ask women what elements do they require for an “ideal kitchen”?
11) Construction test :
This type of projective technique is very commonly used to conduct research. In this projective technique, participants are given a picture and ask them to think and write a story on it. For example, a picture of a cartoon is given to kids and they are asked to fill in dialogues. Using this technique, you can interpret how they expect from a certain product. You can use this technique if you want to know about kids’ preference for the flavor of an energy drink.
12) Word Association Test :
In this test, a participant is given a word and is asked to speak the first thought that comes into his mind after hearing the word. A picture can also be used at the place of a word. The responses of participants are recorded and are used to know about the inner feelings of the participants. The time is taken and thoughts given before speaking is also important to note for a researcher. For example, 20 out of 50 people will associate the word fair with complexion.
13) Completion Test :
In this projective technique, people are given an incomplete story or line and are asked to provide an end to it. This technique is mostly used to understand the mental health of a person, but it can also be effectively used in research to know about the satisfaction level or their relationship with a certain brand or product.