Unilever’s Qualitative Accreditation Program & Misdirected Quest for “Fresh Ideas”

Many researchers have discussed Unilever’s accreditation program for qualitative research.  Among others, the Market Research Society, ESOMAR’s Research World, and Katfresh ideas2hryn Korostoff (Research Rockstar) have all outlined what led up to this program, the objectives of the program, and the accreditation process.  In a nutshell, Unilever assessed the outcomes of their many qualitative studies around the globe and determined that the qualitative researchers Unilever has employed to conduct their qual studies have generally failed in providing management with a sufficient caliber of new ideas and insights that serve to move the company forward.

Manish Makhijani, a consumer insights director at Unilever, stated in an interview discussing the program that one of his top concerns with their qualitative research is the inconsistency in “the quality of insights and debriefs” among their qualitative researchers, emphasizing that “what matters in qual more than anything else is the quality of thinking that you put on the table.”  And, indeed, Makhijani brought home this point at the November 2012 ESOMAR conference when he presented the notion that “good” qualitative research is derived Read Full Text