Building Blocks - FAQs

What products have been built through Building Blocks(sm)?

We do a lot of food products and consumer packaged goods. But we have also built durables, services and household products using Building Blocks(sm). 

What kinds of questions can I ask?

Building Blocks(sm) has no standardized questions except for the two purchase interest questions that get included on the Preview questionnaire and on the Final Bundle questionnaire. Any other question can be included if it can be self-administered easily. We do card sorts, open-ends, scalar ratings, bi-polar ratings, etc. If you have a scale that you typically use, we’ll be glad to incorporate it.

What types of Stations are included?

Just as there are no standard questions, Building Blocks(sm) does not have standardized stations -- except for a Preview Questionnaire (which gets filled out before the respondents enter the test area) and a Final Bundle station which asks consumers to evaluate the total bundle they have developed. The rest of the stations depend on the elements you have ready to be evaluated. Any part of the marketing bundle could become a station in a Building Blocks(sm) test.

How much does a Building Blocks(sm) test cost?

Please e-mail us to ask for a price list.

What is the typical sample size for a Building Blocks(sm) test?

Our price list shows the two most frequent sample sizes -- a two city test with a total of 100 participants (50 per city) and a one city test with a total of 60 participants. Building Blocks(sm) does not assume a minimum or maximum. The price list shows you how your costs will be affected if you add to the sample size or number of cities.

What cities do you conduct Building Blocks(sm) tests in?

We can set up in almost any city where you could conduct other types of qualitative research. We normally use field services that specialize in recruiting for focus groups. Since the questionnaires are self-administered, we do not need to use trained quantitative interviewers on site. The actual tests are usually conducted in hotel ballrooms, church halls, school cafeterias, etc.

How long does it take?

It generally takes about 1 week longer to set up a Building Blocks(sm) test than it would to set up a set of group sessions. The timing depends on how quickly the client team can respond to approving a screener and the draft questionnaires for each of the stations, and upon the time needed to prepare the stimuli. The field part is usually scheduled to be completed in one day per city. 

How many stations can I have?

The only practical limit to a Building Blocks(sm) test is that we try to keep a participant working, on average, for no more than 1½ hours. Typically a 5 - 7 station test takes about that long. If you have two variables with only a few questions each, we can often combine them into a single station (benefits and reasons why; names and flavors, etc.). If you have more than 1½ hours worth of material, we can sometimes arrange to have every respondent skip one or more of the stations so that you sub-sample all variables.

In what order do respondents visit the Stations?

Our strong recommendation is that you let the respondents visit all of the Stations in a randomized, pre-assigned order. This way, we will have approximately half the respondents seeing any given variable before any other given variable. For example, half the people tasting a product will have seen a concept that may have set up certain expectations. But the other half will evaluate the product first and then evaluate the concept’s promises in light of what they already experienced. This flexibility gives us tremendous analytic insight into the relationships between variables. Occasionally, there is a strong reason why one Station MUST be seen before another Station. For example, if there are three distinct positionings, which would demand different formulations for a product, consumers will have to choose the concept/positioning statement towards which they will build before they see any other variables.

Who can be interviewed?

Women, men, children and teens -- all have successfully participated in Building Blocks(sm) tests. For kids’ products, we frequently interview mom and kid pairs. The screening criteria can be as involved as any other research screening. It is not unusual to have a test with two or three different types of consumers participating -- users and non-users, heavy and light users, consumers and professionals, members of different target audiences, etc.

How many people can I/must I bring to the test?

Our price list assumes that you will bring at least one person per Station (1½ per Station if children are to be interviewed). We encourage you to bring your whole development team -- marketing, marketing research, technical research, ad agency, sales, promotion, packaging, etc. If this adds up to more than 20, there will be a surcharge for food and the extra expenses associated with typing more verbatims. If less than the minimum number is available, a surcharge will be imposed to cover hiring additional field staff.

Do you train our team?

It is not unusual for client team participants to feel a little uneasy at the prospect of talking to their customers face-to-face. We do conduct an extensive briefing on site before the first session. To make team members feel more comfortable, some client researchers prepare lists of suggested probes for each Station. We do emphasize that, unlike in school, there are no wrong answers. Respondents are briefed that many people will have questions for them. We encourage the team to record answers to respondent-specific probes on special observer forms which we collect and type up as part of the verbatims report.

What do I wear?

Dress for a Building Blocks(sm) is extremely casual. Jeans or shorts are fine. Just remember that hotels are often cold in the summertime because the air-conditioning can be turned on quite high. Most of all, wear your most comfortable shoes. Sneakers, old loafers, etc. -- you’ll be on your feet a lot!

What is the output from a Building Blocks(sm) test?

There are three major pieces of information that you will receive. Approximately 2 weeks from the last day of interviewing, you will receive a set of the tabulations from all of the closed end questions and two copies of the typed verbatim responses to all of the open-ended questions. Within 3 to 3½ weeks, the New Directions team usually conducts a team de-briefing (in person or teleconferenced) to discuss the results from each Station and the overall conclusions. Within about 4 to 6 weeks, a full report including all of the materials and stimuli is delivered. This includes the analysis of the "Before and After’s" as well as any follow-ups from the work session de-briefing.

What kind of exclusivity will we have?

New Directions Consulting, Inc.’s policy is to give a client a one year category exclusive for any product that is built through Building Blocks(sm).