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Evolution of an Insight: A Tale of Mixed Methodologies with CultrDig

This case study demonstrates how Dub’s online qual software, IdeaStream, together with traditional focus groups, helped market research agency CultrDig research deliver some impactful end results for not-for-profit organization ClearWay Minnesota’s smoking cessation program.


It’s always exciting when a research project leads to the creation of new and unexpected insights with significant implications for a client. Combining methodologies can be a highly involved undertaking, but when designed with an eye to recognizing and reacting to potential shifts, their combined functionality has the potential to lead us to rich, textural discoveries for building highly informative insights. This is a story of how Dub’s online qual software, IdeaStream, together with traditional focus groups, helped market research agency CultrDig research deliver some impactful end results for not-for-profit organization ClearWay Minnesota’s smoking cessation program. 


It’s no secret to most smokers that smoking is not just highly damaging; it’s deadly. Smokers also know that quitting smoking has many immediate, highly positive health rewards. 
70% of Minnesotans who smoke say they want to quit smoking. Some desperately so. And yet, most smoking cessation services are surprisingly underused. In addition, of smokers who say they want to quit, many experience high levels of difficulty with reaching their goal of quitting and staying quit. 
Clearly there was a demand for services and support to help such a large percentage of smokers reach their goals. But, why were these services that have proven to be effective so underused, especially when there was such a need for them? 
ClearWay Minnesota sought to understand this perplexing question so they could meet this need in an authentic and relevant way. 


Clearway Minnesota needed to gain meaningful insights to fully understand the problem in order to guide direction for designing a truly useful resource for smokers who were in the contemplation, action, and maintenance stages of quitting. ClearWay Minnesota’s objectives were to: 
  • Understand the relationship of smoking to current lifestyle and core identity. 
  • Explore attitudes and perceptions of smokers who are ready to quit, smokers who are thinking about quitting, and recent successful quitters. 
  • Get a better understanding of barriers to quitting, paths to decision to quit, and motivations for staying quit. 
  • Further understand the supportive elements such as websites, texting, social media, mobile apps, or nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) in the quitting process. 
  • Ensure services are relevant to the needs of all Minnesotans who seek help to quit smoking . 

Mixed Methodologies 

When combining methodologies, CultrDig found it was best for one to be the dominant tool, with other playing an important supplemental role.
In this case, the original request was for traditional focus groups, however, Clearway Minnesota and their advertising agency Clarity Coverdale Fury were interested in ‘exploration’. CultrDig examined the idea of an online bulletin board methodology playing the supportive role. The online bulletin board groups resulted in some exciting implications and opportunities that CultrDig were then able to explore more fully and validate in the ensuing traditional focus groups. 


Phase I: Online Bulletin Board Groups (using IdeaStream by Dub) 
Researchers designed a week-long online bulletin board study using Dub’s IdeaStream research community platform with smokers from Northern, Central, and Southern, Minnesota in which we would mine for insights via activities such as daily assignments and blogging exercises. Smokers were asked to share their lifestyles, surroundings, triggers, motivators, and obstacles via IdeaStream for an immersive look into the role smoking played in their lives and psyche. Through this methodology researchers learned what was truly relevant to a smoker who was contemplating an attempt to quit smoking. The community building aspect of IdeaStream allowed for the kind of rich and textural responses that was needed to build insights and inform a Phase ll deeper examination into specific service areas.
Phase II: Traditional Focus Groups 
Findings were taken from first phase and used to inform the traditional focus groups., where insights and
objectives solutions were explored. 

Evolution of an Insight 

The advantages of an online bulletin board group methodology - speed, convenience, richness and candor - were explored to address geographical scope, time frame and to gain richer, more in-depth access to our participants’ environment, attitudes, influences and lifestyles. The methodology took the research team into the interior and exterior worlds of smokers and former smokers through community creation and building a series of engaging tasks over a week-long period. 
Function of Online Bulletin Board Group and Task Design 
Researchers at CultrDig designed tasks and task flow sequence to accomplish some very specific objectives. They also left themselves open to the idea that they might discover something unexpected along the way and to be ready to quickly shift gears in that event. Which is exactly what happened on Day Six of the online study. 
The task of Day Six asked participants to show and tell what or who they looked to (or might look to) for help and support during a quit attempt. It was at this juncture that participants seemed to split into two very distinct types of responses: 
1. Those who wanted help and support. 
2. Those who wanted to do it their own way, which often meant ‘perception of doing it on my own’. 
This discovery pointed to some major implications for an insight with significant potential to inform service development. 
With only one day left in the study, we had to quickly come up with a way to explore this new territory. Thanks to IdeaStream powerful functionality and the Dub’s ever- present support team, CultrDig were able to quickly address and explore an exciting insight-building opportunity. A poll was devised that separated out respondents into two distinct quitting styles. A short survey was then created on motivations for success, by ‘quitting style’. 
The next day participants were asked for feedback on existing quit smoking services, alongside the newly created poll question and survey. The teams were delighted at the robust quality of the responses not to mention an exceptionally high response rate for the final day. 
Function of Traditional Focus Groups 
CultrDig moved into Traditional Focus groups to further explore and validate what they hearing in the online groups about personal quitting styles and what that meant for Clearway Minnesota’s services and offerings. 
Focus Groups showed that while these two very different styles of quitting existed, both shared a commonality in the smoking’s highly sociological nature and the way it had deep personal/identity connections. 
These and other learnings that came from this path were instrumental in understanding how to further evolve a framework for applying our findings and defining services against this complex backdrop of a behavioral change cycle. 
Ultimately the insights that evolved out of this two-methodology process served as a launching pad for exploring opportunities for innovation, and thinking differently about how to more authentically interact and create support that would be relevant to smokers of all stripes and colors across the state of Minnesota. 


A combination of online bulletin board groups and traditional focus groups was the best solution to accomplish CultrDig’s research objectives. What the research team also discovered was how ongoing developments in research technologies combined with traditional methods gave them the ability to pivot quickly on new and sometimes unexpected information. Ultimately this led to powerful opportunities for gaining fresh insights to guide meaningful and impactful solutions. 
In 2014 CultrDig will be seeing the direct results of the research in the next generation launch of ClearWay Minnesota services and initiatives. For their team, it was hugely satisfying to see the client achieve their goals in a powerful way. 
As an added bonus, on the final day participants posted unsolicited comments thanking the research team for involving them in the study. They commented that the tasks made them think about the effects of smoking and remember why they wanted to quit – to the point that they were motivated to try again. That, for all of us involved with the project, was a very rewarding outcome as well!
This content was provided by Dub. Visit their website at

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