From the Editor in Chief – Fall 2021

Falling Back to In-Person Research 

By Mike Carlon, Editor-in-Chief, QRCA VIEWS Magazine, Vertigo Partners, LLC, Stamford, Connecticut, mike.carlon@vertigopartners.com 

Fall is here, and I’m an empty nester. It’s a strange feeling—yes, my triplets did start college last fall, but due to the pandemic, not all of them were on campus. This year, though, they have all flown the coop and my house is too quiet. I don’t like it. 

I remember when they were younger, and my wife and I would spend time dreaming about what it would be like when they got older and more independent. After all, we were tired of always playing zone defense. It’s almost as if we couldn’t wait for them to grow up. Now, after moving all three into their various universities, I question why we were in such a rush to speed up their development. 

Their being on campus, though, means that they will be attending classes in person—which, many of us can agree, is a better way to not only learn, but engage in a group discussion. Which brings me to sharing my excitement that in-person research is back! While I’ve been an early adopter of interactive qual platforms going back to the mid 1990s, there really is no substitute for engaging groups of participants in the same space. The energy is better. There are fewer distractions. The conversations, I believe, feel much more natural. Plus, it feels so good to run through airports again. 

Fall, though, brings some big changes. The hot weather of the summer gives way to the cooler, less humid days of autumn. I had an old boss, Brian Rafferty at Foote, Cone, and Belding, who referred to the fall as college weather and I do miss those carefree days (which I can now relive vicariously through my kids). Now, though, fall means Q4 craziness and this year I’m sure many of us will welcome it with open arms given that last year was, well, a bit different for many of us. 

I hope that this issue inspires you the same way it did all of us on the VIEWS team. You’ll be whisked away to the desert of Burning Man and the beautiful landscape of Southeast Asia. You’ll learn all about dark marketing and how to use WhatsApp in your qualitative research. Interested in storytelling? We’ve got something for you to sink your creative teeth into in this month’s Luminaries column which profiles Nancy Cox, a storytelling consultant. Speaking of creativity, there’s a fascinating piece on picture sequences and how they can help reveal insight. We’ve got a timely piece on networking without in-person events and some great advice in our Dear Emeritus column. While it’s still early in the NFL’s season, it’s not too early to learn why some Super Bowl ads break through—and you can learn about it in one of this edition’s Toolbox articles. Anyone looking for a deep dive into the busy world of pharmaceutical research will not want to skip this issue’s Industry column and, like Jack Torrance said (on paper anyway) in The Shining, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” I always suggest winding down with a few books; anyone looking for some good reads will find some excellent recommendations in our book reviews. 

I truly hope all of you had a great summer and will have a prosperous fall. If you have any feedback to share on this, or any past issue, please don’t hesitate to reach out. If you’d like to contribute something to VIEWS, we are always looking for fresh voices. 


Mike Carlon