By Michael Mermelstein, Executive VP/Partner, Nichols Research, Fremont, California,

Retaining a Strong Sense of Community

QRCA is comprised of a broad community of market researchers who specialize in qualitative research. A strong sense of community is what has and continues to make QRCA such a great organization. The powerful sense of community that exists has always been a core strength. Key characteristics of the QRCA community have been our values—principles and standards that we acknowledge, honor, and hold ourselves to. Our community works because we respect each other. We know how important it is that each of us is able to create high-quality work for our clients. The more knowledgeable and capable each of us is, the more we all benefit through the trust that our clients have in us. We each make the whole stronger. This trust, respect, and adherence to the values that we share allows for high degrees of collaboration and fun as we get back together in person again. This commonality within QRCA and the common interests that we share helps to bond and unify the organization.

Our community has a strong and proud history. QRCA is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2023. QRCA was originally comprised of independent moderators who embraced collaboration among themselves. The organizing founders recognized the need for standards, professionalism, and the sharing of ideas and methods. It was and is a place to come together and to connect.

But communities grow and change over time. New people move in, and other people move out. New buildings are built, and new roads are paved. Building on the success of the founders, QRCA has extended membership opportunities to a broader network of qualitative researchers, beyond just moderators. Our QRCA members (and those outside QRCA) are capable of conducting really good research using the best methods, even mixed methodologies, that meet the research objectives on any single project. Members now include in-house insights strategists and managers, in-house UX researchers and CX researchers, and field services (facilities, recruiters, and field managers), in addition to moderators. This big embrace of all who do qualitative research enhances our community. The sharing, collaborating, and networking all lead to a stronger and better organization for everyone. The diverse experiences shared among these different segments help elevate the knowledge and capabilities of the group.

Last year, the QRCA Board of Directors defined the organization as: a global network of qualitative research professionals, including market research, UX, CX, sociologists, ethnographers, linguists, social media, and other qualitative experts, and the resource for elevating qualitative research expertise at all levels, where members network and share best practices, trends, and technologies, and take advantage of unique educational content.

As QRCA membership continues to grow beyond its original base built upon independent moderators, an important challenge will be that the organization maintains its strong sense of community. Recognizing that we all have a common cause as qualitative researchers enables each of us to benefit as we spread the values and professional standards across all these segments that comprise qualitative research. We have great opportunities for learning new skill sets that can open new opportunities for work and leverage our new contacts.

One of the best ways to benefit from the community is to be engaged. Each of you can positively impact the community by volunteering to share your experience and expertise, whether it is to present a webinar, write an article, offer suggestions and tips to fellow members, or serve on a committee (national or chapter) or SIG. Being part of a community can make us feel as though we are a part of something greater than ourselves. It can give us opportunities to connect with people, reach for our goals, better our profession, and, of course, increase our contacts, knowledge, and opportunities.

Best Regards,
Michael Mermelstein