Hypno Q-Sort is a powerful cost-effective technique to research a large number of brand positionings, ad concepts, new product ideas, package designs or other marketing plan elements in a single study, resulting in the discovery and quantification of distinct respondent segments. Results are easy to understand and are geared to making marketing decisions. In the past, Q-Sort studies were conducted with “awake” respondents, but now the technique can be conducted with respondents who have first been hypnotized so the results are based on their subconscious evaluations, a more reliable measurement of how they feel.
The Q-sort technique was developed 80 years ago by William Stephenson, a psychologist and Professor at the University of Missouri. The technique gets respondents to rank-order stimulus material, such as product concept statements, within a given context . For example, respondents can be asked to rank-order 50 product concept statements on a scale of "like best – like least ." Respondents also provide verbatim reasons for their "top" and "bottom" ranked concepts. Additional information about demography and purchase behavior can also be included in the questionnaire. Then, each respondent's ranking is statistically correlated with every other respondent in the study. For example, with 100 respondents, you will end up with 4,950 intercorrelations. (The "correlation" between two individuals who have rank-ordered the same data is simply a measure of how closely they did the rankings, with +1.00 indicating an exact match in their rankings, and -1.00 indicating they did their rankings exactly opposite of one another.)
The inter-correlations are then run through a factor analysis computer program to find the distinct groups (factors) of respondents with high inter-correlations. A “factor” can be thought of as a group of highly inter-correlated respondents. That is , if respondents 23, 78 , 83, 97 and 106 all had high inter-correlations, they would form the basis for inclusion in “Factor 1.” . The computer program would then go through the process again to find "Factor 2" , made up of another distinct group of respondents with high inter-correlations. (But not high inter-correlations with those respondents in Factor 1). The process continues until all statistically significant factor-groups have been identified. When the factor analysis is completed, you might end up with 4 or 5 "factors", or groups of respondents based on the similarity of their rankings.
Once the "factors", or groups of respondents, have been identified, the next step is to analyze which product concepts they liked and why. This is done by evaluating the rank order of the 50 product concepts for the respondents in each factor, and analyzing the verbatim comments about why they liked their “top-ranked” concepts. Other analyses could examine the size of the group , the demography or product usage or brand preference of the factor group compared with the general population, or compared to the other factor groups.
The power of this technique is that a large number of concepts or other marketing plan elements can be researched in a single study, determine which concepts rise to the top, and calculate the size of the groups with the winning concepts. And, by using hypnotized respondents, their subconscious evaluations will provide more reliable data than research using “awake” respondents. .