Why use friendship pairs in market research

Market Research 101: A qualitative methodology for your research toolkit

You’ve heard of paired depths as a research method – a great in between of interviews and small groups with many benefits to specific and time sensitive projects – but what are friendship pairs in market research?  

A friendship pair, as you can imagine, is an interview with a pair of friends. It doesn’t need to be a pair, but there is something about the shared and intimate, peer to peer connection with two people that is both fun and also revealing. 

Chatting with your friend – whether it be gossip, a personal issue, a TV show you’re both watching or asking for career advice – is either going to be fun, easy, considered or all of the above.  

Friendship as a methodological approach is a wonderful way to stimulate conversation and a hugely impactful tool. From getting each friend to introduce the other (which normally involves some kind of joke about one another): who are they, what do they do, how long have you known them and from where, it is enjoyable for both participants and moderators. 

The chemistry between two friends discussing an idea for advertising or their own personal habits is positively contagious. For the more awkward, or relatively personal topics, the value of friendship pairs is unmatched.  

A moderator’s role is to create an open and non-judgemental environment to help people open up, but friendship pairs are an effective tool in helping people feel safe to say what they think in the space of someone they know.  

Friends can bounce off one another, give each other reminders of habits, speak to inside jokes or bring them down to earth if they are playing up an experience. They can help each other in articulating points, especially if there is a lot of detail (which paired depths are great method to conduct research for) or if the adcept or advertising is very conceptual.  

It is also a brilliant way to explore topics which feel more individual, such as the topic of humour which at The Nursery we have researched with successful friendship pairs in the past.  

Or when speaking to young people. At The Nursery, our 12.18 Youth Research explores the lives of young people. And over the past year, we have been discovering the lives of those entering adulthood in 2023 and this increasingly influential audience at this pivotal point of their lives. Friendship pairs (and groups) have been a brilliant way to help young people who may find the experience of research daunting ease into and open up in a comfortable space.  

And as moderators, it’s a fun to explore how different friendships interact and discuss advertising. You are almost let into the ‘real world’ rendition of how people might respond to advertising, with the personal and specific language people use with their friends and loved ones.  

On a logistical note, it is in theory easier to manage no-shows and rescheduling as one friend can just text the other and ask where they are!  

But on the flip side, and following vain of logistics, a friendship pair is a sample of 2. It will be dependent on the project type, but it may be needed to run several sessions to cover all audiences and cover the intended sample.  

To conclude on my case for market research friendship pairs, they are a valuable tool in creating a space for people to discuss personal views or the finer detail of advertising to produce authentic insights.  

Zara Marouf, Senior Research Executive

As pioneers in brand research, get in touch to find out more about how we can help achieve your research goals at hello@the-nursery.net

The Nursery’s expertise covers the full range of the planning cycle from Market Understanding, Segmentation, Proposition Development, Creative Development, Campaign Evaluation and brand and experience Tracking.