Posted by: Lucila Cejas | May 11, 2015

Interviewing Adolescents

As I continue to gather secondary research on Generation Z and branding, I begin to narrow the focus of my study. Part of the planning process is to understand the intricate and powerful art of interviewing. As our textbook says, it is crucial to gather the relevant literature on the topic and understand the research goals in order to properly conduct an insightful interview.

There have been many definitions as to what the precise age bracket is for the so-called Generation Z. The New York Times said Gen Z’ers were born in the mid 90’s to the early 2000’s, the Business Insider says they are between 13 and 20 years old, and the Huffington Post said they are aged 13 to 17. Based on these sources, I believe the ideal sample for this study are young people between the age of 13 and 18.

Due to the constraint that I will have in time and resources, it would be wise for me to rely on an opportunistic and convenient sampling plan. By contacting friends and relatives and asking them to forward my interview request to subjects that would fit the criteria, I expect to achieve a level of snowball sampling, expanding my pool.

What is the ideal number of interviewees? This is where it gets complicated. Not enough interviews will make for a “shallow and stale” contribution, yet too many would be overwhelming to process between transcripts and response analyses. At the moment, I believe I should keep my sample to a dozen interviewees.

Based on the types of interviews described in the textbook, the respondent kind would be more suitable for the study I want to conduct. Respondent interviews are characterized for having subjects with experiences that attend to the research goals. Interviewees need to speak for themselves and share their motivations, experiences, and behaviors on a topic. Since I will be exploring their perception of brands, as well as the expectations they will have from them, this kind of approach would allow me to get the answers I am hoping for.

Stances are key to the interview process. The way I approach my subjects will have a huge impact on the responses I will get. Since my interviewees will be teenagers, I think a friendship model of interviewing would be best. This feminist approach requires the interviewer to act friendly and treat interviewees as acquaintances. Teens are known for being stubborn when it comes to getting information out of them, so this approach could allow them to feel more comfortable around me and have a casual conversation about the topic.

Here are some questions I would ask during my interview. As my research continues, I will be able to narrow down the topics and work on probes in order to maximize my interviewing efforts.

  • What are your favorite brands? What attracts you to them?
  • Can you think of an ad campaign that you liked? What was special about it? Where did you see it? Would you have changed anything?
  • Describe your ideal CEO. Why are these qualities important? How will they affect your chances to buy a product?
  • When you hear a brand story, what stands out to you? What kind of stories do you want to hear from brands?
  • What should brands want from you? What is your role with them?

I am also considering choosing recognizable brands and ask my subjects to describe them to understand what aspects attracts them the most. What do you guys think?

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