In-depth understanding of target audiences is essential for developing social marketing strategies that are needs-based and rooted in local contexts. PEER is a qualitative research tool that generates rich narrative data on sensitive issues such as sexual norms and behaviour (learn more at www.options.co.uk/peer). Community members are trained to design interview prompts, conduct conversational interviews with their friends, and feed back data to a social scientist. During the first phase of the CARISMA programme, PEER was conducted with female sex workers in Haiti, batey residents in the Dominican Republic, and young women in Trinidad and Jamaica. The research was conducted for a variety of reasons: as formative research to produce evidence for programme design; to interpret quantitative research findings; to monitor the impact of a behaviour change communication programme; and to design tailored communications, interventions and quantitative tools.
Beneficial aspects of the PEER process which differ from typical qualitative research include:
- SMO staff work directly with peer researchers to gain a better understanding of issues, through drama, discussion, and visual media. This shifts the balance of power away from programmers and empowers the peer researchers as experts.
- It brings the ‘real world’ of the target group to life in an immediate and vivid manner.
- Programmers take a ‘hands on’ approach to data analysis. They are immersed in the reality of the data, and are encouraged to think about their strategy from the perspective of the target group.
- A clear and concise synthesis of the research is produced, which addresses the key issues that programmers need to know about to design their programmes.
- SMOs can readily share results with creative agencies, marketing departments, and other stakeholders who need to understand the target audience.
PEER findings have widespread appeal as a form of research. The detailed, ‘real life’ narrative data has captured the attention of a wide audience, including National AIDS Committees, NGOs, and PANCAP.
Please take a look at these PEER case studies.