March 2, 2020

Synergy of research methods


Norstat participated in Qual360 Europe recently and we want to share some of our take-aways with you.

Clients prefer immediate data rather than indirectly collected data based on what people say they do. We do have different protocols in place for gathering information, both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Qualitative and Technologies

Technology is everywhere. Almost 60% of the world is online and qualitative is no exception. Similar to what we see in industry reports (like GRIT report), new technologies have long stepped into Market Research and therefore qualitative methods as well. Mobile qualitative and mobile ethnography are among the top six emerging market research methods accordingly to latest GRIT report.

Artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), online communities – these are not mere buzzwords anymore, but a reality for many businesses.

Here are a couple of examples that were presented at this year’s conference:

Susi Thoribmert from EuroSport / Discovery shared a case study where biometric research was used to measure how to keep the engagement of sports events viewers on TV. As approximately 90% of human behaviour is driven by emotions, a biometric device that is simply put onto the viewers palm measures emotional excitement and stress via palm sweat. This provides unique real-time insights into how to provide more attractive TV content to the audience.

Angad Chowdry from QUILT.AI shared their experience in how machine learning and AI can help quantify qualitative data. Offline research has authenticity, robustness, truthfulness and with the help of AI and algorithms of machine learning, we can classify and quantify data from qualitative research.

So, can AI and machine learning replace a researcher and is it a threat to future market research, both qual and quant?
The answer is still no. We, as insights professionals, program the algorithms into the machine and not vice versa. Technology can definitely help us to gain more insights, however, it can’t give us the answers.

New ways of qualitative staying qualitative

More interesting insights into this topic came from Aliya Mirza from Sky Labs who talked about accelerating innovation through qualitative methods. To remain competitive iand attractive for customers in today’s world, companies have to be innovative. And while everyone can innovate and businesses need innovation fast, we can’t skip getting insights from the consumers.

Lloyds Banking group also understands the importance of getting insights from costumers, but how to understand your customer when people don’t want to talk about money? Lucinda Craig from Lloyds Banking Group shared her experience in collecting volumes of qualitative data via a mobile ethnography app. Using a mobile qualitative approach on such a sensitive topic as one’s money and finance allowed researchers to collect data they wouldn’t have been able to collect otherwise.

But what to do if you want to come into the market with your product, but your product is only available 100% online?

Kindoh, producers of diapers and baby products, cooperated with MR company Skopos, and used a combined approach of qualitative and quantitative research to understand the best strategy to enter the German market. They started with a quantitative survey, followed by in-home usage tests, then a couple of waves of an online diary study as well as online forums, ending with a quantitative survey. This approach gave them valuable insights on product usage patterns and which qualities consumers are looking for in the product . This enabled Kindoh to enter the market successfully.

By the way, did you know that Norstat offers in-home usage product tests as data collection method as well?

Exciting examples on using VR before launching a new product was presented by Jessica Adel from Electrolux and Katrin Kruger from Happy Thinking People. Research participants were invited to observe and try a new product – a fridge – in VR. Participants could look at the design, try functionalities and at the same time, the researchers could observe all actions from the VR on a separate monitor. Later on, all participants met in a focus group discussion about their experiences that turned into a lively conversation about a new product. This approach allowed not only to experiment with different designs, colour palettes and layouts of the fridge, but significantly saved time and money, as building a real prototype was not necessary.

Qualitative made quantitative

An what to do if the insights that your business has accumulated are so large that you start losing your grip on the information? Market logic in cooperation with German energy company E.O.N. shared an example on how a single AI operated platform can be used to consolidate all insights that company has and how the same platform allows them to merge these insights, build on them and create new insights out of them.

This case study showed how researchers could benefit from AI and make people who are not really interested in insights  change their mind and start looking for them.

Passive data collection and the insights we can get from this method is also not overlooked in qual world.

Holly Doran from Brandwatch shared a story on how they unlocked plant-based meat product strategies with social data by following and collecting conversations and visuals on the topic.

Jemma Aahmed from Badoo also shared their experience in mapping their customer journey experience, using hybrid user and market research techniques, i.e., data analytics, user tests, workshops with customers, in-depth interviews, which all resulted in increasing business focus on customer experience.

What to take away?

Synergies drive every partnership – whether it’s market research companies and end-clients, panel platforms and panel members or market researchers and data collection agencies. This is the same for market research methodologies. Qualitative should complement quantitative and vice versa.

Technologies are also not skipping the market research world when it comes to qualitative research.

Information needs to be valid. It changes fast. It always must comply with data protection regulations, but when we combine both qualitative and quantitative information, we can provide added value to the client.

What to look for next? We definitely will be on the lookout on how we can combine different research approaches (waterfall, scrum, lean, agile etc.), research methodologies and technologies to bring the best insights for every client.