The Quant Guy Says to the Qual Guy…

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Last month, Quirk’s and 20|20 partnered to present research on new integration strategies for quantitative and qualitative methods. The Olde World of qualitative research – heavily dependent on face-to-face interaction and its inherent cost, is giving up ground to digital qualitative approaches according to Isaac Rogers, Chief Innovation Officer with 20|20. Traditional methods of obtaining qualitative data do little to foster integration with quantitative methods.

The first wave of digital qualitative started the process of breaking down the walls between quantitative and qualitative. It offered participants new ways to engage (online, mobile, communities, webcam interviews) in an anytime, anywhere approach. It made global qualitative more feasible and provided a sense of flexibility unheard of previously. However the new tools did not bring forth new thinking.

It was common for researchers simply to take their research designs from face to face and adapt them to online. This allowed them to retain their project scope, size, goals and budget. It may have eased the transition, but it failed to take full advantage of the digital transition.

Flash forward a few years and we have the second generation of digital qualitative, which takes advantage of the pathways that online quantitative research has been using for some time. The table below highlights how the second generation of tools is striving for a greater sense of integration with other tools.

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This shift in focus for qualitative research comes at a perfect time for those focused on quantitative research. Surveys, by design, are focused tools that can be leveraged to provide insight into the broader market. This focus, however, creates a vacuum or a missing piece to fill. That missing piece is the depth and color that qualitative research thrives on. Second generation qualitative tools, via the integration pathway, can be leveraged to link the two methods together. The graphic below shows how qualitative can fit easily into an existing quantitative design.

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The link used to route a sub-sample of respondents was embedded into the survey. It allowed the client to identify hotspots in the survey and take a deeper dive into the respondent’s motivations and thought process.

For too long the two worlds of market research have existed separately, or at best in an uneasy truce. New methods, such as those proposed by 20|20 Research, allow researchers to incorporate both methods into an existing research design. This brings additional power into the equation and can yield exponentially more value for the client, be they external or internal.

Greg Timpany directs the research efforts for Global Knowledge in Cary, North Carolina, and runs Anova Market Research. You can follow him on Twitter @DataDudeGreg.

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