These days, there is no shortage of ways to connect with your consumer target for qualitative or quantitative engagements.  While the “right” approach for a particular project will be driven by factors such as the objectives, target, timing, and budget, it’s important to bear in mind that often times the best option isn’t a single approach at all – but, rather, leveraging multiple ways of engaging with and learning from consumers.

A woman shops for laundry detergent in the supermarket.In the hands of an experienced consultant, layering complementary approaches leads to a more complete picture of the research subject.  For example, if working to understand drivers of grocery shopping behavior, a team may consider approaches such as focus groups, shopalongs, or pre/post-shopping diaries.  While each of these options is a valid consideration, each on its own captures only a small snapshot of what consumers do and why.  However, layering pre-shopping diaries or in-home interviews with mobile or in-person shopalongs, followed by online or in-person discussions allows for a more complete, 360-degree view of the situation, including aspects such as:

–          What prompted the shopping trip?

–          How did consumers plan for trip?

–          Who else was included on the trip, and how did that impact decisions and behaviors?  What happened on the store visit?  Were there any surprises in the store?

–          How did consumers feel about the trip afterwards; was it successful for them, and in what ways?

Of course, in addition to layering multiple qualitative approaches, there are tremendous benefits to leveraging both qualitative and quantitative techniques within a single initiative.  For example, an often utilized (for good reason!) and insightful research approach includes conducting focus groups to refine product, packaging, or advertising concepts prior to larger-scale quantitative testing as one of the final steps before potential further development.  While this combination of qualitative and quantitative is extremely valuable, there are times that clients aren’t quite certain whether the refinements made based on the qualitative are exactly what the target consumer was looking for.  In these situations, adding another round of qualitative, this one perhaps a round of online IDIs or focus groups, prior to the quantitative work ensures the concepts are fully optimized heading into the quantitative – helping clients put their best foot forward and get it right the first time.

And, as we know, research needs can pop up under super-tight timelines. While clients recognize the value of using both qualitative and quantitative research, they just don’t have time for both under a typical project flow.  However, with our hybrid same day quantitative / qualitative quick market research tool, you don’t have to choose – you can get outstanding insights with the quantitative measurement you need, along with the deeper understanding you gain from qualitative discussions.  Getting both measurement and great insights -fast!

With all of these tools (and more!) available to help in understanding your business issues, there’s no one approach to answer your questions.  The research methods/approaches that are selected are often based on the following factors:

  • Objectives of the work
  • Scope of the question(s) at hand
  • How you’re planning to use the information
  • Risk-level of decision at hand
  • Timeline
  • Budget
  • Key stakeholders involved

With so many tools at our fingertips these days, it’s important to keep an open mind and approach each research need as the unique situation that it is – ultimately choosing the right technique or combination of techniques to deliver the strong insights you need.