Posted by Alan Nazarelli ● Wed, Jul 07, 2021 @ 04:08 PM

The Qualitative Edge 2: Beyond the Spreadsheet

In my recently published eBook, "The Qualitative Edge", we explored the role of qualitative market research data in an increasingly quantitatively driven world. In this blog post, we highlight three mindset "must haves" for marketers and market researchers seeking to integrate qualitative research data into their quantitative data sets.

Marketer throwing graphs and charts in frustration, stop trying to quantify qualitative data with spreadsheets, tables, and graphs, there's a better way!

1. Combine Qualitative and Quantitative data into a “Trust but Verify” Process

The decision on whether to use qual or quant data for decision making is not an either/or. You can use quantitative techniques to generate, collect and analyze large data sets with small margins of error, then layer that with a small qualitative phase to verify the findings and for open ended exploration to go beyond the comfort zone of the quantitative data in your spreadsheets and charts. One effective technique in online surveys we have used successfully is the "conditional qualitative invitation". If the survey respondent answered questions a certain way, for example, a low score, then at the end of the survey they are invited to sign up for a 30-minute qualitative interview for an additional incentive. Note that the condition need not always be a low score or rating. High interest expressed in an attribute or topic can often yield great qualitative interview data as these respondents typically turn out to be highly interested or engaged.

2. Uncover the Power of Psychometrics

Psychometrics measures and tracks the values, beliefs, attitudes, interests, and lifestyle of an individual or group. The data attempts to describe the qualities and characteristics of customers beyond their basic demographics. While not exclusively the domain of qualitative data, this type of data collection is best done using open-ended in-depth qualitative techniques, and then quantitatively confirmed through closed ended attitudinal questions in surveys. Besides uncovering attitudinal factors, psychometrics also enables marketers to understand how customers actually interact and engage with their products and services including workarounds and complimentary solutions they might use. Emotional affinity and attachments are also uncovered by using qualitative projective techniques such as emotional laddering, enabling marketers to take these factors into account in designing tactile product and customer experiences.

3. Powerful Insights Lie at the Edge of Your Spreadsheets

In his groundbreaking book, "Competing Against  Luck" Clayton Christensen highlights the role of qualitative insights in understanding customer choice and motivations, often challenging marketers' assumptions about such motivations. He cites Airbnb as an example. Customer motivations for using Airbnb are not as an alternative to hotels, but to provide an authentic travel experience. The company's advertising efforts have reflected this, focusing less on savings compared to hotel stays and more on the benefit of a unique cultural experience. These insights do not lie in your spreadsheets or Tableau visualizations but at the periphery, where qualitative data is collected and analyzed. So called "customer-driven" or "customer-intelligent" enterprises often overlook these insights, given the huge volume of quantitative data available to them. As the saying does. "Its easier to look for your lost contact lens in the lit part of the room". But if you do so, you ignore these hidden customer insights gems at your own peril! 

This article is a follow-up to my eBook, "The Qualitative Edge". A complimentary copy is available here: https://www.siliconvalleyrg.com/ebook-the-qualitative-edge

Alan Nazarelli is President & CEO of Silicon Valley Research Group. To connect with him or arrange for a complimentary briefing please press the Connect button.

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Topics: Market Research Best Practice

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