It’s an exciting time to be in the insights business, and an especially exciting time for qualitative market research. Never before have we had the means to blend creativity and rigor in qualitative like we do now.
Qualitative has always played a secondary role to quantitative analysis in market research. It has long been seen as directional, subjective and “soft.”
But now technology allows qualitative insights to be both deeply textured, highly nuanced and every bit as robust as quant. We can collect and analyze unstructured data with rigor and efficiency, eliminating the noise and bias that is often associated with qual.
But we still see a lot of folks not becoming true Qual Innovators. Why? Well, old ways are hard to shake. There’s comfort in the familiar. Old biases persist.
But if you are an innovator, here are three tips to exercise that muscle in qual design and analysis
1. Be open – First of all, you have to be open, curious and willing to change. If you believe that using technology and quantification of unstructured data is antithetical to true qualitative, then read no further. An innovator you are not! But if you are open to it, there is a whole new world of platforms out there that enable the collection of unstructured data at scale and software that allows sophisticated (yes, statistical!) analysis of qualitative data.
New technologies are coming online at a rapid pace. We have our favorites at RealityCheck, but we keep our eyes and ears open for emerging technologies that give us new pathways into the analysis of unstructured data. (Right now, we’re looking into software that allows us to go deeper on emotionality in textual data than what basic sentiment analysis offers.) There’s cool stuff out there if you’re willing to shed old ways of doing things!
2. Be human – That said, don’t lose touch with the humans in your study! Being a Qualitative Innovator requires a unique set of skills. You must be part empath and part statistician. (Or build a team that includes both types of people, which is what we do at RealityCheck.) Allow big data and thick data to inform each other. Move back-and-forth between your empathic, human understanding of the people in your study and a high-level statistical analysis of the unstructured data that will keep you honest, reveal nuances you can’t see with the naked eye, and allow you to take into account all of your data. Allow each mode of inquiry to provide a pathway to insight in its unique way.
The true advantage of qualitative is in the deeply textured, rich human insights it provides. At RealityCheck, our analysts and strategists pulse between close, human exploration and high-level analysis. The trick to being a Qual Innovator is not to let one mode of inquiry dominate, but to treat each as equally important to your insights story. Which leads us to our final key.
3. Be an integrator – Finally, to be an innovator, you have to be an integrator. That means integrating deep human insights and robust statistical analysis into a single, compelling insights story. There’s nothing better than an analysis that seamlessly blends stats, interesting visualizations and rich human texture. Qualitative Innovators know that all data are in service to the story! When you hit the right blend of high-level statistical analysis and human depth, your stakeholders are both inspired to innovate and confident to act.
So there you have it. Three quick keys to being a true Qualitative Innovator. As always, let us know what you think by leaving a comment. And if you like our content, please subscribe so you’ll never miss a post!