Tips & Techniques

Here are some methodological tips to help guide the research process. By sharing best practices, we aim to improve the quality and relevance of the insights you generate.

Here are some methodological tips to help guide the research process. By sharing best practices, we aim to improve the quality and relevance of the insights you generate.

Define Objectives

Before launching into a methodological debate (survey vs. focus groups), get clear on what you need to achieve and how your study will contribute to this goal. - What business problem are we aiming to address? - How can market research help us solve this problem? Put this in writing and communicate it with your team and vendors. This way, everyone will be grounded in a shared understanding of the business challenge and research objectives.

Identify Stakeholders

It is critical to identify the right stakeholders for your project. Too many “cooks in the kitchen” will derail the process. Too few and you may not get the buy-in you need to ensure the research is ultimately valued and relevant. - Who should be involved in — or at least made aware of — the study? - What are their interests? What objectives will they want met? - How much involvement should they have in the process? - What is the best way to gather input without diluting the focus?

Define Target Outcomes

If you can articulate and envision what you want to get out of the research — when all is said and done — the easier it will be to design a study that gets you there: - How will research findings be used? - What decisions will they inform? - What do I need/expect in a deliverable? - What specific data points will I want to have? Be sure to communicate this with your research team and vendors so everyone is on the same page.

Method Selection

Since the dawn of the Internet, many new technologies and data collection platforms have emerged to revolutionize the market research industry. Yet the fundamental distinction between qualitative and quantitative research remains unchanged. Sure, okay, there are ways to meld the two: You can add open-ended questions to your quantitative survey. Or include rating sheets to your qualitative discussions. But the fundamental issues of sample size, “representativeness,” and structured vs. unstructured data will always distinguish the two. Why use each one? Which one is right for your study? Consider the differences …

Quantitative Overview

If your end-goal is to gain statistically reliable data that conveys authority and certitude, then quantitative is the way to go. For example, you would use quant to measure product usage and brand perceptions and then track those metrics, statistically, over time. Or you may want to determine the optimal price point for a new product you plan to market. You would want qualitative data for something so precise. Numbers are great when you want definitive data. But then wouldn’t you always go with quantitative research? Qualitative data is so “messy” and subjective. Who wouldn’t want to generate authoritative and certain results? It’s a fair question. But quant is not always right. It only works well when you’re ready to ask the hard questions and, even then, it only works for some strategic issues.

Qualitative Overview

Qualitative research is defined by small sample sizes; in-depth and (somewhat) free-flowing discussions; nuance and subtlety; an opportunity for unexpected insights to arise. Qualitative is best when you are new to a topic and need to explore themes or generate hypotheses. It is good for complex subjects that require careful thought and deliberating. It is great for getting feedback that goes beyond Agree vs. Disagree, Like vs. Dislike, Choice A vs. Choice B. Is your target audience extremely small/niche? Qualitative may be required.