There are a number of methods for market research available to companies looking to strengthen their brand. Some of these – such as online surveys – may seem old school, whereas others leverage new technologies or approaches to gather and analyze data. While tried and true methods still offer value, new tools and ideas are giving market researchers additional options for how they work. In addition, some methods, such as instant polling, retain their original intent and structure but incorporate a new twist. Indeed, all research methods come with their own set of pros and cons, represented by price, speed, access, reliability, and other variables. Depending on a company’s budget, timeline, target audience, and objectives, they may employ just one method or a combination of several to get the job done.
To help organizations stay abreast of new developments, we’ve provided an overview below of the top five research methods on the forefront of today’s market research.
Quali-Quant is currently hot with market researchers. While qualitative and quantitative research are typically sequential, Quali-Quant blends them into an online, real-time group session comprised of pre-programmed closed-ended questions (e.g. have you ever purchased x,y,z software?) and open-ended questions created on the fly.
Pros: Quali-Quant is much faster and cheaper than the sequential alternative and enables companies to probe unexpected findings in real time.
Cons: Hard-to-find respondents aren’t always available at the same time for scheduled live group sessions. Because sample sizes are smaller than typical online surveys, Quali-Quant also has a large margin of error, limiting quantified insights to the top and the bottom of a given response range.
#2: Selfies and Video Diaries
Selfies and personal videos are an effective qualitative research tool where subjects take photos or videos of themselves completing tasks. This method is great for immersing research teams into subjects’ mindset.
Pros: Because it captures real-time reactions, respondents don’t have to rely on error-prone memory to document a response. This method is also great for researching hard-to-recruit millennials and Gen Zers.
Cons: For now, this research method is only suitable for a younger demographic. Moreover, because selfies and video diaries reflect individual expression, they may be difficult for researchers to compare and contrast. It can also be tricky and time-consuming to translate this medium into reports or other formats required for stakeholder consumption.
Co-creation refers to a qualitative, workshop-style session with a moderator, internal stakeholders, and existing or potential customers. Whereas a conventional focus group is observed behind a one-way mirror , co-creation has customers actively brainstorm with company representatives to generate fresh ideas and solutions that may not arise internally. This method can also help companies more deeply understand their customers.
Pros: Co-creation is fast and economical, with a good moderator usually able to generate and refine rough ideas into a completed concept following a 1-2 day workshop.
Cons: Because it relies on anecdotal information from a small sample, co-creation doesn’t represent a company’s entire customer base; like focus group methods, it often requires quantitative research to elicit definitive results.
#4: Instant Polling
The ubiquity of mobile devices has brought new relevance to this traditional research method. Instant polling still takes place in large group settings such as conferences, where on-stage presenters ask the audience to answer a question. What’s different today is that respondents can submit answers via cell phones and other devices.
Pros: Instant polling is a great way to gather information from high-level executives and other hard-to-reach groups. Its instant reporting capability also reduces operational costs.
Cons: This method is only relevant for close-ended questions, as there’s no way to explore topics in depth. Researchers must also be willing to immediately share the findings with participants.
#5: Bulletin Board Focus Groups
Bulletin Board Focus Groups are multi-day, online focus groups where a moderator and participants interact through written chats. Researchers typically release pre-programmed questions every morning and evening over three days. Participants usually answer a question, then read and react to others’ answers.
Pros: This method elicits less biased responses than live group settings. In addition, researchers can recruit participants regardless of geography and create recorded transcripts that are easy to analyze.
Cons: Participants don’t engage as actively as they would in live focus groups. Because respondents’ facial expressions and body language aren’t visible, the research experience may be less immersive than with traditional focus groups.
Market research is ever-evolving, with new tools and research strategies emerging all the time. Researchers can mix and match different methods to meet their specific needs and find the right balance of in-depth qualitative research and large-sample quantitative research. Whatever method is chosen, it’s still critical to use skilled moderators, sound research objectives, carefully recruited samples, and well-crafted questions to be truly set up for success.
Interested in strategic market research for your brand? Contact Marshall Strategy Today.