AKQua Arbeitskreis Qualitative Markt- und Sozialforschung
Der Arbeitskreis für qualitative Markt- und Sozialforschung (AKQua) steht für fachlichen Austausch und Stärkung der qualitativen Forschungsmethoden in Deutschland. Der Arbeitskreis speist sich aus dem ehrenamtlichen Engagement vieler Markt- und Sozialforscher. Er wendet sich an alle, die an einer aktiven Diskussion und Weiterentwicklung dieses Bereiches interessiert sind.
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Qualitative Research – the Missing Link in the Board Room?
@ Copyright Edward Appleton, October 2019
Market research more than ever needs to prove its business impact and value – and increasingly analytics is where companies turn to for efficient and scalable solutions. It’s the faster growing segment of research globally. At the same time, Qualitative Research is enjoying a mini-renaissance – whilst difficult to see in the numbers yet, anecdotal evidence, especially from the US, supports this claim.
One of the reasons behind this – my hypothesis - qualitative research is actually very well placed “to inspire and provoke to enable transformational actions”. (Unilever’s definition of an insight/ Harvard Business Review 09/2016). This may sounds strange. Numbers (quantitative research, analytics) are invariably the standard approach for any business decision, especially at board level – they provide reassurance.
Qualitative research on the other hand is regarded as subjective, unreliable, lacking validity. “Qual in the boardroom” sounds more like the title of a Netflix film than a serious business proposition! But however visualized, with the best info-graphics, quantitative findings don’t easily emotionalize or inspire – the first requirement of Unilever’s definition of an insight (see above).
Numbers have the potential to switch people off, to numb the brain” – findings from Behavioral Economics suggests this convincingly.
Companies are missing a trick – senior managers should listen to qual data more frequently and accept its role. When executed well, qual brings insights to life in a different way – it emotionalizes effectively, and can often provoke stakeholders to view their business challenge in a different light. This is much closer to Unilever’s insight definition. Businesses can easily become captured by their own language, acronyms, jargon; an inward-looking stance can result, divorced from changing consumer realities.
Contemporary qual options help – digitally, and of course in analogue format.
A raft of options that almost all have eye- and brain-opening potential – customer immersions, ethnographies, storytelling workshops, co-creation sessions, selective use of social media analysis and the sometimes shocking Vox Pop quotations for example.
So here’s my call to action – use qualitative research differently, get out of the studio format, allow it to be facilitative in opening up corporate mindsets to how people really think and feel about a category. Dare to be childlike. And yes, link all this to quant – if joined at the hip, so that consumers aren’t dehumanized into the corset of a grid, a scale or a preference choice, or bored silly by repetitive questions, lengthy questionnaires.
Qual-quant at its best allows cients to see the people in the numbers.
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