The market research industry has change immensely in the past decade or so with the arrival of the internet and its subsequent advances – and few would argue that the industry has not benefited tremendously from this digital revolution. Yet does this mean ‘traditional’ market research no longer has a place?
In an article featuring in the latest issue of Quirk’s, Stephen Turner argues that a hybrid approach is always the best when it comes to a well-rounded market research project. It’s hard to disagree with his reasoning:
Of course, all research methodologies have their respective pros and cons; nor is this the first time that advancements in the industry have caused people to sit back and reassess things. Back in the day, face-to-face, house-to-house opinion polling went into decline as postal and telephone surveys gained in popularity. Both of these ‘new’ methodologies had distinct advantages but also a number of drawbacks – it’s difficult, for example, to provide visual stimuli during a telephone interview. It’s probably fair to say that every approach has advantages but leaves something out in the process.
There is no doubting that the internet is an extraordinary tool which has redefined our ability to reach diverse segments of people. However, like all of the new techniques before it, there is still an important body of information left on the table, even as technology brings us ever closer to the experience of face-to-face communications. Non-verbal communication (body-language, posturing, etc.) forms an important part of our understanding, and simply goes undetected when interviewing does not take place face to face.
The problem is, of course, that face-to-face work is expensive and time-consuming. It is especially difficult when you need to talk to people who are geographically dispersed. Yet, Turner argues that, in spite of the huge amount of reliable and valid information garnered elsewhere, face-to-face interviews are essential in order to truly understand peoples’ thoughts, feelings and dispositions toward the products, services and communications that we research.
Turner concludes by advocating the development of hybrid approaches to research which include various components. In essence, this is what we at B2B International do each time a client comes to us with a market research ‘problem’ they need help in solving. We look at all the different ways we could go about gathering the required intelligence, weigh up the pros and cons of each methodology and (taking into account any additional budgetary and time constraints) propose the most suitable combination of methodologies to best fit the bill.
Find out more about the techniques and tools we use here.
You can read the article in full here.