Hybrid Research: The Best of Both Worlds

Hybrid Research: The Best of Both Worlds

When working with a client at the design phase of a new research study, it’s not uncommon for them to start by asking for either a qualitative or quantitative approach. After learning about their business situation, we provide our recommendation, which often involves a customized hybrid approach integrating elements of both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. That’s because hybrid research can deliver a more vivid image of who your customers are and tell a richer story about their experiences than either method could on its own.

In a previous blog, we talked about the basic differences between qual and quant research. When marketers need to understand the underlying emotions, feelings, and motivations behind customer behavior, qualitative methodologies are ideal. Quantitative methods are best suited when you need to answer questions like ‘how many,’ ‘how much,’ and ‘how often’ to better understand the prevalence of specific customer behaviors or attitudes. The beauty of conducting a hybrid qual/quant research approach is the ability to explore the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ of your customer experience at the same time, giving you a more complete, well-rounded picture. Here are some ways that customized hybrid research approaches can deliver a more holistic understanding of your customer experience.

Combining Observation & Explanation in Product Usage Testing
Whether you’re refining a new product offering or making improvements to an existing product, gathering quantitative feedback is an important step toward supporting the success of a product launch. In addition to collecting information on how well the product performs, satisfaction with key features and benefits, and comparisons with competitive products consider gathering such qualitative feedback as:

  • Videos of consumers using the product in various situations
    • Recorded in-person at a central location
    • Submitted via mobile phone during in-home testing
  • Online diary of consumer experiences before, during, and after product usage
    • Include diary entries of experiences using competitive products for comparison
    • Add storytelling exercises to describe their emotions throughout product usage

Video footage may reveal differences in usage behaviors between customer segments that might not otherwise be observed. Gathering usage diaries and incorporating storytelling exercises as part of your research can also help you understand the emotional context surrounding product usage. In addition to refining product design prior to launch, the insights gained from qualitative feedback can be used to enhance packaging communication, advertising messaging, and even customer service training.

Interactive Marketing Communication Evaluations
Marketing communication testing is often conducted via online surveys, where consumers are asked to rate advertising executions, brand names, taglines or other marketing content based on such measures as appeal, relevance, believability, and uniqueness. However, in this age of co-creation and user-generated content, consider including interactive exercises like:

  • Inviting consumers to build their own ad concept
    • Using drag & drop online survey features
    • Choosing from a variety of pre-determined options such as images, headlines, and key messaging
  • Have consumers complete a picture sort (projective technique)
    • Selecting pictures (from a pre-determined set of options) that depict their emotions after viewing a new ad concept
    • Sharing a brief explanation of why they associate the selected pictures with the ad

The ‘build your own ad’ exercise is a unique way to gain insight into preferred communication elements, as well as in-depth feedback regarding main message communication, likes, and dislikes, among other key criteria. By giving consumers the ability to provide additional insight into the types of messages and imagery that resonate most strongly with them, marketers gain a richer understanding of how to communicate more effectively with their customers.

Gathering Authentic & Personalized Feedback

Consumers are increasingly seeking more personalized customer experiences. In order to meet that demand, marketers need to find ways to capture authentic, personalized feedback on a more regular basis. Using hybrid research approaches, whenever possible, can help tell a more complete story of your customers’ experience. With that deeper level of customer understanding, marketers are able to quickly and confidently identify opportunities to improve their products, services, and communications.



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