Hybrid Qual/Quant Research: The Best of Both Worlds

Hybrid Qual/Quant Research: The Best of Both Worlds

There was a time when upfront conversations with clients about their research needs started out in one of two ways, either “We need to do some groups,” or “We need to do a survey.” These days, the options are no longer limited to a purely qualitative or quantitative approach. In fact, it’s becoming more common to consider a hybrid qual/quant research approach that blends the best of both methodologies into a single study. That’s because hybrid research approaches can deliver a more vivid picture of who your customers are, what’s important to them, and why.  In the end, a hybrid study can tell a richer story about your customers’ experiences than either method could do on its own.

Traditionally speaking, the basic differences between qual and quant research come down to exploring the reasons ‘why’ consumers think, feel, and act the way they do (qualitative) and gathering statistics on consumer behavior answering questions like ‘how much,’ ‘how many,’ and ‘how often’ (quantitative).  The beauty of conducting a hybrid qual/quant research approach is the ability to explore the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ of your customers’ experience all at the same time, giving you a more complete, well-rounded picture. Here are some examples of hybrid qual/quant research in action.

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 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 hybrid qual/quant research 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 qual/quant research approaches, whenever possible, can help you gain a more complete picture 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.


Which Methodology is Right for You? Qualitative? Quantitative? Or Both?