How do we define qualitative research in a new MR world?

This post looks at the definition of qualitative research and has been produced as part of a project I am doing with the University of Georgia’s Principles of Marketing Research team to update their Mobile Market Research course. Your thoughts and suggestions are invited! Indeed, the thoughts expressed here arise from a lively and informed discussion in the NewMR LinkedIn group. The growth in new research approaches and the emergence of new tools have raised questions about what the term qualitative means, and by extension what quantitative means. If we can collect hundreds of videos, thousands of pictures, or millions of quotes, does it challenge what we mean by qual and quant. Traditionally, qualitative research was relatively easy to differentiate from quantitative research. The Table below shows how qualitative and quantitative research were traditionally differentiated. However, this simple table is less helpful in today’s modern, mobile, social, passive data collecting world. Some tools are used by both qualitative and quantitative researchers, and the types of data collected have expanded and overlapped. Today, researchers can collect large amounts of text, images, and videos, and these large amounts can be collected from the same sorts of samples that are used for quantitative […]

Does this summarise mobile qual for you?

As part of the book on mobile market research that Sue York, Navin Williams and I are writing we need to give an overview of mobile qual, before going into depth. Do you think the image below helps? Thoughts? What are we missing? What would you change? What about the titles for the segments? By WE-research we mean projects where participants are recruited to capture a variety of qualitative data about their lives. They might be asked to capture images of waste, or videos of travel problems, or audio comments about the school run, for example. The term WE-research was introduced by Mark Earls and John Kearnon a few years ago. But, do you have a better term for this type of research? We are planning on three chapters on qualitative research, indeed we have written three chapters, an overview which covers all four segments above, followed by chapters specifically on the top two segments. Our view on techniques like passive tracking, Google Glass etc is that there is simply not enough material yet to have a chapter on it, there is too little experience around. If you’d like to help by reviewing one or more of these three chapters, […]

Notes for a non-researcher conducting qualitative research

In November I am presenting a paper to the ESOMAR Conference on Qualitative Research, in Valencia in Spain. My paper suggests that one threat to qualitative research is the potential for damage caused by people with no training in qualitative research using one of the many DIY tools that are appearing – especially those for online discussions and instant chats. My suggestion is to create a simple set of notes that will help put newcomers to our world on the right path. Below is my initial draft if of my notes, and I would really appreciate your feedback. The Playbook The playbook needs to be short, relevant, and easy to use if it is going to be of value to people looking to conduct their own research. Therefore, this initial draft covers the following topics: Evidence, not answers Creating a narrative Analysis begins at the start not the end of the project Creating a discussion guide Not everything that matters can be counted Data does not mean numbers Consider actors and agendas We are poor witnesses to our own motivations Memoing Enabling the participants whenever possible Grounding the story in the data Examples that inform, not ones that entertain The […]

How many ways is mobile being used in Qual?

As mentioned before (here and here), Navin William, Reg Baker, and I are producing a mobile marketing research module for the University of Georgia’s Principles of Marketing Research course. I have bounced some ideas off the readers of this blog, and here is another topic where I’d love to hear your views. Some of the most interesting work, to date, in terms of MMR (mobile market research) has been in the area of qualitative research and this is a key point for students of MMR to be aware of. The key areas of qualitative MMR: My feeling is that the key uses of mobile in qualitative research are: Smartphone Ethnography, recruiting participants to capture slices of the own lives and the lives of people around them to produce ethnographic data and in some cases to engage citizens in mass or auto ethnography. Mobile blogging, where participants use their mobile device (which can be as basic as SMS) to record or comment on some aspect of their lives. This can also include asking the participants to record their own vox pops. Mobile focus groups, where participants can use a mobile device to take part in focus groups. At one extreme this […]

The Qualitative Deficit

Market research is being deluged with new sources of data, from social media, from electronic communications, and from research communities. Whilst some of this information is suitable for quantitative analysis, large parts of it are unstructured, for example tweets, posts, comments, and uploads. Whilst this data presents an interesting opportunity for market research, it presents a sequence of inter-connected problems and challenges: Many of the market researchers who are most proficient with unstructured data, the qualitative researchers, are not instinctively drawn towards online data, preferring to deal with people in a face-to-face environment. Many of the researchers most attracted to large amounts of online data, the hard core quantitative researchers, have little appreciation of the different epistemologies of quantitative and qualitative research. Many of the software vendors, perhaps in a rush to market, have released products before they were really ready and with massive over-claims. In order for market research to fully leverage the potential benefits of the discourses being generated, market research needs to address the qualitative deficit. The qualitative deficit is the shortage of talent, software, and approaches designed to utilise massive amounts of qualitative data. Some of the new approaches and skillsets that are needed relate to […]