I’m sure you’ve noticed from the latest data digests that I'm really in a mobile mood, but there's just so much going on with mobile globally! Last week, I was at a research conference on “Mobile Research in a Mobile World”; it presented many interesting case studies on how to use mobile for research purposes in both developed and developing markets.
One of the most intriguing presentations was by Mikhail Zarin from Mobiety and Artem Tinchurin from Tiburon Research. They shared the challenges they encounter with doing research in Russia and how adding mobile adds a layer of complexity with regards to questionnaire design, engagement, and sample management.
This reminded me about a report I recently worked on with a colleague called “The Introduction To The Russian Consumer.” My colleague is from Russia, and she taught me that many consumers pay their bills or top up their phones at machines that take cash. And these machines also act as eCommerce platforms: You can use them to purchase airline tickets, for example. During their speech at the mobile research conference, Mikhail and Artem shared how they use these machines to ask people to participate in research. Although response rates are low, overall participation is quite good because there are so many ATMs.
The analogy I always use to talk about qualitative research is that it’s the illustration to the quantitative story. What my own analogy assumes is that qualitative data on its own is an illustration. However, it’s really up to the analyst to bring this data to life.
Creating a visual story to display your qualitative data is an equally important part of the research process as the analysis phase, and something that is often rushed and not executed well. In my last blog post, I highlighted the fact that qualitative research is not just “quotes on a page.” You are doing yourself and your respondents a disservice if you rely solely on quotes and text to tell your story. Here are my tips to create an engaging report:
Kill your data darlings. My colleague Reineke Reitsma posted about this last month, and I couldn’t agree more. Don’t go overboard with numbers. Especially in qualitative research, too many graphics or percentages only distract from the story. Pick a few data points that strongly highlight your qualitative story, and challenge yourself to display them without using graphs and pie charts (i.e., via infographics.)
Recently, I've been editing some reports on how consumers are using their mobile phones and how that has changed in the past couple of years. We only have to think back to the Nokia 6510 or Motorola flip phones that we were using a few years ago to see how the introduction of smartphones has changed our world. In many countries, people spend more time texting and doing other data-related activities on their phone than using it for actual voice calls.
And in many countries, the impact of mobile uptake and its evolution has been even bigger and more different than in the US and Europe. In the West, mobiles are often an addition to a PC or game console; in many developing countries, a mobile phone is the only device that most consumers own. This is reflected in the activities for which they use their mobile. For example, Forrester's Technographics® studies — involving 333,000 respondents in 18 countries — shows that Indian, Chinese, and Mexican mobile phone owners use their phones more to listen to music and play games than their European and US counterparts. [Note: this graphic shows selected activities from a list of possible activities]
We listened to marketers of the world’s biggest brands when they asked, “What’s the impact of Facebook on my brand?” and we decided to take a look for ourselves. We proudly present our latest research, “The Facebook Factor.” In the report, we answer the pressing question, “How much more likely are Facebook fans to purchase, consider, and recommend brands, compared with non-fans?” We used logistic regression modeling to find out. The impact? We call it the “Facebook factor,” and I urge you to read the report to find out how you can leverage our methodology to assess the Facebook factor for your brand.
In the report, we use four major brands as case studies to assess the Facebook factor for Coca-Cola, Walmart, Best Buy, and BlackBerry(Research In Motion [RIM]). Guess what? Facebook fans are much more likely to purchase, consider, and recommend the brands that they engage with on Facebook than non-fans. As the graphic below shows, Facebook fans of Best Buy are about twice as likely to purchase from and recommend Best Buy as non-fans.
I have to share something with you — I’m upset. Why? Because many clients have no idea of the value of good, solid qualitative research, nor the investments needed. Recently, I was discussing a prospective qualitative research project; upon revealing the cost of such a project, one of the group members replied, “That is the same price as for a quantitative project; how can you justify that price?”
The conversation reminded me of my favorite quote from the movie You’ve Got Mail: Tom Hanks inquires about a book with hand-tipped illustrations and asks, “That’s why it costs so much?” and Steve Zahn retorts, “No, that’s why it’s worth so much.”
So, why is qualitative research worth so much?
Because there is a lot of skill involved in uncovering insights from qualitative research. Qualitative research is not about putting a couple of quotes on a page. It requires time, thought, and creativity to produce successful insights. What and who you put into your qualitative research process will determine what you get out of it. And it requires special skills. Unfortunately for us qualitative researchers, there aren’t many tools to help us with data analysis. Usually, it’s a manual process combined with a natural ability to read between the lines to pull out those impactful findings — combined with a creative mind to transform these into a compelling story.