Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods: Keys to Success

  • QA

    ALEXIS STONER

    Associate Analyst

Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods: Keys to Success

finance-industry

Almost a year ago, MDRG conducted an internal study exploring the role of change and stability in the healthcare industry. The project involved both qualitative and quantitative team members as methodologies included both metaphor elicitation (qualitative research) and a survey (quantitative research). For the team members executing the mixed market research methods, the study imparted three key lessons on maximizing the success of qualitative-quantitative collaborations.

Clear Communication

First and foremost, communication is key to producing robust and cohesive results. Open dialogue between team members must be maintained throughout the research process, from outlining research objectives to writing the final results. Meeting in-person was often the most conducive for successful communication rather than utilizing email or instant messenger. Thoughts communicated over these other platforms could be misconstrued or not seen by all team members – opening the door for miscommunication. Succeeding with mixed market research methods involves understanding between all members throughout the market research process.

These two separate but complementary strengths make continued communication through the process of analysis integral as well. Researchers must continuously re-evaluate their hypothesis and build off findings obtained by both methods to produce deeper insights. A small, unimportant detail in one study may prove vital in the other study, allowing for more thorough insights. Open communication throughout the project ensures success.

Creating Objectives

Sometimes, objectives are a better fit for qualitative research or quantitative research. Team members must work together to identify a set of objectives that work well for both methodologies. One example is this brand positioning study, demonstrating both a qualitative and quantitative brand approach for a financial institution.

Upon occasion, a client provides a set of clear objectives for the research project. The team must then carefully examine the list to determine where objectives fit best. A clear understanding of the available resources for each methodology helps this process go smoothly.

Deeper Insights

Utilizing mixed market research methods add a layer of deeper insights and consumer understanding. Oftentimes, clients will choose to begin with a qualitative project and conclude their research needs with a survey.

Typically, qualitative methodologies like metaphor elicitation are useful for understanding the research participant’s point of view without imposing the researcher’s pre-existing assumptions – such as the perception that consumers prefer a change in healthcare because they feel it has the potential to promote greater stability. Then, quantitative methodologies like surveys can corroborate qualitative insights and produce more deliberate and focused insights – such as the fact that respondents who prefer change are more satisfied with their providers than those who prefer stability.

Final Thoughts

Mixed market research methodologies provide deeper insights into customer problems and questions. Combining the two methods in one study allows for opportunities not otherwise available. By being aware of the challenges of this process, researchers overcome the pitfalls. Our experience working on both qualitative and quantitative projects adds full-service market research expertise to every study.

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