Blog Post

Today’s Hybrid Research: It Might Not Mean What You Think It Means

Author: Sonya Turner

Researchers have conducted hybrid research since someone first added an open-ended question to a quantitative survey. It’s a tried and true, almost traditional way of doing research. But as consumers, data and methods evolve, so does hybrid.

In fact, as researchers engage in a never-ending battle to support their brand’s quest for share of mind and wallet, every new piece of insight has the potential to provide a competitive advantage. It’s no longer enough to do some research and call it a day—the quest for consumer understanding has become a 24/7/365 job and doing it right requires a comprehensive approach. Why? Because one-dimensional data is incomplete.

Luckily, we can all agree that we don’t lack access to information—some might even say we’re drowning in data. But as big data matures, brands are realizing that relying purely on “big-data-driven decision making” is dangerous. Even though data dependence feels scientific, rigorous, and modern, too often it gives a flat, static view of what are actually dynamic, diverse, and evolving human beings. Big data is powerful because it’s driven by numbers, but companies are realizing that it can be a little risky and even lead to false assumptions if it is not rounded out with additional perspective.

Of course, applications for hybrid research go beyond simply combining qualitative and quantitative. While this is a great approach – for example, fielding digital focus groups to narrow down concept taglines you then test with a survey – multiphase research is delightfully flexible and can include any combination of quant and qual or even qual and qual. Here are just a few productive hybrid approaches we’ve used to help address our clients’ business challenges.

The Learning Plan

A creative way to combine the quantitative “what” with the qualitative “why.” Usually, we recommend a combination of a representative quantitative sample, text analytics and a more focused qualitative exercise like an in-depth discussion board, online video interviews or text-based chats.

The Community

Ongoing insight from the same consumers or related groups of consumers. Usually facilitated through right-sized discussion board communities for continuous insights and trend identification.

The C-Suite Show-and-Tell

A powerful persuasive tool. Quantitative peace of mind for the number crunchers paired with qualitative focus groups or in-depth-interviews (conducted live or digitally) to bring consumers to life for key executives.

The Partnership

An efficient way to blend the expertise of an agency of record with the voice of the consumer. We often partner with key stakeholders inside and outside the business to ensure consumers are present in ad, concept and creative development.  This is great for narrowing or distinguishing winning concepts, confirming a new creative direction is the right one or providing confidence that messaging speaks to key consumer groups.

The upshot? The companies that win are the ones that have a 360-degree view of their consumer. Hybrid and multi-phase approaches provide the insight and perspective necessary for brands to find white space, spur innovation, identify threats, and outline opportunities for improvement.