Friday, January 11, 2008

Why You Need to ‘Talk It Out’ in Market Research -- Surveys Alone Don’t Tell the Full Story

We don’t know Torsten Ringberg personally, but we like his style.

Ringberg, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, talked in Sunday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the importance of putting research subjects “on the couch.”

In other words, qualitative over quantitative, he says. Longer interviews with fewer people can yield better information than a slew of surveys can. Why? In the longer format, people get a chance to really consider how they feel about a topic. Broader themes emerge—including ideas that a multiple-choice survey alone would have ignored.

Ringberg’s focus is on the consumer realm. But we believe these ideas apply just as well—if not better—to b2b. That’s why we’ve made extensive qualitative interview research the starting point in our branding and positioning methodology, which we call TrueCenterTM.

These initial, probing interviews reveal a lot more about how our clients’ audiences actually feel. Then the higher-volume, multiple-choice questionnaires try to find how widespread those ideas are.

Online surveys are increasingly popular, and they’re a key element of effective, accurate research. But there’s no substitute for the insights you get from sitting down and talking to people, one on one. We’re just glad to hear leading marketing thinkers acknowledging that.

No comments: