Better Concepts with Hybrid Research

We often forget that qualitative market research is so much more than just focus groups. So often I receive calls to do groups, when other approaches could provide a much richer context and a more creative canvas on which to insight mine for a new positioning or product idea. The next time you think you might need just a focus group perhaps it is worth your time to entertain the notion of a hybrid methodology.

Simply stated, a hybrid qualitative design is a market research study that incorporates several qualitative methodologies with the same target and purpose. The goal of the hybrid design is to get deeper learning on a particular topic. You may have heard a variety of terminology for this approach – triangulation, multi-method, or bricolage –  regardless, you may find this a useful consideration for an upcoming project. Several benefits exist for you:

1. Flexibility A study with several different approaches allows the client team to learn and adjust as they proceed. Perhaps what is learned in a focus group, can be tweaked and addressed in some one-on-ones or online a week later. Layering the research with a few approaches provides this unique opportunity to “tweak” or “adjust” the research effort based on real-time learning. The result is generally a better outcome.

2. A more diverse sample Imagine if you could collect data across the entire US in your one study instead of just one or two select cities. By simply adding an online bulletin board or chat session to your focus groups, you may be able to understand some regional differences or tap into difference socio-economic classes that you couldn’tt reach in traditional qualitative. In addition, adding some web/phone interviews may allow you to talk with a highly qualified, target consumer who couldn’t make the scheduled interview times.

3. A unified “story” from many viewpoints – A hybrid design allows the client to learn about their consumer in many ways –  what they think, what they do, and how they act. The design allows for “checks and balances” to ensure consistency from the different touch-points to make sure that actions and words agree. Augmenting a more traditional methodology with in-context interviews, shop-a-longs, or a diary study could provide the richness of content that may not always be accessible in the focus group room.

So the next time you think you need just groups, ask your qualitative research consultant to provide you with some options. Allow her creativity to help you achieve your objective, you might be surprised with the results!


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