Anne-Marie McCallion from the numbers lab talks about getting more from quantitative studies

Clients constantly challenge their agencies to go further, to provide insights which really and truly deliver on what’s on the minds of their customers. As one recent client brief so eloquently put it, “we don’t want you to spend time regurgitating our objectives back at us, and talking about sample structure, but want you to provide a methodology that is going to capture attention”.  While those old tried and tested methodologies still form the core of what agencies do to get to the answer, new and exciting technologies that can enhance these are becoming more prevalent. 

The best of these new approaches have a common theme – the ability to collect “in-the-moment” feedback. In essence this is pure and simple but, when correctly executed, it allows us to deliver deeper, real world insights to our clients, with recommendations that steer them forward.

Some of our most considered digital research technologies include:

1.     Adding a video element to our studies: Building a video element into online surveys elevates the typical open-text verbatim comments and increases engagement for respondents, improving the quality of feedback. Bringing the faces of consumers into the room at a client debrief brings the findings to life, and increases engagement for stakeholders. This technology can be integrated into everyday tracking studies to gain rich brand insight or into ad testing pieces to collect live and in-the-moment responses.

2.     Using facial expressions to accurately predict success: One step further than using videos within surveys, facial coding allows us to read the emotions of survey respondents in the moment. While typical survey diagnostics allow us to collect feedback post-viewing, facial coding goes deeper, to pinpoint the initial emotional connection respondents have to a piece of stimulus. This, in turn, also allows us to understand the reactions respondents will not or cannot vocalise.

3.     Collecting passive data: There are often times when we expect too much from our respondents. In times of increasing market and advertising clutter, spontaneous and prompted recollection is difficult. Discreetly collecting passive data (with permission, of course) from our respondents’ laptops and devices gives us the ability to measure actual behaviour and deliver more robust insight to our clients.

The potential benefits are clear, but such technology should be approached with care. Using additional methodologies for the sake of it doesn’t help anyone and only serves to mismanage expectations (and budget) in the mind of your clients. The challenge here lies in the careful curation of a methodology that uses the best of the traditional methods, alongside carefully selected, complementary methodologies to move beyond the stated and more towards actual customer feedback. 

Couple this approach with statistical analysis tools like Conjoint, MaxDiff or Kano analysis, it means that we can place the onus on our analysis of the data, lightening the cognitive load on survey respondents. By doing this, you are allowing them to think about answering honestly, and to not have to indulge in complex thinking to get to an answer they think is right.
After all, isn’t that we are client partners in the first place?

Anne-Marie McCallion is Associate Director at the numbers lab. She loves a challenge and believes that research is not a one-size-fits all exercise. She is an expert at reading between the lines and has a keen eye for detail.