Quant vs. Qual Research

Per a recent client request, I’ve created a bulleted POV on why I believe quant research is misleading and inadvisable when it comes to (just about anything) testing concepts, strategies, and creative work:

1) Work is often decontextualized in these methodologies, so cannot accurately be assessed in the limitations of online or other forms of surveying. Qualitative research, when done professionally by well-trained moderators, provides proper context for evaluating work.

2) One cannot assess intensity or depth of feeling, nor probe further when there is a potential insight or potentially misleading information. Any decent quant moderator will know to probe further for the “real deal”.

3) People often “don’t know what they know” until provided with the right stimulus to release repressed or hard to articulate feelings and responses. Good qual will provide projective techniques that allow the inarticulate to articulate some of their true feelings.

4) At times online panelists become ‘professional panelists’ who give stale, canned or rote answers. This is actually the least of my concerns compared with the others, as most people are sincere in trying to answer questions honestly and helpfully, especially here in Canada.

5) One of the supposed values of online panels and other quant methodologies is that they’re supposed to give you a ‘purposive sampling’ of the target population, and they really don’t. These panels are not truly random samplings of the population against each and every topic being tested. You will naturally have a skew, no matter how hard you try. Randomness and even logical consistency can often be called into question.

6) Even qual techniques such as focus groups can turn into group think or suppress the otherwise candid expression of thoughts and feelings. Intimate, well-constructed one-on-ones are much preferred, from our perspective.