There’s a growing notion that qualitative research is becoming obsolete in the world of Big Data. At the surface, this line of thinking seems to make sense. Put yourself in the shoes of a tech company: it has never been faster, easier, or cheaper to collect information on your millions of users and quantify their behavior – you know what they are doing, when they’re doing it, and where they’re doing it. If you own this seemingly infinite amount of behavioral data it may seem wasteful (or downright silly) to go out and collect additional data that some in your organization may dismiss as “anecdotal”. How does that make any sense?

The truth is that numbers can only tell you so much. They can tell you where you are but not how you got there. Or what potential issues or pain points may be looming around the corner. Ultimately, numbers on their don’t tell you why people start (and stop) doing whatever behavior it is you’re able to quantify. Talking to consumers early, and continuously, can help young companies grow and evolve in the right way – by having a persistently firm grasp on the why behind people’s decisions.  That’s part of why we at Talk Shoppe believe qualitative market research is invaluable for startups.

image showing analytical and creative side of brain

5 reasons why startups and tech companies need to invest in qualitative research: 

  1. To validate the direction of a product or service: better understand people’s needs and determine if your product or service can address these needs.  Qualitative research can uncover the nuances that you wouldn’t easily find in data alone.  
  2. To test marketing and positioning: pressure-test different creatives and executions to make sure a campaign is resonating with people the way you want it to. Testing marketing with various consumer groups can also help avoid embarrassing and controversial campaigns.  
  3. Identify new business opportunities: learn where to pivot and identify whitespace opportunities to expand or change directions in business.  Startups have the unique opportunity to find new lanes. The right consumer research can help them get on it faster. 
  4. Understand your customer: this one seems obvious, but qualitative research is crucial for hearing the unfiltered voice of consumers – past, current, or future.  There’s no better way to unearth people’s wants, hopes, and desires than by asking them directly. Pairing qualitative insights with behavioral data can help build more relevant and meaningful roadmaps.
  5. Better position yourself for investors or for when you go public: objective market research can cast a stronger spotlight on a young startup or tech company. 3rd party data can support business strategies and bolster their appeal to investors. Talk Shoppe partnered with Pinterest on several studies which revealed its competitive advantages over other social media and search sites.  This data, amongst others, was incorporated into their IPO filing.  While Pinterest could have just relied on what their 250 million users do for their IPO filing, adding richer qualitative insights helped investors see their unique selling proposition more clearly.

Pinterest NYSI: Photo credit: CBS News

Qualitative research can be a very valuable tool in your business toolkit. We’re here to answer any questions about consumer-centric research and how it can be a good fit for your business objectives moving forward!