What’s the Difference Between Quantitative vs. Qualitative
02 Apr 2019

Before discussing the distinctions between qualitative and quantitative research, it is important to go back to basics. There are two types of research categories: primary and secondary research. The way to know the difference is simple – primary research is “not already out here”. While, you guessed it; secondary analysis is data that is “already out there”. There are thousands of examples of secondary research, it comes in the form of articles and databases such as Bloomberg, Lexisnexis, and Hoovers.

Learn Why Market Research is a Must for Businesses.

Both quantitative and qualitative research are types of primary research. So, what is the difference between quantitative and qualitative?

Qualitative Research

Qualitative, also called exploratory research, is directional in nature. Typically, this type of research assesses a small number of people. This kind of analysis includes mostly open-ended questions or observational research. Examples of qualitative research include:

Focus Groups

Focus groups are typically groups of 6-8 participants. An expert moderator facilitates each group. To have the most useful session possible, the moderator follows a guide that includes several open-ended questions.

Focus groups take place in facilities equipped for this type of research. The facility includes a table for participants and the moderator to gather around. The moderator usually sits at the head of the table. There is also a one-way mirror where the client and market research company sit and view the session.

The groups are recorded and transcribed. From them, the moderator along with the research team develop a concise report that includes key findings and quotes to back up conclusions.   

Conducting this research online is a way to reduce the cost and length of the qualitative research project. However, facial expressions or the tone of people’s voices is no longer possible to analyze when conducting the group’s virtually.

Ethnographic Research

Ethnographic Research is observational research where you view the subject in their environment. An example could be a butter company looking at how adults cook with the product at home. A study on how parents shops for children’s clothes at a retailer is another example.  Virtual reality is a new trend occurring in ethnographic research. By building virtual stores and in-home scenarios, it lessens the need to conduct this research in the space.

One-on-One In-depth Interview

Another exploratory research option can include individual interview sessions. This qualitative method can happen in person, via phone or even online. Often this option is beneficial when interviewing professionals such as doctors or discussing sensitive topics.

Quantitative Research

Quantitative research, also called descriptive statistics, surveys a statistically representative portion of a population. For the results to be as accurate as possible, this method surveys a large number of respondents. The goal is to reduce the margin of error in your sample to be more confident in your results.

Unlike qualitative research, quantitative research uses close-ended questioning in order to garner numerical responses.

Developing a questionnaire is often tricky as survey writing is an art form. Errors in survey writing can often lead to inaccurate conclusions. Read 4 Watch Outs When Conducting a Survey to learn more about questionnaire writing.

Once the questionnaire is developed, respondents are invited to take the survey. When fielding is complete, the data is analyzed,this can also include advanced analytics techniques. The results are often shown in a deck that provides key findings, recommendations, and detailed findings with graphs and charts.

Today, quantitative research is most frequently conducted online, but phone and in-person are other methods used. For example, in many third world countries, the internet is sparse and therefore in-person interviews may be a more reliable source. See Conducting Research in a Third World Country.  

Many kinds of initiatives such as ad tracking, naming research, and segmentation research use quantitative research.



Conducting Research in a Third World Country
13 Dec 2018

Written by: Alannah Griffin 

Case Study: Conducting In-person Research in Vietnam 

Ever thought about conducting market research in a third world country? This is not the easiest undertaking, and often, in order to do so, you need to think outside the box.

It takes a lot of effort, analysis, and critical thinking to curate any methodology. However, imagine trying to figure out how to research the threat of technology for motorbike taxi drivers in Vietnam.

In Vietnam, the primary mode of transport in cities is by motorbike. A common occupation for men is to be a motorbike taxi driver/xe ôm driver. A lot of xe ôm drivers’ livelihoods are now under threat with the onset of modern technology. Apps that use location intelligence are emerging and providing more cost-efficient, safer, and quicker rides for customers. In this day and age, on-demand service is a high priority for customers. The use of GPS and location intelligence is forcing traditional xe ôm drivers out of the market.

There are many different ways to conduct this research. When taking all of the variables into account for this particular research study, the methodology that was decided on consisted of qualitative methods in order to provide an in-depth assessment.

The three qualitative research methods selected were:

  • Semi-structured interviews
  • Informal conversational interviews, and
  • Participant observation

The key finding for xe ôm drivers was that if they want to continue in the profession of motorbike taxi drivers, they must partner with the companies who have developed Apps using location intelligence. If they do not do so, they will not satisfy customers, threatening their income source, and may be left behind.

What are common watch outs when conducting this type of research?

Having your interview guide well prepared and your target sample precisely defined before entering the field is essential to obtain the best and most accurate results.

Cultural issues. A researcher needs to be prepared for situations where interviewees may be reserved towards them as a researcher due to the cross-cultural setting and their potential lack of trust.

Language barrier. All interviewees who participated in the research discussed above were interviewed through Vietnamese. Therefore it was essential to have an interpreter to overcome the communication barrier during the qualitative research. The quality of the interpretation has an effect on the research results. Therefore it is vital to ensure that the interpreter is qualified and vetted for the assignment at hand.

Reasons Why Working with a Professional Will be Helpful

Research can be extremely time-consuming, especially with a large sample size. Often, when conducting research in a third world country, there are variables present that are beyond your control. This is where a market research firm becomes a valuable asset with the knowledge and expertise to overcome these barriers.

Guide/Survey writing is a challenging task – if your company wishes to undertake surveys or interviews, you will need an experienced researcher to aid you in this writing process.
Market researchers have the experience to know how many interviews would be necessary to achieve data saturation. It is vital that you have guidance from a professional to get the recommended sample sizes for your study.

Market researchers identify key findings, themes, and conclusions. Their expertise in cleaning, analyzing, and ultimately making sense of data in order to produce more accurate, actionable results, and tell a story with the findings is invaluable.

Why We Love Advertising Research
10 May 2018
Written by: Carly Fink

I grew up in the 1980s, and cable TV was seen as a premium service. We had an antenna with only seven TV channels. There was no internet, social media, or smartphones. Ads were mostly aired or shown on television, radio, print, or out of home (e.g. billboards). If you had a fun jingle or a catchy slogan your ad would be seen and hopefully remembered. Everyone was using predominantly the same media channels. As a result, someone my age often remembers the commercials they grew up with… From Mikey from Life Cereal to the Anti-Drug Campaign – “This is Your Brain on Drugs”.

However, the advertising landscape today is much more diverse. On average, a person sees over 10,000 ads a day. A cable subscriber has access to an average of 200 TV channels. To complicate the media landscape, millennials are cutting the cable cord and watching streaming services such as YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu on their TVs and computers instead.

People do not sit and exclusively watch TV or videos anymore. They are often using their phone, tablets, and computers while watching programming which allows them to easily tune out commercials.

It’s not only streaming services that have complicated advertising. I love observing people and seeing how walking around in public has evolved. Now, you often see people taking smaller steps so that they can walk and access their phone at the same time. Or how many times have you waited on a long line at a retailer and not taken out your phone? This results in a major loss of eyes on out-of-home advertising, store’s window advertising and point-of-purchase advertising.

This makes it extremely challenging for a brand to stand out from the crowd. As a result, advertising research becomes more important than ever. Research provides so many opportunities for your brand to become more relevant, memorable, unique, and important to your consumer base. It is a smart way to get ahead of your competitors. From conducting secondary research to understanding trends to segmentation research to advertising tracking, there are multiple ways to be stand out and smarter about your advertising.

Creative Test – Research for an Ad Campaign
08 May 2018
Launching an advertising campaign is an expensive undertaking. While producing the creative is one cost, the media buy can increase the price tag extensively. Not only does the ad creative need to resonate with your potential customer but also stand out from the crowd — regardless if it is a TV commercial, print ad, or digital banners.

The average consumer sees up to 10,000 brand messages a day. Today, people are often consuming more than one media channel at a time. For example, consumers often watch TV while playing on their smartphone and working on their computers. As a result, it is harder for brands to stand out in this crowded space.

Therefore your message not only needs to resonate but also be memorable and persuade your audience to take action (e.g. learn more, go online).

There are also several pitfalls that agencies may not even consider when advertising. It is key not only for your advertisement to be memorable, but also appeal to your audience.  Sometimes the smallest nuances may have a large impact on prospects. Is the advertisement somehow offending your target audience? Often people do not realize that an ad may be culturally or ethnically insensitive.

A word, a line, an image, or color may also prompt the consumer to think of another brand or industry. You need to make sure your creative idea works for your specific brand. Pretesting allows for instinctive/knee-jerk reactions from the audience and provides you with the safety net to prevent a campaign from having mishaps. It also provides recommendations and direction to further enhance your campaign in order to ultimately improve ROI.

How to pre-test?

Pre-testing can take many different forms.  Below are just a few examples:

Brand Concepts

The Highlighter Tool can be used to distinguish which areas of the concept are liked and disliked by your potential customers. Respondents can pick certain words that please them and highlight whatever has an alternative effect

Message Testing

Using the advanced analytics technique, MaxDiff, we can determine which message resonates most with your consumers. This trade-off analysis would tell which message will directly influence the target audience.

Initial Concepts & Messaging Combined

If you have many different images, messages, and support points, our Advertising Optimizer uses the advanced analytics technique, Conjoint Analysis, to find the perfect combination for your audience.

Print, Digital, and Storyboard Sentiment Testing

This technology allows the exact dimensions of a print or display ad. Respondents can click on what they like vs. dislike. You can also use this technology as multiple frames of a story to gain feedback for a commercial before it is in video format.

Commercial or Radio Concepts

As the video or audio plays, respondents click what they like vs. dislike and have the ability to provide feedback in real time.

What’s vital to remember market research before launching an advertising campaign is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. That is why at Provoke Insights, we look at each campaign’s business objectives, target audience, industry, and competition before developing a concise research plan.

It is worth your while to save time, money, and face to invest in research and get the creative right the first time.

Types Of Research Every Advertiser Should Know
08 May 2018
Are you involved in your company’s advertising campaign? Do you work at an advertising agency? If so, market research may be key to enhancing your advertising initiatives!

Below, we will discuss four popular market research methods that every advertiser should know and we will synopsize why businesses should consider using it.

  1. Target Audience & Segmentation Research
  2. Creative Testing & Concept Exploration
  3. Research for Content Marketing
  4. Brand Tracking


Target Audience & Segmentation Research

Who is your target audience? Who has the highest propensity to not only purchase your product or service but also have the highest Lifetime Value?

If you are launching a new product or just reevaluating your audience, it’s time to know which segment is most profitable.

It is also important to consider segmentation  – your marketing and advertising can’t speak to everyone all of the time – you may want to prioritize cohorts or use a segmentation to optimize your media and messaging.

Creative Testing & Concept Exploration

Are you launching a new advertising campaign? Prior to launch,  test your creative and concepts. This allows you to leverage your advertising and messaging to its fullest extent without having to learn from your mistakes. If you think you might need concept testing or optimization of creative research – we have two blogs on them here and here.

Research for Content Marketing

Research for content marketing makes your brand a thought leader by using research to get press placements. Bring your research to life by using it as a catalyst for B2B and B2C awareness, engagement, lead generation, and conversion. Tactics include online videos, infographics, sales materials, email marketing, thought leadership pieces, press releases, and guerrilla efforts.

Brand Tracking

Have your advertising initiatives made an impact? That is why it is pertinent to start tracking your marketing initiatives even before you launch a campaign. Once the advertising is launched, the desired outcome is campaign memorability, consideration, likely to use and recommend. This type of research also gauges how it is performing compared to your competitors.

For all of the reasons mentioned above, businesses should consider market research for their advertising and branding strategy it is one of the most effective methods to improve your ad campaigns ROI (return on investment).

3 Common Misconceptions About Market Research
02 May 2018

Over the years, we have heard many false misconceptions about market research. However, three themes consistently stick out: 1) Anyone can conduct market research 2) Focus groups are always the best methodology 3 )Research is not worth the money. Below you will learn why these misleading statements are not always the case.

1.     Anyone Can Conduct Market Research

In today’s digital world there are many free and inexpensive online tools. As a result, companies may feel it is a cost saving to conduct research in-house over hiring a market research company. This is a common pitfall that many businesses conclude and is potentially quite dangerous. If a research study is not conducted properly, it often leads to inaccurate results. It could even potentially provide the wrong marketing strategy.

Market research professional’s number one job is to reduce the number of errors in their quantitative, qualitative, and secondary data. These experts have years of training and know how to avoid errors such as improper research design, poor data collection methods, inadequate sample size & design, and improper use of statistic procedures.

Furthermore, a third party conducting the research compared to an internal employee avoids any research biases. A person who is close to an issue or the everyday inner workings of a company may not have an impartial view when conducting the market research resulting in skewed findings.

2.     Focus Groups Are  Always the Best Methodology

Many of our clients love focus groups, and we often conduct this qualitative research methodology. It provides an approach that favors the most in-depth, revealing, and personal responses. However, this exploratory method is often costly and not necessarily the best approach to answer every research need. Given that this method only interviews a limited number of participants, the research is directional in nature.

Today, there are many online tools that can question a larger number of participants that not only provides results that statistically represent your target audience, but also provide qualitative methods to garner in-depth insights. These online exercises are great to test brand concepts, messaging, print and digital ads, TV commercials, and radio ads. More so, this type of research is often conducted at a faster rate and costs significantly less money than focus group research.

3.     Research is not worth the money

Often companies focus on execution needs such as a new website, media buys, or commercials. An area that is sometimes cut from the budget is a strategy based off of research. As a result, the marketing or business strategy can become compromised and be based on only assumptions. While in the short-term it may have saved a few thousand dollars, in the long-term your business may not be effectively reaching your target audience. This results in potential lost profits.

If there is a specific budget you need to work with, be honest with your research vendor. There are often cost-effective methodologies to help answer your business objectives.

Segmentation Research and Creating Personas
02 May 2018

Written by: Rachael Ryan

Segmentation studies allow for you to walk in the shoes of different consumers, so you can really understand their buying habits and interests. We’re going to discuss the importance of research and how you can use a segmentation study to create personas.

Segmentation is the process of conducting market research using a survey tool in order to group similar consumers by their purchasing habits, their common needs and attitudes. Segmentation can take many forms, two of which are ‘Needs-based segmentation’ and the second is ‘Attitudinal segmentation’. Then advanced analysis such as conjoint analysis or hierarchical cluster analysis is often used on the data that is gathered.

Once you have your segments, you can prioritize them. This can be done by determining who has the highest propensity to purchase your product as well as tell you how much they are willing to spend and each group’s lifetime value. This is invaluable information because then, your target audience will be the people who already want to buy your product and at a price that they want to pay. It will also allow you to understand the size of each segment, what percentage of the population they are and therefore you can understand each segment’s potential worth to you.

Segmentation will also allow you to find out what may have been missed opportunities in the past. You’ll be able to figure out which audiences are spending money on other similar items and what would make them switch their purchasing habits to your product/service. These segments can be targeted too.

Once you know who your segments are, bring them to life, by creating a persona. If there are various segments – you can pick out the similar traits, beliefs, behaviors, attitudes and values they have and make one persona that you can then market to. It makes marketing to your segments easier, cheaper and more effective. We can see what your persona thinks and how your brand fits into that mindset.

Segmentation has many benefits and it is very important. But by creating personas you can walk in your consumer’s shoes. Name your persona (ie. Jack!), you can even draw them for everyone to see, understand their thinking and then you’ll know who you’re trying to get your message across to. When done right, it’s a great way to totally comprehend your segmentation and use it efficiently for every marketing strategy.

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The 3 Most Popular Blogs of 2017
03 Jan 2018

We are looking back on 2017’s most popular blog posts on Provoke Insights to determine what people want to read about regarding brand strategy, advertising research, and brand research.

Interestingly, the number one spot is Tech Companies… What’s Your Brand Strategy? This is one of our oldest blogs. We wrote this way back in September 2015 but it just goes to show, first of all, that nothing is ever lost on the internet! And secondly, this blog becomes more relevant everyday as the tech industry continues to grow at a rapid rate. With more and more technology based brands launching, there is a need to have a consistent marketing strategy based on research and insights. Often we see tech companies who start with tactics first and result in a flimsy advertising plan. Having worked with several technology companies this year, we have learned that each brand has a diverse and unique need. We also see that more and more tech firms are making sure that they have the right brand strategy in place.

Next up, Millennials, Fine Jewelry, and the Luxury Category – this blog again is an oldie but a goodie. The piece was written in December 2016 but gained traction for what I can only assume to be the need to understand this generation’s uncommon spending habits within the luxury category. The media talks endlessly about how millennials behave, how to reach them, and what they’re buying. This blog’s popularity may have stemmed from the need to better understand this generation that has caused such a stir. We were so interested in the topic because we did a four-part research project with Jewelers of America in 2017. It included qualitative research among suppliers and retailers, as well as a segmentation that highlighted millennials as a primary target for a national jewelry campaign. You can read more about that here.

The third most popular blog was written at the beginning of 2017 – 7 New Trends in Market Research in 2017. In this blog we ran down a list of new technology and innovative ideas to revitalize a market research strategy. We  are happy to say our predictions were right and we used almost all of these trends in 2017 and plan to use more of them in 2018. From what we know, these trends are going to continue into 2018 with the added rise of smartphone-based research. Applications on smartphones have the ability to track users locations, gender, age, purchasing habits, and app usage. All of this data can be sold to whoever wants it – there’s a possibility that market research firms will take advantage of the data. Until there is a framework in place to regulate this – all of the data is fair game.

We would like to wish you all a Happy New Year from the Provoke Insights Team. We are launching our updated advertising research study at the end of January. Keep an eye out for new blog posts with original information from the research study about advertisers, in-house marketers, the pitch process, stress levels in the workplace, media and advertising budgets, and much more. You can also sign up here to be the first to receive the newsletter about it.

The Science of Naming Your Brand
13 Feb 2017

Written by: Carly Fink

Every year, Provoke Insights conducts Naming Research for several products and product lines. A good brand name sparks an emotion with the consumer.  The larger the name connection the higher likelihood that the name will  remain top of mind among your target audience. It is the cement that unifies the brand across all advertising and promotional materials.

Often a company comes up with a list of potential names that they would like to name the brand. A company may be internally passionate about a certain name but does that name really work? Which name ranks highest? Do the names resonate among your target audience?

A sure way to know is to test names utilizing Provoke Insights’ naming exercise. This survey includes:

  • Open-ended name association
  • Ranking of names
  • Testing the top names over 9 dimensions such as likeability and high quality.

The research can be tested across various segments to determine a name that works well with all prospects. We also have found names that could be potential offensive to the consumer or a specific demographic. So looking at the name across various groups of people can be very beneficial.

Testing names through survey research allows a brand to know which names are winners or losers. It tells you what attributes consumers associate with the name. Is the potential brand name perceived as high quality? Likeable? Memorable? Offensive?

We have save companies from disastrous launches. A name that might sound fun and catchy to a company may not resonate with the consumer. The consumer may have difficulty relating that name back to the product – simply put it could be a great name but just not right for the product.

Testing a name prior to launch is a sure way for your brand to be loved by your consumers. It also diminishes the risk of a launch going wrong.

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7 New Trends in Market Research in 2017
25 Jan 2017

Written by: Rachael Ryan

Now that the first month of 2017 is coming to an end, we thought we would write a blog post about the changing trends in Market Research. The market is constantly changing, therefore, there is a need to stay abreast with the trends in the research space. Here are 7 new trends that market researchers will need to take note of this New Year!

  1. New technology

Speaking of technology, market researchers will continue to have to adapt and learn. We will see acceleration in technological trends over the coming year as has been seen over the past twelve months. For example, biometric response and neuromarketing are becoming more popular offerings at research firms.

  1. Research for content marketing purposes

As we saw in 2016, there was more emphasis on using market research for content purposes. Content was 2016’s buzz word, but as we saw, content was important, so important that everyone started churning out content… which lead to an abundance and then what became important was high quality content – content that people actually appreciate and that people want to read/watch. In order to get that interesting, relevant, clickable content, research needs to be conducted. Click here for more on Research for Content Marketing Purpose.

  1. Unpredictability causes a craving for prediction

Global uncertainty is good news for market researchers as it means there’s going to be a growing demand for market research. This trend began near the close of 2016 but with global uncertainty in 2017, political, monetary and economic unpredictability will cause companies to try to predict whatever they can hence looking towards market research in order to avoid any unforeseen shifts or changes in the market.

  1. More and more data

The more data there is available the more need there is for more clear and concise data. Most importantly what is the data saying?  What is the story the data is trying to say.  More data does not always mean better.  This means that the market researchers need to interpret data and consolidate it into information that can be easily. At Provoke Insights, we believe in telling a story with the data that we gather and the research that we conduct. We like to simplify the data and make it easy for anyone to understand.

  1. Appending data

With big data, there is an opportunity to conduct market research and then append additional data to the findings in order to create a more robust story. Segmentation research is a great example of this.  We can create segments and then append secondary data to learn more about these group’s behaviors and media habits. For example, does your segment go to yoga classes or attend the opera, market research firms should look towards adding this secondary data to the appendix so that the client can get a more round picture of the stories being told. This is great information that would not necessarily be in the primary research that you are conducting.

  1. No quick fix

Though you might think that in 2017 market research will become more automated, well you might just be wrong. Market research will need to be more personalized than ever. At Provoke Insights we believe in creating a market research strategy for a company’s needs and then creating a deck that is fit for that company and that company only. We don’t have a copy and paste attitude towards doing our decks, presentations or videos. Automated research will cause companies to search for a more accurate and personalized experience, one that suits them rather than suits the masses.

  1. Asking why

In the past there has been huge emphasis put on big data and gathering lots of information – now companies are seeing the benefit in not only asking what the markets does or tends to do but also asking why that is the case. This is where qualitative research is the perfect backup for the quantitative research that is also being done. Using a mixed methodology not only provides you with insights into the market but it answers the questions that may arise from the numbers by asking for opinions.

Over 50 years later, the classic The Times They Are a Changin’ has never been more relevant and market researchers have to change with them. As I said, it wouldn’t make sense to ignore new trends in the market and carry on as usual in market research – we have to change with the changing needs of the companies that need market research and make sure that the market research being done is relevant to them in 2017.

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