Miruna Codeanu

Marketing research: quantity vs quality

In cappuccino on October 8, 2013 at 8:52 am

When it comes to marketing I have a major obsession: tell stories. Anything can be a story. Any object has a story and if it doesn’t have one, make it up. Delivering a presentation? Make it a story. The moment you draw people’s attention is when you say “let me tell you a story”. That is the moment magic happens, and people instantly think “might be interesting”. Sure, they might not remember the morals to the story, but they will remember the action line, or a punch line, or the end, or the beginning, but they will remember something and that is a hard thing to acquire nowadays. Enough about my major marketing obsession. Here comes my secondary marketing principle: I don’t find quantitative research representative. Oh my, there are so many reasons for which I find quantitative research irrelevant that I don’t know where to begin.

It’s like in the picture on the left: you don’t have to use binoculars to see people. You have the advantage of being able to walk between them. You are human. Sometimes, as much as a longer walk is enough. I call it reality check, some call it observance. Quantitative research is using binoculars to look at people. When they could be talking to people, and spending them with people, when they could have novel-length reports on how people feel and use your brand. Those are stories and priceless marketing material. 

I am sociologist grad who doesn’t believe market research is efficient. Ugly, huh? well, I do believe we need market research. Only that I do not believe numbers as we know them from market research are worth the trouble or the money.Marketing is about segmentation, as small segments as possible, about how unique people are, even though there are more of that “unique” kind, people love feeling special, they love that they matter, that their trouble matters, that you will solve their problem. Yes, marketing is very much like personal relationships, that’s why world’s best brands are love marks for as many people as possible, that’s why their consumers are fans and no longer just customers.  We inevitably use categories in order to think and process information, but more details about a category makes it more accurate, the same with people.  “No man is an island” and that works in many ways in marketing. Adopting quantitative research is somehow accepting the man is an island that can be isolated.

One of my start up ideas, and sometimes I think I have to many, was a qualitative market research company. Ca veut dire quoi? Ca veut dire anthropological methods in market research. Instead of asking 500 people how they use your product, you spend time with 10 people and find out more about the routine, they way they use your product, whether they associate it with something else, whether they would improve something, whether they would pay more, pay less, hot they react to discount, and much, much more extra information. Quantitative market research is very standardized, leaving behind the unforeseen, the unpredictable way people could be using your product, or other products they could associate with. Quantity will probably continue to be a preferred method: it is definitely more conformable and accessible but ask me, qualitative methods will also offer you stories, stories to tell people in the age of “content is both king and queen and nothing else but content matters”.

Well, I hope someone in Romania, takes my start up idea and makes it happen. I repeat: qualitative research in advertising.  To the stories we could tell!

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