Digital media has given rise to many new forms of customer research. Many companies are now embracing the many new methodologies and we have seen how marketers have adapted digital methodologies over traditional methods. They do this because the new digital research methods are considered to be much cheaper, faster and generate more results. But is it really worth giving up traditional methods for the more hyped digital research methods? Let’s explore the pros and cons of each.
Traditional research methods
Traditional research methods require respondents to be face to face or engaged in verbal conversations. Examples of these would be qualitative focus groups, in-depth interviews, ethnography, escorted purchases, and interceptions.
Traditional research methods create environments in which the moderator has the power to intervene, challenge, and question participants at any point in the study. It allows the researcher to be flexible and makes discussions more natural. It also allows the researcher to identify non-verbal cues such as micro-expressions on the face, body language, behavior, and intonation. It has been proven in the past that what people do not say but does realize more than what is true. This is what makes the data collected during traditional methods richer and deeper.
However, it is the cost of conducting research through these methodologies that makes them vulnerable. It is the cost of time and money required to set it up that makes companies feel that there must be alternative methodologies that can be used to collect similar data and reduce costs. Imagine trying to gather people from very specific demographics to participate in a product test group. The cost of each product to be used, the cost of participation, the cost of researchers and moderators, plus many other miscellaneous expenses apparently add up and the data collection process that is consistent to reflect potential feedback from the general public. about the product takes a long time. of time and can range from a few weeks to years. Something that companies are not willing to wait.
Digital research methods
With the massive growth of smartphone users that allow them to interact wirelessly and connect with people through social media, market researchers have the power to more easily engage and communicate with their targets. From online chat lines to SMS messages, the way researchers can reach the people they need to talk to is evolving and becoming more efficient at capturing information.
Some of the tools used in digital research methods are online surveys, online focus groups, online communities and forums, social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and many more.
It is through these digital investigative tools that investigators can reach a much broader field of targets from different age groups, ethnicities, and cultures, removing the many barriers that traditional investigative methods would normally face. It even allows people to interact and share their thoughts anonymously, which is useful on topics that are sensitive in nature.
Data from digital research methods is easily stored and analyzed. It’s also fairly instantaneous, as information is recorded immediately when respondents enter their comments in real time. The amount of data collected at any given time is only limited to the number of people who come together to respond via these means which, if done correctly, can be anywhere from 100 to 100,000 or more. Making it extremely cost-effective, as this would reduce the need for travel, participation, and many other overheads that traditional methodologies would have to shell out to get the same number of participants.
However, the main disadvantage of digital methodologies is the fact that the data being collected basically accepts the data coded by the participants as it is. That is, there is no external data, such as non-verbal signals. This could inadvertently create a gap in data accuracy or essential insights needed for some products that require a deep review of how their products affect the psyche of their target audiences. Digital methodologies are also limited to those who are educated and know how to navigate through these devices and social media. Those that don’t matter yet and are unfortunately not accessible via this method. Interpretation of words and how respondents perceive them are also left out, as many who are already texting experts can attest to misunderstandings due to text messages being read and interpreted incorrectly.
In conclusion, traditional and modern digital research methodologies have their overlapping benefits and drawbacks. However, it is undeniable that digital methods can help make the work of researchers much easier and more profitable, however, it should be noted that the traditional method still has an advantage in terms of accuracy and quality of data collected. One must find a marriage between the two unless a new digital tool is created to offset these disadvantages. Taking all of this into consideration, it is undeniable that a hybrid of these methods is developing and will take marketing research to the next level.