How Qualitative Technology Drives Emotional Understanding

Emily James

Are Your Stakeholders Asking the Right Questions?

“Tell me something I don’t know”


Emily James

Popularity surrounding the use of qualitative research technology is on the rise, to the point of even rivalling the popularity of quantitative research. While quantitative research has gained the most attention in the past decade, with the help of technological innovation, qualitative technology has thoroughly enhanced creative research efforts in more recent years; primarily with the notable inclusions of video and other creative tools to boost stakeholder-respondent connections.

Connection is one of the biggest drivers of emotional understanding and insights activation - connection of stakeholders to the insight teams making research happen, connection to the carefully crafted research project, the willing and insightful participants, and to the vital data and insights generated. Injecting qualitative tools and features into research technology stacks amplifies connection opportunities and boosts the value of each research experience.

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Connection is one of the biggest drivers of emotional understanding and insights activation - luckily, qualitative technology specialises in creating close connections.

Emotional Understanding

As established, the basis for emotional understanding is deep emotional connection. If stakeholders are only looking at numbers on charts, graphs, and data tables, then chances for emotional connection to the participants, research project, and thus insights, is severely hindered.

We in the insights industry have been fighting this battle for better connection between stakeholders and market research for the last decade, as innovative quantitative technology has overtaken and overshadowed the need creative innovation in qualitative research methods. However, now is the chance for qualitative research to help stakeholders understand the power of emotion on consumer behaviour, and how much power it should have over key strategic business decisions. Technological innovation has bettered our chance to enhance emotional connections and insights through creative research and reporting techniques.

In our last roundtable event, a significant number of the attendee stakeholders mentioned that while the data-based insights are useful, they have found that video clips are a better (read: faster, more impactful) way to drive action in an organisation. Qualitative video clips are fast becoming the turning points on which successful decisions are made.

Video is a fantastic tool and can be used in a myriad of ways to collect emotional context, but this isn't the only way of driving emotional connections with qualitative technology; there are a number of tools at an insight team’s disposal to collect the best qualitative insights with the depth of emotional understanding that video achieves - a good insight team explores all options available to them and chooses the best tools that fit their needs.

Innovating Qualitative Thinking

There are a number of ways to inject qualitative techniques into a research strategy, firstly through the input of tools and tasks such as focus groups. Through pandemic-related recent events, insight teams have revolutionised focus group tools as key components of research communication. Focus groups are now enhanced online tools featuring video streaming and storing capabilities like our own Focus GroupMR and VideoMR.

Focus groups are great for generating unexpected ideas and expressive data, both of which create a communal atmosphere and contribute to forming closer emotional connections to research on all sides of the equation. But there are other purely qualitative tools that can further boost emotional understanding, by asking participants to answer questions emotionally.

Smartboards, scrapbooks, and any other image-based tasks are brilliant for engaging research participants in emotional research. Insight teams are able to ask for answers in image-form, meaning they have to search how they feel, translate it into the best images possible. These are all emotional choices based on interpretation, which can help stakeholders find ways to connect emotionally to the participants and insights closer themselves.

Having these tools in a research stack can help hasten the timeline of a research project too, or at least enable researchers to conduct quality qualitative research quicker than otherwise. Instant access means insight teams can set up, conduct and generate the insights needed, as well as distribute them to the stakeholders in a matter of hours, enhancing the emotional understanding though real-time connections.

Blending Qual with Quant

Qualitative tools and features can be blended into quantitative methodologies to generate a number of benefits, for example:

  • Easier and wider distribution
  • Enhanced quantitative tasks with deeper emotional reasoning discovered
  • Can be used as part of an agile method for faster, cheaper, and iterative data gathering

Surveys can be a versatile tool in the quest for emotional understanding. While a primarily quantitative tool (notoriously a tool used for gathering logical and behavioural answers), surveys with qualitative questions and answer types can be a fantastic boon to stakeholders looking to answer ‘why’ as well as ‘what’. Our own SurveyMR has been upgraded recently to include a video answer option, where participants can explain what they think and feel or how they act within a certain situation verbally rather than having to go through the trouble of understanding how they feel and writing it down in a more comprehensive fashion. This instant answer-type speeds up the time it takes to answer a question and gets rid of that barrier, allowing for truer, emotional insights.

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Qualitative technology can stretch further than previously thought, even influencing quantitative and agile research methods to uncover impactful emotional context.

These qualitative-quantitative blended research tasks allow for insight teams to start sustainably scaling up qualitative research without compromising on quality and gaining a rich understanding in the process. Surveys are one of the better tools for stakeholders to use themselves in a DIY process, meaning that they can bypass the insight team entirely if instant insights are needed for a simple topic or decision. These blended surveys can help stakeholders connect to participants whenever necessary and the video clips they gather from these surveys are able to convince stakeholders of the right decision to make based on emotional understanding.

The Powerful Future of Qualitative Technology

Qualitative technology has come a long way, but there are still opportunities for better technological and insight innovation. As we come to understand the scale of influence emotional connection has on insights activation and empowerment on both researchers and stakeholders, there is undoubtedly undiscovered areas of qualitative research (method, tools, and tactics) that we can use to collect more emotional insights, suitable for transforming business strategy and powering transformational success.

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