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Insight Blog

Read the latest thinking from the crossroads of marketing, insight and technology.

Is Online Qualitative Research Always Cheaper?

During discussions about the pros and cons of online market research vs. face to face market research we quite often hear the standard argument that seems to persist across all sectors: "online must be cheaper, right?"

Originally, the argument of online research being a cheap solution to market research needs stems from its beginnings when surveys were being deployed online rather than through traditional methods; saving time and money.

The Cost Savings

When looking at qualitative research, the cost-saving argument then easily translates into saving on expenses, travel costs and incentives. Especially with international research or dispersed target groups this makes sense straight away - worldwide research conducted at the click of button, who could resist the cost-saving whilst also benefiting from the added convenience?

The fact is there are lots of ways that online research improves cost-effectiveness and delivers 'more' for the same budget - but if you reduce your budget you will simply get less research and less insight.

Making More of Your Budget

For example, you can easily deploy and combine three methods, instead of just one online. You can mix and match tools and methods and talk and engage in lots of creative ways. Online research empowers you to guide participants from one task to the next in a natural flow, enables them to give feedback from their mobile devices, and you to invite them to pre- or post-tasks and have a more flexible and flowing conversation.

You generate so much more for your money, making the online approach far more cost effective.

An online research study can be recruited and set up fast and negates lots of face to face expense.

A quick example might be 4 focus groups. For a budget of around £12,000 you can run 4 professional face to face groups. Move this online and you could probably save around £4,000. However, if you choose to keep the £12,000 budget and run an online qual project then instead of 4 rather standard focus groups you could, instead do all of the following:

  • Get feedback from 50 people not 30
  • Use a forum to get reflective feedback over 5 days
  • Use polls to quickly gauge opinion
  • Test a series of creative designs using Smartboards group discussions
  • Run an in-depth mobile diary study with a sub section of your sample

This approach adds greater depth because it combines individual with group feedback, gets feedback on people's lifestyles and provides greater reflection and opportunity to test more creative designs.

Should You Be Looking to Save Money?

So, instead of saving money, you now have the ability to deliver significantly greater value - to the tune of 150 percent more feedback. Online quantitative and qualitative research provides great cost-effectiveness and also delivers high-quality results - read more here. Whether this is as a standalone use of online research to cover all research needs and objectives or as a hybrid project in which online research complements face to face research, because of its unique advantages.

In essence, online research empowers you to deliver more, whether that's through qualitative methods, quantitative research or a combination. That's what we are after - delivering high-quality results and the ability to be creative and flexible in our approaches to challenging projects - giving our clients 'more' for the same budget and insights that otherwise would have been lost.

View our range of online research tools

To book a free trial of the FlexMR research platform and make use of our wide range of quant & qual tools, click here. Or, click here to read more about the flexible service levels we can provide.

Annette Smith

Written by Annette Smith

Annette has worked on InsightHub for 11 years, nurturing it into the internationally-regarded platform it is today. She is a highly experienced researcher and her background in UI/UX has been imperative in making InsightHub the unique hybrid platform it is today. You can follow Annette on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn.

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Topics: Community Tools, Creative Qual Tools, Diary Tools, Focus Group Tools, Business Strategy