How Much Qualitative Research Should Be Conducted Online?
In a time when consumers spend the majority of their work and leisure time online, why is qualitative research lagging behind, when the field could be at the forefront of engaging with consumers in this space.
OfCom reports that UK consumers spend more time online than they do sleeping, averaging eight hours forty one minutes online and only eight hours twenty one minutes asleep!
Online is today's consumers' natural habitat.
The Online Enviornment
We are not only spending more of our time online acquiring information, deciding, buying and socialising (in the UK we are lead participators in the EU on social networking sites, ONS). But we are placing more and more value in the connections we are making online.
Yet, often the first approach we will go to as qual researchers is face to face. We will consider online when we want something 'fast and simple' or to try and reduce costs, but qual researchers tend to look to a face to face method if they can.
Key Reasons for Conducting Qual Research
To achieve depth of understanding
To understand the context of behaviour
To understand the reasons behind behaviour/decision making
To understand emotional as well as logical/rational reactions
To explain lifestyle and be sensitive to all the complexities of cultural phenomena
I would suggest that achieving depth and emotion are the two most frequently cited reasons to conduct research face to face. But, if we all spend so much time online - especially social networking - then is it fair to say that depth and emotion cannot be achieved online?
Well, in recent research, Facebook demonstratedemotional contagion occurs online; emotions can be communicated and understood online effectively (as demonstrated by the impact of shared emotional content on Facebook) and OKCupid increaseddepth in interactions (by removing profile pictures they showed that people will interact more frequently, quicker and in more detail - resulting in deeper connections).
So shouldn't we, in the market research industry be leading the way and also exploring how to get more out of researching online?
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