Determining the Best Methodology for Customer Research - The MSR Group

As a market research firm, companies frequently come to us and say “We need a survey” or “We need a focus group” regarding customer data collection. In many cases, the companies that think they need surveys may actually need focus groups—and vice versa.

That’s why our approach to market research is all about understanding your objectives and providing results-driven recommendations. We’re here to point you in the right direction.

In this article, we share how we determine the best research options for our clients.

How Is Research Methodology Determined?

Before conducting market research, we listen to your needs. We want to understand what results you’d like to see, as this drives the methodology we use. We typically ask questions like:

  • What type of information do you want to collect?
  • Who are you hoping to collect information from?
  • What decisions are you planning to make based on the results?

Based on these responses, we then put together recommendations for quantitative research, qualitative research, or a combination of the two.

What’s the Difference Between Quantitative Research & Qualitative Research?

While both are effective means of collecting information, quantitative research and qualitative research are very different. From which instruments are used and who is invited to participate in how the data is analyzed and reported, each provides special insights for your business.

Quantitative research is more controlled and focuses on data that can be quantified through the use of a phone or online survey. This method might have anywhere from 200 to 1,000 participants and includes pre-determined questions and answers to gather statistics.

Companies that utilize quantitative methods generally want high-level insights, such as which demographics use their products most or how likely customers are to refer their services.

Qualitative research, however, is more flexible and collects data from subjective means, such as focus groups. Unlike a survey, which targets a larger population, a focus group might have between six and eight participants. It’s an open-ended method that goes beyond numbers and instead centers on experience—that is, things participants can see, hear or feel.

With qualitative methods, companies typically want to dig deeper into why customers think or react a certain way when it comes to making decisions on a product or service.

Can Quantitative Research & Qualitative Research Be Combined?

There are circumstances in which companies may need both quantitative and qualitative research. Say a company goes the quantitative route with a survey, and the data reveals an issue they weren’t aware of—perhaps women between the ages 25-45 are leaving their business at an alarming rate. This is a case where following up with a focus group is useful, as participants can be pulled from that particular demographic and asked more specific questions.

Though not as common, there are even situations where companies have ideas for surveys but need to narrow down questions and answers. In this case, starting with a focus group can help determine what will be included in the survey before deploying to mass participants.

Regardless of whether quantitative or qualitative comes first, utilizing both methods together presents more opportunities to strategize and create action plans for business improvement.

Get Started with Customer Research

MSR Group provides the customized market research your company needs. We utilize a personalized approach to determine the research model that best fits your objectives, and we collect and analyze data to deliver meaningful insights for your organization.

In addition, we offer a comprehensive customer experience measurement program that allows you to monitor your company’s strengths and weaknesses and improve with its action planning tools. Learn more about APECs today!