Agile Research Tools for 2019 – Part 1

Agile Research Tools for 2019 – Part 1

Research budgets are tighter than ever, the geo-political climate is encouraging risk-averse behaviour and there are increasing numbers of sophisticated research tools available, from online qualitative communities to AI/tech-enabled big data harnessing techniques.  So how do you navigate the choice and make a smart decision that will maximise your research money invested?

In the first part of our exploration into agile research tools, we take a look at agile tools for qualitative research.


Online Qualitative Research Vs. Face To Face

The case is becoming ever stronger for online research as methodologies become more sophisticated and agile.  To give a couple of examples; your research question might be (remember, always start with this, not the methodology) “How are your users interacting with a category while shopping or using a product?”  Online diaries would allow them to upload entries, photos or videos in real time, thus getting you closer to actual vs. claimed behaviour.  Maybe you want to learn and ask, “Which conceptual directions are most appealing and how can they be improved”?  Online communities or co-creation sites allow people to mark up what they like / don’t like about concepts and build off comments from others.  So what are the advantages of going online vs. traditional qualitative research?

Value – Costs can be kept down due to i) no travel (respondents, moderators, product teams), ii) efficient recruitment from online panels or at hand sources, iii) speed (near instant responses to business questions).  You can quickly evaluate ideas and iteratively optimise them with your target audiences.  Client teams see the insight and value for themselves by easily viewing the research as it happens.

Revealing Emotions – More and more platforms support multi-media, so imagery, video, etc. can be used to capture real behaviour, express emotions and probe metaphors.  Panellists have time and the comfort of their own home to consider responses and can search in their cupboards or online to help them give comparisons and context to their responses.  You can reduce bias by easily randomising the order of ideas you share, especially if you are talking to more people and if part of a group discussion, have them share a private response first.

Compliance – You can set the research up so people can respond when it suits them or when they are feeling most creative or in touch with the research subject.  Creating a social media type of interface will be familiar to them and they’ll be used to sharing videos or images of themselves, which could be especially beneficial for sensitive topics.

Broad Audience – It’s easy to run studies nationally or across countries.  With lower costs, a broader range of different target audiences can be included to help identify and target segments.

Analysis – Analytics are becoming more sophisticated every day.  Even with qualitative numbers of respondents, the amount of dialogue quickly escalates and counts of wording or visual heat maps can be a powerful way to illustrate conclusions.



This being said, are there times when face to face research is advantageous?  Yes, we believe strongly in spending time in people’s environments with them, especially if combined with online techniques.

Deeper Human Insight – Even with videos recording inside homes and capturing users interacting with large amounts of product stimulus, visiting someone in their home and seeing their body language when they react to things enables you to pull out deeper insight and get to the motivations behind the needs.  A highly experienced moderator can elicit some of the unarticulated insights as they build a rapport with a consumer and know when and how to probe to get to a deeper level.

Once an appropriate online or face to face qualitative technique has been selected to address a research question, the details of the research design are also critical as well as the analysis afterwards.  It’s requires specific skill and experience to extract and connect consumer functional and emotional needs, the motivations behind these and ladder them up to higher order needs as well as translating them into actionable consumer and product / service models.


Do get in touch if you like to discuss Untapped’s full range of qualitative techniques.


Sally Kemkers
Sally Kemkers
[email protected]

Happiest when considering how to answer tough business questions, Sally relentlessly digs deep into consumer insight and connects this with trend and product insights to deliver a product cue or piece of communication.

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