Understanding humans needs a human touch

1st November 2017

The market research industry today is unrecognizable from the industry it was a few years ago. In many ways, the art of understanding people has been made easier through technology and there is much talk in the media of brands turning increasingly to automated research to improve efficiency and accuracy of information. If this is true, what does this mean for the qualitative researcher?

At the heart of qualitative research is human curiosity and the researcher’s interpretation of attitudes and behaviours. We might be awash with data but that is no substitute for this human element. It is not just about what people say or do but the interpretation of what this means. Our skill is in linking this interpretation to tangible insights for business and brand advantage. Let’s not forget that researchers build over time a bank of brand and category experience that brings an added dimension & valuable context to the research process. Sorry but technology, machines and robots can’t replace that …. at least not yet!

Our client  Sue Hayward, Head of Insight at Standard Life, echoes this sentiment.  “We must remember that information is not knowledge” she says “More information does not necessarily bring with it better decision making. Here at Standard Life we discovered that we knew a lot about what our customers & consumers were doing but failed to fully understand why they were doing it.”  She continues, “In a world of change (particularly the case within financial services) we have to ensure that decision makers connect with real people.  My remit is to help our business make better decisions and having lots of the same type of one-dimensional information will not drive the business forward.  In my view, there is no substitute for the hyper human perspective that comes from listening to consumers first hand.”

So whilst technology is advancing our industry in myriad ways, let’s not lose sight of the powerful human touch of the qualitative researcher that helps to turn knowledge into actionable insight.