Marisa L. Pope 

Owner, Jackson Research

Qualitative was supposed to be dead by now. So why isn’t it?

There are mountains of behavioral data at our fingertips that tell us what people are doing, when and with whom they’re doing it.

It’s simple. We need to know WHY. Why they chose that place, with those people, at that time of day. Without the “why” we can’t do much about their behavior except watch it.

I’m not going to bore you with all the other reasons why qualitative is living past its predicted expiration date. What’s important is the future of qualitative and how that future will affect the industry. How will researchers have to adapt? What will facilities look like? And how will research buyers use it moving forward? These are the questions we all have to answer if we want to maintain relevance.

The real difference between qualitative and quantitative is the emotive substance baked into the very core of most qualitative methods. Recently there’s been a resurgence of mixed methods, including both, as researchers seek to get a “twofer.” This requires both empathetic and analytical minds to collaborate; no easy task but one organizations will have to master.

And let’s face it, these studies are expensive. But research buyers are discovering that one such project can offer the insights of multiple individual attempts (in less time) to gain the same level of understanding.

Researchers won’t be the only ones asked to transform. Many facilities, too, may have to undergo a makeover. It won’t be enough to have four walls and a mirror; even the living room setup is practically passé. No, facilities will have to become more adaptable, with creative, inspiring décor custom-built for the solution at hand – such as pubs, hospital rooms and even backyards – if we want to stay relevant.

As Steve Kantscheidt, CEO of research insights consultancy...