A Significant Answer to that Statistical Question

You will need buy-in to talk to more people now, so build up your stakeholders’ appetite for discovery by presenting those new phenomena as the opportunities they are.

Present your discoveries as the opportunities they are.

A Final Note on Detecting SignalsQualitative research uses smaller sample sizes and does not aim for the statistical significance often sought after in quantitative work.

Why?Because qualitative research is not documenting prevalence, it’s detecting signals.

Time for a metaphor.

Indulge me.

Think of qualitative research (qual) as the metal detector on the sandy shores of innovation.

It will detect a signal from metal of any kind in the nearby vicinity.

Closer inspection can reveal more about this metal.

It might be gold, it might be silver, it might just be tin.

But you’ll get a signal if it’s there.

It’s your job to determine if what you’ve found is valuable.

Qual research is a metal detector.

Use Qual research to scan an area looking for signals.

You may find several interesting hot spots, although the precise value of each one might not be clear.

You use your knowledge of the area (your business knowledge) and your taste for further exploration (your willingness to invest time and resources in innovation) to decide how to proceed with following some or all of those signals.

Quantitative (Quant) research can be part of this further exploration.

Quant is more like digging a mine.

Quantitative research, in many cases, will only find specifically what it’s looking for: gold coins in a certain spot.

You’ll either find them there or you won’t.

You won’t likely find anything you weren’t looking for, like silver coins a few feet over, because that is not what your instrument was calibrated for.

And that’s fine.

You use quant research when you’ve already had a signal that gold is around and now you want to know how much is there.

Think of it this way:A retailer knows that a specific demographic is purchasing sunscreen and the retailer now wants to know how frequently that demographic is making a purchase.

Use quantitative research because you know what you are looking for — sunscreen purchases.

The retailer wants to know how else that demographic is preparing for summer beach trips.

Use qualitative data, because you are looking for signals and not sure exactly what you may be detecting.

If you are a sunscreen manufacturer planning your pre-summer production run, you need the first.

If you’re trying to innovate within the summer vacation market, the second is a better start.

Going ForwardThe most important part of research, qualitative or quantitative, is having questions and seeking answers.

Don’t let anyone sideline you with objections about statistical significance when your goal is connecting customer goals to business goals.

That’s already significant.

***Kelly Moran utilizes an innate curiosity and unceasing desire to ask “why” to understand how people use products and services to accomplish their goals — whether those goals be work or play.

Kelly was formerly Principal Experience Researcher at the Dallas-based consultancy projekt202, and now works in UX Research at Google.

Find her other writing at: https://medium.


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