Merging Quantitative and Qualitative Research to Make More Agile Business Decisions

Merging Quantitative and Qualitative Research to Make More Agile Business Decisions

Data from the crowd helps businesses be more agile and gain a clearer picture of what’s happening.


By Tim Ludolph | Data Product Manager

Companies today are facing an increasingly difficult problem: How to merge familiar, well-established data aggregation mechanisms — quantitative research — from their industries with fast-paced, voluminous platforms — qualitative research — available via the everyday consumer’s smartphone. 

Traditional methods such as focus groups and site audits can generate valuable information. However, they simply cannot match the scale, speed or freshness of crowdsourced datasets. 

Just as companies have realized that maintaining rack after rack of servers to store data is wasteful and costly, they have similarly realized that having their own in-house focus groups in every state or region is unwieldy and inefficient. 

That’s where Premise comes in. Premise bridges that gap by leveraging our community of 2.7 million Contributors in over 115 countries. Companies get on-demand access to data collection that helps them solve any business problem they might be facing anywhere in the world. 

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With the cloud computing equivalent in human form, Premise helps track your first mile, last mile and every step in between. 

Here’s how:

First Mile Measurements and Places of Interest

Intimately understanding your product’s supply chain and relentlessly optimizing its speed and efficiency are two common concerns for any modern business. 

Understanding the impact of the supply chain on the environment and local communities is a much tougher question and an often overlooked aspect that brands must contend with if they want to maintain public support and trust. Socially responsible companies are increasingly turning to crowd empowered data aggregation platforms like Premise to gather the data they need to make the right decisions.

Recently, one of our clients sought to better understand where the palm fruits their products relied on were being harvested in Indonesia and what the conditions were at these sites. Palm oil is a key ingredient in nearly half of the packaged goods in our stores, from foods to cosmetics. Mapping this product’s first mile meant covering much more terrain than the phrase implies, from palm farms in extremely remote areas to roadside pickup locations and stockpile sites in nearby towns to the processing plants in the country’s larger cities.

Traditional data collection methods employing enumerators and site audits would be extremely costly and difficult in this situation. Further, for globally contentious issues like palm oil harvesting, which is frequently associated with deforestation and habitat destruction of endangered species, government and industry obfuscation can prevent accurate collection.

Premise’s network of Contributors, which spans both urban and rural areas worldwide and encompasses local citizens who can navigate sensitivities such as these, allowed for every step of this process to be charted. 

This included:

  • What was the distance between farm, collection center, and mill? 
  • Did the palm fruits arrive in large quantities via truck or in smaller, more infrequent bunches via motorcycle and car? 
  • Were the majority of the mills large, modern facilities or small, less sophisticated ones? 
  • What effect did this have on pricing and the time from harvest to mill? 

Merging Quantitative and Qualitative Research

The customer was able to analyze each of these elements through our data collection, refining questions and adding new site types and locations based on initial results, often within 24 hours. They were also able to conduct targeted recruitment of local drivers and millworkers to augment the existing collection once priority collection spots were identified. 

This flexibility and breadth ultimately allowed the customer to identify over 6,000 facilities across the country and more fully illuminate the previously opaque first mile path of a critical component — complete with hundreds of pictures documenting every step of the way!

Last Mile Preparation and Sentiment Surveys

Premise’s platform can also allow customers to collect data on complex topics at the other end of the spectrum, such as vaccine hesitancy and disinformation, which we recently did for another client. 

Personal health matters are usually seen as too sensitive or costly to handle, especially for a hot-button issue like COVID-19. Accurately identifying disinformation is often a subjective and strenuous process, even for experts in the field. Similar to our ability to penetrate hard-to-reach geographic areas, Premise was able to help this customer explore difficult questions in vaccine hesitancy using a series of simple surveys and online exploration tasks. 

In this instance, Contributors in the United Kingdom were asked a series of questions regarding COVID-19 vaccines.

Specifically:

  • Were they willing to get one? 
  • Which news and social media sources had they been using to assess the pros and cons? 
  • What specific concerns did they have? 
  • What would it take for them to surmount these concerns? 

These responses were used to establish a baseline that included breakdowns by demographics and geography, which were then monitored over time for changes of significance.

Merging Quantitative and Qualitative Research
Mapping crowdsourced location data for monitoring vaccine hesitancy and disinformation

Within these breakdowns came an assessment of statistical significance based on sample size, which was then used to further refine data aggregation. 

For example, in order to achieve 95% confidence with a 5% margin of error, do we need more responses in a certain city or state or do we need more women to respond? These breakdowns helped to establish the thresholds that the customer wanted to be alerted to, such as a spike in a specific reason for reluctance geographically or a drop in support amongst a certain age or gender population. 

Being able to rapidly identify changes like these allowed the customer to react far faster than via manual monitoring and understand the impact to their underlying assessments.

This data became even more powerful when taken alongside examples of disinformation about the vaccines submitted by our Contributors. 

These included: 

  • Weblinks 
  • Screenshots of the articles or webpages 
  • Assessments of their effectiveness 

Evidence of private social media and closed platforms

Those were then passed to the customer for further validation. By integrating with their existing, conventional data sources, the customer was able to get a holistic picture of the messaging surrounding the vaccines and determine a course of action. 

Additionally, once the customer validated sources or themes of disinformation, we were able to feed that information back into our collection to further refine our analysis and better train our underlying models. 

These sites and topics were monitored similar to the survey questions. For instance:

  • Was there a rise in the number of high confidence disinformation sites in a region? 
  • Did a new strain of messaging arise that was of particular concern? 

Once areas of importance were identified, Premise was able to quickly pivot to add questions targeting those topics and locations. In total, the customer received over 7,000 responses over two months, giving them a broader understanding of the obstacles they faced in the run-up to vaccine distribution, including the specific messages that were confusing the population and tangible examples of the sources feeding these anxieties.

Flexibility and Freedom on Demand

Insights like these are precious to companies trying to operate in dozens of markets and looking to monitor the issues impacting them over time. 

The ability to do so without the baggage of managing these mechanisms around the world, being able to spin them up or down as warranted as in a cloud computing environment, frees these companies to focus on the most important aspect of all — what does this data mean to their organization and what decisions can they make based on the data aggregated.

Want to learn more? Get in touch with us today to find out how we can deliver more agile market research insights quickly.