Aldo Agostinelli

Quality or quantity? If you were asked what you would rather get, I am pretty sure, most of you would immediately answer: <<Quality!>>.  The concept of quantity, deprived of any specific context, is difficult to define. Quantity of what? How much? Referring to which goods or services? There is no doubt: in such a case quality is a winner.

However, the situation changes if we refer to market research since, inside this huge container including manufacturers, the whole management world and final consumers, data rule. And if I were asked the above mentioned question, nine times out of ten I’d answer: <<Quantity>>.

The difference between qualitative and quantitative market research is that the former is conducted involving a limited number of individuals, statistically non representative of the surveyed target and is aimed at providing details, in depth-analysis, trends, opinions and reactions to a process, a product, a commercial, whereas the latter involves large numbers of people and deals with “ cold, hard facts and figures. We are talking about statistic and structured data to be used to make general assumptions and draw conclusions. >> (Glossario Marketing).

Moreover, data concerning quality and quantity differ.

When data clash

A recent survey conducted by YouGov and Grey London, involving 2240 British citizens aged over 18, published by The Drum, claimed that 96% of the interviewees do not trust  influencers. This may suggest marketing influencers are dead. At least in the UK (People in the UK do not trust what influencers say).

At the same time, though, always in the UK, quantitative data collected in the same period  by Izea show the opposite: influencers’ popularity and followers have grown to the point that the average price of a picture has soared from 104 pounds in 2014 to 1.276 in 2019. Brands fight over social media testimonials and thanks to Instagram Stories, “sponsored bundles” have become brands’ favorites when it comes to influencers based campaigns (The average price brands pay Instagram influencers for sponsored posts has surged this year; Social-media influencers: Incomes soar amid growing popularity).

Even admitting that Izea, being an influencer marketing platform, may lack objectivity and may be feathering its own nest, the discrepancy is huge and the increase in the average amounts paid is a good indicator of the fact that influencer marketing is not over, yet.  

Between figures and opinions

In short, we are addressing the contrast between descriptions and measurements. As long as qualitative research is based on multiple answer questions, it is reliable. But if we refer to open answer questions, like “ what about….?”, a classic when it comes to survey concerning sentiment, I am definitely more doubtful about their reliability.

Even more so when such surveys concerning the so called sentiment involve business  management.

Let’s be clear: I am not opposed to qualitative research. I simply do not agree with internal marketing qualitative research conducted involving small focus groups or by using individual questionnaires which, instead of providing figures, trends and data, aim at interpreting different points of view, disputable opinions which are often not based on real sales, production or distribution data. In such cases, information don’t mirror reality in terms of where and how money is spent or which actions/products/services can be considered to be effective.

In a digital transformation scenario, for instance, qualitative research, when it is not rigorously conducted on the basis of reliable models, may turn out to be detrimental and its cost will be paid when things are done and too much time and money have already been invested.  

Which type of research do you trust? Tweet @agostinellialdo.

To find out more about the digital world, you may read my latest book: “People Are Media” 

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Aldo Agostinelli