Hybrid Research: Combining Qualitative & Quantitative Methods

Deciding between qualitative or quantitative research methods? Who says you have to choose?

With hybrid market research, you don't have to.

No matter your business objectives or goals, there are a number of qualitative or quantitative methodologies at your disposal. Each method is designed to answer a specific question in order to get desirable and actionable results.

But, with hundreds of types of market research methodologies to choose from, it is easy to get bogged down in choosing just one study to answer a variety of business questions.

Therefore, hybrid research instead offers an easy and full approach to collecting all-encompassing data.

Article Contents

What is hybrid market research?

Hybrid research is a combination of two market research techniques whether it be qualitative and quantitative, or a mixture of qualitative methods, to deliver the perfect solution. It is also commonly referred to as mixed-method research.

Where qualitative research methods aim to explore, quantitative research focuses on quantifiable statistics and measurement.

Qualitative market research

The methodologies used for qualitative research such as focus groups and in-depth interviews use a smaller participant sample size to explore mindsets in great detail.

In this regard, more time and focus are spent on individual respondents.

Quantitative market research

On the other side of the research spectrum, quantitative research methods like online surveys collect a large number of responses to collect statistically, reliable feedback.

Although the time spent with participants is less, quantitative research offers a much higher degree of data reliability.

Whether it is a mixture of different quantitative approaches or a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, a hybrid research approach offers the most optimal project outcomes.

qualitative vs quantitative data

💡 The Key Takeaway: Combining market research methods is the best of both worlds. Both qualitative and quantitative initiatives have unique benefits to offer a study, therefore don't feel like you have to settle on just one. 

What are the benefits of hybrid research?

You probably gathered this from the name, but hybrid research combines the best of both worlds when it comes to data collection. 

And when you receive high-quality data like this, your organization benefits tremendously. Not only will you save time (we’ll cover this shortly), but the data will be backed by two reliable modes of research.

Below, we’ll cover a few key advantages of using hybrid research. 

1. Better context

When using both qualitative and quantitative methods, you’ll understand the project and main goals better.

For example, qualitative research will deliver deeper insights to expand on. This will help you identify key themes that quantitative research may skip over. 

And by using quantitative methods, you’ll receive measurable metrics that can assist with benchmarking. Additionally, this will also ensure you’re receiving reliable statistical data. 

2. Ability to scale

Hybrid market research also allows you to scale, or segment, your results. 

Segmentation refers to grouping respondents based on characteristics like:

  • Gender
  • Income level
  • Geographies

And these are only a few basic demographics the data can be segmented into. This will allow you to better understand respondents, leading to clearer data.

Segmentation is often used when researching customer data. It’s especially useful here because brands can understand how to group customers into different market segments

3. Better research design

Combining research methods promotes better research design. Basically, using these two methods together will give a clearer image of how you should pursue the data. 

Using this ultra-detailed information will also better the results of your project. 

With high-quality data comes better decision-making for your business.

💡 The Key Takeaway: Using hybrid research has a multitude of benefits for a project. It promotes efficiency, increased data context, and improved research design.

Tips for combining qualitative and quantitative research

When it comes to combining qualitative and quantitative research, there are several tips to keep in mind:

1. Plan ahead

It is important to have a clear plan in place for how you will combine the two methods.

This includes deciding on the research questions, the methods for data collection and analysis, and the timeline for the project.

2. First comes qualitative, then comes quantitative

Using quantitative and qualitative research in a hybrid approach provides a comprehensive story, but what comes first the qual or the quant?

Where there is no right or wrong answer, as a hybrid market research company specializing in both methodologies, we often support the golden rule of conducting qualitative research before quantitative.

By using common types of qualitative research first, you are able to make well-informed answer choices for say a follow-up quantitative phone survey.

In doing so, respondents are able to choose answers that are most relevant, and in turn, create highly valuable feedback.

3. Keep the hybrid market research consistent

Regardless of the order in which you choose to conduct your research, it is important to remain consistent when utilizing a hybrid approach in order to easily translate insights and data across both project phases.

It is best to work with the same hybrid market research firm when conducting both methodologies to ensure results are not impacted or varied. More on this later!

Remember to keep any specific audience demographics the same as well.

If you are researching 35-year-old women in your qualitative research, but 18-year-old men in your quantitative study, it is likely these results will not be conducive to one another.

💡 The Key Takeaway: By planning ahead, starting with the qualitative phase, and remaining consistent, you can ensure that your hybrid research is successful and informative.

Hybrid research method example

Again, the market research methodology which you choose should be solely based on your project objectives.

With that being said, it is likely researchers will have multiple objectives that require different types of qualitative or quantitative methods.

Perhaps you have a range of target audiences best reached through different media outlets or you are looking for both individual and group feedback. In cases like these, and several others, a hybrid research approach proves to be most beneficial.

For example, let's say a food service company launched a brand of brown rice, ready to eat in 60 seconds.

After a few months of being available to purchase in grocery stores around the country, the food service company wasn’t seeing the impact they had anticipated in the marketplace. Instead, the feedback they received was predominantly negative.

The company decided to first conduct in-depth interviews with 8 participants who were light users of their instant brown rice. The participants answered questions regarding their likes and dislikes of the product as well as their process for cooking the rice.

Through this qualitative research, the analysts found a lack of willingness to follow directions on the label of the boxed rice. Diving deeper, there was a major correlation between participants who did not like the rice and those who did not read the instructions.

Understanding this correlation, the food service company then created an online survey with specific questions regarding their food labels and cooking instructions.

Customer feedback from the online survey showed the directions on the box of brown rice was not clear or easy to follow. By following a hybrid research approach, the food service company uncovered critical insights and changed its on-pack communications immediately.

💡 The Key Takeaway: As you can see, the above case we described is a great example of a hybrid market research method. When done correctly, both forms of research produce reliable data. 

Why hire a hybrid market research firm

We’ll tell you why working with a third-party team makes all the difference when conducting hybrid research. 

As we’ve covered, working with qualitative or quantitative research methods can be a very different experience. That’s why it’s key to work with an experienced team that is well-versed in both methods. 

For example, if you were to work with one team for qualitative research and then another for quantitative, confusion could occur and complicate data. With a team familiar with both research methods, you’re avoiding unnecessary trouble. 

market researcher writing on whiteboard

Aside from conducting both qualitative and quantitative methods of research, it’s important to look for a third-party team that offers the following: 

  • Expertise in multiple industries: The broader their industry experience, the better perspective your team will have for your project. If you find a company that doesn’t have much variety when it comes to client industries, keep on looking. 
  • Understanding of advanced research tools: You want a team of experts, right? Take some time researching your potential team to see what useful tools they provide clients. 
  • Timely deadlines: Pairing up with an outsourced team saves you time, so your personal objectives for the project can be prioritized. This would be difficult to do if you decided to run your project internally. 
  • Openness to innovation: You want a team that’s able to take a fresh approach to each project. A third-party group that does this will add a huge amount of value to your data. 
  • Reliable confidentiality practices: While we’re stating this last, it certainly isn’t the least. Market research companies are also useful because participants often feel more comfortable answering questions from an outside source, rather than an internal one. 

When you snag a market research team that meets these criteria, you can feel confident that they’ll deliver accurate hybrid research results. 

Instead of hopping from one company to do your in-depth interviews and to another for your online survey, make it easy on yourself and pick a team that offers both. This saves information from getting lost in translation. 

💡 The Key Takeaway: A professional hybrid market research company can bring a whole host of benefits to your project using hybrid research–one of which is avoiding unnecessary confusion between methods. 

Recommended Reading: Benefits of Using a Third-Party Market Research Firm

Contact Our Hybrid Market Research Company

Drive Research is a full-service market research company specializing in qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Our team has the knowledge and tools to design a robust hybrid market research study, should it be the right fit for your business.

Interested in learning more about our market research servicesContact Drive Research by filling out the form below or emailing [email protected].

emily carroll about the author

Emily Rodgers

A SUNY Cortland graduate, Emily has taken her passion for social and content marketing to Drive Research as the Marketing Manager. She has earned certificates for both Google Analytics and Google AdWords.

Learn more about Emily, here.

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