Big data. You've all seen the term. You've all read about the term. You're all probably sick of hearing the term at this point. In fact, half of you already stopped reading this post at this point because you're tired of hearing about big data. When it comes to market research, analytics, and metrics, is there any term less personable than big data? Let's face it, analysts working with big data are taught to not view people as people but as data points. Big data is analyzed to better understand user behavior. Big data tells us every data point which takes place is because of its relation to the Quintilian of other data points which match it. However, even though big data is big on information, it can often be light on insight.
Where Big Data Doesn't Work
Just how drastically different is big data from qualitative research? Let me introduce you to John (Big Data Translation = CustomerID: GHR567B89). John has a wife and two children and lives in the Midwest region of the United States (Big Data Translation = CustProfile: MWUT34 + HHSTAT: MNC0246). John recently bought a new Blue Ray player for his remodeled home theater in the basement of his home (Big Data Translation = ProductID: BLRP0001897XP22). When John was in the Best Buy store looking at Blue Ray players he spent almost an hour with the customer service rep (Steve) talking about different options and which player fit best with his home theater set up. The Best Buy rep had a similar home theater set up at his home and knew all of the ins and outs of the system and the issues he faced. John was originally going to purchase the system online at Amazon but because he had such a positive experience with Steve at Best Buy, he decided to purchase the Blue Ray player on the spot. (Big Data Translation = ?)
Explaining the Why?
Unfortunately this level of human insight for why John reached his point-of-purchase would be lost in translation with big data. This is why traditional market research continues to be vital for analytics and business strategy. It is the essential tie-in to understand the link between actions and exploring the reasons actions take place. It explains the "why" behind the "what." With the big data overload in the past few years, corporations and decision-makers have and will continue to rely heavily on traditional market research to make connections between metrics and underlying thoughts which drive various data points. Qualitative research is used to explore decisions, impressions, and thoughts about particular products or services and is a form of people-based research which teams perfectly with big data.
What is People-Based Research?
Barbara Apple Sullivan, managing partner her agency stated the following to CMO.com, "“Analytics are great for providing a screenshot and narrowing a business’ audience - but the truth is, as more and more organizations are realizing, (it) paint(s) an incomplete picture." Using focus groups, interviews, IHUTs, and other types of user experience (UX) studies helps corporations better understand why decisions are made. Although big data has provided us with more data than we could ever wrap our heads around, it has also reaffirmed the need for traditional market research.
Talk to Customers through VoC, Don't Focus Solely on Aggregate Data
If anything, it raises the question to a CEO of any company, what is more valuable: (1) spending an hour analyzing big data from all of your customers to arrive at key measurements and metrics for analysis or (2) actually sitting down with one your customers for an hour to explore their thoughts, opinions, and decision-making process for buying your product?
At least with people-based research, I can tell you that won't find more personable insight in the industry than a one-on-one in-depth interview (IDI) with a key stakeholder. Drive Research, a market research company in Syracuse, NY has passion for data, analysis, and statistics. More so, we are devoted to helping my clients use data, analysis, and statistics to answer key business questions and capitalize on opportunities. For more information contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 315-303-2040.