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AI in qualitative research
AI in qualitative research
March 6, 2024

Revolutionizing qualitative research: Why at Scale with technology

In the world of market research, the split between software providers and service vendors has for many years defined the landscape. On one side, software companies as well as internal build software have arrived to assist researchers in collecting and organizing data, qualitative as well as quantitative. Lately, these tools have also been integrating AI from the likes of OpenAI, Microsoft, etc. However, despite their technological ability, these tools still depend on human researchers to distill raw data into meaningful insights. This reliance on human researcher involvement has scalability challenges, limiting the potential for consumer brands seeking faster and cheaper qualitative insights.

The other part of the market is occupied by service providers – local, regional, and global – businesses that thrive on a time and material model. They employ experts to conduct qualitative research on behalf of consumer brands. While these service providers offer end-to-end services, their business model tends to be counterproductive for consumer brands aiming for quicker and more cost-effective insights. As a result, despite representing a significant portion of research budgets (around 90%), this approach often falls short of meeting the growing demand for efficiency and affordability, they are simply too slow and expensive for the agile world of today, where qualitative insights are needed much more tactically and operational than ever before.

For years, consumer brands have navigated these two options, dealing with the trade-offs between in-house capabilities and outsourcing to service providers. Over and over again we hear from consumer brands, being Insight or Marketing teams, that they need help with the balance between the two. On one hand, dedicating internal resources to produce insights with the help of a software tool, locks up that capacity to answer other business questions in the meantime, and on the other hand, having internal resources to project manage the external service providers, makes them able to cater for more business questions, however with the tradeoff of much higher budgets required to do so.

Some consumer brands, within their Insight teams, has a mix of people dedicated to project manage and others who are split between the two worlds. For over 10 years, we have worked to change this with GetWhy, and 5 years ago we took a major leap towards creating a new category, where the consumer brands will get the best of the two worlds. Not limited by human capacity, with low cost, extremely high pace and quality on par or better than before. For the first time, there is a path to address an unlimited amount of business questions, from day to day, with the depth of Why.

Enter Artificial Intelligence

A groundbreaking shift has been building up over the years. In GetWhy, we started our journey with AI 5 years ago, which has resulted in the emergence of a new category in qualitative research. Thanks to our own AI Research Agent, we now have the ability to automate the entire research process – from project brief to insightful findings. With quality on par or better than human researchers. This innovation is not merely an enhancement of existing methodologies but a revolutionary leap forward. Our AI doesn’t just assist analysts; it replaces them, undertaking the complex task of insight generation independently.

Using real participants from the target audience still plays a crucial role, ensuring that the analysis and insights are done on a foundation of true human perspectives and uncovering the Why. We saw early that the foundation needed to be individual consumer video interviews, done by the participants themselves from the comfort of their own homes.

The future role of the researcher

The paradigm shift introduces extraordinary efficiency and scalability into the land of qualitative research. Consumer brands no longer need to compromise between speed, cost-effectiveness, and deep qualitative insights. Our focus in GetWhy has been on unleashing the full potential of technology to transform raw data into actionable insights without the constraints of human-dependent processes, however, we are not a software that requires a researcher in the driver’s seat. All business functions can, without expertise, start getting answers to their “how” and “why” business questions, without constraints, supported by an easy-to-use frontend or our customer success support.

The model until now, where a researcher is in the driver’s seat, has given way to a fully automated insights creation driven by AI. This doesn’t mean that we or the consumer brands shouldn’t have researchers, they still have a key role in helping the business ask the right questions, provoking, storytelling, socializing, and helping the business functions move forward, in their efforts to connect with the consumer.

Learnings so far from the new category

The new category is created with the likes of GetWhy, which includes significantly accelerating the pace of insight generation as well as reducing the cost dramatically and is now enabling consumer brands to answer more business questions promptly than before. With 150+ brands onboarded over the last 6 months; we see three areas where consumer brands are using this new approach:

  • Capture demand: Exploring consumers’ core needs and behavior
  • Reducing time to market and waste with idea-, concept- and hypothesis screening
  • Getting better ROI of campaigns and distribution budgets by e.g. pretesting creatives.

And they are doing so, in 3 rhythms:

  1. Reducing costs from current vendors and using this budget to get even more insights than before
  2. Cover ad hoc questions which have no current structure. Due to the fast turnaround (hours and days)
  3. New use-cases that were not possible before, due to low price and fast turnaround

We have worked hard to create this new era in qualitative research, where the question is no longer about balancing software tools and human resources; it’s about harnessing the power of technology to propel market research into the future. Consumer brands can now meet the demands of an ever-evolving landscape with unparalleled speed and accuracy, paving the way for a more agile and informed decision-making process. The era of GetWhy insights has dawned, and the possibilities are limitless.

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