Scaling the qual/quant divide

Recently on a sales call with a rep vying for the Studio’s business, I was introduced to a series of new features and functionalities of updated software, and listened as the rep pitched his software’s capability to provide a more robust approach to quantitative research. While the software undeniably had some valuable capabilities, something the rep said has stuck with me since the call: I’ve been working with several companies who have adopted our software so that they can vet their qualitative findings with quantitative tools.
Through working with clients whose growth strategies have spanned topics ranging from community outreach, product development, donor acquisition, brand strategy, innovation embedment, diversified marketing, and more, I’ve learned two, crucial golden nuggets:

1) Qualitative and quantitative research and data collection are mutually exclusive
Tools used in qualitative and quantitative research look very different from one another and, in turn, yield very different results. While you can test pieces of your qualitative findings through a survey, you’re unlikely to be able to successfully vet your key qualitative insights quantitatively and get the same results, and vice versa. If I asked you in a survey if your top priorities for snack packaging were that it was easy to open and reseal, you might say no because you prefer single serve packaging that you can eat in one sitting and resealing isn’t needed in that situation. While your response is important, it does not invalidate the mother of two sets of teenage twins that walked me to her pantry and showed me two open bulk bags of popcorn and pretzels that were left open with stale and wasted product because the packaging wasn’t made with her sometimes careless teens in mind.

2) Qualitative and Quantitative research and data collection are not mutually exclusive
You meet proponents in each camp that are vehemently dedicated to only qualitative or only quantitative data, but the truth of the matter is, data collected through a survey disseminated to a statistically relevant number of kitchen owners and operators or an immersive on-site interview in the back of house of a commercial kitchen or restaurant both have merit. Opportunity and insight discovery should never be about the perceived value of one form of data over the other. Rather, the focus should lie in choosing the right set of tools that will help you to achieve the outcomes you hope to make through research.