By: Tricia Houston, Founder and COO
There are countless types of and applications for research. This is part of what makes our job so much fun, but the variation and verbiage can sometimes get confusing. At The ExperienceBuilt Group, we believe there’s a time and place for all research, and understanding the differences is essential to knowing when, where, and how they can each work best for you.
When we talk about “research types,” most people think of quantitative and qualitative. But these are only methods, not disciplines. Experience, marketing, UX, and CX research are all types of research disciplines. Disciplines are defined by what you do with the data you find, whereas research methods are how the research gets done. Method types include focus groups, surveys, and diary entries, and they’re discipline-agnostic. Methods can be used interchangeably in all research disciplines and for all types of purposes, from academia to market research to experience research. Slightly complicated, we know. But the distinction is worth nailing down. When it comes to differentiating disciplines, it’s not about what you need to know, it’s why you need to know it. Appropriately applying relevant methods and disciplines to projects is the key to finding exactly the data you need and how to use it.
For example: when conducting a common marketing research study to discover which message is most effective, Message A, B, or C, you’d likely measure which messages respondents prefer in a focus group or survey setting. If you put an Experience Research lens on this study, you’d ask some of the same questions, but you’ll also take context into account, considering if you’re delivering each message in the right context and at the right time. Not only are you analyzing the message itself, but you’re analyzing the audience’s actual experience of receiving that message.
Let’s take the digital, revolving billboards you’ll find on the side of many highways in America as a real-world example. If you take away the context most audiences would see a billboard in and just present the design to a focus group in a boardroom, you might walk away with results that aren’t as accurate or relevant as they could be. No matter how great the billboard’s design is, if the text is too small to read, the graphics are too detailed to grasp from two hundred feet away, or the billboard changes before viewers finish reading, then it’s not doing its job effectively in the real world.
When discussing business goals, phrases like “employee-first” or “customer-centric” may come up. Discussing strategies? You might hear “marketing” or “sales pushes.” However, what you don’t often see directly accounted for is internal and external experiences. When you look past these broad goals and strategies, experience ultimately underlies everything. These strategies and experience-first approaches aren’t either/or – it’s important to focus on sales, marketing, and production as well as experience. But you’ll do your research about these essential business functions differently once you take a full-picture view into account.
Marketing and sales efforts aren’t all about execution – they’re ultimately about experience, and the memories consumers will take away from your products or services. At The ExperienceBuilt Group, we don’t believe in simply creating things to persuade people to buy more of your products, but creating things that enhance experiences or improve people's lives.. And allowing space for all types of research in your studies allows you to get as in touch with your audience as possible. Putting on ExperienceBuilt glasses through each and every endeavor ensures that your employees and customers will feel the care and thought put into their experiences. We always say good is invisible – so customers might not consciously notice just what it is that makes their time with your products or company so exceptional, they’ll just keep coming back for more.
In business, there’s many reasons to include all disciplines in your toolbox, and no matter which one you choose, try your best to stay method agnostic. Depending on your goals, the methods you’ll benefit from using could differ greatly from business to business and project to project. Market research, for example, is all about mitigating risk – so you wouldn’t want to waste time applying it to something that’s just not that risky. Check out our blog on how to determine the risk factor of the projects you’re interested in pursuing.
At EBG, we stay up-to-date on all existing and emerging methods to ensure our clients receive the most helpful, relevant data by selecting those best suited for their personal needs and goals. Whoever you are, whatever you need, and wherever you want to go, we’re equipped to identify and conduct the research that can help you get there.