Last week’s blog covered the basics of expert networks. This week we’ll focus on how expert networks can enhance qualitative research. It will come to no surprise to qualitative research consultants that market research is becoming more demanding, especially if the scope of the study requires executive-level or expert-level participation. Recruiting for such studies is much more challenging and often qualitative research firms will work with market research recruiting firms to help connect to hard-to-reach participants. Because of the challenge of getting a group of experts in a room for a focus group, some researchers design their studies to rely more on in-depth interviews, which can more easily accommodate demanding schedules. If it is so much trouble to get experts or executives to agree to participate in market research, you may wonder why bother. The short answer is including experts in certain market research studies can greatly enhance the outcomes of the study.
Not every study requires all the participants to be experts or executives, but many researchers are coming to realize that including a few experts in a study can offer deeper insights and help shape strategies and trajectories of a project or product. Let’s explore some examples of where a market research study might benefit from including an expert.
There are a lot of different types of companies that service the medical profession and healthcare. From insurance companies to pharmaceutical companies, there are hundreds, if not more, niche industries that center around healthcare. Let’s say a health-exchange company hired a market research firm to conduct a study that seeks to understand why certain exchanges were favored over others by individuals. Given that the focus of the study is to work with individuals who are making decisions about which health exchange to choose, a researcher will likely design to study to include a variety of individuals who can speak to the topic. The researcher may choose to recruit a medical professional from an expert network when designing the study guide to ensure there isn’t a blind-spot when framing questions, or an expert network may be tapped to provide insight to barriers that may otherwise not be considered. In this example, the overall study didn’t require a whole panel of medical experts, but including one or two voices from this cohort could improve the outcomes of the study by helping shape the study guide OR provide insight to a barrier that may not have been considered otherwise.
Start-ups, while sometimes working with limited budgets, are wise to conduct qualitative research prior to launching a new product or service. A common reason that many start-ups fail is they don’t have an understanding into the ‘how’ and ‘why’ behind consumer decision making. A start-up may correctly identify a gap that could be served by its product or service, but if it doesn’t consider what truly compels and drives consumers to make purchases or switch services, it’s very possible that the start-up fails to launch because it misses the fundamentals of consumer behavior. Start-ups are more likely to be successful if proper market research and consultation with professionals from an expert network is done in the earliest stages of development.
There are many more examples of how market research can benefit from tapping into the knowledge base of seasoned professionals, no matter the industry.