Empathy and Its Role in Market Research

Thanks for the pic, Ron Mader

Thanks for the pic, Ron Mader

Qualitative research relies on expression as much as opinion. Ideal for conceptualizing central targets, qual’s major strength is its focus of detailed personal opinions and behaviors. A successful online market research company must rely on more than just logic. Empathy is also vital for insight.

Empathy is Integral for Relevant Data

Pie graphs, market segments, and use stats are what clients typically associate with market research. Such facets play a large part, sure, but as devices to analyze the customer. Qualitative methods use the researcher as the device, but one to measure and analyze a central target.

Empathy, as such, is useful for researchers when in session. No qualitative method is completely structured. In fact, the unexpected is also often the most insightful. Researchers making the effort can guide the dialogue to its most relevant.

Relevancy is of utmost importance to design and development, and market research services strive for pertinence. Learning what a target wants can quickly change design plans, if not lead to entirely different products. Far more efficient than blindly releasing products, tailoring products to demand helps minimize waste while maximizing revenue.

Empathy Maps, or How to Explore and Chart Empathy

To ‘walk in another’s shoes,’ empathy is a daily facet of human existence. While researchers can appreciate their own inferences, however, a more structured approach is far more pragmatic. Categorization is a fundamental first step when defining what factors help customers make their day-to-day decisions.   

No stranger to business market research, empathy maps are among the most common ways to explore another perspective. A square sectioned off into four parts, researchers using this device are better able to direct their inquiry.

  • Thinking – What does the customer think
  • Feeling – How does the customer feel
  • Doing – What does the customer do
  • Perceiving – What does the customer see, hear, etc.

Common throughout marketing research companies, empathy graphs are also ideal as a group exercise. Groups can disperse, address certain quadrants of the graph, and then reconvene to share ideas and add more depth to their analysis.

Empathy is About People, not Places

Markets are changing at perpetually faster rates, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Often requiring months of logistics and huge budgets, traditional qualitative research is too slow to track these variables and their effect on market sentiment. Marketing research firms must adjust with the times. Using online channels is qualitative research’s only option, both to properly investigate markets and offer relevant information.

Empathy becomes only more important when conducting qual online. The absence of a shared place, though superficial, can initially impact a sense of connection. Qualitative marketing research, online or off, requires the interpersonal for valid results. Ideal for a cohesive understanding of customer realities, empathy maps help build researchers’ sense of familiarity. Compilation and comparison are natural next steps, and smart ones given the huge reach of access that online qual allows. Learn more by checking out our demo or contacting us!

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