What is quick-turn qualitative research?

What is quick-turn qualitative research?

Sonya Turner

Oct 16, 2017

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Think of the last time you purchased a brand-new pair of shoes. How many different stores did you go to – or did you buy online? Did you try them on, or just grab your size? Were there particular brands you were looking for?  Now think of the process of purchasing a new house. Would those same questions be applicable? They are both purchases, so why is this such a ludicrous comparison?

Both instances certainly require information to make a decision, but the depth you need to feel comfortable is quite different. Not all purchases require the same level of product knowledge to make an informed decision, and likewise not all business objectives require the same level of research to answer their questions.

Typically, we think of a research project as a long, detailed assignment requiring a multitude of resources, with the largest of those being time and money. But in reality, needs evolve every day. In a market driven by ever changing consumer expectations, often you don’t have the capability to capture an answer to a business question or formulate a response through a traditional 6-month study, or even 1- month for that matter. So, what happens when you run across this situation; do you just go without?

That is when we look to a more agile, nimble solution: quick-turn qualitative. Quick-turn qualitative approaches provide enough to make an informed decision without the traditional time and efforts associated with more traditional research.

What is quick-turn qualitative research?

The lean, pragmatic methodology is based on improving your decision-making process by adding just enough information to justify your decisions when otherwise you might act on faith alone. It is intended to address straightforward, simple objectives, so you can quickly get the insights in a fast and affordable fashion. This constraint-driven research is intended to be completed in less than two weeks without depleting your resources.

It isn’t a substitute for traditional research methods, but rather a new and complementary approach. It shouldn’t aim to provide a complete understanding, or give you conclusive, statistically significant, exhaustive information. Just as a shoe purchase doesn’t require the same amount of effort as a home purchase, it’s meant for those some research questions that simply don’t need as much in-depth research.

When should you use quick-turn qualitative?

There is a tendency to lean toward overkill in research. Volume doesn’t equal insights, especially when the amount of labor put in doesn’t align with outcomes or needs. Quick-turn research is a way of thinking about how research can exclusively serve a specific business need. The output is correlated directly with input – what you put in is what you receive – and is meant to be actionable. You ask a direct question, and receive a direct answer. Quick-turn qualitative gives you the consumer learning you need to close a knowledge gap.

How and when you apply it dictates its effectiveness. It is geared toward short timelines that allow you to strictly focus on answering the business question. Quick-turn qualitative can be used in times where historically no research was implemented. When people opted to go with their gut instead because their budget wouldn’t allow it, only to ultimately miss an imperative aspect that could’ve been avoided by a fact check.  Quick-turn qualitative research is perfect in those instances where some is better than none. It serves those instances of gray areas, where any type of clarifying information can steer you in the right direction.

Below are real-world instances  that illustrate when quick-turn qualitative is most effective.

Concept Validation

Quick-turn qualitative aligns with lean startup thinking and a desire to fail faster. Innovation groups in R&D are constantly rolling out new product ideas and enhancements. Usually, once they’ve put quite a bit of time and effort into planning and designing, they then conduct an extensive research process. But what happens when the research indicates that this is completely out of line with consumers and stakeholders? Not only have they wasted time and money, but they’ve missed potential opportunities and must start over completely. With quick-turn research, you can conduct a pre-test on the ideas in the beginning stage. This approach allows you to fact check your hypothesis and confirm you are on the right path. Validated product concepts are more likely to thrive and result in a higher return on investment.

Disaster Checks & Crisis Intervention

Quick-turn qualitative research can be utilized as a means of crisis intervention. We live in a world where our consumer market is incredibly reactive; therefore businesses must be incredibly responsive. When crisis strikes, not only does a brand need to know how to respond, but they need to execute their message quickly.In this situation, confident, swift application of quick-turn qualitative methodology can provide answers and give a directional sense on how the crisis might impact business and what direction to take the responses.

Ad Testing and Brand Perception

Quick-turn qualitative is also ideal for stimuli testing, whether it’s a concept, creative, ad, message, or package. The direct questions and a head-to-head comparison provide actionable insights on how the stimuli measure up to one another, and how they impact the brand perception and business overall. This type of testing can be done in the early stages, to get quick feedback on the direction the concept is taking or later, to get a confirmation that the winning creative will drive the necessary results.


To learn more about quick-turn qualitative, and how it can serve as an effective solution to business needs, check out our webinar Best Practices for Quick-Turn Qualitative. You’ll also find examples and case studies of real-life applications where this methodology was utilized, and how our approach (iM)mediate provides quick-turn qualitative solutions.

Sonya Turner

Director, Insights

I love finding the story that exists inside every job we do, the thread that ties together.

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