Humberto Rodriguez

Blending is a topic that, for the past few years, I’ve been dancing around – and around, and around – with clients and colleagues alike. What are the real barriers we face when mixing data collection methodologies? Are we as market researchers the main obstacle? Or are the end users of research the primary reason why no one is mixing modes in Mexico yet?

To me, one thing that is perfectly clear is that the fear of blending exists because of concerns about the “comparability” of results between multiple data collection methodologies. But is this really justified? From my perspective, it is not – virtually no case studies have been conducted in Mexico to validate this fear.

What are the main arguments?
Sure, some of the main arguments I hear on a regular basis seem like reasonable concerns, such as:

  • My tracking study will lose continuity.”
  • “The information won’t be comparable.”
  • “We don’t actually know how we should weight the results from the different methodologies in order to perform the final analysis.”

But the question that gets me the most is: “Why change what has worked well for years?”To this, and to all other unwarranted fears our industry has, I ask back: “how can we know if we haven’t even tried it?”

The situation my fellow market researchers find themselves in today reminds me of a similar scenario that all parents, including myself, have faced at least once while dining with young children. The child looks up from their meal, pushes their plate away and exclaims, “I don’t want to eat that. I don’t like it.” But, as parents, it is our job to ask them: “How do you know you don’t like it if you haven’t even tried it yet?”

This brings me back to the issue of mixing methodologies. Really, it’s very similar.

Our fear of the unknown, our fear of change, and our fear to get outside of our comfort zone is preventing our industry from moving forward. While there may be some differences, some of them may be very positive. And the key is to measure them. Why don’t we run some case studies – perhaps some parallel studies so we can start comparing the results? We demonise the mixing of methodologies, but we have never run a pilot test to confirm whether it’s even a viable option or not. Yes, there may be some differences in the data, but perhaps those differences are meaningful to the client because they come from surveying a wider population of their customers. All I’ve ever heard are the cons, but it’s time we start thinking about the pros.

What are some of the pros?

  • Improved delivery times.
  • Easier access to multiple hard-to-reach audiences than exclusively over the phone or face-to-face.
  • Decrease in costs.
  • Feasibility on national, regional and global scales.

While I fully understand where our fears are coming from, I am also convinced that the only way to overcome these fears is to face them head on. Taking on the task of data modeling by the horns today will perhaps create a future that will enable us to get more completed interviews, faster.

New modes and new methods yield new insights, which equal deeper value for end clients. So I ask, “Who is ready to do a pilot test in Mexico?”

humberto rodriguez Humberto Rodriguez is Director of Client Development with Research Now in Mexico