Emotive Data: Designing Quantitative Research for Emotional Insight

Emotive Brand may not seem like a green eyeshade kind of place. After all, we’re in the business of creating emotional connections between brands and people. You may ask, “Why use quantitative research at all? Isn’t qualitative better for emotional insight?”

In fact, we find quantitative research very rich – and extremely useful for building our clients’ brands and businesses. Qualitative insight is important too, but whenever we can, we start with quant. It helps us move the needle on both functional and emotional measures. It also provides a baseline from which to measure change.

We recently completed a major quant project for a client in the education space. Our client had run a successful business for decades, but revenue growth was stalling as its primary audience matured. Executives came to Emotive Brand for both brand strategy and a growth strategy to jumpstart the business.

Here are some of the techniques we used to get emotional insight from the quant.

Quant Should Test Hypotheses

Every quant vendor has a standard methodology, but cookie cutter survey instruments yield cookie cutter findings. You have to know your client’s business and brand inside and out so you can enter the project with a strong set of hypotheses to test. That means the agency needs to be deeply involved in questionnaire development.

Working with our quant partner, we designed the questionnaire to include all the information needed to craft a growth strategy. We wanted to understand not only the brand and its competitors, but also the perceptions, attitudes, motivations, behaviors, and aspirations of each of five key target audiences toward the brand and the category.

We baked in other questions about the mechanics of the business to inform channel strategy and product development.

In the end, some of our hypotheses were right and some were wrong. But all of the findings were directly useful to helping us understand how to help our client grow.

Quant Should Elevate Emotional Insight

When we asked our target audiences why they engage in the category, their top answer was functional; they had to fulfill a professional requirement. But their second highest answer was rife with emotion; it empowered them fulfill their highest career aspirations.

Guess what we did with the first data point? We ignored it. You can’t build an emotive brand on a functional requirement. But the aspirational nature of the category became central to our brand strategy.

Next, we asked our target audiences to rank the attributes of the client brand from high to low. Their top choices were all functional; the client was doing a good job delivering the basics.

A few notches down the list, they ranked the brand’s ability to enable the same career aspirations that were identified as important for the category. BINGO. Connecting the dots on what drives these audiences was a key emotional  insight. It gave us a powerful territory in which to start positioning the brand.

Quant Connects the Dots on Growth Strategy

Finding these sorts of insights in quantitative analysis can be time consuming and eyeball wearing. But the fact is that it takes a human mind – specifically a human mind that is holding the hypotheses ­– to see meaningful connections.

It’s not a function that can be automated, at least not at this point.

One of the most important findings from our quant project was the identification of a new priority target audience. Looking at any one fact about this audience in isolation wouldn’t have bubbled it to the top as a priority. But looking across the data, we put together seven data points that, combined, told a compelling story of opportunity. Moving forward, this audience will be key to our client’s growth strategy.

That’s why we love quant. This one piece of research armed us with insights to help drive a new target strategy, brand strategy, primary and secondary messaging, as well as channel strategy and product development. Our client now has a baseline from which to measure the success of all of these efforts moving forward.

Done right, quantitative research can be great for the business and great for the brand.

For us, that’s something to get emotional about.

Emotive Brand is a San Francisco brand strategy and design agency.

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