Animated Insights: Giving Qualitative Research a Name and a Face

3 min readOct 8, 2021

Qualitative research is a large part of the research experience, giving insight teams and stakeholders a deep look at how consumers live and behave in their own little worlds. These insights are steeped in context and depth that better connects stakeholders to customers and consumers.

With surveys as the unelected face of the insights industry, qualitative research has come second in terms of education and innovation allocation — meaning that while all stakeholders hold quantitative data in a research report in good regard, qualitative data isn’t so clearly understood. Insight teams need to give qualitative research a name and a face in order to capture the interest of stakeholders and help qualitative insights reach their full potential.

Visualising Qualitative Data

Expressive insights like from qualitative data relies on accurate interpretation from researchers, and thus can be tricky to obtain if insight teams don’t have the right tools in place for accurate analysis or if the dataset is incomplete. These tools are critical to the formation of accurate insights, thus giving qual an accurate face for stakeholders to then take and act upon.

With the right tools to analyse the data, insight teams now need to figure out the best ways in which to present insights so they make the fullest impact possible on stakeholders. The best way to do this is to tailor the reporting method to the stakeholders they’re looking to impact. If it’s just one or two stakeholders who will use the insights (i.e., those who requested the research to be done in the first instance), then insight teams can tailor their insight communication to their specific preferences. However, if all stakeholders within an organisation will benefit from these insights, this is a chance to use multiple channels to communicate the insights on a more regular basis so they can reach a wider audience.

There are numerous popular channels such as email, video and in-person, each with their own data visualisation strengths and weaknesses to consider. Word clouds are a great chance to quickly communicate relevance and an overview of consumer thinking over an email or as a slide in a presentation report to then expand upon in-person; but they should always be used in conjunction with other data reporting tactics.

Using graphic illustrations and other imagery is another great tactic to express the varied themes of qualitative data, supporting and illustrating insights in a way that stakeholders can easily interpret at a glance, but also holding deeper meaning at a second or third look. Imagery in this way literally gives qualitative research a face for stakeholders to hold onto and engage with. FlexMR’s award-winning Insights as Art campaign experimented with just how far imagery and art could be used to express qualitative insights on their own. These graphical illustrations could also include a timeline or more logical diagram to convey more complex insights.

But there are also tactics that require a little more working to factor in, but are worth their weight in gold for the return on the effort put in. Interactive methods are a fantastic way to engage stakeholders in creative insights, with methods such as in-person insight forums and workshops best for allowing stakeholders to ask questions and truly understand the qualitative research that has been conducted and how they can better act on the resulting insights.

Storytelling tactics hold great potential in this task, as they can quite literally give qualitative research, data and insights a name and a face. Tactics such as use of a narrative arc, creating recurring character personas that identify with a different demographic of a stakeholder’s consumer or customer base, and enhancing this through video storytelling incorporating graphics into the mix can drastically elevate the interest of stakeholders.

This article was originally published on the FlexMR Insight Blog and can be accessed here.


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