Confessions of a quant-aholic

I have a confession to make. I was a little apprehensive about joining a predominately qualitative research agency. I had visions of being banished to a special room where Excel wasn’t blocked, or being made to sit in the ‘geeky datahead’ corner, (I mean, this part is half true; #JillRazor does sit in the corner, but that’s purely because she chooses to!)

The truth is, as much as running focus groups and being responsible for helping to guide the discussion of a room of opinionated folk fills me with pure terror (I’ve done it before, and I’m gonna say I didn’t love it!), splitting us into buckets of ‘quali’ vs. ‘quanty’ is neither helpful nor accurate. Though there’s no denying that some of the core skills required do differ, we are actually quite nicely clustered together under one umbrella: ‘researchers’, ‘insight specialists’, ‘the voice of the consumer’.

Whatever you want to call it, our main aim is to uncover truths about consumer behaviour and to interpret these into a clear and actionable narrative for our clients; facilitating storytelling, if you will.

We’ll delve further into the world of data-led storytelling in one of our future blog instalments. For now, I wanted to strip this right back to talk about the start of the process; designing a research programme to help us get to these human truths. How people really feel.

Qual & quant methods aren’t as different as people initially think. After all, the fundamentals of crafting a solid questionnaire are the same key principles that apply to a strong discussion guide. Being focused enough to help answer the client’s key question(s) without being restrictive, considering rules like “spontaneous before prompted, general before specific”… The blurring of lines between qualitative and quantitative research has gone on for some time; so why is it that we still pigeon-hole ourselves so much in our research professions?

There are some common misconceptions about quant research. It often gets a bad rep for being boring, restrictive and not properly reflecting how people really feel. I’ve heard it time and time again, ‘how would you do that using an online survey?!’.

Well, times are changing! It’s no real secret that quant research has come a long way over the years from hideous grids and one dimensional questions. We’re continuously implementing new methods that bring quant even closer to qual.

  • Engaging respondents. Survey design is an area of increased focus, making the research as visual and fun for people to answer as possible. Showing images (personalising them) and mixing up the type of question (in terms of both the way they are asked and what respondents have to do to answer them). These are all principles that also apply to qualitative methods; simply making it personal, interesting and varied enough to encourage the people we’re talking to to really open up about their thoughts.

  • Top-of-mind questioning. A nod to the now widely-recognised fact that humans are quick and instinctive in their decision-making. Placing respondents under time pressure means they’re purely answering in an implicit way rather than being too rational or considered in their thought process. This is not only a more engaging way for respondents to answer, but yields much more natural and genuine responses.

  • Reading emotions. Only 7% of communication is verbal. In the same way that a moderator reads emotion during a session to unpick what is going on under the surface (the unsaid nuances), this is now becoming more common in the world of quant. Biometric methods have exploded over the past few years and technology that reads facial expressions on respondent webcams is bringing emotional analysis to a much broader audience than ever before.

These are just a few ways that the wonderful world of quant is getting more and more interesting. We can only expect this to continue, as both the desire and the technology shifts traditional quant to be more like ‘quali-quant’. Quant that is more engaging, emotive and real.

In our budding quant team we’re continuously keeping an eye on these new developments, as well as working alongside our fabulous fellow Razors to come up with engaging mixed-method approaches to delight our clients with!


To speak with our experts, contact Jill Sarsfield or Jo Coombes on email or call us on +44 (0)20 3865 1075.

The Beauty Project

I have an 11-year-old cousin. She’s into Pretty Little Liars and anything and everything else from Lush to Adidas Superstars. There are 13 years between us and yet she shares much in common with someone my own age.

Though tweens and teens are rapidly accelerating into adulthood, they’re still holding on tightly to childhood. They appreciate products and activities that allow them to be playful. They want to feel sophisticated but also enjoy being a kid. This makes it tricky for brands to know what’s on trend – or even what’s likely to be banished from their collection.

In our study, The Beauty Project, we explored what’s currently ‘in’ for tween and teen girls when it comes to beauty, personal care, and grooming. Most of the products they love fall under three main themes. They are enduring themes as far as this age group is concerned; but the products & brands within them have changed.

Tweens take pride in building up collections of beauty and personal care products. They are hooked in by miniatures, shapes with personality, varieties of colours and patterns, as well as funky textures. Take affordably priced lip balms and mini hand creams for example. Whilst it’s important that these products do their job well, they also must look distinct and offer variety in fragrance, look and feel.

Transformative experiences
Both tweens and teens LOVE products – and shopping in stores – that appeal to the senses. When I was younger, toy aliens in eggs were all the rage (remember those?). Slime continues to be huge for tweens at the moment; anything that can be moulded, be played with and transformed is a winner. 

It should be no surprise that bath bombs, bath jelly and shower foams are exciting for girls in this age group. For beauty products, they’re looking for sweet and fruity smells. It’s also important that they can test and sample products in-store.

Something to showcase
Unicorns, sparkly things, rose gold colour cues are all popular when it comes to showing off a trove of goodies. The main difference by age is that whilst tweens display for themselves (“I won’t use it, they just look good in my room.”), teens exhibit for others. Some even consider their audience at the time of purchase (‘for my Lush bath bomb, I’m thinking about what it’s going to look like on Instagram!’).


Our full complimentary report – The Beauty Project – is now available to share. To find out how, or if, your brand features, contact Lesley Salem or Chloe Bartlem at Razor Kids for further details.

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Online engagement equals cash money – and the tech world is out to get it! Our smartphones are literally designed to be as addictive as possible. No wonder Toys “R” Us struggled; kids are mostly into one kind of toy.

It feels as though every user around the world is simultaneously living their own version of The Truman Show. So what tricks do our smartphones use to pull us in? 

We can draw a parallel between the most addictive form of gambling and the way many social apps now function. What’s more satisfying and addictive than pulling down a slot machine handle? Apps cleverly replicate this pull feature to refresh pages to give the user an illusion of control. Corporations profit by keeping us hooked.

Colour is hugely important too. Eye tracking studies have shown that we’re drawn to bright reds and pinks, much more than to greens or blues. This is why all our notifications are red. Every colour, icon and notification on our phones are meticulously thought out in order to get the most attention and engagement from us.

Remember the Instagram rebrand? They got rid of the brown/beige icon to make it…yep…pinky/red! Airbnb and Google did the same with their logos to make them more striking. I wonder what the impact on our brains would be if our phone screens displayed in black and white? Every app on the home screen would operate on a level playing field. And it would probably lead to less procrastination. (I’ll confirm that another time.)

Perhaps the smartest design feature is ‘infinite scrolling’. There is no need to click to load new content, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and co. You just keep scrolling down forever, which makes it so much harder to stop.

How many of you ever get past page 1 on a Google search? Not many I bet. If search engines suddenly adopted infinite scrolling I imagine we would all struggle. But in a social context, it works to keep you going and going and going…

If you don’t fancy grayscaling your phone, try disabling any non-human push notifications which try to replicate the social interaction we desire. See how your usage drops to a healthy amount overnight.