FEATURE6 January 2023

Qual: are we risking turning gold into base metal?

Features Insight Alchemy

Research Live talks with Rhea Fox, chief digital officer, Paperchase, about the session she will be chairing in March at Insight Alchemy 2023, the MRS Annual Conference.

Rhea fox cropped

With budgets already under pressure, many agencies and insight teams are starting to feel the strain of conducting insight projects that either cost that little bit more – or whose results might be interpreted at the top table as a little bit less conclusive. 

But for many research professionals, high-quality qual is the gold in their insight programme, delivering nuanced views of changing consumer habits as the recession bites – and deeper perspectives on policy decisions as society changes.

How do we prevent this gold being turned into base metal in a budget-driven reversal of the traditional alchemic reaction? That’s the question Rhea Fox, chief digital officer at Paperchase and member of the MRS Delphi Group, will be tackling with her panel debate at Insight Alchemy 2023.

“There are some really glaring questions we need to tackle – such as, how do we integrate qual approaches and outputs with the new techniques and technologies that are emerging?” Fox explains. “A lot of this innovation is around data, and that means they’re not always ideal for the softer, richer insights we develop out of qual.

“But there’s a more pressing question: how do we promote and safeguard qual in a period of economic uncertainty? There’s a good parallel here with marketing. It’s much easier to defend performance marketing when times are tight – you know what the costs are very clearly, the inputs are well-defined and you can track the impact of the bottom line very closely. Quant research is a bit like that, it’s trackable and explicit. But brand advertising – qual in our analogy – is a much tougher sell, even though as users of insight we know how valuable it can be… especially when consumers and society are in a state of flux.”

Fox will be joined on the stage by qual leads from Sky, as well as Bridget Dalton (director at research tech specialist Discover.ai) and Chris Malloy, chief client officer at Brand Potential – who specialises in advising investors on smarter marketing investments.

Together they’ll be deliver the now, next and later ‘to-do list’ for delegates keen to make the case for qual in tough times. 

Find out more about Insight Alchemy 2023 - programme and headline speakers