Blurring the boundaries between qual and quant: How the challenge to do consumer research in the rapidly developing technology industry made qual and quant come together

Maarten Schellekens
Acer, Switzerland

INTRODUCTION

Especially in the computer and smartphone industry it is hard to understand consumer needs, and gauge consumer responses to potential propositions. The value-creation process takes a couple of years from the moment of inception up to the moment that products arrive on the shelf. But in those couple of years, many parameters change. Technology progresses quickly, and the market situation changes drastically in a short period of time. As a result, it is almost impossible to do consumer research according to the standard practices that work in most other industries, where the products of today are not fundamentally different from the products of say five or ten years ago. On top of this, technology products in early stages of development are often rudimentary versions of the final products, making early testing amongst consumers extremely difficult. Waiting for the final products to arrive, however, is also not an option, as there is a strong imperative to launch the product before the new technology becomes obsolete and competitors take advantage of the company’s shortfall in offering new innovative products in time.