What is Multimodal Research? Market Research Examples and Strategies
Carol Feigenbaum |
 09/19/22 |
5 min read

What is Multimodal Research? Market Research Examples and Strategies

It is becoming increasingly difficult to understand the modern consumer and market environment by single-method approaches. Not to worry, a multimodal approach gives the organization the required 360° view of the landscape––and we’re going to tell you all about it!

By employing a combination of methods to gather data around a particular subject, the researcher can more comprehensively solve the problem by looking at it from different perspectives.

And multimodal research solves common challenges in market research including cost, uncooperative participation, and even the outlier effect. We’ll explore each below. But first – what is multimodal research?

What Is Multimodal Research?

Multimodal research is a qualitative research approach that incorporates multiple techniques to achieve research objectives. It capitalizes on the strengths of the different methods resulting in deeper insights, while optimizing the research budget and time allocation.

Multimodal Market Research

The multimodal approach is popular across many disciplines including communication studies, medicine, and AI research.

In market research, multimodality refers to the use of surveys, focus groups, social media analytics, interviews, intercepts, etc. to solve the research problem comprehensively.

While the researcher doesn’t have to use all the traditional and modern techniques in the study, using at least two of them allows the researcher to overcome some of the challenges that they may face by relying solely on one method.

So, how does multimodal research play out? Below are three examples to illustrate.

Example 1: Multimodal Research in Healthcare

Healthcare providers (HCPs) can use multimodal research to gather important patient information to both improve patient care as well as enhance the patient journey.

In an interview with NetBase Quid®, Thomas Kirby, Director of Strategic Marketing and Intelligence at UPMC, explained that it is important for HCPs to use research tools to find unmet needs, discover trends, and gauge patient sentiment.

If UPMC conducted a study to find ways to improve the patient journey, a multimodal research design could deliver the level of insight required.

The process could start with collecting feedback from patients at the treatment stage i.e. those that have already seen the doctor and are awaiting recovery. Interviews done either in person or over the phone could help understand the patient experience.

Alternatively, a survey delivered through email or a hardcopy form handed to them on the way out could allow them time to review their experience and deliver deeper insight.

With that basis, UPMC could use NetBase Quid® to find similar patients and concerns from all over the web. This is easily done by searching for patient posts, reviews, and conversations, and offering a deeper understanding of patient experiences and concerns via this unprompted, raw intel.

Using NetBase Quid®’s filtering features, the data can be narrowed down to only that which relates to specific aspects of the customer journey.

For instance, from patient interviews, UPMC may discover that the website UI is off. Then a broad search on the internet might show that the problem is quite common with HCP websites. What an incredible cost and time savings to get ahead of!

Alongside this, other issues may arise including lack of optimization for smaller screens, poor contact placement, and invisibility on search engine results pages.


Healthcare topics filtered and visualized.

By first gathering feedback from one or a few of its patients, UPMC has a proper starting point, which contributes significantly to the overall success of the research project.

Example 2: Multimodal Research in Food & Beverage

Due to competition, changing consumer tastes, and external issues such as politics, food and beverage brands need to constantly monitor their environment to make sure their customers remain happy.

It’s something that StarKist understands very well. Andy Mecs, VP of Marketing & Innovation at StarKist explains that through NetBase Quid®, the manufacturer has improved its packaging to call out ingredients, flavors, and nutritional information.

With multimodal research, the company could understand how the prominence of the information affects product sales. A focus group could provide a closeup view of the customer interaction with the product.

However, before that, StarKist could use the data already contained in CRM to select ideal candidates for the study.

This information can help select subjects that will not only be honest but also give a fair chance for the rest to have an objective experience. If a customer with very strong negative opinions was let into the group, they might influence the general experience.

The same applies if they have very strong positive opinions. The pre-selection allows StarKist to weed out the outliers and form a group that most accurately represents the general majority.

The results from the focus group study can inform the subsequent steps to study a broader population. StarKist may decide to use the focus group to change the packaging design then test the reception of the new look.

Social listening can bring out the conversations around StarKist filtered up to the required period. Using NLP-based sentiment analysis the brand can determine consumer attitudes and use the new understanding to either improve or roll it out in full.

food delivery sentiment

Sentiment analysis reveals consumer attitudes.

Through focus groups, social listening, and sentiment analysis, the StarKist design team is able to make informed decisions about the use of different elements on the packaging.

Example 3: Multimodal Research in Consulting

Consulting firms have clients that want to know all about their industries, from emerging innovations and competitors, to available opportunities and accompanying risks, to developing partnerships including mergers and acquisitions.

For Michael Wahlen, Project Leader at BCG, this is all in a day’s work. He paints a picture in his NetBase Quid LIVE presentation showing how BCG would go about advising a client in the construction industry.

Wahlen and his team are focused on helping companies become more innovative and take advantage of growth opportunities. However, the construction industry is one of the most challenging with a high rate of competition.

Additionally, many of the emerging competitors (startups) stand on their own innovations, threatening to scoop the market share of BCG clients.

Quid can search the web for companies in the space based on their descriptions across sites such as Crunchbase and LinkedIn. After analysis, the platform clusters related companies by analyzing their semantic similarities using NLP.

Other relevant factors including VC funding, patent applications, and partnerships can also be examined in a similar process with more data sources such as news coverage coming in. The data is then visualized in a map that allows the team to easily identify crucial information at a glance.


Visualized data is easy to digest.

With this analysis, they can identify companies of interest and plan a site visit for direct observation, for first-hand experience of how the competitors operate.

Through traditional research methods complemented with advanced AI-based technologies, BCG can monitor the current state of any market, make accurate forecasts about the direction of the industry, and advise its clients.

Advantages of Multimodal Research

In multimodal research, the researcher strategically applies different methods to maximize the resources spent on each stage.

Because the researcher can anticipate the challenges to be experienced throughout the course of the study, they use multimodal research to bridge the limitations of the primary method and improve productivity.

Ultimately, multimodal research ensures efficiency of the process in terms of how cooperative the respondents are, how reliable the data is, and how much time and money is spent.

The NetBase Quid® platform enhances multimodal research in a variety of ways including gathering consumer and market data from across the web, uploading various types of data for analysis, and integrating with other tools to facilitate comprehensive data analysis. Reach out for a demo today to see it in action!

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