The Best Starting Point for Market Research Triangulation

As they begin to incorporate consumer insights from social media into their market research, many companies rely on traditional techniques such as focus groups, surveys, interviews, and ethnographies. These techniques are based on the direct observance of human behavior. While each of these methods has its strong points, all are subject to inaccuracies that might negatively influence the final interpretation of the research. Market research triangulation, on the other hand, combines results from multiple data analyses to help businesses obtain a more accurate result.

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What is Triangulated Research?

Have you had a research project recently? If so, odds are you used more than one data collection method. Customer surveys, focus groups, and online ethnographies (often referred to as netnographies) are some of the most common techniques with businesses today. And these various data collection methods are a result of the need to capture multiple datasets. In NetBase QuidTM, these datasets can be rapidly visualized as clusters in a dashboard:


Oftentimes though, the results are analyzed independently, and then the different analyses need to be compared to each other for a more accurate interpretation. This comparison depends on the framework used. And one of the techniques used is triangulation. In this post, we are going to discuss what that means exactly, with a focus on:

  • What is triangulated research?
  • How to get started with triangulation research
  • How does triangulated research help brands?
  • Examples of triangulated research in action

We can discern what triangulated research is by understanding triangulation as a methodological framework. Basically, it’s used to analyze a topic by comparing results from multiple datasets. But it’s much more precise than that.

multiple datasets

Triangulation can be broken down into three processes: Convergence, complementarity, and divergence. It’s a three-pronged approach to data analysis.

  • Researchers look at convergence to determine the amount of overlap between the different datasets – where they converge.
  • Complementarity enhances the research by finding ways in which the different data can inform various aspects of the question at hand – how it complements or adds context to something.
  • And the direct opposite of convergence, divergence, reveals the ways in which different aspects veer away from the whole, indicating either a flaw in the method or it could be pointing to unique data to explore

It’s all very interesting – but how does triangulated market research help brands?

How Does Triangulated Market Research Help Brands?

Triangulated market research can help brands in three main ways:

  • Data validity. In research, validity refers to the accuracy of a method in measuring what it is intended to measure. By comparing different datasets side-by-side, triangulation uses the methods to validate or check each other. Brands are then able to extrapolate more accurate interpretations of their data and ultimately make better business decisions. This is all assuming they’re analyzing the data in a way that ensures accuracy. We’ll get that to that soon!
  • Comprehensive research. The number of data collection techniques and data sources for market research are myriad and growing each day. Using more than one technique, and multiple datasets in tandem, helps the researcher capture a stronger picture of the topic being examined.
  • Eradicating assumptions. Inconsistencies require investigation, not assumptions around what they might mean, though this is often the ‘go to’ in organizations. If the various datasets are only analyzed independently, or if the data isn’t cross-referenced via robust techniques, the intelligence gathered is basically useless. Guesswork would offer the same odds of being correct, as it would all be assumptions. Triangulation ensures a data-driven approach for a successful outcome.

But how does one get started with triangulation market research? We’re glad you asked!

How to Get Started with Triangulation Market Research

In today’s marketplace which is heavily digital, the best starting point for market research triangulation is, of course, the internet. It has become a key part of everyday life for both consumers and businesses, and the amount of activity there makes it a great resource for consumer and market research data.

Starting with mining readily available (albeit unstructured) data, businesses can formulate a research problem and investigate it. The internet allows researchers to connect with a large number and variety of people in an inexpensive way and have them participate in surveys, questionnaires, and focus groups – and the results are almost instantaneous.

And then we have netnography

Netnography is the process of accessing and analyzing sentiments and opinions expressed by consumers (and by the market) on the internet. In short, it is ethnography, amplified, and with all kinds of bells and whistles. Nowhere is this better explained than on this paper written by Rob Kozinets, the university professor regarded as the father of netnography

Today, we refer to it as simply as part of consumer and market research that can be aggregated and analyzed by advanced AI-powered analytics tools. These tools are what makes market research triangulation possible. Without it, companies would be limited to investigating fractions of subsets of target consumers or tiny slices of a specific market, as there are voluminous data sets available online. And with triangulated market research capabilities, the data-driven insight revealed is game changing.

Companies can conduct research to identify real-time consumer sentiment and opinions on a particular subject, product or service – and monitor how these things change over time. They can understand how a market is evolving and uncover emerging trends that could disrupt the space. And they can see how they measure up against competitors too.

Let’s see how triangulated market research looks in action.

Examples of Triangulated Market Research in Action

So, what does triangulated market research look like in action? To illustrate, we will give you two very different examples.

The first example is based on work done by researchers from the University of Arizona to understand what drives people to cooperate rather than act selfishly. Collaborating with professionals from such diverse fields as Economics, Psychology, and Neuroscience, as well as a group of 30 volunteer subjects, the researchers were able to harmonize the various datasets to better understand the oft hidden motivations that encourage cooperation among people. Today, researchers could supplement that insight with raw data pulled from online activity scoured from across the social web, using our Intelligence Connector to combine and analyze it all, and extract exceptionally accurate insight. It’s a next level market research triangulation!

The second example comes from one of our clients: Memphis Tourism. In a recent NetBase QuidTM LIVE presentation, Ashley McHugh, Research Director at Memphis Tourism, walked the audience through a process that led the organization to considerable success amid the COVID-19 crisis, outperforming the national average in its category.

Seeking to understand what was driving the success of one of their customers, Memphis Tourism considered a variety of data sources including geolocation, demographic, and survey data among others. However, for the best understanding of brand perception, McHugh explained that social listening proved superior. After bringing together the collected datasets and analyzing them McHugh’s team was able to uncover the dynamics behind the success they were experiencing and suggest ways to tap into that for even greater success.


And that’s the point of market research triangulation. While it might take a little more time, isn’t it worth it if you are going to obtain more accurate and actionable results from your market research

With the dramatic growth in the volume of open-access data, there is so much potential in the amount of insight that brands can capture to improve their businesses. And you don’t need to resort to manual, time-consuming techniques to find out what consumers are thinking. With NetBase QuidTM, market research triangulation is made easier, and lots more accurate. Reach out for a demo today to see what these advanced capabilities can do for your brand.

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