April 2-3, 2019

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Big Data and Small Qual: Amazing Best Friends

Room 1 | 10:00-10:30 | Wednesday, April 3, 2019

As researchers, we have many tools at our disposal to gain the answers which we seek. But sometimes, we get busy and answer a question from a stakeholder without thinking broadly about what is truly the question behind the question.

In order to provide more thorough answers to business questions, Walgreens has partnered with a leading research agency, Verve, to build and leverage one of the world’s largest customer panels for the purpose of keeping the voice of the shopper at the center of all that they do. Walgreens’ Viewpoint Customer Panel starts with real-world buying behavior, which underpins all of the custom research and exploration conducted.

Recently, Walgreens piloted a new service in a small number of its 9,000+ stores. While business results were on target, there appeared to be some unintended consequences. To fully understand the situation, Walgreens needed to understand the attitudes, behavior and beliefs of a very targeted group of customers. With behavioral data at the customer level, sales results and other data sources in hand, Walgreens and its research partner Verve convened an online qualitative community to better understand the why behind the buy… Or lack thereof!

Presentation type:

  • Case Study Presentation

Subjects covered:

  • Data integration/big data
  • Customer experience
  • Storytelling/data interpretation
  • MROC/custom panel build
  • Industry trends – future of marketing research
  • Hybrid/mixed methods (qualitative, quant, mobile, SM)
  • New techniques – qualitative and quantitative


  1. Don’t always answer the first question that your stakeholder may ask. It often isn’t what really needs to be known. Be brave and seek to understand the situation fully before offering a plan.
  2. Consider how multiple sources will provide a more robust answer. It may require additional resources but as the researcher you will be able to share a more complete answer with confidence and subsequently gain credibility with stakeholders.
  3. Engage directly with customers whenever possible. Even if your team does a great job generating hypotheses, there may be something you missed that only customers can reveal.


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