What Are Case Studies?
Case studies are a broad research method on a specific subject, allowing to deepen the knowledge about it and, thus, offer subsidies for further investigations on the same theme.
In the book Case Study Design and Methods , social scientist Robert K. Yin defines the case study as a research strategy that answers the “how” and “why” questions and that focuses on the real-life contexts of current cases.
It also considers it as an empirical investigation that comprises a comprehensive method, with data collection and analysis.
But Yin is not the only author to give his definition of cases.
William Goode says that the case study is a way of organizing the data , preserving the object studied its unique character.
Further on, we will detail the different types of case studies, which can be applied in different areas.
Among them, administration , human resources and marketing .
In terms of marketing , it is worth mentioning that cases are a phenomenon on the rise, being used by brands and companies as social proof to promote their solutions.
What Are Case Studies For?
Normally, all research or investigation starts from a model to follow, which serves as a reference for the new work .
At first, this is precisely what case studies are for: they are reference models.
We know that each case has its particularity, that is, it is unique.
But the experiences of those who have already walked a similar path, being transmitted to those who are starting now, greatly reduce the chances of error.
On the other hand, the objectives of a case study may vary depending on the area in which they are used.
When they focus on innovation, for example, it maintains the character of a reference, even serving as a benchmarking action , from which businesses seek to learn from the best practices in the market.
In the academic area, they can be requested as a prerequisite for undergraduate or graduate courses.
In these cases, they are intended to attest to the student ‘s ability to investigate a problem and propose solutions.
Why Is It Important To Do Case Studies?
Unlike more general research, case studies allow the observation of details of the trajectory taken by a professional or company, providing differentiated insights.
As Robert Yin points out in the book “ Case Study: Planning and Methods ”, this type of study is interesting when the idea is to investigate contemporary events , identifying relevant behaviors for them to occur.
In a reflection on the work, speech therapists Laïs de Toledo Krücken Pereira, Dalva Maria Alves Godoy and Denise Terçariol state that:
“The Case Study, considered within its characteristics, is particularly useful to answer ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions, as it allows an in-depth study of the phenomenon.”
Advantages Of Case Studies
By knowing details about the case studies and their applications, some advantages are already clear.
But for the avoidance of doubt, we will list the main ones below.
- Use the same method in different areas : you can leverage the structure of one case to apply it to another
- Have rich knowledge from intensive exploration of a single case : you can use a ready-made case study to explore different contexts
- Improve services based on successful experiences : cases are references so you don’t start from scratch
- Detailed information based on real-life situations : research based on experiences and facts is more attractive and applicable to reality itself
- Grant authority on a given subject : with case study examples, your author builds authority and can become a reference on a subject, information or product.
Impact On Sales Growth
Have you ever bought something because of someone else’s recommendation, either online or in a physical store?
The report of positive experiences regarding a product or service is usually a factor that influences the decision to close, or not, business with a company.
That’s why big e-commerce players, like Amazon, bet on reviews – the famous reviews or comments from customers evaluating their products.
The better rated, the greater the chances of an item being purchased by other people, even if they don’t know the users who made the reviews.
A similar process occurs when a company presents cases showing the success of consumers when using its solutions.
By having contact with the case studies, potential customers feel more secure and informed to purchase a new product or service.
The tendency, then, is for consumers to evaluate a certain amount of materials to guide their choice – including case studies.
To give you an idea, the Eccolo Media 2014 survey showed that half of them consume 2 to 5 content resources before making their purchase decision.
Conducted with buyers of technology solutions, the research was detailed in this presentation by marketing consultant Angela Halat Portugal.
Of the total number of respondents, 36% cited case studies among the most used resources for this, behind only white papers (independent market analysis, consulted by 49%) and product data sheets (46%).
In other words, well-built cases have the potential to increase sales.
Impacts For Marketing
Before talking about the impacts, it is worth remembering that marketing goes far beyond sales, interfering with the consumer’s view of a brand , company, product or service.
Therefore, an effective marketing strategy works from capturing and converting (sales) to building loyalty and building a relationship with the customer, facilitating new interactions and conversions.
Hence the importance of betting on content that entertains, informs and delivers value to the target audience, which includes case studies.
To give you an idea, the Eccolo Media 2014 survey also revealed that these contents are in second place among the most influential resources for consumers, pointing out that:
“They help to establish credibility , educate prospects about your product, reduce the perception of risk associated with the purchase”.
Therefore, the cases were mentioned by 33% of the participants as materials that influence their perception of companies and brands.
Types Of Case Studies
Depending on their central purpose, case studies fall into three types: exploratory, descriptive or analytical.
The same case can be studied for different purposes , just as the same study can receive more than one classification.
Learn more about the modalities below.
Exploratory case studies are those that are premised on evidencing or adding information about situations where there is little clarity.
This model is particularly interesting when you want to start research on a newly discovered field, practices or groups about which little is known.
Faced with these scenarios, the researcher proposes to observe the case, in order to generate records that expand his view on the subject or problem presented.
Due to these characteristics, exploratory studies are often used as foundations for more in-depth research, which can only be developed when the author has greater knowledge about the object studied.
Descriptive case studies are usually guided by one or more well-defined objects, being the most popular for the presentation of cases.
Its purpose is to describe, in a detailed way, a solution applied in a given context, supporting the understanding of the events that moved an individual, group or company from one context to another.
Throughout its explanation, the study allows the “how” and “why” questions to be answered, highlighting the paths, variables and tools used throughout the transition process.
They propose reflections to assimilate or refute a thesis, starting from the elements of one or more chosen cases.
In general, analytical case studies use more than one object, as their mission is to present data that support their analysis and discussion points.