Qualitative market research examines the opinion and emotions of customers about a specific product or brand. Qualitative research involves interviewing a select group to uncover insights that may have gone unnoticed with quantitative methods.
Qualitative research methods such as focus group discussions, 1-on-1 interviews, ethnographic inquiry & observational studies are being widely used in the field of market research today. Data processing is time-consuming but remains a reliable and accurate approach.
Table of Contents
What is Qualitative Market Research?
Qualitative market research is a process of analyzing the psychological or emotional aspects that influence people’s decisions in a certain market. Qualitative research guides marketers and businesses to gain deeper insights into consumer behavior and decision-making, as it can provide insight into buying trends and how they change over time.
For example, an online store can use qualitative research to gain a better understanding of why target audiences make certain choices when buying products or services.
- Using market research surveys can help them know what factors influence their decisions, and what drives their loyalty.
- They can use focus groups to find out how product and service attributes affect consumer preferences and behavior, as well as how different marketing strategies impact consumer attitudes and decisions.
Qualitative Market Research vs Quantitative Research
Qualitative research is distinct from quantitative market research. As qualitative market research definition above describes- it seeks to answer questions about why or how something occurs, rather than looking at the numbers, while primary research quantitative data in quantitative research is mainly concerned with getting numerical answers.
Qualitative Market Research Examples
Now, before getting a deeper understanding of what is qualitative market research, let’s have a look at a few examples to clear your basics in the beginning –
1. An Automation Tool Company ABC Exploring the Needs and Motivations of Target Customers.
This qualitative study utilizes semi-structured interviews and focus groups to investigate customer experiences with ABC’s automation tools. Interviews will be conducted with both current and potential customers. Focus groups will include both current customers and non-customers to gain a better understanding of their needs and motivations.
These groups are being used to gain insights into customers and non-customers, in order to better understand their needs and motivations. Focus group results will be used to create a better marketing strategy, products, and services tailored to the target market.
2. A burger startup XYZ Understanding how customers perceive and interpret a brand, product, or service.
Qualitative research can be used to gain insight into how customers perceive the burger startup XYZ, such as through focus groups or interviews.
Companies can use customer surveys to gather feedback on impressions of the brand, experience with the product/service, likes/dislikes, and improvement ideas. By talking to customers, researchers can gain insight into how they perceive and interpret a brand, product, or service.
Why Qualitative Market Research?
Qualitative market research is highly significant for businesses these days as it helps in collecting data from customers to gain an in-depth understanding of their behavior, reactions, and motivations when purchasing products/services. It is a valuable tool for understanding customer needs in order to optimize the marketing efforts of any company.
It empowers companies to design their products, services, and features to suit the needs of their target audience. Qualitative research provides invaluable insights into customer preferences and helps businesses make decisions that will help them succeed. You can get answers about your consumers’ patterns and preferences by using them. Some of the answers you can expect are –
- What are the perceptions of your current and prospective customers about your brand?
- Why do your customers choose your competitors?
- How satisfied were your customers with your service?
- How do your customers choose between different options in the market?
- How do the branding, design, and packaging of your product/service affect customer opinions & decisions?
- What roles does your price play in influencing your customers’ decision-making?
- Do your customers need any new products or services?
- How loyal are your customers to your products or services?
Qualitative Market Research Methods and Strategies
To conduct qualitative market research, you can use the following qualitative market research strategies –
1) Focus groups
As a qualitative market research method, a focus group is a gathering of 6-10 people, usually experts in the field, to discuss a product and its market strategies. Moderators are used to facilitating discussions in focus groups, which are becoming less common as more platforms like Communities gain popularity.
2) In-depth Interviews
Focus groups are a type of interview in which individuals discuss topics in a group setting, either in person or over the phone. Open-ended questions are a better way to gather data, as it allows for more conversational discussion.
3) Innovative research methods
Researchers can take photographs or record videos of participants when using this qualitative research method. Re-watching photos or videos of responses or reactions can help researchers analyze reactions to different situations.
4) Observations or “Shop-along”
Qualitative market research preferably uses observations and shop-along to better comprehend consumer purchases by watching their reactions. Reviews can no longer be falsified, and customers will remember their experience more accurately.
5) Lifestyle Immersion
Qualitative market research can also be done by attending user events and gathering feedback. Collecting candid user feedback is made easier by creating a comfortable environment.
6) Online Focus Groups
Social media is making it simpler to manage focus groups, allowing for easy recruitment and data management.
Ethnographic research involves observing people using a product in real-world settings. Qualitative research is a powerful tool for making quick, effective product adjustments.
8) Projective Techniques
Projective techniques involve moderators uncovering the subconscious thoughts of respondents. In indirect question techniques, moderators use subtle questioning to uncover underlying feelings not expressed directly.
9) Online Forums
Online forums are becoming a popular method for conducting market research. A panel of members is gathered to discuss a topic and the moderator steers the conversation toward a desired outcome.
10) Online Sentence Completion and Word Association
Qualitative market research revolves around getting respondents to match words or complete sentences online, providing valuable insight into customer opinions.
How to do Qualitative Research?
Some of the steps you can use to do qualitative research are –
- Planning & Determining research objectives – Going into a research study with a clear goal in mind is essential to ensure that resources are not wasted in the process. Additionally, having a desired outcome established can help businesses become more agile.
- Deciding the method to conduct the research – Various methods of qualitative market research have been developed depending on the scope of the study, target audience, geographical area, or product being studied. The type of survey method used will depend on these parameters.
- Getting the right personnel for the job – The success of a qualitative market research study is highly dependent on the skill of the moderator. They must possess the ability to draw out meaningful responses from potential participants and keep track of them accurately.
- Sampling – To ensure accurate & valuable market research results, proper sampling is essential. This can be done by creating well-structured survey forms with the correct sample size. The better the sample, the better the research outcome and the effectiveness of the research study. The three types of sampling are purposive sampling (creating with a purpose), snowball sampling (based upon a reference model), and quota sampling (choosing samples from a given quote and chosen users).
- Survey design – To get the best possible results from the survey, it is important to craft it in a way that encourages responders to provide valuable and accurate feedback. This will ensure that the responses received help build an actionable plan.
- Data collection – Gathering the necessary data is a crucial step to making sense of it and putting it to use. Data collection can be done either through online or offline sources, both of which should be utilized in order to produce accurate reports and gain meaningful insights.
- Data Analysis – No matter how much data is collected, it all becomes meaningless without proper analysis. Once the data has been thoroughly analyzed, it can give insights and help in creating a qualitative market research survey. Having actionable insights will enable businesses to build upon their success and take efficient steps toward growth.
- Reporting – After the market research has been done, it’s essential to present the data in an understandable manner to all stakeholders involved. This way they can get a good understanding of the outcomes of the research.
Applications of Qualitative Market Research
Organizations often apply qualitative market research to the following efforts
1) Product development
By having knowledge and understanding of customer preferences & needs, companies are able to tailor their products to fit customers’ exact requirements, which can help them stay ahead of their competitors. Intelligence about the good qualities that customers want can also be used when creating new products. Qualitative research can guide companies on what to focus on developing; for example, a laptop company would focus on improved processors after understanding the gaming preferences of their users.
2) Marketing strategies
Researchers can conduct ‘shop-along’ and observations to observe shoppers’ reactions to products & displays. On the other hand, focus groups and interviews provide insight into individuals’ views on an advertisement’s tone or style. Paying attention to consumers’ reactions and opinions can be very beneficial in developing marketing strategies that are more likely to appeal to a wide array of people.
3) Customer perception
Consumers’ views on a brand can be instrumental in helping it to maintain, improve or modify its reputation. Companies should take the time to listen to what is being said about them and use this information to their advantage.
Segmentation divides a target audience into groups with common characteristics such as geography, financial status, and age. Interviews and focus groups can provide insights into how customers use a product, why they use it, and their views. This data can then be used to create targeted marketing strategies for different segments of the audience.
Advantages of qualitative market research
Qualitative market research can provide many benefits to marketers and organizations. These include:
1) In-depth data
Qualitative research takes a deep dive into the reasons behind a brand’s success or failure, enabling companies to identify potential areas for improvement. This type of market research goes beyond just standard metrics to provide valuable feedback and strategies.
With qualitative research methods, researchers are able to be adaptive and creative when gathering data and drawing conclusions. These methods offer flexibility and allow for modifications in the process – quickly if necessary – so that the results can be as accurate as possible.
Market research techniques that focus on gathering qualitative data can be a great source of inspiration for product innovation and marketing campaigns. Such strategies allow businesses to discover new opportunities and help them stay competitive in the market. Focus groups and interviews can be used to gain insight into customer needs, leading to better product features and more effective marketing.
4) Customer retention
Qualitative research can give insights into what customers want and expect from a product or company. It can determine if a brand is providing the level of service that customers demand and need. Using the data gathered, a brand can create strategies to satisfy existing customers when it comes to product development, marketing, and customer support. Such strategies can help them stay ahead of their competitors.
Challenges of Qualitative Market Research
Qualitative data can also present some challenges to market researchers and brands, such as:
1) Time and cost
Qualitative market research is generally slow and time-sensitive, making it hard to provide quick insights. Qualitative research is often costly due to its time-consuming nature and the need for specialized personnel to manage the complex data it collects.
2) Small sample sizes
Qualitative market research plays with the small sample sizes to make generalizations about larger populations. Focus groups, for example, are composed of 6-8 people, and their opinions are taken to represent the target audience. To ensure accuracy, it is suggested to use a larger number of smaller sample sizes, such as multiple focus groups, to capture more diverse opinions.
Qualitative market research may comprise biases due to participants having similar opinions, which may not reflect the actual consensus of the target audience. Market researchers may unwittingly distort responses with leading questions, resulting in inaccurate data.
Qualitative market research strategies may not comprise feasibility for all purposes, as some products may be too large or costly to ship for in-home use. There are potential issues of confidentiality when introducing tools into the workplace, for instance, if a participant shares confidential information with non-authorized personnel.
What Type of Questions to Ask for Qualitative Market Research
- For making your conversations result-driven during a qualitative market research setting, you use open-ended questions and probing questions to get into greater detail.
- Whenever feasible, it is suggested to avoid asking questions that can be answered with a yes/no or single-word response.
- While asking questions, you should keep away from those that can lead or appear biased toward the person answering them, plus researchers should also make sure to be precise and direct to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding.
- When interviewing a target audience, a market researcher should stay away from using jargon or complex vocabulary unless you’re sure that the person you’re speaking to is familiar with them.
Qualitative market research can be a highly useful tool for businesses and the people running them as it provides invaluable knowledge which can be used to –
- Make well-informed product & marketing decisions tailored to the needs of the customer
- Recognize areas with potential for improvement & growth
- Assess the potential of products or services in the market before launching them
- Make informed decisions in general
- Gain an edge over their competitors in the marketplace
Being aware of all these concepts can help you get qualitative market research jobs of your choice as there are so many qualitative market research companies that offer such opportunities.
Liked this post? Check out the complete series on Market research