Qualitative Research in Marketing

Qualitative market research is considered as a powerful market research tool as it provides detailed, insightful and descriptive data rather than statistical and predictive data. So, rather than being about ‘quantity’, that is asking, for example, ‘how many people buy a particular product?’ it asks, ‘which particular emotions played a part in the customers decision to buy that particular product?’ - it is about discovering the experience of the respondents. Qualitative research seeks to reveal the underlying behaviours, perceptions and feelings that drive the customer towards particular decisions and not others. This is done primarily by building a rapport with the respondents and by asking them open-ended questions and, which encourage them to share their stories and true feelings using their own words.

The main qualitative research methods used are focus groups and in-depth interviews. In depth interviews are one to one, face to face interviews, which are carried out in a natural, conversational form which allow the respondents to feel free to share their opinions. This method is especially well suited for analysing sensitive issues which the respondent might otherwise feel uncomfortable speaking about. On the other hand, focus groups consist of a discussion between eight to ten people, in which the researcher asks a number of questions which the respondents then discuss as a group. This method allows the respondents to build on each other’s comments and ideas.

Qualitative research in marketing can be used to test new ideas or products and to gain a realistic view of how customers or clients would react to that particular product. It can also be used to discover perceptions or attitudes which otherwise cannot be captured through quantitative research, for example, gauging the behavioural reaction, body language or voice intonation of a customer or client when they are viewing an advertisement or product packaging. Qualitative research can also be used as a board for new and fresh ideas, which may for example help a company in a branding strategy. Furthermore, qualitative research can be used as a tool to complement quantitative research, either prior to conducting quantitative research, for example, to narrow down or screen ideas or concepts which can be potentially tested. Or else after conducting quantitative research, for example after finding out the most popular products one might consider holding a focus group to test the best to advertise these particular products.

For more information on how your company or organisation can benefit from qualitative research, including focus groups and in depth interviews, kindly contact MISCO International on +356 2122 0303 or 2205 4000.

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