If qualitative market research is a new concept for your organization, you may be surprised to learn how many steps are involved to take a market research study from beginning to end. We’ve seen a lot of studies go sideways because the person or team in charge doesn’t fully understand all the layers, or perhaps they don’t place enough importance on certain facets, and that becomes the weak link.
Let’s explore the various steps involved in a well-executed qualitative market research study.
Hypothesis or Essential Question to be Explored
Before you fill a study, it’s important to have a very clear understanding of the hypothesis to be tested or essential question you want answered. You don’t want your question or hypothesis to be too broad. By keeping the focus narrow, you’ll be more likely to discover what you are looking for. This can be a challenge for teams who don’t have experience in conducting qualitative studies, as the tendency is to ask too many questions unmoored from a common theme.
Pro tip: When crafting the hypothesis or essential question at the heart of a qualitative market research study, keep the focus narrow.
Once you’ve decided on the hypothesis, the next step is creating a screening guide. Creating a screening guide is your opportunity to think about what qualifications, experiences, demographics, etc. that best represent the type(s) of people who can offer up insights for the focus of your study. We’ve written about the importance of screening guides for market research recruiting, and encourage you to inform yourself about how developing screening guides will save your team time and money.
Pro tip: Check out our blog on screening guides to learn more.
Once you’ve identified the type of person you want to recruit for your study, you then need to go and find them. Partnering with a nationwide recruitment agency is your best bet, as these firms can more quickly locate participants, and manage this component of the study until its conclusion.
Pro tip: Many organizations outsource recruitment market research recruiting firms as it frees up time and money to stay focused on the overall study.
Once you’ve recruited your participants, you can now get to the heart of the study. While there are many methodologies for carrying out qualitative studies, most include focus groups or in-depth interviews. We’ve written extensively about the basics of focus groups and in-depth interviews in past blogs, and would encourage you to learn more about your options when designing your market research study.
Pro tip: Hiring a nationwide market research firm to conduct your focus group or in-depth interviews ensures neutrality. There are a lot of pitfalls when the organization or company at the heart of the study does its own research.
Analyzing the Data
Some companies are surprised to see how much data is generated by qualitative research. Each focus group can easily yield hours of recorded audio. The only way to properly analyze the data is to get it transcribed so it can then be coded. There are many options for transcription services. Qualitative research consultants have their own ways of analyzing the data, but it’s not uncommon to ‘code’ the transcribed documents and put them into spreadsheets so that you can identify patterns and themes.
Pro Tip: Outsourcing transcription services to companies that specialize in this area will definitely save time and money. Don’t even consider trying to do this internally!