Qualitative market research provides companies direction and depth by discovering what drives consumer behavior. It provides depth and direction for companies seeking to better understand how a product, service, or brand is currently viewed by target audiences, as well as provide direction to companies for marketing or positioning their brand, product, or service.
Qualitative research primarily relies on three methods: focus groups, in-depth interviews, and ethnography. Think of these three qualitative methodologies as distinct ingredients in your pantry. You wouldn’t substitute salt for sugar, and depending on the scope of your qualitative market research project, you wouldn’t substitute focus groups for ethnographies. Qualitative research consultants understand that each methodology has its place and purpose for developing market research plans.
Qualitative market research is often done in tandem with quantitative market research. Qualitative research consultants will often use focus groups or in-depth interviews before creating large-scale surveys, to help them better develop survey questions. If budgets allow, once a survey has been completed and the data compiled, researchers will then conduct further focus groups or in-depth interviews to gain insight and deeper understanding about the survey results.
Recruiting for Qualitative Market Research Studies
Populating qualitative market studies is often done with the help of nationwide recruitment agencies. You can’t ask just anyone with a pulse to participate in a focus group or survey. Researchers are selecting for participants who meet a specific set of criteria. Age, ethnicity, geography, and current or past use of a specific brand or product are some of the examples of what market research recruiting firms are looking for.
It is recommended that to get the best results from market research that companies hire nationwide qualitative research firms, rather than try and conduct qualitative market research internally. Qualitative research consultants are trained to develop questions and work with study participants so as to minimize any bias that may skew the data. If a company chooses to manage market research studies internally, it is recommended that they work with a market research recruiting firm to find participants for studies. Working with a nationwide recruitment agency will ensure that time and energy can be focused on building out a comprehensive study rather than managing participants for a study.
At the end of the day qualitative market research is like sifting through sand for gold nuggets. You’ll amass copious amounts of data that require tedious scrutiny, but with patience and persistence you’ll identify emerging patterns that can transform marketing strategies.