Qualitative research provides in-depth insights into subjects and a deeper understanding of individual behaviour and beliefs. The usefulness of qualitative research is not determined by how many people say something but rather by what is being said and how it is being said. Qualitative research enables the researcher to explore opinions, attitudes and key triggers/drivers which may often be subconscious, or intuitive rather than rational or logical.

The strengths of qualitative research are:

  • Its open-endedness and flexibility;
  • The depth of understanding that it offers;
  • How it taps into consumer creativity;
  • The penetration beyond rational or superficial responses;
  • The rich source of ideas for marketing and creative teams it opens up;
  • Qualitative research in marketing is important because human drivers are largely subconscious.
Qualitative research in marketing is important because human drivers are largely subconscious. People are not always aware of their true feelings and motives. Qualitative research helps them describe and explain their real reason for choosing your company over others. It also uncovers those very strong but often hidden or subconscious emotions, such as fear, guilt or love that drive consumer behaviour.
Qualitative research is often used to test new product concepts, or when a particular subject is confidential. Examples of qualitative research include focus groups and in-depth interviews.
It is also a valuable methodology because it does not limit responses to preconceived ideas about what clients or researchers think about the topic. Qualitative research does not constrain discussion but encourages exploration and understanding of the issues, even if they are completely unexpected.

Focus Groups

Focus groups are ideal for conducting exploratory research into people's different motivations and perceptions. By offering a creative setting, focus groups allow respondents to express their ideas and opinions in a more imaginative and unstructured manner. They allow people to bounce ideas off each other, trigger things they may have forgotten and allow experiences to be compared and contrasted.

In-depth interviews

Another option for qualitative research is a series of in-depth interviews with individual respondent's representative of key target groups. These are semi-structured, in-depth interviews where participants are encouraged to express their preferences and perceptions in their own words. In-depth interviews can be conducted face-to-face or via telephone, depending on the participants profile and topic under discussion.

Online Forums

Online qualitative work is completed online via a forum based approach. This approach allows the audience to share in both written and visual format, e.g., images or videos, with the online language they use typifying their language. This approach also provides simple way to ensure broad geographic coverage and allow for commentary from both introverts and extroverted personalities.

Other qualitative options

Apart from focus groups and in-depth interviews, we would recommend other qualitative options, such as affinity pairs, accompanied shops, mystery shopping, sensory tests and online bulletin boards if these are the best fit solution for your research needs.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Different Qualitative Research Methods