Qualitative Research reveals a target audience’s range of behavior and the perceptions that drive it with reference to specific topics or issues. In-depth studies of small groups of people guide and support the construction of hypotheses. The results of qualitative research are descriptive rather than predictive.
Qualitative methods in marketing research include in-depth interviews with individuals, group discussions (from two to ten participants is typical); diary and journal exercises; and in-context observations.
Several unique aspects of qualitative research contribute to rich and insightful results:
Synergy among respondents, as they build on each other’s comments and ideas.
The dynamic nature of the interview or group discussion process engages respondents more actively than is possible in structured surveys.
The opportunity to probe (“Help me understand why you feel that way”) enables the researcher to reach beyond initial responses and rationales.
The opportunity to observe, record and interpret non-verbal communication (i.e., body language, voice intonation) as part of a respondent’s feedback, is valuable during interviews or discussions, and during analysis.
The opportunity to engage respondents in “play” such as projective techniques and exercises, overcomes the self-consciousness that can inhibit spontaneous reactions and comments.