Qualitative market research services

Qualitative research is a form of market research that gets beyond numbers to look at why people or organisations act the way they do. At Acumen, we offer qualitative market research services to uncover the ‘why’ for you, enabling you to understand and serve your customers better.

We have years’ of experience of working with big brands, large agencies and boutique market research companies on research into consumer behaviour. Get in touch to find our more about our qualitative market research services and how you can work with us.



Qualitative research v quantitative research

First of all, it’s worth looking more closely at what qualitative research is, and how it differs from quantitative research.

What is quantitative research?

Quantitative studies rely on numerical or measurable data. It is often a starting point before turning to qualitative market research to dig into the ‘why’ more deeply. Acumen offers a full suite of quantitative research services if you wish to start here with your research.

Get in touch with our Quantitative Market Research Team to find out more.

Quantitative market research is very good at looking at consumer behaviour and pain points. But it doesn’t get under the skin of the customer experience and offer in-depth understanding of your consumers or explore new ideas for that will set your organisation apart in the market.

What is qualitative research?

In contrast to quant research, qualitative studies rely on personal accounts or documents that illustrate in detail how people think or respond to a product, brand or service. Qualitative research gets companies like yours closer to your consumers by offering a deeper understanding of their perceptions, attitudes and behaviours.

There are many ways to conduct qualitative research, all of which are encompassed within Acumen’s qualitative research services.

But first let’s look briefly at the six different types of qualitative methods.


Six types of quantitative research

Quantitative research methods can be broken down into six key areas. We covered these in detail in a recent blog post, but here they are in brief.

  • Phenomenological Method (deriving from phenomena): Uses methods such as observation and interview to delve into people’s feelings or unconscious behaviours.
  • Ethnographic Model: The research seeks to be a fly on the wall, watching what happens rather than leading a debate.
  • Grounded Theory Method: Here the aim is to see what questions and theories emerge from the data set usually drawn earlier from quantitative research.
  • Case Study Model: Focuses in on one thing – an individual, a family, a business.
  • Historical Model: Uses past events as a means to explain the current.
  • Narrative Model: Research is formed over time, with observations and notes taken at every stage similar to the narrative of a story.

How do you conduct qualitative research?

As you can gather from the six types of qualitative research methods above, gathering qualitative research data is largely a matter of asking people, observing them, or encouraging them to share their experience.

It’s worth noting that grounded theory and the historical model are different, however. Here, it’s about examining data that has already been gathered to draw in-depth conclusions about the ‘why’ of customer behaviour.


Qualitative market research methods

Acumen is skilled at conducting all of the types of qualitative research described above for market research or to survey public opinion. We draw respondents for our research from the UK and all around the world.

Acumen has a global reach as well as second-to-none networks within the UK, and a vast database of research respondents.

Here are the main qualitative research methods that are generally used to gather opinions and feedback from respondents.

Focus groups

Focus groups are where a small group of around 6 to 10 people are brought together to discuss topics and questions.

The group dynamic often draws out responses that would not develop in one-to-one interviews with respondents. Focus groups can share experiences and build on each other’s contributions, leading to valuable insight about your service or brand.

In-depth interviews

These will typically be one-to-one and face to face, led by Acumen’s experienced researchers. In this type of primary market research, the questions are usually open-ended to elicit individualised responses and get a sense of the emotions and attitudes attached to the research subject.

Online communities

These are similar to focus groups, but they can be larger and they use the benefits of online communication to draw people together.

Online communities make it possible to get feedback from a large group of people. People can also be spread out across a variety of locations and time zones around the world.

Other qualitative market research methods

In-home research looks at how customers use something at home, when they are most themselves. Accompanied shops and stakeholder events are other ways of observing how people interact with products or brands and finding out more about their attitudes and perceptions as consumers.


Acumen’s market research services

Acumen we can design, organise and facilitate any type of market research. Take a look at our case studies to see some of our award-winning work across qual and quant market research.

When you come to us for qualitative research solutions, we provide a tailored service that begins from our earliest conversations.

We will work with you on your brief and design the scripts, questions and schedules that will deliver the data you need for a deeper understanding of your customers.

We have extensive experience of running all of the types of research events below for effective data collection from consumers and would-be customers both in the UK and around the world.

  • Focus Groups, both online and in person
  • One-to-one interviews, online and in person
  • Online communities
  • Workshops and stakeholder events
  • In-home research and video diaries
  • Accompanied shops

Recruiting participants for primary research

Acumen has its own in-house recruitment team with access to a national database of over 100,000 contacts.

We excel at recruitment and can go beyond our impressive database to find the most hard-to-reach people. Our Marginalised Voices case study demonstrates the lengths our team will go to in order to match the clients’ specific brief, working almost like detectives if that’s what is called for.

Acumen was nominated for an award for our work on this Marginalised Voices research. We have previously won industry awards for our face-to-face data collection. (Take a look at the case study section of our website for more examples of our work – click here.)

We also deploy our exclusive Acumonitor system to ensure participants meet the client’s expectations. Find out more about Acumonitor

Qualitative methods: data collection

When gathering data for qualitative market research, the researchers must be skilled at their craft and know which questions tend to elicit certain types of answers.

Asking open questions, avoiding leading the respondents to conclusions, avoiding bias and knowing how to moderate group discussions are all skills that are acquired through professional training and then honed with experience.

These are all areas of expertise for Acumen researchers. In addition, our researchers strive to understand the brief inside out so they can craft the best questions for your market research, with an understanding of when to probe participants and what insight to capture.

Data collection approaches

Broadly speaking, there are two main approaches used when gathering data in qualitative research: deductive and inductive.

Deductive is used when the researcher can predict to some extent which responses they might receive. They may plan questions designed to draw out certain bits of information and the interview or group facilitation follows a fairly structured approach.

Inductive is more freeform, the researcher gathering information with less of a clear pattern. However, this information still has to be useable at the end, rather than a huge stream of observations that are impossible to draw conclusions from.

In both cases, the data must be properly recorded, stored and organised. Working with Acumen you be assured of the best service. High standards of privacy protection and data storage are followed at all times in keeping with UK laws.

Qualitative data analysis

Whereas quantitative data might fall into nice ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses and provide numbers and bar charts, qualitative data is different.

Data might have been acquired in multiple forms – survey methods, interviews, case studies and observations. There will be a wealth of information and observation, some from conversations, some taken in field research.

Acumen’s data analysis team works within our qualitative research unit. This ensures all our primary research data is gathered, captured and stored in a way that makes it straightforward to analyse and interpret effectively. 

And it means fresh insights can be drawn out of the data in future, as a new questions arise.

Work with Acumen’s qualitative research team

Here’s what you can expect when you work with our Qualitative Team at Acumen:

  • As soon as we receive your brief we will create a schedule to deliver your project within your budget and time scales.
  • We will create all documentation, including screening questionnaires.
  • We will use our network of over 700 recruiters throughout the United Kingdom to put your project into the field and find the participants needed. We also have access to 100,000 potential research participants via our database.
  • Your dedicated project manager will keep you updated at all stages of the recruitment process.
  • We source venues and people to assist on the day of your research if required. We are also highly skilled at conducting and facilitating remote sessions via Zoom and other online technology platforms.
  • We verify each person recruited for your research through Acumonitor and pre-check participants to ensure they meet the research criteria.

About Acumen market research company

We are an award winning market research company, skilled in all forms of market research, including qualitative research services. We work to the highest industry standards to provide quality insight for our clients.

Our years of experience have given us the edge in our industry, with clients that include market research agencies, large brands, government departments and freelance researchers. 

Whatever the topic, demographic or region, you can be sure that Acumen have the skills and resources to meet the timescale, quotas and budgets of your project.

Our research services stand out within the industry and we are highly skilled and experienced in all qualitative methods. We welcome the opportunity to start a partnership with you, providing the competitive intelligence that will help your business or organisation flourish,

Please call us on 0161 234 9440 or use our Contact Form to discuss your requirements for market research