Qualitative research helps businesses and individuals to understand why consumers and those they might wish to target act in the way they do.
Qualitative research is research that goes beyond numbers and looks in depth at opinions and thought processes.(see our page on what is qualitative research)
The numbers are of course important, these typically generated via quantitative research, however it is only with the addition of qualitative analysis that it is possible to generate a fuller picture.
One example would be a product launch, where a company is choosing between three potential options. If those options were put to 1,000 potential customers it might be that Product A is favoured by 60% – a simple decision then, Product A is the one to launch…
However, qualitative research might suggest a different approach. A detailed look at each of the three options by a qualitative market research agency , through focus groups, one-to-one interviews, online discussions and other approaches could suggest that one of the other options has minor flaws that, if addressed, would make it the most appealing choice.
Qualitative research gives detailed information and can suggest areas for further exploration. It might not be as black and white as quantitative research in that it won’t give a straight X% prefer this option, but it will give reasons behind thought patterns.
Qualitative research can provide a great balance of opinions from people you would like to court, but who are not too close to the development.
Internal feedback and discussions amongst team members can have an inevitable bias, if people have been working on a project and involved in the decision making there is likely to be a reluctance to be critical or to see alternatives.
On many occasions, team members might even have doubts but be reluctant to raise them for fear of ‘speaking out’; – if this honest feedback arrives via would-be users in a research session this concern evaporates.
Would-be consumers and users have no qualms about being honest. Through qualitative research you can get to the key questions – would they use it, if not why not? What would persuade them to use it and what might out them off?
What of rival products, are there similar products or services that they use – what do they like about them and what might persuade them to switch?
Skillful use of qualitative research enables businesses and individuals to get a sense of how different demographics and age groups view their offer.
With potential customers and users grouped by different personas it is possible to have a far more nuanced approach to both development and marketing.
The marketing messages sent to one group might be very different from those sent to another, despite it being the same product – think how WeBuyAnyCar has used very different voices to attract new users despite the core of what they do remaining unchanged. The same could be said for Sky – the marketing material and offers they send to a 20-year-old man, very different from those they might target to a 50-year-old mother of three.
Qualitative research helps bring science to this approach – it might be obvious that different approaches should be used, but what should they be? By taking the time to learn about each group of consumer decisions can be made with confidence.
The research might also suggest which groups are worth prioritising – who has the higher spend, which groups are already well-catered for and unlikely to switch?
The profiles can also then be used to gauged satisfaction in future, targeted questions asked rather than a generic ‘how are we doing message’. Diversification can also follow with separate personas identified.
Another way to think of qualitative research is that it gets to the ‘whys’ behind decisions.
It is useful to know that 70% of people wouldn’t use a service or buy a product, but why not? For some of this 70% the blocker might be small, something that could be changed.
Qualitative research delves into the thoughts of those who are questioned or observed (one approach to this form of research is simply to observe, to see how people use products without putting questions to them. The use of a prototype redesigned website would be one example of this).
Qualitative research will often throw up surprises, blockers to purchase that might not have ever been considered, elements of design or service that are found to be confusing or hard to access.
If participants are chosen well, it is possible to get detailed, informed feedback from those you would be wishing to target. Qualitative research is the best opportunity there is to find out why people make the decisions they do and what their honest thoughts are on your proposals.
Qualitative research can be performed in numerous ways – these ranging from one-to-one interviews to online groups and observations of people using products or services.
Given it is opinions that are being sought there will be a range of responses – there could be assorted answers to ‘what would make you more likely to use it’ that simply can’t coexist.
The skill, of course, is to find themes and assess which responses are the ones to focus on. Which changes might lead to far greater uptake, which are at best nice-to-haves that will have little overall impact to sales or usage.
What will be available after qualitative research is far greater information and a sense of the market’s view. That information needs careful dissection to be used well, but the alternative, to simply ignore the reasons behind consumer behaviour and proceed without qualitative research is far more dangerous.
Part of the Fuller Research Group, Acumen seek to work in partnership with clients to provide ongoing value rather than simply operating on a project-by-project basis.
We are experts in the areas of market research and pioneer new ways of recruitment, this including understanding the different ways social groups engage and interact – finding the best methods for gaining quality feedback from each different type of demographic.
With qualitative research, we work on creating a full schedule as soon as we receive your brief, delivering feedback to your project within your timeframes and on budget.
Our service includes:
If you would like to discuss your qualitative research requirements, please call us on 0161 234 9940 or use our Contact Form.