Market Researchers Resources The 2018 Guide to Qualitative Research Methods


What is Qualitative Market Research?

Qualitative marketing research is conducted among a small number of respondents (e.g., 10 – 50 depending on the method, the scope of the project, the number of segments, etc.).  Qualitative market research is exploratory in nature, delving into how and why decisions are made and perceptions are formed.  A guide, which consists mainly of open-ended questions and varied projective techniques, is utilized in qualitative market research to obtain in-depth information, in contrast to the fixed and structured questionnaires used in quantitative market research.  While findings from qualitative market research are representative of the population, they are directional and not projectable or statistically reliable.

Traditional Qualitative Market Research Methods

  • Focus group discussions:  A small, interactive group discussion (8 – 10 respondents) facilitated by a professional moderator to explore perceptions, behaviors and opinions related to a specific topic (e.g., a new product concept, purchase decision process).
  • Depth interviews:  One-to-one interview by phone or in-person to obtain detailed information – ideal for complex or sensitive topics.

Newer Qualitative Market Research Methods

Ethnographic or Observational Research is qualitative research that combines observation of behavior with questioning in order to gain insight into the lives and motivations of people.

Online Methods

  • Webcam groups: Using web cams and/or chat, discussions take place in real-time, in a password protected virtual focus group room, and provide the personal interaction of in-person research with the benefits of online.
  • Bulletin Boards:   Boards take place over time, typically 3-7 days, with 15-20 respondents. Busy professionals and consumers enjoy the ability to respond when and where it’s convenient for them.
  • Immersion: An ideal alternative to ethnography where individuals are engaged in a variety of interactive, multi-media activities that encourage them to explore the emotional connections they have with a brand, a category, or a broad concept.
  • Video Diaries: A self-ethnography method where consumers share their thoughts and insights to researchers via webcam, in real time.
  • Mobile Research:  “In the moment research” – respondents use their own mobile devices to text, email, photograph or call in and leave an extended voice mail message about their experience (e.g., shopping for a product).

What Makes Doyle the Best in the Qualitative Market Research field?

  • We are thought leaders in the industry: We speak at industry conferences, lecture at local universities, and partner with service providers to offer our clients new methods.
  • Collaboration:  We hire the best and brightest researchers, encourage them to work together, and harness that brainpower to focus on client problems. We are also known for going “above and beyond” in making a project a success, and minimizing the “hassles” that many clients experience in getting a research project off the ground.
  • An extensive toolbox of methods:  This allows us to custom design each project, carefully matching method to objectives, to maximize the value of the dollars spent.
  • Quality execution:  We have a full time field department that employs detailed processes to keep projects on track.  In-house coordination saves time and money; and developed facility relationships enable us to negotiate the best prices, and identify the right suppliers for each project.  Each project has a content and logistical specialist to ensure first rate recruiting and viewing experience.
  • Meaningful deliverables:  We provide thoughtful analysis, strategic implications and considerations that help our clients make smarter business decisions.

“I have used Doyle Research on numerous occasions, and have found the team to be knowledgeable, creative in recommending solutions for qualitative that works, able to turn on a dime when we needed it. We’ve had solid results and some highly insightful analysis that opened business partner eyes to some things they didn’t know but needed to.”

Consumer Insights | DeVry University

Qualitative Online Research