Contagious: Why things catch on by Jonah Berger
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Qualitative Market Research

Qualitative research is about fostering a deeper understanding of issues. It searches for the meaning and motivations behind behaviour. It is suited towards exploring the “why” in situations. It is not suited to quantification.

Focus groups

This is still the most commonly used qualitative research technique today. It involves putting somewhere between 6-10 respondents in a room with a moderator who controls the discussion. Groups are normally 1 ½ - 2 hours in length. It is a wonderful technique for exploring issues and concepts and allows respondents to feed off each others input. Often a client is able to watch the group behind a one way mirror or through a video feed.

Respondents need to be homogenous to the topic, and need to be speaking the same language. It does not work to put people of different generations in the same group when discussing topics like social preferences.

To have a focus group, you need to get people together in the same room at the same time. This can pose logistical issues, and so focus groups usually offer respondents an incentive to participate.

Geographical issues can be addressed amongst certain respondent types by holding the focus group telephonically or online via the internet.

In-Depth Interviews

These are suitable when intensive probing is required in a one-on-one situation without the influence of others. It is a preferred method when the topic is sensitive or highly confidential. Sometimes interviews can be paired or in threes (known as dyads or triads). Naturally occurring dyads can occur with couples or business partners.

Consumer immersions

This technique involves observing and interviewing respondents in their natural setting. For example respondents on household products may be interviewed or observed interacting with the products in-home. The researcher also has the opportunity to observe behaviours in a more natural setting.

Online communities

This is the direction market research is moving. Conceptually it is very simple. Put your customer’s voice into your marketing and business planning. We will sign up between 20 – 500 of your customers who agree to act as ‘advisors’ to you. Regular short issues and questions can be sent to the community for fast feedback. Community members are incentivized to stay active. Stale and non-responsive members are rotated out.

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