A Guide to Choosing the Best Qualitative Research Method to Achieve Your Goals

A Guide to Choosing the Best Qualitative Research Method to Achieve Your Goals

Qualitative research greatly benefits market researchers because it delves into the how and the why by collecting findings that help research teams understand the target audiences better. It also helps businesses create effective strategies to achieve their goals and succeed in launching new products, building brand awareness, and providing high-quality service to their customers. That’s why it’s crucial to understand the different methods of qualitative research and select the best one to meet your unique project goals.

Qualitative Market Research Explained

Qualitative research utilizes various methods, the most popular being focus groups, where participants are usually asked open-ended questions that encourage them to share perspectives and opinions on different topics. The number of participants for a project will vary depending on whether there is more than one segment (eg. customers/noncustomers, regions etc.) Each research activity typically includes between one and ten respondents to make sure that everyone can participate actively and be heard. The market researcher, or the moderator, leads the discussions to ensure the research goals are efficiently achieved.

Qualitative market research is often used for testing concepts or launch activities for new products or services, understanding customers’ needs, setting business goals, and even political messages to attain voters’ perception.

Types of Qualitative Market Research Methods

Here are the most popular qualitative methods that are used by numerous businesses to conduct their market research:

Individual In-Depth Interviews (IDIs)

Today, most IDIs are conducted via an audio call or video call according to the convenience of the participant and market researcher. The researcher usually has a list of specific questions to ask and record the participant’s reactions and responses and then does follow-up probing to gain a better understanding.

The best thing about these interviews is that you can gather more information if the participant provides you with unique insights. Some participants may feel more comfortable with sharing personal experiences in a more private setting. For time-sensitive individuals and participants that are expensive to access (eg. physicians or CEOs), it may be easier to schedule in-depth interviews compared to trying to find a time that everyone can join for a group discussion. For business-to-business research where the participants are potential competitors, this may be the method of choice especially if the research topic may lead to the disclosure of proprietary or confidential information.

Text-Based Focus Groups

Real-time text-based focus groups are becoming more and more popular due to the pandemic and zoom fatigue. Text-based focus groups encourage honest responses, continuous discussion without interruptions, and work great for research-sensitive topics, and larger sample sizes. Many find that Gen Z participants are more expressive with text than verbally. They also allow for broader discussions, quicker turnarounds, and unbiased feedback. The minimal bandwidth requirements of text groups mean that the session won’t get choppy if other family members fire up Netflix and chew up the majority of the internet bandwidth for their home. Besides, this method supports a more in-depth market research process without constantly being on long video calls. Text-based focus groups are the method of choice for live event research as participants can watch the sporting, entertainment or political event and provide feedback via the text focus group during the session. View a case study here.

a young man using his phone

Video Focus Groups

Video focus groups can be highly beneficial for viewing body language, participant engagement and video content reporting. It allows you to engage the participants in conversations, conduct polls, and get more insights on responses. The results can be reviewed through video recordings and transcriptions. View a project example where a study was done following a leaders' debate here.

Check out our free Recruitment Survey Template that'll help you recruit the right participants! 

Online Forums and Communities

Many businesses are now opting for online communities and forums to conduct market research. Communities and forums provide an interactive way to form relationships with the participants and start conversations.
The participants are invited to a common platform to discuss a particular topic or issue, while the market researcher monitors the discussion and ensures the right direction as needed.
It helps create better connections and gain more insights over an extended period of time. You can gain better insights into the spending habits, perception, and satisfaction of your target audience, for example. Learn more about an online community conducted by MassMutual in this webinar recording.

Discussion Boards

Online discussion boards are a convenient way to conduct qualitative research where participants can join in on their own time and add their responses. This method provides more flexibility for the participants and offers more accurate insights as they can weigh their responses carefully.

These discussions can be done over a longer period of time, making it ideal for more in-depth market research. Learn more about an online discussion with ALS patients here.

online focus group moderator

Tips To Select The Best Qualitative Research Method

Choosing the correct method to conduct your market research can be based on multiple factors. However, the main things you should consider are the following:

Goal of Market Research
You must identify the objective and goal behind the research. Is it to test a new product before launch or to define the target audience? Each type of research is different in its intricacies, which is why a different methodology might be needed each time.

Primary Constraints
Determining the significant issues that you might face during the market research can assist you in finding the best possible qualitative research methodology to benefit most from the market research. These constraints might include access to data resources, limited time to conduct research or limited budget. Think about the challenges you might face and determine which qualitative method would work best under these circumstances.

Disciplinary Norms
Your choice of qualitative research methodology should also be based on disciplinary norms and past references. Find out how previous researchers conducted similar market research and how you can benefit from their methods.

Ways To Analyze Collected Qualitative Data

Once you have selected the qualitative research method and gathered relevant data, you can analyze it efficiently using multiple ways, including:

  • Summarizing Key Points. A moderator can highlight the critical points during the focus groups and interviews to identify the pain points, concerns, and other essential details raised by the participants.
  • Coding Responses. Coding all unstructured data can help to summarize it in charts and tables for easier understanding and further analysis.
  • Creating Word Cloud. In a word cloud, you can highlight the main keywords used by the participants and take appropriate notes for better analysis.

Choosing a suitable qualitative research method can allow you to evaluate and improve the marketing strategy or campaign. It provides you with in-depth information and insight into a particular problem and an understanding of your competitors and consumers. After choosing the most suitable research method, you need to make sure that you have the best tools to apply this method and set your qualitative research project up for success. Here at itracks, we’re proud to offer a variety of solutions depending on the method you choose. Contact us today to learn more about itracks toolbox!