Understanding Qualitative Market Research in 2022 and the Trends to Follow

What qualitative research trends should you expect to see in 2022? How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted qualitative research? While quantitative market research usually oversees the When, Who, What and Where of decision making, qualitative research goes one step ahead to answer the How and Why as well. That said, qualitative research aims to generate insights behind consumer purchases and dig deep into the motives customers have.

In its true essence, online qualitative research is a digital method of research that collects people’s opinions, attitudes, impressions, and thoughts related to a particular product, service or topic through the virtual world. Online discussions can be conducted in the form of in-depth interviews, focus groups, market research communities and self-directed entries for appropriate responses and qualitative results.

Researchers can build relevant connections with customers through online customer engagement and can gather feedback and insights without hosting customers and respondents physically.

In this article, we explore the trends in qualitative market research to look forward to in 2022.

Qualitative Market Research Trends for 2022

Accelerated Digital Transformation of Qualitative Research

Online qualitative research offers a plethora of opportunities, and trends in 2022 predict towards greater reliance on digital methods and programs. The GRIT Report indicated that the use of online focus groups increased 20% and online in-depth interviews increased 12% in 2020.  There is further expected growth in qualitative research driven by the need to understand consumer motivations behind rapid changes in behavior and the importance of conversations to understand consumer emotions. Travel restrictions, mandatory masks and social lockdowns associated with the pandemic have forced organizations to move in-person qualitative projects to online environments. Many of itracks’ clients have found the ability to create branded software has allowed the agencies to promote their brand within the focus group experience similarly to a nice facility with signage and branding elements to the space. The option for subscription pricing has reduced their cost per focus group allowing qualitative divisions to contribute more significantly as a profit center.

Increased Participant Engagement

Technology advancements have created opportunities for new creative experiences in the online space to enhance participant engagement and understanding.  We have seen increased use of increased use of markup activities and sorting/ collage exercises curing focus groups and homework activities completed by participants in advance of real time focus groups. Homework activities are sometimes as simple as submitting an image or comment related to the research topic in advance of the real time focus groups/interviews and can be more involved such as a short online homework discussion board prior to real time sessions to request participants to share images, experiences.  These can provide the researcher with materials to reference during the real time discussions and start warming up the participants to the research topic.  An added benefit of the homework activities is that “cheaters” or miss recruits are often revealed and removed from the study in advance of the online focus groups or interviews.

Redesign of Qualitative Research Experiences for Stakeholders

With the rapid adoption of online qualitative research, and the increased accessibility for business decision makers to view and engage in the qualitative research process, expect qualitative research programs to be reinvented to support business strategy development and drive business performance instead of delivering static reports on a project-by-project basis.  itracks is seeing more diverse team members join the backroom during focus groups and interviews.  With the drive towards increased understanding of the customer, the virtual backroom of a focus group has become the ideal experience to create empathy towards customers and interact with internal team members to discuss and strategize.  In addition, the team can request the research moderator to probe for deeper understanding. This experience is allowing the team to experience the research and fully internalize the research insights.  View our webinar recording Client Experience is your Competitive Advantage to learn more about how clients are leveraging the backroom.

Qualitative research programs are moving towards regular activities to drive content creation and communications instead of one of projects.

DEI Efforts for Brand Elevation

North America has been a melting pot of traditions, ethnicities, cultures, and languages ever since it was formed. Now is the time for brands and businesses to pay more attention to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Several studies conducted this year revealed that local consumers in the US and Canada trusted businesses more than the government and the media to stand up for the right thing.

If businesses want to live up to the perception people have of them, they should also ensure that all voices from all backgrounds are being heard during the qualitative market research process. Greater representation in research is allowing businesses to explore options clearly and know that the research stands for the entire community and is not limited to majority groups.  2022 will see a greater impact on diversity inclusion during research and will give organizations the opportunity to include people of all groups in their discussions. Online methods and the rapid increase in mobile device access has offered easier access to all customer segments.

Engaging Diverse Teams

The research and marketing industries are made up of knowledge workers and the move towards remote working arrangements is leading to opportunities to collaborate with professionals around the globe.  itracks is seeing an increase in multi-region studies.  Digital platforms allow for multi-language interfaces and easy logistics to engage with multilingual moderators in new markets. Online discussion boards help to bridge the time zone challenges by allowing users to engage in the platform at the time that is convenient to them.

Younger Audiences will Have an Impact

The retail sector will heavily focus on the younger audiences, especially Generation Z. Gen Z’s are stepping into their 20’s, and they form a major part of the total buying group today.

Younger audiences are looking for brands that show authenticity, are transparent and implement sustainable measures. Social media has allowed audiences to come together at one place and talk to each other about what is happening around them. Word travels fast, and brands do not have much room to go wrong here. 2022 will put a greater emphasis on authenticity and sustainability in research.

We have hosted a webinar where we talked about conducting qualitative research on Millennials, the generation that has also affected the market significantly. Watch it now!

Qualitative market research is fast developing and will be considered a vital part of product development, marketing and business planning in 2022. Having the right tools to set the bar of your qualitative research projects higher in the coming years is critical if you want to deliver deeper insights. Reach out to itracks to discuss your online qualitative research program, methodology options, technologies and suppliers for a superior online qualitative research experience.