Qualitative marketing research  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



Qualitative marketing research is a set of research techniques, used in marketing and the social sciences, in which data is obtained from a relatively small group of respondents and not analyzed with inferential statistics. This differentiates it from quantitative analyzed for statistical significance.


The main types of qualitative research are

  • Depth Interviews
    • interview is conducted one-on-one, and lasts between 30 and 60 minutes
    • best method for in-depth probing of personal opinions, beliefs, and values
    • very rich depth of information
    • very flexible
    • probing is very useful at uncovering hidden issues
    • they are unstructured (or loosely structured)- this differentiates them from survey interviews in which the same questions are asked to all respondents
    • can be time consuming and responses can be difficult to interpret
    • requires skilled interviewers - expensive - interviewer bias can easily be introduced
    • there is no social pressure on respondents to conform and no group dynamics
    • start with general questions and rapport establishing questions, then proceed to more purposive questions
    • laddering is a technique used by depth interviewers in which you start with questions about external objects and external social phenomena, then proceed to internal attitudes and feelings
    • hidden issue questioning is a technique used by depth interviewers in which they concentrate on deeply felt personal concerns and pet peeves
    • symbolic analysis is a technique used by depth interviewers in which deeper symbolic meanings are probed by asking questions about their opposites
  • Focus Groups
    • an interactive group discussion led by a moderator
    • unstructured (or loosely structured) discussion where the moderator encourages the free flow of ideas
    • usually 8 to 12 members in the group who fit the profile of the target group or consumer but may consist of two interviewees (a dyad) or three interviewees (a triad) or a lesser number of participants (known as a mini-group)
    • usually last for 1 to 2 hours
    • usually recorded on video/DVD
    • may be streamed via a closed streaming service for remote viewing of the proceedings
    • the room usually has a large window with one-way glass - participants cannot see out, but the researchers can see in
    • inexpensive and fast
    • can use computer and internet technology for on-line focus groups
    • respondents feel a group pressure to conform
    • group dynamics is useful in developing new streams of thought and covering an issue thoroughly
    • see focus group for a more detailed description
  • Projective Techniques
    • these are unstructured prompts or stimulus that encourage the respondent to project their underlying motivations, beliefs, attitudes, or feelings onto an ambiguous situation
    • they are all indirect techniques that attempt to disguise the purpose of the research
    • examples of projective techniques include:
      • word association - say the first word that comes to mind after hearing a word - only some of the words in the list are test words that the researcher is interested in, the rest are fillers - is useful in testing brand names - variants include chain word association and controlled word association
      • sentence completion - respondents are given incomplete sentences and asked to complete them
      • story completion - respondents are given part of a story and are asked to complete it
      • cartoon tests - pictures of cartoon characters are shown in a specific situation and with dialogue balloons - one of the dialogue balloons is empty and the respondent is asked to fill it in
      • thematic apperception tests - respondents are shown a picture (or series of pictures) and asked to make up a story about the picture(s)
      • role playing - respondents are asked to play the role of someone else - researchers assume that subjects will project their own feelings or behaviours into the role
      • third-person technique - a verbal or visual representation of an individual and his/her situation is presented to the respondent - the respondent is asked to relate the attitudes or feelings of that person - researchers assume that talking in the third person will minimize the social pressure to give standard or politically correct responses
  • Random Probability Sampling
    • This type of qualitative research conducts random interviews within a defined universe, e.g. a city- to understand consumer behavior beyond basic age-gender variables.
    • Examples of random sample interviewing include telephone interviewing, mailing-questionnaire's/booklets, personal interviewing,
    • Consumer response for this type of qualitaitve research could be product usage, personal opinion, events and activities consumers participate in.
    • One key benefit of the random probability sampling technique is the ability to project your results as they are reflected back to or representative of your universe. For example how many consumers in a city are republican, democrat, independent, or indifferent.

Newer Methods

  • Observational & Ethnographic Research

One of the more fundamental uses of qualitative research is understanding fundamental consumer behaviour through Observational research. The roots for this come from Anthropological studies where trained researchers went to observe tribes / cultures / societies - for periods as long as a couple of years.

Nowadays, this kind of research is being supplemented by more cutting edge fields like neuro-science where the observation is accompanied by measuring brain activity. This is under the assumption that very often our brain reacts without us even knowing it and asking questions or pure observation by themselves are not enough to really pinpoint what goes on.

Another application is longitudinal studies, a correlational research study that involves repeated observations of the same items over long periods of time.

  • Psychological Research

Qualitative marketing research comes in a lot of different guises but qualitative psychological research has crystallised as one the most effective ways of gathering insight into the behaviours, attitudes and decision-making processes of consumers and customers. Most qualitative research companies in the world will claim that they employ psychologists and base their findings on psychological theories. The psychology backed methodologies applied in qualitative marketing research are continuously changing and being further developed. One of the examples of psychology theory developed specifically for use in marketing research is morphological psychology.

Ethics in qualitative marketing research

Like all research involving human participants, implementing qualitative marketing research raises ethical considerations. Some research designs employ a very direct approach: they clearly disclose the objectives of the study, the organization that commissioned it, and utilize transparent questions. Other designs conceal the study objectives and/or the commissioning organization, or utilize questions that stymie participants' attempts to learn of the study design.

Some researchers have ethical misgivings about the deceit involved in some approaches. They argue that if disguised methods are used, all respondents should, on completion, attend a debriefing session in which the true purpose of the research is given and the reason for the deception explained.

In commercial qualitative marketing research, ethical questions center on protecting the privacy of the participant and the privacy of the research sponsor. For this reason, qualitative marketing research firms are often employed to execute the research and guard privacy throughout the process. Firms protect the privacy of participants by promising that the data collected will be presented to the sponsor either in aggregate or in a format stripped of any personally identifiable information. Likewise, firms protect the privacy of sponsors by serving as a liaison between the sponsor and the research participant, which eliminates a situation that would otherwise invite much deceit. Further, most research firms join associations where membership is subject to compliance with industry standards.

See also

Lists of related topics

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Qualitative marketing research" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools