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Qualitative Market Research Methods


Market Research is a systematic, objective collection and analysis of data about a particular target market, competition, and/or environment. It always incorporates some form of data collection whether it be secondary research (often referred to as desk research) or primary market research which is collected direct from a respondent.

The purpose of any market research project is to achieve an increased understanding of the subject matter. With markets throughout the world becoming increasingly more competitive, market research is now on the agenda of many organisations, whether they be large or small.

Market Research is either quantitative (e.g. structured street surveys), qualitative (e.g. market research focus group), or a combination of both. Qualitative and quantitative market research methods each provide different insights into customer behaviour. Normally, research results are more useful when the two methods are combined.

Qualitative market research (e.g. market research focus group) provides an understanding of how or why things are as they are. For example, a Market Researcher may stop a consumer who has purchased a particular type of bread and ask him or her why that type of bread was chosen. Unlike quantitative research there are no fixed set of questions but, instead, a topic guide (or discussion guide) is used to explore various issues in-depth. The discussion between the interviewer (or moderator) and the respondent is largely determined by the respondents' own thoughts and feelings.

There are various types of qualitative market research methodologies. Research of this sort is mostly done face-to-face. One of the best-known techniques is the market research focus group discussion (or focus group). These are usually made up of 6 to 8 targeted respondents, a research moderator whose role is to ask the required questions, draw out answers, and encourage discussion, and an observation area usually behind one way mirrors, and video and/or audio taping facilities. A series of market research focus groups are usually conduct ed together - usually around 4-6 per project

In addition, qualitative market research can also be conducted on a 'one on one' basis i.e. an in-depth market research interview with a trained executive interviewer and one respondent, a paired depth (two respondents), a triad (three respondents) and a mini group discussion (4-5 respondents).

The various types of qualitative market research methodologies are summarised below:

Market Research Depth Interviews
a single respondent is interviewed based on various themes and topics (can be conducted either face to face or via the phone).

Market Research Paired Depths
the same as a depth interview but there are two respondents. Particularly useful when ideas need to be 'bounced off' one another.

conducted with three respondents.

Market Research Mini-Focus Groups
contains 4-5 respondents.

Market Research Focus Groups or Group Discussions
normally contain 8 respondents. With groups you benefit from the interaction between the different personalities.

Market Research Observation
observing a respondent in their 'natural' environment.

To elicit new ideas and to evaluate ideas.

Contacting DJS Research

If you would like further information about any of the above market research methods please get in touch with DJS Research by filling out our on-line web form - click here or phone us on +44 (0)1663-767857 We look forward to hearing about your market research questions.

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