Qualitative Research: Answering the "Why?"

It’s no secret that businesses have been focused on ‘big data’ a lot lately as it’s a great way to gain insight into consumer behavior and interactions. However, analyzing big data can not only be overwhelming and time consuming, but it leaves out a big piece of the market research puzzle – “why?”.

This is where qualitative marketing research comes in to provide perspective on the future market and opportunities by answering the “why?”. Asking open ended and exploratory questions gives respondents the freedom to provide extensive and detailed information, opinions, and insights. These and other qualitative research methods can assist big data in understanding the patterns and trends that are depicted, all while helping to predict future actions and market developments.

Qualitative marketing research can be especially helpful in the following areas:

  • Exploring – Explore new topics and ideas with consumers to gain insight and familiarity for future studies. Embark on ideation and co-creation by launching an idea session (creating, rating, and refining ideas on specific topics) or collage activity (expressing thoughts in an artistic form with pictures and supporting text or voice descriptions). The ability to reach back out to select respondents with follow-up questions enhances exploration even further.
  • Reducing complexity – Quantified results can sometimes be overwhelming and rather complex to analyze. Use qualitative research methods to break down this complexity into manageable pieces. Listening to “voice of customer” (VOC) will in turn give a voice to the corresponding data.
  • Adding context – visualize and understand the environment of the consumer by deploying qualitative research methods to uncover the people, places, and things consumers interact with. Mobile ethnography is a great way to uncover these pieces in real-time. To learn more about conducting mobile market research, check out these five tips.
  • Explaining patterns and/or trends – big data and other quantified research results can often reveal patterns and trends in the market place, but what happens when you’re expecting a trend to emerge that doesn’t? Or maybe a trend is emerging for unknown reasons. Employing qualitative research prevents the need for making assumptions and instead gives truth to why consumers act or think a particular way.

So, while understanding the past and present actions of consumers are important, diving deeper to uncover ‘how’ and ‘why’ consumers act the way they do will uncover new needs, insights, and opportunities to guide future decisions, growth, and innovation.

To learn more about how market research online communities (MROCs) can help your brand answer the “why?, click the button below and start gaining valuable insight in a way traditional research can’t match.

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