Updated: Mar 31
Truly understanding a brand, organization, or effort is at the core of our work. But how do we do it? Figuring out what consumers want can be trickier than it seems – there are almost limitless variables to work through. That’s where qualitative research comes in.
Let’s say we conduct a survey and find that 75% of respondents love the new functions you’re testing for a website update, and the other 25% do not. That result could certainly help guide your business, and you could execute decisions around your website features with this information. However, that leaves so much on the table about the consumers’ reaction to your online interface. Wouldn’t it be helpful to ask your respondents to tell you more and to unpack exactly what about the new features is driving these feelings, positive or negative?
What is qualitative research, really?
Qualitative research is centered around the all-important “why.” Why are people acting in a certain way? What are the impressions, beliefs, and values that guide their actions? While quantitative research can tell you the number of consumers using your product and their opinions and preferences, qualitative research works alongside it to reveal the reasoning and behavioral drivers behind those numbers. Think of all the possibilities: Maybe you're the only product within consumer's price range, perhaps the product is sold at the most convenient locations, or it may be that the quality of your product is truly top of the line. Knowing the “why” behind the numbers is essential to guiding your product line.
From focus groups to new technology
There are many different ways to go about qualitative research, depending on the type of information you hope to glean. Some of these methods include:
In focus groups, individuals with one or more commonalities are gathered to discuss a product, brand, idea, set of experiences, etc. Often led by a trained moderator, this setting allows you to gauge in-person reactions and follow up in real time on non-verbal cues. While they tend to require more time and capital to set up, focus groups allow for in-depth responses that go beyond surface level answers for a comprehensive assessment of the product.
IDI’s, Dyads, Triads, etc.
For a more personalized approach, many organizations turn to in-depth interviews (IDIs). This method is often most appropriate for sensitive or emotional topics because the respondent is more likely to be candid and forthcoming. This strategy relies in part on the relationship between the moderator and respondent. A strong relationship will lead to sincere responses that may shed light on previously overlooked aspects of the product. IDIs can be done with one, two (dyads), or even three respondents (triads).
Social media and the internet-at-large
As technology and media have improved, the ways to gauge consumer responses have grown exponentially. Many organizations have begun to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to gather qualitative data, while others allow consumers to send in videos expressing their feelings on a product. Focus groups and IDIs can be conducted virtually and consumers have more ways than ever before to share what they think about a product. For those who choose to look for the “why,” the opportunities are endless.
In our work
At Simply Strategy, we develop custom research options for our clients based on the questions they wish to answer. From quantitative surveys to qualitative focus groups and the digital and intercept solutions in between, we custom design, conduct, and analyze the only way we know how — carefully and objectively. From our inquiry, clients count on the insight as the solid foundation to informed decision-making.
Culturally competent, highly experienced with expertise moderating a wide range of discussions, our research teams design meaningful interactions. Our creativity helps us design effective concept development strategies and user testing scenarios. From IDIs of public policy stakeholders on safety net programs to focus groups with patients on the barriers and challenges to improving health, we glean meaningful perspective to help our clients make more effective connections, drive innovation or improve systems. We know that research is both an art and a science, and our expert moderators and skilled analysts provide unique, combined expertise.
Problem-solvers focused on both understanding and outcomes, our team of experienced market researchers have been a part of the modernization of market research. Our storytelling approach, early introduction to design thinking, user-centered evaluation and empathetic ideation have driven us towards solving problems effectively.