Qualitative Research 101

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Qualitative Research Definition

Qualitative research provides insight into the various behaviors in a targeted group of people and the perceptions that drive behavior in regard to specific topics, issues, or products.  The methods used in qualitative research are derived from the social and behavioral sciences, such as sociology, psychology, and anthropology. The qualitative research definition can be described as a way to explore and find out something we might have not expected to learn.

Using thorough and detailed studies of small groups of people, qualitative research builds support around a particular hypothesis. For example, if a company thinks they have a product that would sell well to males in a certain age demographic, they could use qualitative research to support this. Alternatively, they could also discover that their target market is relating to the product differently than how it was previously believed.

One of the most successful and popular forms of qualitative research is the use of a focus group. These groups, typically consisting of 6-10 people, are formed and based upon qualifying information, dependent on the project.  The purpose of focus groups is to get a certain group of peoples’ thoughts on a subject and /or product.  Focus groups can be a driving force behind the decisions made by organizations. These can include small businesses, non-profits, and large corporations. The purpose of focus groups is not intended to be a brainstorming session, but instead a discussion on a very specific topic. When led by a trained moderator, focus groups can be extremely beneficial to a company’s bottom line.

While it may seem easy to go and round up a group of people and ask them how they feel about a particular subject, there is more to it than that! The process of building a quality group of respondents is key to receiving optimal results and getting the most out of a focus group.  It is helpful to have a focus group template in mind. Here are some keys to creating a productive focus group:

  • Establish the research objectives
  • Design the research plan
  • Double check and confirm qualifying attributes
  • Sort the logistics (the where, when, and who)
  • Create a screener to use for recruitment
  • Develop a discussion guide
  • Conduct the Focus Group

After the focus group takes place, the information will need to be analyzed. The analysis process varies depending on the moderator/ researcher’s style and preferences. Some researchers prefer having a transcription of the entire focus group discussion for the analysis process, while others analyze the discussion by viewing the DVD recording and taking notes. All of these pieces come together, allowing the researcher to prepare and present a final report to the client.

SmartPoint Research has a solid and professional team that will take care of your marketing research needs from start to finish. For more information on how we can help you, please contact SmartPoint Research.