Why qualitative research?

Qualitative methods are easier to apply and sometimes even more affordable because they do not require a large sample. Marketers and entrepreneurs can use qualitative research methods to conduct market research, after which they can obtain information relevant to business development.

Below are some of the benefits and benefits for which you could implement in-house qualitative research, and if you have questions about how research can help your business, feel free to write to us.

* this article received an update to better present the qualitative research methods existing in 2020.


Qualitative research from the beginning to the present

When ethnographer Bronislaw Malinowski decided to spend almost two years studying and living with the tribes of the Trobriand Islands, he did not know that the new methodology he created – ethnography, would be used a century later by marketing specialists.

The new methodology proposed by Malinowski involved sending the researcher on the field, discussions with subjects, later in-depth interviews, careful lifestyle observation of the subject, or more precisely, participatory observation.

From the first researches of Malinowski to the present, the concept of qualitative research and the specific methods have been developed and refined, and are used successfully in the field of marketing.

Next, we will talk about what you can find out through this type of research as well as the various sub types of qualitative research that we develop within our agency.

What new things can you uncover through qualitative research

Qualitative marketing research involves an inductive process, used mainly in the exploratory phase of a study, to identify the motivations, attitudes and opinions of the final consumer of a product or service.

It is useful in the process of launching a new product, as well as for obtaining deeper aspects related to the consumption preferences of a user, otherwise difficult to find out by the quantitative method.

More complex than quantitative research, qualitative research involves a longer time allocated to research, an aspect that should not be interpreted as a disadvantage, because in the end it will reveal important aspects of consumer behavior and customer-product interaction. For example, an interview may take 30 to 120 minutes to complete the interview guide by the moderator.

If you decide to carry out a qualitative research, sample elaboration needs more attention and cannot be left to a statistical formula. Only relevant persons are chosen, those who have used a particular product or who have the availability to use it in the future.

As the name implies, in this type of research the quality of information matters and not so much the quantity.

În Cercetarea de Marketing – Cum pătrunzi în mintea consumatorului, cum măsori și cum analizezi informația (Marketing research – how to get inside the consumers head, how to measure and how to analyze the information), Petre Datculescu specifies that 20 in-depth interviews are enough to get the ball rolling for an in-depth quantitative research. These interviews will uncover great theories that you can test and measure in the quantitative research phase.

Qualitative research techniques in marketing

There are several techniques by which qualitative marketing research can be carried out:

The observation technique (aka mystery shopping)

The observation term can send you thinking of a laboratory experiment, in which a researcher observes the participants, without being directly involved in their activities, carefully noting each change in behavior. But this is not the case when we talk about participatory observation, used in marketing.

In the case of participatory observation, the researcher takes an active part in the situation, for example observing the behavior of customers in the store.

👉 What observation services we can offer you

The service that MKOR Consulting offers in this regard is the mystery shopping method, a form of participatory observation by which external auditors claim to be real customers and thus gather valuable data about the quality of the services offered by a particular company.

Also, Mystery Shopping is a good way to find out information about the services offered by competitors, and is mainly suitable for B2B studies.

The Focus Group technique

Research through focus groups

Generally, the focus group technique involves gathering a group of people who do not know each other in a neutral space, and a moderator directing the discussion, making sure it involves each participant. As the participants do not know each other, a good way to start a focus group is through the invitation to be presented by the moderator. A focus group has between 8 and 10 participants.

In this technique, the role of moderator is particularly important. He / she must be well acquainted with the subject of the study, and at the same time have specific skills to facilitate the interaction between participants. Therefore, we recommend that you leave this task in the hands of a specialist.

Focus groups are mainly used in market research to launch a new product. They can be very useful when combined with product testing, to find out the immediate reaction of the customer to the new product they are trying.

In this technique, the role of moderator is particularly important. He / she must be well acquainted with the subject of the study, and at the same time have specific skills to facilitate the interaction between participants. Therefore, we recommend that you leave this task in the hands of a specialist.

Focus groups are mainly used in market research to launch a new product. They can be very useful when combined with product testing, to find out the immediate reaction of the customer to the new product they are trying.

👉 What focus group services can we offer you?

MKOR Research & Consulting offers its clients studies that use focus groups as a research method. An example from our portfolio is the research carried out for Bunicel.ro, in which a series of focus groups were developed for product tasting (romanian).

The results of the focus groups moderated by the MKOR’s specialists were used by Bunicel to launch a new product on the market that will satisfy the customers preference for a sweet chocolate rich product.

Thus, in the portfolio of Bunicel.ro there is now Tartinabile Homemade Chocolate, a product developed for the taste of chocolate lovers who have expressed their opinions during the tastings. Bunicel.ro was one of the finalist projects, awarded with 32,000 Euro in the Competition Made in Andrei’s Country 2016.

At the end of a focus group, the clients receive the research report in which the most important findings are highlighted, a private link to the video recording, as well as transcripts of the conversations during the discussion sessions. You can see more examples of qualitative research by browsing the portfolio section.

The Structured Interview Technique

Structured interview

The interview involves either a face-to-face interaction or a phone call. The interview is preferable when dealing with personal topics that cannot be dealt with through questionnaires. In this case, the specialist’s abilities to make the participant feel comfortable when talking about certain topics are very important.

Although the interview involves a longer time for planning and scheduling meetings, it comes with other benefits such as finding out your personal motivations, attitudes and experiences.

The tool used in this type of research is the interview guide. It should be structured enough to guide the discussion to the relevant information the researcher wishes to obtain, and at the same time flexible enough to allow the respondent to make personal additions and details of his or her experience.

👉 What structured interviewing services can we offer you?

In the market study conducted by MKOR Research for Sweet Health, our specialists have successfully used structured interviews to identify both the expectations of beekeepers and the opinions of potential customers of the brand.

The two series of interviews conducted by MKOR resulted in the appearance on the shelves of the natural shops of new bee products. Furthermore, the Sweet Health Project was named winner in the Competition Made in Andrei’s Country 2013.

The Hybrid-Study technique

Un astfel de studiu-hibrid presupune combinarea celor două metode: utilizarea unei metode calitative în prima fază a studiului pentru a testa terenul, urmată de o metodă cantitativă.

Studiile-hibrid sunt relativ puține, în general companiile îndreptându-se către colectarea de date prin metode cantitative, însă recomandăm integrarea unei componente calitative și în studiile cantitative.

Atunci când bugetul nu permite, sau deadline-ul este prea scurt, noi, la MKOR Consulting, compensăm componenta calitativă din studiile cerute de clienții noștri prin mai multe metode:

Such a hybrid study involves a combination of the two methods: the use of a qualitative method in the first phase of the study to test the field, followed by a quantitative method.

Hybrid studies are relatively few, generally companies heading to data collection through quantitative methods, but we recommend integrating a qualitative component in quantitative studies.

When the budget does not allow, or the deadline is too short, we, at MKOR Consulting, compensate the qualitative component of the studies required by our clients by several methods:

  • we do in-depth desk research;
  • we get insights from our customers;
  • we insert open questions in the study questionnaires.

👉  What hybrid study services can we offer you?

Most of the MKOR’s research projects are based on a part of qualitative research combined with quantitative research. Send us a message with your research project, and we will come back with a methodology proposal that fits perfectly with your business requirements.

The technique of digital ethnography

digital etnography
Digital ethnography through online interviews

If Malinowski had to travel to the Western Pacific to research the field, the modern researcher, who was always short of time, came up with an ingenious solution to classical ethnography: he integrated technology into existing classical methods.

This new concept is called digital ethnography and comes with benefits such as the opportunity to conduct online interviews and use tools such as a mobile phone, its integrated camera or webcam.

Hotjar is another tool that you can use and get heat-maps of customer activity on your company website. You can see their behavior on the site, what attracts their attention, what they click on the first time and how much time they spend on a certain page. Later, you can use this information to optimize your site and make it as easy to use and friendly for your customers.

The advantages that this technique brings to the researcher include the fact that he no longer has to travel long distances to conduct interviews, can conduct longitudinal studies, and even observe how the participant uses a particular product in his own home.

Digital ethnography implies the same qualitative research approach, and the use of online research tools does not reduce the relevance of the data obtained.

Conclusion: qualitative research can make a difference

Qualitative research pays off

Qualitative research, but also quantitative research, can help you make an informed decision that will lead to healty growth of your business. Research is indispensable from the business plan stage, but also later, when the business grows.

Research provides insights and structured information about customers, competitors and the market.

Three quarters of the Romanian companies are doing market research to answer their questions about customers and the competitive environment in general.

This is stated by the 252 representatives of companies in Romania, who answered our call for information. The respondents are part of all levels of management, from entrepreneurs and top managers, to middle managers. In other words, people with decision-making power in their companies. To find out more, you can access the study Impact of Market Studies in Romanian Companies for free within the own studies section, where you can see all the statistical information we have found.

Contact us to talk about your project, we have helped hundreds of companies grow through actionable research, and we have a team ready for any challenge.