Qualitative research is the search for a deeper understanding of human behavior, attitudes, opinions and perceptions to provide insights to inform businesses, non-profits, educational establishments, Government services, etc. It is applied in market research by communicating directly with consumers – through in-person methods ranging from in-depth interviews and shop-alongs to focus groups, and on-line methods from one-on-one interviews and bulletin boards to focus groups – in an effort to understand how and why consumers are reacting the way they are to a brand, service or business.
Qualitative research helps companies and organizations to:
Qualitative research is sometimes employed in conjunction with a quantitative study. While the results of a quantitative study are numeric and provide data relating to measurable behaviors and attitudes, the results of qualitative research can provide explanation and understanding of the data. Qualitative research tends to be descriptive, and can be projective, answering the "whys," "hows" and "what ifs."
With today's consumers able to share their experiences with products and services in social media in real time, it has become increasingly important for companies to find ways to gauge consumer sentiment quickly – and accurately. If there's a drop in sales of a specific brand, companies need to know what's behind the shift. If a consumer base is exhibiting changing needs, companies need to know how to respond and react to the new needs.
In-person qualitative research can be performed in various ways: