Qualitative research is characterized by the absence of empirical (quantitative) measurements. Qualitative research methods help to clarify what customers need and expect. This research answers the questions of "why" and "how". Researchers use this method before creating a close-ended survey from which they can generate "numbers."
The main types of qualitative research are focus groups, in-depth interviews and observational studies.
Focus GroupsA focus group consists of approximately 8-12 people with similar characteristics: demographics, purchase behavior or attitudes who are gathered together in a room to discuss a particular topic. The room typically consists of a conference or living room style setting along with an observation room connected by a one-way mirror. The discussion is also video and audio taped. Conversations tend to be unstructured and free-flowing, allowing everyone to give their opinion. Focus groups provide an understanding of the range and depth of opinions, feelings, and beliefs, rather than the number of people who hold a particular view or opinion. A focus group represents a sample size of one. The discussion is led by a trained moderator.
Experience a sample focus group here.
An in-depth interview is a one-on-one interview usually conducted via telephone or in person by a moderator. The questions are open-ended, the purpose of which is to get as much information about a topic as possible. OccasionaLly, more than one person is interviewed at one time. This is referred to as "mini groups."
Instead of interacting with people, researchers carefully watch how participants shop in stores, do activities, or perform everyday actions. They may observe them at home, at work or when shopping in order to get a better idea of how people do things.