5 tips to help you succeed with qualitative market research


There are a variety of definitions of what qualitative market research is. Simplified, one can say that it is when investigating something in depth, usually through interviews. In a business context, it is a great way to quickly understand how, for example, a market operates. The interviews are usually conducted by telephone or face-to-face.


Here are 5 tips to help you succeed with qualitative market research.


1. Plan well – as with all kinds of market analyses, planning is a key factor for success and well-invested time. Consider the purpose of the market research project in advance, as well as which questions and correlations that may be of interest. It is also usually valuable to get feedback from a third party with regards to the interview questions, in order to keep them as neutral as possible. If we are heavily involved with the research topic outside the scope of the market research, we tend to get colored.


2. Consider the degree of structure – Qualitative interviews can be conducted with different degree of structure. If you have a lot of time available with the respondents and don’t know what kind of information you should expect in advance, then an entirely open structure may be preferable. If you have less time, and want to include more precise questions, a semi-structured method that combines clear response options with open questions is usually more appropriate. Regardless of the degree of structure you choose, a well-written interview guide will very likely increase the chances of a successful result. Also, consider updating the interview guide continuously, as new interesting information usually arises after the first interviews.


3. The interviewer is important – the quality and comprehensiveness of qualitative market research depends largely on the person conducting the interviews. A well trained interviewer has a good ability to listen and ask follow-up questions that get the interviewee to open and share information. It is also important to be able to improvise when the conversation is moving in an interesting, but perhaps unexpected direction. Therefore it is good if the interviewer in advance has studied and understood the product or service that is being investigated, as well as the scope and purpose of the market research. Other qualities often found in good interviewers are curiosity, humility and focus.


4. Get to know the target audience – When conducting qualitative market research for commercial purposes, you commonly need to get in touch with people who are both difficult to reach, and in general are very busy. Within B2B markets, it could include decision makers, industry experts, government officials or politicians to name a few. In these cases, it could be very useful to research the people you want to contact in advance, in order to tailor your interview request. Also, consider that sometimes you will be required to go through a so-called “gatekeeper” in order to reach high-ranking people. In such cases it may be worth researching such person(s) in advance as well.


5. Collect data effectively – Qualitative interviews often generate large amounts of information. It is therefore important to gather such information in ways that allow for easy analysis. A good alternative is to record the interview, but if so, it is recommended to inform the interviewee in advance. The recordings can then be transcribed and analyzed. Another option is writing while the interview is being conducted. The disadvantage of this, however, is that it can affect the flow of the conversation, and in addition, normally results in a less accurate result. If it is less important with details, you can write a summary immediately after the interview. This becomes more cost-effective, but poses higher demands on the interviewer to properly capture the essence of the conversation. If personal data on respondents is stored, it is important that this is done in accordance with current integrity and privacy laws (such as for instance GDPR).


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