What is Qualitative Research?

Qualitative explores how we think and why.

Qualitative research is the process of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting non-numerical data. It can be used to understand how an individual subjectively perceives and gives meaning to their social reality.

Qualitative data is defined as non-numerical data, such as text, video, photographs or audio recordings. This type of data can be collected using diary accounts or in-depth interviews, and analyzed using grounded theory or thematic analysis.

Because qualitative research is exploratory and seeks to understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ a particular phenomenon, or behavior, operates as it does in a particular context. It can be used to generate hypotheses and theory from the data.  A common next step is using quantitative research methods to validate and extrapolate to larger populations.

Common Uses for Qualitative Research

  • New Product Development, New Product Idea Generation
  • Exploring Brand Positioning and Marketing Strategies, Exploring current and potential Product/Service offerings
  • Learning the Strengths and Weaknesses of Products, Services
  • Analyzing reactions to advertising and public relations campaigns, other marketing communications, brand identity and graphics, package design, etc.
  • Understanding the dynamics of Purchase Decisions
  • Studying this e emotions and attitudes of issues on societies and the public.
  • Exploring Market Segments like the demographics and consumer groups.
  • Assessing the Usability of websites and other digital interactive products/services.
  • Learning the language/words of consumers to use in copy and surveys.
  • Understanding the perceptions of a brand, company, product, or category.

Inappropriate Uses of Qualitative Research

  • Count, measure or offer statistical validation.
  • Quantitatively determine the best price point or product concept; or determine the importance of specific customer needs or satisfaction criteria.
  • Be a substitute for quantitative research because of time and/or budgetary constraints when quantitative evaluation is critical.

Bottom-line: When you need to understand the ‘Why’ behind consumer behavior and attitudes, Qualitative Research is the only method to provide answers.

CIBA Research & Consulting