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Qualitative research methods

Qualitative research – the unstructured search method of research based on small number of participants, urged to better understand a problem of marketing research.

Qualitative research allows to understand an essence of the situation which developed around problems. In any marketing project it is expedient to conduct at first qualitative research, and then the quantitative. Sometimes qualitative research is necessary for the explanation of the data obtained by quantitative research. The data received after carrying out qualitative research can't be considered as final and on basis of this data is not possible to draw the conclusions about the research as a whole. One of the important principles of marketing researches is a complementarity of qualitative and quantitative methods, but not their opposition.

Methods of qualitative research:

• Direct (non-secret)
- of Focus group 
- Deep interviews

Indirect (secret)
- Projective methods 
- Associative methods 
- Methods of end of a situation 
- Methods of designing of a situation 
- Expressional methods

In direct approach respondents are informed about a research objective, or it becomes obvious of the questions asked. This method is applicable when focus groups and deep interviews are carried out. In difference, indirect approach hides a true research objective from respondents. In projective researches mainly indirect methods are used: it can be associative, finishing, structural and expressional methods.

Focus group

Focus groups are so popular that many marketing specialists put an equal-sign between focus group and qualitative researches.

Focus group is unstructured interview which specially trained leader (moderator) in a free manner takes from small group of respondents. The leader directs the discussion. A main objective of carrying out focus groups – receiving information aboutwhat the group of people (representing the concrete target market) thinks of the problems which are interesting for the researcher. The value of this method is that free nature of conversation often allows receiving unexpected information.

Number of people in group: 8-12

Structure of group: homogeneous, preliminary selection of respondents is necessary

Situation: informal, easy atmosphere

Duration: 1-3 hours

Record: audioand video

Moderator: observation and communicative skills are required.

Very often the customer watches the course of focus group interview by means of video or being in the client room which is separated from the focus group room by special mirror glass which allows customers to see all events with group of respondents. Thus respondents don't suspect that someone watches them.That allows keeping ease of the atmosphere, and doesn't prevent respondents to reveal, discussing often difficult subjects. Moreover, the customer in the course of focus group can ask the moderator to change, add, correct questions for respondents.

Steps of the organization and carrying out focus group:

  1. Definition of the purpose, tasks and problem of research
  2. Specification of a problem of qualitative research 
  3. A formulation of questions for consideration during focus group 
  4. Development of the questionnaire (screener) for selection of participants of focus group 
  5. Development of the plan of carrying out focus group 
  6. Instructing the moderator 
  7. Recruiting participants of focus group 
  8. Preparation for carrying out focus group (distributing material, flip chart, coffee break, remuneration to respondents, video, etc.) 
  9. Carrying out focus group 
  10. Preparation of a transcript (by means of video record of focus group) 
  11. The analysis, processing of the obtained data 
  12. Preparation of the report

Kinds of focus groups:

Bilateral interview. Allows one target group to listen to other focus group supplementing the first one.

Focus group with two leaders. One leader watches process of discussion, the second is responsible for discussing specific questions.

Focus group with two leaders-opponents. In group there are also two leaders, but they purposely express different opinions on the discussed questions. It allows the customer to find out all details in controversial issues.

Focus group with the respondent leader. The leader asks one of participants for some time to stay as the leader.

Focus group with the customer as the participant. Representatives from the customer become participants of discussion. These people have to give explanations to the discussed questions that the focus group was more effective.

Mini-groups. Consist of four-five respondents and one leader. Such groups, comparing to the standard 8-10 people, are used when the discussed questions requires more careful selection of respondents.

Remote focus group. It is carried out by means of the telecommunication equipment used for teleconferences.

Deep interview

Deep interview – unstructured, direct, personal interview in which one respondent is interrogated by the highly skilled interviewer for definition of its main motives, emotions, attitude and belief on a certain subject.

Duration – 30-90 minutes.

Methods of carrying out deep interviews:

Ladder method (stare method?)– consecutive statement of questions. The asked questions at first are directed to characteristics of a product, and then to the characters of the user.

Method of clarification of the hidden problems – not social values become the main thing, but rather personal "sore points"; not a way of life in general, but deep personal experiences and concerns of the person are in focus.

The symbolical analysis tries to analyze symbolical value of subjects, comparing them to contrasts. To understand that actually is behind this or that phenomenon, the researcher tries to define what isn't usual for this phenomenon.?

Projective method

The projective method is the unstructured, indirect form of poll inducing respondents to state to the interviewer their hidden motives, belief, attitude or feelings about discussed problem,so as to take them from depths of the consciousness, showing (projecting) them to the researcher.

Associative methods – one of types of projective methods when any object is offered to the person and the person is asked to tell the first association or impression that occurs.

Method of verbal associations – respondents are given the list of words and they have to pick up for each word one another word which occurs to the first one.

Methods of end of a situation

Method of end of a situation – a projective method at which the respondent asked to think up the completionfor the given situation.

Method of end of the sentence – a projective method at which respondents are offered with a number of incomplete sentences and asked to think up an ending.

Method of end of history – a projective method at which respondents are offered with a fragment of history and asked to add an ending in the own words.

Method of designing of a situation – a projective method at which the respondent is asked to give the answer in the form of history, dialogue or the description of a situation.

Method of answer on drawings - a projective method at which moderator shows to the respondent drawing and asks to tell the story describing this drawing.

Animation tests – animated characters get to the different situations related to the studied problem. Respondents are asked to think up the answer to comments of other characters.

Expressional methods – projective methods at which the respondent is offeredin an oral or visual form with a certain situation. Respondent has to define what people in this situation can feel.

Role-playing game – respondents ask to explain a manner of behavior of other person.

Method of the third party - projective methods at which the respondent is offered in an oral or visual form with a certain situation. Respondent has to define what the third party thinks in this situation.?

2019 Researсh Association