We get asked a lot of questions about our research projects, especially when it comes to qualitive methods of gaining insight. So we thought it’d be useful to pull together the top five most common queries, and provide answers, for anyone who wants to know more about qualitative research:
Why Use Qualitative Research?
In one word: depth. Quantitive research allows you to collect and analyse numerical data, and is a great way to provide overviews and averages. With qualitative research, there is a psychological element – you don’t just find out the whats, but also explore the whys. Using both methods together can be very powerful: quantitative research gives you the skeleton and qualitative provides the flesh.
How Many People Should You Interview?
There’s no need to talk to a large sample if you’ve undertaken robust quantitative research, as you will already have a properly weighted and balanced sample to give you a robust picture of your market. Well executed qualitative research can paint a very useful picture, from as small a sample as five people. If the interviewer is properly trained and fully briefed on the project aims, a huge amount of information can be collected from just a few depth interviews.
What If A Subject Doesn’t Say What We Want Them To?
It is best to go into the research with a hypothesis you want to test, however, rather than with an idea you’d like confirmed. A skillful interviewer will be able to bring up themes and topics and bring the conversation back round to them if it drifts. And, the very fact that the interviewee might deliberately be trying to avoid answering your questions could be interesting in itself.
What’s Best: A Focus Group Or Individual Depth Interviews?
It depends what you’re wanting to achieve, and what the topic is about. Focus groups are often useful if the topic is sensitive – people are more likely to open up in a group setting with others who are experiencing similar issues, so are often used when the project is related to health or mental wellbeing. Depth interviews are good for when you need to get deeper into a subject, finding out more information than a group setting would allow you to. Talking to an experienced qualitative researcher can help you decide which method to choose for your project.
Is Qualitative Research Expensive?
There’s no need for it to be. Interviews should be conducted by people with experience and interviewees can take effort to identify, and may need incentives – particularly if you are targeting CEOs or other hard to reach individuals. But it can be kept to a reasonable budget, especially now that so many focus groups can be run via video rather than in person. And it really is the icing on the cake when it comes to producing a robust white paper or report.