A Simple Guide to Qualitative Market Research

Feb. 26, 2024

A Simple Guide to Qualitative Market Research

Consider a shopkeeper saying!

One day I got up and went to the strangers in the area where my shop is located. In my hands, I had a product that I wanted to introduce in my shop. After interacting with enough people, I learned that many people out there are aware of this product and consume it as well. So, it gave me the confidence to introduce the product in my shop, and it worked well. 

It's a very simplified example of what market research is. By definition, it is gathering, analyzing and interpreting data about a market, including its consumers and competitors. In today's business landscape, it is the pillar that allows you to extend the edges of your business and supports its growth as well.

However, the question is how? There is not one but many ways that it contributes to the success of your business. It can help you identify and gauge the new opportunities before your competitors. 

Moreover, it primarily helps a lot in making well-informed decisions at every step of your business. Ultimately, you not only take your business towards success but also become able to secure your business from potential pitfalls. So, you grow your business and expand it while not shaking hands with any business failure. 

But within this important business tool, there are two types. So, utilizing it in your business also depends on how well you know its types. 

In today's blog, we will introduce you to one of its types called qualitative market research. So, catch a cup of coffee and get ready to learn about it with this simple guide. 

What is Qualitative Market Research?

It refers to researching why and how in a business. In simple terms, it is the research of factors that play a crucial role in a customer's decision-making. As its name suggests, it undertakes the qualities of a consumer, like their motivation behind buying a product or behaviour while taking a service. 

Here's what you'll get if you compare it with quantitative research. Quantitative research is always about the numbers. For example, it can be the sales of a particular area. On the other hand, it is about finding how sales are generated in the area. 

So, to find this answer, questions like what motivates you to choose this product or why you chose this service are asked. Hence, unlike its other type, it gives a comprehensive look at what's happening. In other words, it gives you a detailed analysis of the subject. 

Additionally, the ways that qualitative market research data is collected through digital surveys, face-to-face and telephonic interviews, focus groups Etc. We will understand these ways of gathering data in detail in the next section of this blog. But first, let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of this type of research. 


● Detailed in Nature 

One of the most talked about advantages of qualitative market research. This type of research is very detailed. The reason is its nature of gauging deep into details. It does so by allowing the researcher to ask open-ended questions to which the respondent can answer freely. 

For example, if you ask a respondent why you chose this product, then he/she isn't bound to answer from a few listed options. The response can be well-detailed. The respondent can not only add their opinion but also their feelings.

Also, it allows the researcher to ask follow-up questions that popped into his/her mind during the interaction with the participants. 

● Flexibility

The best thing about this type of research is its flexibility. This means that switching between strategies for collecting data is easier in this research type. But why is it important? It is because the researcher is ultimately interacting with a human. So, there can be possibilities of biases in a particular type of research method. So, if any such biases in a setup like the focus group are found, the research can be easily shifted to any other setup like a one-on-one interview. 

● Customer Retention

While you can look at the customer churn rate with quantitative research, qualitative research can be your helping hand in retaining them. The quality of this research to identify what's happening allows you to understand the reasons behind the customer churn. So, you can take relevant actions like change in the product or service, or their delivery or in your customer service etc., to come back on track. 


● Expensive in Terms of Time 

The detail of this research type itself makes it a time-consuming process. This research type can take anywhere from one week to months to give you insights. The reason is the data processing. It's someone's behaviour, not numbers which you can put in an algorithm and extract the insights. Moreover, the problem is that if it takes longer, then the need for the insights may end. 

● Biases

As we discussed above, there can be biases in this research practice. However, not only can the participants result in biases, but the researcher may also contribute to biases sometimes. For instance, if there is an existing conclusion, it may restrict the researcher from going in other directions. So, the researcher will follow the existing conclusion. It is popularly known as the Halo effect.

● Sample Size and Accuracy

The sample size of such research is small if compared to another research type. Now, earlier we learnt the advantage of it there's a disadvantage as well. Even if the sample size is small, it is considered the view of the whole target audience. So, if there is research based on a sample size of 50 individual interviews, it may not be enough to decide for an audience in lakhs, right? So that is why the accuracy of this research type is often questionable. 

Read Also- Types of Market Research Surveys

Methods and Approaches to Capture Research Data

1. Digital Surveys

A digital survey is among the simplest ways to gather data for qualitative market research type. It includes a questionnaire sent to the respondents on a digital platform. The respondents are first filtered based on age, location, preferences, etc. 

After that, the main questions are shown, and responses are gathered. From understanding customers' behaviours to identifying potential gaps in the market, these surveys help a lot. 

Digital surveys usually contain questions in MCQ format. For example, "Have you ever used this product?". The answer to this question can be given with YES or NO.

2. Telephonic Interviews (CATI)

CATI stands for computer-assisted telephonic interview. It is an updated version of a human-powered telephonic interview. It includes a script, an interviewer, and a computer system. Let's look at how these things work. The interviewer asks the question that is present in the script. Now, the participant responds to the question. Sounds simple, right? 

But there's more to know. A CATI system can input or store the data directly into the database that the interviewer types, which is in a structured format. So, unlike traditional telephonic interviews, many operations are directly eliminated with the help of CATI. For example, there is no need to transcribe the data or do any kind of coding. 

Moreover, another advantage of CATI is that it allows the interviewer to add up anything necessary. It's because the interviewer can directly engage with the respondent. So, if any response from the respondent creates space for a new question, the interviewer is free to ask it.  

3. Face to Face Interviews (CAPI)

CAPI stands for computer-assisted personal interview. Similar to CATI, it is also assisted by a computer that helps the interviewer to make the interview more valuable. However, unlike CATI, it takes place in a face-to-face interview setting. So, there can be an office where the participants are called for face-to-face interviews or some other place.  

The main difference between CAPI and CATI is mostly the interview length. When the length of the interview is longer, CAPI is preferred over CATI. However, CAPI and CATI are still considered incompatible for open-ended and detailed interviews. The reason is the hardware and software constraints. But, in that case, focus group discussion is used. 

4. Focus Group Discussion

As its name implies, it is a group with six to ten participants who are gathered for a discussion. The discussion is about the research topic, and the participants are allowed to express their views, suggestions, and feelings about the topic. One of the participants is entitled to the role of moderator. The moderator acts as a neutral person and ensures the active participation of all the members. 

Focus groups are best when you want the research to be relatively affordable. However, there are other benefits as well. For example, carefully selecting participants in the FGDs allows for meaningful and helpful insights with almost no space for foul entry. 

Moreover, the participants are also chosen from varying demographics. It allows for a discussion derived from people of different mindsets. Hence, the result will be diverse enough to make the research valid.

The factors necessary to consider while choosing the participants are age, location, social behaviour, and, most importantly, their relation with the research subject. It is one of the common needs in market research regardless of what method is being used. 

Lastly, the results of FGDs are very detailed. This is because the results are extracted from well-detailed responses. Another reason the result is always descriptive is that the focus group questionnaire always has space for follow-up questions. For example, if you ask participants what they think of the product, you can follow up with why you think that way. 


To sum up, research is important for all businesses to take necessary actions more informedly. According to Hinge, a firm can register 20% growth and 14% profitability with occasional market research. 
Moreover, the numbers can rise to 33.3% and 20% by doing the research more frequently, respectively. So, for growth that can make a difference, you should be involved in market research