Qualitative research involves collecting participants’ experiences, perceptions, and behavior. This non-numerical data is analyzed to gain insight into why people make certain decisions. Many industries use qualitative data gathering and analysis such as retail, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, financial services, hospitality, media and entertainment, and transportation. Qualitative marketing research uses focus groups, in-depth interviews, and other methods to identify a phenomenon. Once the data is recorded, businesses can use interview transcription services to convert it into text format so that the information can be analyzed for decision making.
A 2020 Fuel Cycle survey identified the typical use cases for qualitative research as:
- New product concept analysis
- Attitude and usage studies
- Positioning and competitive analysis
- Product satisfaction research
- Advertising effectiveness
The report also noted that nearly 100% of market researchers said they collect qualitative data, with the popular methodologies being in-person focus groups and in-person individual interviews. They also used online discussion boards, online video interviews, and offline lifestyle immersion studies.
Best Practices for Conducting Qualitative Research
Qualitative research interviews focus on explaining, understanding and looking at opinions, behavior and experiences. Success with qualitative research depends on using the right methodology to collect and analyze the subjective data. Here seven best practices for conducting qualitative research:
- Have a clear goal: If are conducting qualitative market research, decide what you want to study, such as an existing, new or potential product/service, brand positioning, product pros and cons, perceptions about the company, opinions about a marketing campaign, and or other matters. With a clear goal, it will be easy to determine what the type of information you want to get.
- Determine the participants: Participant selection is crucial for successful qualitative research. Determine the characteristics your participants should have, for example, age, gender, income, religion, geographical region or marital status For marketing research, make a list of the characteristics your participants should have. These might include age, gender, income, geographical region and marital status. If you are conducting research to determine whether to expand a product line, ask existing customers about their needs.
- Prepare for conducting the interview: Have a thorough understanding of the developments in the field, how to conduct qualitative interviews, and what the focus and scope of the research questions should be. Ask open-ended questions that begin with words such as how, why, what, describe, tell me about…, or what do you think about. This will help you gain data that is narrative or explanatory in nature. If you are conducting a focus group, make sure the facilitator is very well prepared.
- Test your questions: Rehearse the interview first. Preparing an interview guide in advance and conducting a test interview will help you to explore language, question clarity, and aspects of active listening.
- Choose the right setting and technique: Conduct your interview in a setting where the respondent feels comfortable. Face-to-face interviewing in a location familiar to the person will drive relaxed interaction and enable you to assess non-verbal communication. A focus group supported by focus group transcription will allow you to collect in-depth insights through group interaction. Remote phone interviews are easy and quicker, but duration is generally restricted to 15-20 minutes.
- Build rapport with the interview participants: To get the most out of your qualitative research session, build rapport with the respondents. One effective approach would be to maintain an open attitude and explain why you are interested in their specific point of view. You can send the participants a brief summary of your research project in advance along with documents, videos, photos, etc. so that they can become more familiar with the subject matter and help them understand what to expect in the interview. If needed, deal with terms of confidentiality.
- Active listening: Good listening plays a key role in the interaction between a listener and a speaker. Be flexible, pay attention, and use active listening techniques. Talking less and making allowances for silences where the participant may be reflecting on what to say can help take the dialogue forward.
In recent years, qualitative research has gained new dimensions with the use of digital platforms that allow for real-time interaction using smartphones while participants are indoors or outdoors. Conducting qualitative research interviews on digital platforms come with advantages such as efficiency, speed, timeliness, cost effectiveness, and larger, better quality samples.
Record and Transcribe Qualitative Research Interviews
Recording and transcribing qualitative research interviews will ensure accurate information for feedback analysis. Researchers need to be familiar with the data recording equipment and how to use it properly. Verbatim transcription is the most common approach for documenting qualitative interviews. Doing transcription manually is a long and tedious process that can take from days to months. However, to identify analytical structures and find comparisons and differences between interviewees’ experiences, it is important to transcribe the interviews as soon as possible after completion. Outsourcing the task to a digital transcription service provider can ensure a timely, accurate word-for-word reproduction of the verbal data in the audio recording. Experts will capture pauses and other and other cues provided by the respondents, which may be important for the analysis. They will also check the quality of the transcription to ensure that there are no errors.