Market Research: Three Benefits of Qualitative Research

If you’re tasked with developing a new product for your target consumer, you may not be sure that the benefits of qualitative research outweigh the costs or time required to conduct the analysis. Studies show that the analysis is worth it because the more people feel connected to a product, the more they buy it. Uncovering this emotional connection between the product (or brand) and the consumer is one of the biggest benefits of qualitative research. Figuring out what that connection is, however, can be challenging.

Qualitative research methods are designed to assess the user experience. Specifically, how the user interacts with the product. Some methods include interviews, focus groups, ethnography (which is studying the person’s natural behavior in their own environment) to elaborate approaches such as interactive war games. How and what people feel is an intrinsic part of any experience and emotions are the largest driving factor behind everything people do.

Do you know what s/he wants from the product? How and when the product will be used? If answers to these questions aren’t clear, it’s time to think about conducting some market research. Not sure where to begin? Pair up with an expert to ensure that the co-creation effort for your market research study will help you realize all the benefits of qualitative research customized to address the unique attributes of your specific product. While the benefits of qualitative research are numerous, we’ll focus here on the top three.

Qualitative Research Answers the Questions “Why?” and “How?”

Qualitative research allows you to develop an understanding of the emotional connection driving a buyer’s behavior. This is a deeper understanding than what can be obtained through quantitative research alone. It allows you to ask “Why” and “How” rather than just what, when or how much. By understanding “the why”, you can understand how your audience feels about a product and then use those insights to inform both product development and marketing messaging.

Qualitative research establishes a foundation of deep insights that enables you to map out how your audience relates to certain situations, scenarios, concepts or products. Tapping into what motivates a particular behavior, specifically why someone has done, does or is planning to do something affords researchers with valuable clues into what the person needs and wants. This is one of the most compelling benefits of qualitative analysis. In contrast, numerical survey data, while helpful in their ability to predict the likelihood of an outcome, lack the context around what is driving the outcome. Moreover, you may not have asked the “right” question in a survey and be developing your product and marketing strategy in response to the “wrong” answer.

Flexibility Allows You to Probe Ideas Further to Get the Right Answers

Qualitative research essentially runs like an interview with an interactive series of questions and answers. A key benefit is that, unlike a survey which is fixed, changes in body language or tone in response to a question can prompt a series of tangential questions which probe on why the person reacted how they did. This real-time flexibility enables researchers to discover unexpected nuances on how customers may relate to a product and can result in dynamic mid-stream changes to a research plan.

Quantitative research offers static data points whereas qualitative research allows room to expect the unexpected and capture insights that you had not anticipated. The research can unfold more naturally as the customer and market researcher go back and forth digging in, together, to better understand why. Doing so provides the study with richer, contextual data that better informs product direction and messaging.

Quantitative Research Answer the Question “How Much?” and Complements Qualitative Research

Qualitative research helps to paint a fuller picture via a multi-dimensional and multi-sensorial experience through photographs, videos and direct use of the product. Analyzing numerical data to predict the likelihood of a consumer eliciting a certain behavior is good, but insights into why that behavior is predicted are even better. Numerical and emotional data are synergistic and can lead to realized efficiencies with respect to the number of resources needed to execute the market research.

Here, we’ve listed only three benefits of qualitative research, but there are many more. Additional benefits include: i) the opportunity for co-creation through direct engagement which can offer rich insights into product development; ii) a deeper connection with the consumer by allowing him or her to “experience” the brand or product and hence, foster greater potential for future loyalty to it; iii) real-time course correction which provides for cost-management and could save the study from additional rounds of recruitment which negatively impacts both budget and timelines.

The bottom line? If you don’t know if or why your customers will buy your product and how they plan to use it, consider investing in a qualitative research study.

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