If you’ve been working in market research for a while you are probably not going to find this blog post as helpful as someone that is looking for their first big break into the industry! So, this is for all you graduate market research newbies out there, who are trying to pick through and understand the industry’s jargon laden job descriptions to see whether you actually have aspirations to be a proper ‘qualie’ (qualitative market researcher)…
But before we get down to the nitty gritty, what you might already know or not know, is that qualitative market research has been evolving very fast over recent years. The main research techniques used to be traditional focus groups and formal interviews, but since technology has taken over, that’s all changed. We will explore our top ‘HOT’ new methods and terms in qual market research that you will need to know before being really able to go further in your job search as a newbie to this industry.
Let’s start from tried and tested and the ones you are already familiar with …
Focus Groups – The focus group method is the most common qualitative approach. Conventional group formats comprise a number of respondents (usually eight) convened for a guided discussion for up to two hours. The group format is not set in stone, and may range from smaller sessions, split sessions, re-convened sessions, extended workshops and client immersion sessions. The group format is often viewed as ‘staid’ in the qual world in light of new qual methods and technology available. In truth, the focus group method is and always has been only as good as the researchers undertaking the project! Many of our agency clients (even the most innovative out there!) believe that focus groups remain an important tool for garnering ideas about products, services, packaging, or concepts. They deliver direct access to clients’ target audience.
Online Focus Groups – Real-time discussions with 6 to 8 participants using purpose build chat application. Great for concept tests and ad evaluations. Quick, cheap and easy to combine with offline methods.
Vox pops – can be conducted in all sorts of places, such as: in-store, hall tests, on the street, sport centres, shopping malls, bars, pubs, airports, train stations, etc. and are essentially spontaneous interviews great for capturing a snapshop of public opinion on any topic or location. Typically, a researcher will spend a day interviewing to represent one location (much like a Hall day) & often they will compile what has been said into a short film clip and present it in a way that answers the client’s research objectives. Vox pops have proven popular as introductory pieces at client gatherings or events, or as a supplement to more pinpointed and intensive fieldwork, such as focus groups and depth interviews.
Immersion Sessions – These sessions allow companies to remain ‘close’ to their customers and create a unique forum for learning and consumer-focused inspiration. They give clients the chance to come together over a common concern – their customers – and generate ideas, refine briefs, challenge preconceptions and understand consumer language. Immersion work involves the researcher spending extended time with an individual respondent; this approach results in detailed and panoramic studies of people’S lifestyles. Typically, immersion work involves a number of stages, with extended periods of filming. This method is truly open-ended, allowing the respondent to take the lead and reveal ‘my world’.
Behavioural Economics – provides businesses with a powerful foundation for thinking about how and why customers behave as they do. This foundation allows companies to look at consumer choice and also to understand many of the seemingly irrational behaviours in everyday life. An understanding of conscious and unconscious behavioural influences can create a powerful architecture for brand building and positioning. BE provides a great way to pinpoint a brand or category’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and has implications for the way the companies think about brands or categories.
Ethnography – Ethnographic films offer a new approach to qual research. They reveal things which language alone cannot capture, observing what people really do, rather than just relying on what they say they do. They focus on environments, behaviours, attitudes and lifestyles, disclosing new insights that subjects may not be capable of articulating, or indeed even be conscious of. Apart from the fact that it produces engaging and highly accessible footage, ethnographic film has established itself as a legitimate tool for analysis. It is particularly useful for fleshing out what makes the respondent ‘tick’ and explaining why they hold the views that they do. It can be used as a standalone methodology or as an extension of one or more of our other techniques.
Online Communities or Panels – A way of bringing consumers from disparate areas into a single digital space for a conversation. Not only do they provide clients with a fantastic ongoing resource of insight generation but the multi-media platform enables both clients and end-users to engage in research in a more inspiring way. They serve a variety of purposes from understanding decision-making processes to co-creation exercises. The company uses an online portal to share questions and challenges with a pre-selected ‘community’ or ‘panel’ of consumers. Online software allows a client (brand or agency) to control how they share & manage output and feedback.
Co-Creation – involves a discussion between a company and their customers. The company and the customer work together to create a product or service which fulfills the goals of both parties. Brand and innovation teams may invite a selection of consumers or users to partake in an innovation. The approach provides ‘live’ insight to guide ideas and thinking. One of the key benefits of co-creation is the personalisation of experience for consumers, and the potential for on-going loyalty and thus long-term revenue for the business. Co-creation often results in products which are customisable for individual groups of customers.
So much is new in the world of qualitative market research jobs at the moment! It’s a broad area and you need to be intelligent, keen and prepared for it to be fast paced and exciting. So, if you do think that this might be the right choice of career for you, please get in touch with us here at Research Talent Hub.
In Part 2 we’ll talk about Data Visualisation, Vlogging, Online Bulletin Boards, Cultural Insight, On-site Intercepts, Semiotics, Shop-a-longs etc…
For more experienced qualies we’ve just taken new briefs for Qual Research Executive, Qualitative Research Manager, Associate Director and Research Director. Get in touch to find out more about these market research jobs! We LOVE Qual!
Have a great weekend!