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An introduction to qualitative research

Market research is collection, analysis and dissemination of data related to a particular target market. It helps management in having a good understanding of problems and opportunities in market and taking important decisions for expanding their business scope. Market research has now become an integral part of every small and big organization.

Organizations either conduct market research on their own or outsource it to a marketing research agency so that they can concentrate on their core competencies. Market research agencies are expert in conducting market research and providing quality services to their clients. These agencies generally have highly experienced enthusiastic and expert professionals for carrying out the research.

Market Researchers use different research techniques for collecting the required data. The research can be quantitative or qualitative. Quantitative research includes statistical analysis that is conducted using methods like: CATI data collection, online data collection, product placements, sensory tests, store audits and many more. On the other hand, in qualitative research, data is obtained through a group of respondents. It gives an understanding of human behavior and the reason for such behavior. There are no fixed questions in qualitative research and the questions asked by the interviewers generally depend on respondent’s thoughts and feelings.

There are various ways of collecting data in qualitative research. One of the popular techniques is to study the behavior of a small group by asking certain questions from them. Qualitative research is also done through in-depth interviews. These interviews can be face to face or telephonic. Now we will discuss about some popular methodologies of qualitative research in detail:

Focus group discussions: It is a form of qualitative research in which a group of people (generally 8-12 respondents) are asked to provide their feedback or perception on a particular product or plan. It lasts for around one or two hours and is recorded in a video or DVD. It is an unstructured discussion in which respondents are free to share their ideas. It is a very effective way of gathering invaluable information about the acceptance of a product in market.

In-depth interviews (F2F/telephonic, One'o'Ones/diads/triad): It is one of the most popular methods of conducting qualitative research. In this method, researchers take interview of respondents on different themes and topics. These interviews can be face to face or telephonic. In One'o'Ones, a single respondent is interviewed for around 40-45 minutes; in diads, two respondents are interviewed together and in traid, the interview is conducted with three respondents.

Direct observations and Ethnography studies: Direct observation is also a popular qualitative research technique. In this technique, researchers get a good grasp of customer’s mind by observing them in their natural environment. Ethnographic Research means studying a culture by collecting the required data. It is also referred as “ethnomethodology” or "methodology of the people".