Qualitative and Quantitative
Exploratory (Qualitative) Research Methods:
An exploratory research method, observation entails examining purchase and
consumption behaviors through personal means or the use of technology, such as
video camera or other tracking devices.
Observation can last for a very brief period of time (e.g., two hours watching teenagers
shop for clothing in the mall), or it may take days or weeks (e.g., researchers live with
families to observe their use of products).
Observational research can even be used to understand the difference among
consumers when they shop in retail stores.
Ethnography is an observational method that studies people in their daily lives and
activities in their homes, work, and communities.
It is often used when market researchers believe that potential respondents may be
unable to express in a useful way their experiences with a product or service. This
type of research yields insights and intimate details that respondents may not want to
reveal. It is increasingly being used by companies
Ethnographic studies require highly trained researchers.
They often use video cameras, audio recording devices, and diaries to keep detailed
records of their observations. Analysis of ethnographic data requires very experienced
and knowledgeable market researchers to make sense of hours of video tapes, audio
tapes, or a volume of notes from the researcher's diary.
• In-Depth Interview:
An in-depth interview is an exploratory research technique in which trained
researchers ask questions, listen to and record the answers, and then pose additional
questions to clarify or expand on a particular issue.
The results often provide insights that help managers better understand the nature of
their industry, as well as important trends and consumer preferences, which can be
invaluable for developing marketing strategies.
In-depth interviews have quite a few benefits. They can provide a historical context for
the phenomenon of interest, particularly when they include industry experts or
experienced consumers. They also can communicate how people really feel about a
product or service at the individual level, a level that rarely emerges from other
methods that use group discussions. Finally, marketers can use the results of in-depth
interviews to develop surveys. In-depth interviews, however, are relatively expensive and time-consuming. One
interview may cost $200 or more, depending on its length and the characteristics of
the people used in the sample. For instance, if the sample requires medical doctors,
the costs of getting interviews will be higher than intercepting teenagers at a mall.
• Focus Group:
In focus groups, a small group of persons (usually 8 to 12) comes together for an in-
depth discussion about a particular topic.
Using an unstructured method of inquiry, a trained moderator guides the conversation
on the basis of a predetermined general outline of the topics of interest.
Researchers usually record the interactions on videotape or audiotape so they can
carefully comb through the interviews later to catch any patterns of verbal or nonverbal
In particular, focus groups gather qualitative data about initial reactions to a new or
existing product or service, opinions about different competitive offerings, or reactions
to marketing stimuli, like a new ad campaign or point-of-purchase display materials
• Projective Technique
A projective technique is a type of qualitative research in which subjects are provided
a scenario and asked to express their thoughts and feelings about it.
• Social Media
Social media sites are a booming source of data for marketers.
Marketers believe that social media can provide valuable information that could aid
them in their marketing research and strategy endeavours.
These social media sites can provide insights into what consumers are saying about
the firm's own products or its competitor's products.
Companies are learning a lot about their customers' likes, dislikes, and preferences
not only by monitoring their past purchases, but also by monitoring their interactions
with social network sites such as Facebook. Customers appear keen to submit their
opinions about their own and friends' purchases and interests to polls and blogs.
Marketers are paying attention to online reviews about everything from restaurants to
running shoes to jeans.
These social media searches allow companies to learn about customers’ perceptions
and resolve customer complaints they may never had heard about through other
channels. • Which of these primary qualitative data collection techniques are used most frequently?
Generally, focus groups and in-depth interviews are used more frequently than personal
observations, especially ethnography.
• Deciding which technique to use depends on several important considerations, such as
the objective of the research, the cost to undertake the research, the time required to
undertake the research, how soon the results are needed, and whether the marketer has
the research expertise in-house or has to hire a market research firm to do the research,
especially with methods such as ethnography and projective techniques.