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Qualitative research

 

Qualitative research is used to reveal motivation aspects of respondent behaviour, personal expectations, notions, values etc. Unlike quantitative research which is based on statistical procedures, qualitative research have an unstandardised character. It is aimed at studying a wide range of object's manifestations and do not track its quantitative regularities but rather are oriented at revealing causalities. Among other advantages, this methods allows free expression of respondents which helps reveal their inherent values and feelings, stimulates their creative potential.

Qualitative methods are most frequently used for the following tasks:

  • Studying brand/candidate image, its main regional and emotional components, the brand/candidate advantages and disadvantages
  • Revealing specific and typical consumer/voter behaviour models
  • Studying main incentives and barriers to brand consumption/voting for a candidate or party
  • Revealing unrealised needs of respondents regarding a market category
  • Testing promotion concepts and advertisement models (video clips, promotional leaflets, political party programmes etc.)
  • Testing new product concepts or creating a new product

1.1. QUALITATIVE RESEARCH METHODS

The SOCIS Centre uses the following qualitative research methods in its work:

A. Group methods: FOCUS GROUP DISCUSSIONS

B. Individual methods: DEEP INTERVIEWS

C. OBSERVATION

A. Group methods: FOCUS GROUP DISCUSSIONS (FGD)

These are the discussions of posed problems in a group comprised of 8 to 10 participants selected by certain criteria. Discussion is guided by group moderator who asks questions and sees to it that each participant can express their opinion freely without deviating from the discussion topic. It is moderator's responsibility to create conditions for unconstrained and interested communication among participants.

An average duration of a standard FGD is 2-2.5 hours.

Peer groups (mini groups).

This is a transitional form between individual and collective qualitative research methods. In essence, it is deep interviewing of 4 to 6 respondents which allows to obtain detailed information from each participant. This method is used when gathering a full FGD poses difficulties and when deep probing of respondent opinion is necessary.

Nominal groups.

These are used when it is necessary to neutralize group influence, i.e. The influence of majority opinion on the opinion of separate participants. They are used when the level of conflict among participants is significant enough to inhibit group discussion. In such groups, respondents answer questions one at a time. They are allowed to add up to others but are forbidden to interact directly.

Conflict groups.

These are formed of people with drastically antagonist views (e.g. Proponents and opponents of a presidential candidate, brand consumers and competing brand consumers etc.). Such collision of opposite opinions, in a situation where each participant tries to convert their opponent, often proves to be extremely productive, creating new ideas.

Creative groups.

Their difference from usual FGDs is that their main focus of attention is using various projective techniques aimed at stimulating respondents' creative potential. This causes a longer duration of this FDG (3-4 hours).

Brainstorming.

It is a variety of creative FGD. Brainstorming is used to generate ideas using a range of projective techniques aimed at activating respondents' creative thinking. During the FGD, ideas are first generated and then discussed, complemented, and developed.

Landing groups.

Usual FGDs which are conducted under real conditions closest to a usual life situation: office, shop, apartment, gym, restaurant etc.

Delphy groups.

These are used in order to obtain prognoses based on collective expert opinion. A list of experts is formed. The experts are then asked to voice their anticipations on the development of an event and to explain their opinions. The opinions of experts are then summed up and key prognoses are outlined. This resume is then passed over to all participants of the group and each of them is asked to give a new prognosis based on received information. These new prognoses serve as a basis for a second resume and so on, until there is no more change in individual prognoses. Research usually consists of 3 or 4 cycles like this.

B. Individual methods: DEEP INTERVIEWS

These comprise unstandardised interviews which are conducted as unconstrained conversations between a moderator and a respondent according to a specific scenario prepared in advanced. They are used in the following situations:

  • Specific respondent profiles that represent a rare category of people or cannot guarantee their presence during FGD at a specific time (e.g. business CEOs)
  • The topic of research includes intimate aspects or views that are too personal that can cause discomfort during a collective discussion (e.g. using means personal hygiene, alcoholism problems etc.)

The average deep interview duration is about 1-1.5 hours. Interviewing usually takes place “on respondent territory”, in the office, apartment etc.

Standard deep interviews are taken with respondents selected by certain criteria who are typical representatives of a target audience (e.g. product consumers, supporters/opponents of a presidential candidate etc.)

Expert deep interviews are taken with people who are specialists on a topic, professionals in a field which is the object of research (e.g. Businessmen, government officials etc.).

C. OBSERVATION

The main purpose of observation is the search for information which cannot be obtained by verbal means because people are not always inclined to express themselves openly or they often do not realize the motives of their behaviour themselves.

A kind of PARTICIPATORY OBSERVATION which is most frequently proposed by the SOCIS centre to its clients is ethnographic research. Its purpose is to use a situation when respondent is in the environment which is natural to them in order to reveal the concealed motives/feelings of the respondents. Participatory observation is realised in the form of direct contacts with the respondent and is usually supplemented with a deep interview.

Ethnographic research is conducted when it is necessary to:

  • Reveal the procedure and specifics of product use
  • Reveal customer habits, stable models of customer behaviour
  • Study respondent lifestyles, cultures, mentalities
  • Reveal deep needs and expectations of respondents that can be used in creating a new product and/or communication strategy

The procedure of participatory observation is most often realised in the form of common shopping, common product processing/commodity use, or direct observation of commodity use.

Besides, the SOCIS Centre often proposes to its clients the mystery shopper variety of participator observation. Such research is needed by companies that are concerned with the loyalty of their customers, interested in the monitoring of their work, the quality of services and commodities.

 

Capabilities of mystery shopper:

  • Controlling and measuring service quality
  • Informing employees of what is important when serving customers
  • Enabling positive relations, consumer feedback
  • Analysing competitors
  • Revealing necessity of additional employee training, an important instrument for training programmes / employee development programmes

In case of investigation of a significant number of observation points and the necessity for a statistical analysis of obtained data, mystery shopper is conducted as quantitative research.

 

1.2. TECHNICAL SUPPLY

Qualitative research is conducted in rooms specially equipped for the purpose. Client can observe discussion from another room thanks to two-side mirror and video communication.

The SOCIS Centre pays special attention to the selection of respondents for FGD participation or deep interviews. Recruiting is done be specially trained interviewers with many years of experience. Recruiting consists of 3 stages:

Stage 1. Search of respondents by recruiters based on strictly defined and detailed selection criteria.

Stage 2. A short interview with invited respondent in order to check their full matching with the selection criteria, as well as abilities for creativity and unconstrained communication. It is conducted by SOCIS supervisor 20 minutes before the FGD/deep interview.

Stage 3. “Feeling the pulse” of respondent by moderator at the stage of introduction and heating.

In case a respondent is found as lacking fit for such research, he or she is changed by another, more fitting respondent. For this purpose, a certain number (3 or 4 persons) of “extra” respondents are recruited.

The process of FGD/deep interview is video recorded (in some cases, audio recorded). Based on recordings, specially trained transcribers prepare the FGD/deep interview transcripts.

 

1.3. PROJECTIVE TECHNIQUES

Moderators of the SOCIS Centre use various PROJECTIVE TECHNIQUES in their work which allows to analyse perceptive processes not only on the conscious level but also on intuitive level of spontaneous reactions. Projective techniques enable diagnosing unrealized internal feelings of respondents.

Our moderators use the following projective techniques most often:

  • Verbal associations
  • Perception map
  • Unfinished phrases
  • Ranging
  • Role games
  • Semantic differential
  • Mind walk
  • Talk show
  • Time machine
  • Collage
  • Vault
  • Segmentation
  • Planet
  • Solar system
  • Shelf
  • Mapping
  • Authoritative people
  • Brand wheel
  • Analogy
  • Party/Family
  • Personification
  • Basis
  • Brand biography
  • Projective questions
  • Bubbles
  • Heart map

Technique choice depends on the purpose of research and, to an extent, on the specifics of respondent profiles.

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