Monday, January 14, 2008

Qualitative research methods and emerging techniques

In marketing research, qualitative research has been highly utilized – with businesses struggling to convert data into information. We can see how picky and detailed consumers are in their preferences and behavior through various qualitative research methodologies.
The main stars of qualitative research methodologies are the standard focused group discussion (FGD) and focused interviews (FI). These methods are both fast and cost-effective; immediate, comprehensible and visible.

Gill Ereaut, a qualitative research expert, described the evolution and revolution of qualitative research. For Ereaut, at present FGDs and FIs are
no longer possible or sensible to represent a whole research philosophy with a single method. People are thinking radically about the kinds of qualitative services there could be. They are taking a wider view of what constitutes 'qualitative market research', bringing other data-collection and analysis processes under this heading. They are putting real expertise in place to deliver complementary approaches; and being brave and bold about these alternatives, their benefits, their organisation and pricing. It has meant suppliers and clients alike working outside their comfort zones and rethinking business models. (Ereaut, 2004)

For Ereaut, FGDs are not yet dead, because they remain to be the core methods in the qualitative inquiry. However at the other end,
clients have more need than ever to understand the texture, context and meaning of consumers' lives. And they are increasingly willing to use complex research methods with or without more sophisticated varieties of consumer groups to do this.

In order to describe client expectations, Ereaut presented the emerging marketing research methods, which are:
  • Using direct dialogue or facilitated interactive sessions to get closer to consumers. Thus, researchers help clients experience consumers' lives by proxy: immersion sessions, workshops and video-clip libraries increasingly replacing PowerPoint.

  • Behavioural data and psychological insight alongside socio-cultural analysis are utilized.

  • According to her,
    important 'new' methods of data collection and analysis semiotics and ethnography are looking increasingly mainstream and essential. They are no longer 'fancy stuff', but sit alongside face-to-face interviewing.

    These trends show that qualitative research methods are alive and evolving. Researchers facilitate new methods to further substantiate clients' needs and get to know the consumers better.

    Evolution and revolution in qualitative research
    Gill Ereaut, Admap, October 2004, Issue 454, pp.146

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