Qualitative Research Gives Insight

When clients conduct a costly and extensive qualitative research study, perhaps testing a particular concept on a nationwide level, they will sometimes look for ways to stretch their research dollar. They can�t use the information they�ve gained as if it were quantitative data, however, as tempting as this may be, even if they�ve conducted a large number of nationwide focus groups with a large number of participants. You can�t treat the participants as if they responded to a survey.

Although it�s easy to just think that research is research, it is important to remember that each qualitative market research methodology employed, such as focus groups, is not conducted in the same manner 100 percent of the time. From group to group, many internal and external factors can impact the insights gained, making it impossible to replicate the group. The order of questions could have been changed. How the questions were asked could have varied. Some questions may have been asked in one group and not another. Who is in the group and how the group dynamics formed can impact the flow of the focus group. With quantitative research, on the other hand, the survey questions stay exactly the same and the data is designed to be replicated, added together and compared.

Finally, participants in qualitative research are not randomly selected so they are not representative of the population as a whole. With quantitative research, every member of the population has an equal chance of being selected to participate, which means information gathered from the respondents can be projected accurately onto the population at large. But that is not so with qualitative research.

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