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market research

Research qualitative

Research is great. It provides structure and sometimes confirms a qualitative hypothesis so that we don’t drift the choppy waters of the market without a compass.

However, research has its limitations.

Be retrospective

Be aware of asking people what they might do. Hitting the mark on this one can be tricky. The respondent may dismiss the question with a flippant answer. The motivation for making your day with a correct answer is different to the motivation of getting a car purchase correct. Even intelligent questionnaires with hooks and loops have problems taming this one.

Try to create a situation that asks why someone has just done something. E.g. Why is that in your basket? – will provide more reliable data.

Even then by aware of answers that are too considered and off HPC.

The limitations and pitfalls of Focus groups

Typical example: A focus group consisting of teenage girls discussing a chocolate bar.

1. The artificial group scenario

Teenage girls tend not to buy chocolate bars in groups. At least, I have never seen a bunch of teenage girls bouncing the considered purchase off each other at the checkout.

2. The disruption of realistic attention

The engine for individuals within a focus group can corrupt insight. For example; each must feel they must contribute to the discussion or questionnaire, something, anything must be said in order to justify their existence at the table. Quality can therefore be suspect and often not the same when being in a buying situation.

3. Corruption of the pack

Peer pressure and group dynamic are additional to a buying circumstance or at least not the same. This can also corrupt data.

Keep it real

As a general rule, keep qualitative research as close as possible to an ambient similar to where the purchase or the thinking regarding the run up to a purchase is conducted.

Breaking ground with Values and Life Style research

Many years ago some great work was done in the USA regarding VALS (Values and Life Style) research. This involved being in homes and recording the views and considerations of people. The brief for the interviewer was to simply guide the conversation and never ask direct questions and the process would take repeated visits and hours per visit. Valuable data comes from listening to people on their terms and at their pace.

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