Thursday, July 31, 2008

So, what do qualitative researchers do?

Let’s start with some context and an example.

Some context

People buy things. People sell things. How can people who sell things get more people to buy (more of) the things they’re selling?

An example

Just say we want to sell cupcakes. A good first step is to try to understand a few things about cupcake buyers, or potential cupcake buyers:

  • Why do people buy cupcakes? What need or desire do cupcakes fulfill?
  • When and where (and why then and there) do they buy cupcakes?
  • What is/who is involved in the cupcake decision making process?
  • What’s the best way to communicate with cupcake buyers/potential buyers?

These are the kind of questions that a qualitative researcher would ask. Our objective is to understand attitudes and behaviours around cupcake buying (and eating!).

This information will help us develop appealing cupcakes, based on buyers' needs and desires. It will help us develop relevant and appealing messages about our cupcakes. In effect, it will help us to sell more cupcakes.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tagging the moment

I've been playing with Shazam this weekend.
This kind of idea/technology can only mean wonderful and exiting things for market research. It's so incredibly engaging (and fun). It's precise documentation of the mood, in the moment. 

Monday, July 14, 2008

First, some (basic) definitions

Before I start talking about what qualitative researchers do, I thought it might be useful to cover some basic definitions. Specifically, what is qualitative research? How is it different to other kinds of research?

Very broadly speaking, there are two kinds of market research: quantitative and qualitative.

Quantitative market research is generally used to measure or quantify a given variable of interest, eg how big is a market, how many people hold a certain attitude or behave in a certain way, like a particular brand, bought product X, etc.

Qualitative market research, in comparison, is used to provide understanding. Here, the inquiry is focussed on why people hold certain attitudes, behave in a certain way, or like a particular brand or product over another, etc.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The mystery of qualitative research

I recently got in touch with a long lost, very dear friend of mine. We met at uni many years ago and he now works in IT. He’s extra-clever: one of those people that ‘gets’ things. And he’s just a really, really nice guy. Top that!

But I digress.

What’s extraordinary – why I’m blogging about this – is that when I told him that I was a market researcher, mostly undertaking qualitative market research projects, I saw not just a hint, but a great wave of confusion cross his face.

So I paused.

“And what exactly is it that you do?” he asked.

“You know, find out what people think about things: products, services, brands…you know. And try to work out how to talk to and with them in a meaningful way…”

Didn’t cut it. He didn’t know. And if someone that smart and quick to get stuff didn’t get it, it’s got to be my fumbling explanation.

So over the next week or so, I’m going to try to explain just what it is I (ie as a qualitative market researcher) do. I’m going to try to make it easy to understand for someone new to, or not in, our industry.

: o