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Describing the role of qualitative research

by Mika Savva, Head of Qualitative and Business Development

The brain is undoubtedly the most complicated organ of the human body. While scientists and researchers have conducted countless experiments, since the early onset of science, they have still not managed to replicate it, or even understand exactly how it works.


Pulse Posts JAN24 09
So, how can marketers make safe predictions on how their audiences will react towards a new product, service, logo, package, distribution channel or communication message? How can they design it better, so that it meets or even exceeds target audiences’ needs and expectations? Or how can they understand why their current product or service, or logo or advertising campaign has not yet reached its optimum potential?

Quantitative market research can be very useful for answering questions like how the audience feels about the market oDering (brand image), to what extent has it reached its marketing goals in terms of awareness, trial, adoption or who is more likely to purchase it, but it has its limits. It cannot shine enough light to the underlying motivation (root cause) of the consumer’s attitudes and behavior we see and measure on the outside.

This is where qualitative research comes in: It will use its more subtle or ‘soft’ tools skillfully to investigate and explore into the human brain, to give answers to the ‘why’ behind each attitude, perception or behavior we have observed or measured.

When is qualitative research useful or necessary?
Is qualitative research always necessary when conducting research? The answer is NO. Or rather, it depends on the research goals and objectives. If the goal is to track brand performance or validate outcomes based on specific metrics, reveal patterns, profiles, make comparisons against competition and then use the statistical data outcomes to make accurate predictions or draw reliable conclusions about the entire population of interest, then quantitative research is more appropriate, not qualitative.
If however, the main purpose of the research is any of the below, then qualitative research is much more useful:

  1. Design or test a new product/service/idea.
  2. Understand why a current product/service/idea is not performing as expected within target audience.
  3. Explore the (unmet) needs/ habits/perceptions of a new (or understand better the currently serving) target market/audience.
  4. Create or test new advertising/ communication content.

Qualitative Research uses its ‘soft’ tools skillfully to investigate and explore into the labyrinth of the human brain, in its quest for the ‘why’ behind each attitude, perception or behavior.

For further information please feel free to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.