Qualitative Research for Beginners

Qualitative Research for Beginners

Qualitative Research - When to use Focus Groups. 

This Blog will take people on a journey from the basics through to the cutting edge of research, insight, foresight and futuresight

So this blog will tell you everything you need to know about focus groups and what I don't tell you you can always e-mail me about. So the most basic question I'm asked is what's the difference between qualitative research and focus groups. So qualitative research covers any kind of market research where you are having an open conversation unlike the 'pen and clipboard' stereotype of market research where you ask 10's or 100's of people the same question(s).

So why would you use this method? So quantitative research is the type which asks people a set number of questions and it aims to get answers back that you can rely on due to the numbers of people asked. So with this type of research you might ask people who they would vote for, which is their favourite butter, where is the best country to live in in the world outside of your own. Quantitative research relies on statistics, so that you can be sure of the answers, it's pre-occupied with understanding what or how many. 

Qualitative research is normally a conversation or a structured conversation. This might happen in a one to one setting or one to a couple or with six to eight people which is known as a focus groups. A focus group at it's most basic asks people why they do what they do and it is run by a 'moderator'. Now a moderator is a trained professional, typically with a psychology background who is trained to ensure that the focus group conversation flows naturally and that everyone has the opportunity to speak. The basic idea is obvious, but can be hard to achieve, which is that you listen to the views of everyone in the focus group, there are exceptions to this rule but for now that's a basic rule. 

So I'm often asked when to use one or the other and it's complicated because there are at least four different types of focus group but for now I'm going to give you some guidance from my experience. 

Basic focus groups are diagnostic

Questions like - why did I choose a certain mortgage? Why did I choose a certain bank? Why do I go to one supermarket over another? Why would I chose one fashion style over another? Why would I buy Coca-Cola instead of Red Bull? Why would I chose pwc or KPMG? (Accounting firms) 

So a focus group's basic task is to give people the opportunity to explain their behaviour. As a golden rule, the more complicated behaviour is, the more you should think about focus groups. So for example, choosing a mortgage is more complicated than choosing a brand of kitchen towel. While you can use qualitative research for both, it will help you deeply with a complex, financial question and it will help you with the kitchen towel question but the answers won't be as 'deep' or 'complex'. 

If you want to ask anything else about when to use what and why just mail me jake@jakepearce.com