Qualitative research is an integral part of the market research process. A 2009 study by Anthony J. Onwuegbuzie and colleagues identifies four techniques available to those performing qualitative research. Everyone who makes use of focus groups to collect data should know these methods, as each is useful for different purposes.
Constant comparison analysis requires analysts to group data into small units, each with a unique descriptor or code. Researchers then put the codes into broader categories, finally drawing out themes that unite each member of these groups.
Classical content analysis uses a similar method, but instead of looking for unifying themes, the research counts the instances of each code. This obviously involves an element of quantitative analysis as well, but the authors encourage the use of a “rich description” for codes, which entails qualitative analysis. It can therefore be considered a “mixed” method of analysis.
Keywords-in-Context focuses not only on the words used by participants, but how they are used in conjunction with other words. This provides a far richer and more useful set of information about the meanings of words than would a method that considered only the use of keywords in isolation.
Discourse analysis looks beyond the surface meaning of words in order to place them in a social context. It recognizes that language is not just a neutral conveyor of information, but a social action as well, and that to understand verbal responses, an awareness of many social factors is necessary.
Clearly, it is a complex and time-consuming process to analyze focus groups. Reporting the results can take five times as long as it took to conduct the group. Any tool that could streamline and simplify the analyzing process, therefore, would be welcome by those seeking to turn raw focus group data into results.
Fortunately, the market research platform Discuss.io offers many ways to reduce the friction of the most tedious elements of such research. Discuss.io makes use of webcams and crowdsourcing to produce useful, accurate data almost instantly.
This inexpensive suite also includes, for no extra cost, an application called ClipMaker, which not only creates transcripts of focus group responses, but also uses hyperlinks in the text to let researchers quickly jump to the corresponding portion of the video record.
A free demo of the Discuss.io suite is available, and any organization using focus groups to gain insight into customers’ desires would benefit from adopting it.
Jim Longo is the VP of Research Solutions at Discuss.io, a consumer-connection platform for market research. He brings over 25 years of domain expertise in the market research industry. Jim is considered a thought leader with regards to online behavior and market research technology. He has consulted with brands and research agencies around the world on how to have insightful online conversations and was instrumental in building the first global online qualitative research practice at Harris Interactive (acquired by Nielsen). There, he led a team that conducted more than one thousand online groups in the first three years of its existence.