Why Online Qualitative Research?

Thanks for the pic, Paul Albertella
Thanks for the pic, Paul Albertella

Market research covers a vast array of methods. The most basic division is between numerical and interpersonal approaches: qualitative research gauges personal opinions while quantitative research covers mass consumer habits. There are numerous distinctions within each segment as well, both in theory and practice. Quant/qual research, for instance, combines the approaches of both types to gather and analyze interpersonal data from larger groups.

Contemporary Market Research

New innovations are hitting the economy at perpetually faster and faster rates, changing how customers relate to brands and each other. Research, in turn, is changing to reflect these new market circumstances. Quantitative research has been at the forefront of 21st century market research techniques, and for good reason. The internet hosts an ever-increasing pool of data, and  numerical evaluations of large-scale customer pools is standard for all modern retailers, online and off. Social media even leverages the practice to offer user interactivity and feedback via likes, shares, or comments. Market research is more thorough than a simple tally, of course, but such counters are basic building blocks of where analysis starts.

Qualitative Research

Qualitative market research includes written feedback, ala social media, but much of it requires real time conversations. Emotive feedback can be valuable as spoken sentiments, if not more so. Until recently, methods using focus groups and interviews require a shared space for discourse. New technology, however, enables real-time video streams with the same detail as observed by the human eye. There are a few reasons why live discourse is crucial.

  • Accuracy – Researchers can better observe the participant’s answers, closing communication gaps.
  • Reaction – Qualitative research includes non-verbal communication, particularly initial reactions to product or content
  • Opportunity – Real time discourse enables researchers and participants alike to explore tangents or other thoughts

Online Qualitative Research: A Viable Alternative to Traditional Methods

With online qualitative options now a viable alternative, many researchers are questioning the place of traditional methods. The satisfaction of truly present dialogue is hard to replace, but the traditional approach also includes some major weaknesses.

  • Costs – Often requiring travel, facility rentals, and temp hires, traditional qualitative research can become expensive in a hurry.
  • Time requirements Traditional qualitative research’s emphasis on travel and logistics also entail major time requirements, and months of preparation and follow through is not unheard of  
  • Logistics Organizing studies requires keeping in contact with dozens of parties, a major time burden better spent on actual research
  • Variety – Traditional qualitative studies may include regional voices, but incessant travel and other requirements make deliverables take all the longer

Online marketing research bypasses these challenges, vastly reducing the time-frame of overall deliverables. In short, what once took months can now happen in little as 48 hours. Researchers can divert far more time and attention to actual research, as well process more participants on a day-by-day basis.

Faster Turnarounds: A Modern Day Necessity  

User expectations are adjusting with the internet’s growing predominance. Content and products are releasing faster as a result, and are typically spurred by user-generated content. Data analysis in qualitative research, meanwhile, can require months-long time frames. Once the initiators of customer interest, businesses are now adjusting output to better leverage trends and memes that originate from random quadrants of the connected world. Asserting relevance in customers’ everyday lives demands continuously faster and faster uptake, as well joining larger narratives about subject areas they care about.

While informative, traditional qualitative research is hard-pressed to catch up with current output. Much like development and quantitative research before it, qualitative methods must start leveraging new technology to better integrate with customers and clients alike. Doing so not only enables researchers to better inform development, but also deliver far more timely data. Customer opinions and concerns are in perpetual flux. The more timely the qualitative research analysis, the better development can conceptualize and execute projects.

Veracity: A Universal Hallmark        

Quality insight is the eventual goal of any qualitative research, be it online or off. There are a range of different ways to ensure that data is correct, relevant, and up-to-date. Vetting respondents after their initial screening, for example, ensures respondents are who they claim. Similarly, researchers can analyze and review answers to decrease the chances of any misunderstandings.

While such steps are certainly proactive, the biggest question facing qualitative research is the veracity of online interviews. Many researchers are adopting the format, dramatically increasing their overall reach while also significantly reducing costs. Advocates for traditional, in-person sessions, however, claim that actual presence is critical for maximizing rapport and observation. While webcams may lack the free-roaming observation of the human eye, they do offer qualitative research some unique strengths.

  • Faster Analysis – Streaming AV enables researchers to pile on live footage, exchange notes, and do so from wherever there is  an internet connection
  • Consistent Perspective – Set webcams allows groups of researchers to interact with respondents from the same viewpoint, enabling more productive assessments of answers
  • Enhanced Detail – Webcams are typically no more than two feet from the respondent’s face, while in-person interviews are a table’s length apart at the very least. Such detail enables researchers to precisely gauge expression.  
  • Automated Capability –. Automatic subtitles and transcriptions enable researchers to quickly converse with respondents speaking entirely different languages

While different, online qualitative marketing research offers the same veracity as traditional methods. Further, researchers can additionally require that participants place the webcam a few additional feet further to better view body language. Such maneuverability is impossible in traditional qualitative research, where interviewers typically sit in a static spot.

Easy Adaptation, Quick Results   

While dependant on the platform or service, implementing online qualitative methods is typically direct and easy. Initiating a research session is simple as a few mouse clicks, and most online qualitative research platforms value navigability and user-friendliness. Similarly, data analysis in qualitative research traditionally requires time to process via an assortment of software programs and recording equipment. Online, qualitative research data analysis is vastly simpler. Project leads can bypasses old requirements altogether, ensuring minimal fuss when packaging results. Check out our demo page to lean more about how transitioning online brings better insight in less time.