The Value of Qualitative Research

The Value of Qualitative Research

A winning strategy is based on more than numbers and statistics alone. For information that can’t be quantified, such as opinions or trends, marketers turn to qualitative research for answers.

Whether you’re marketing a product, service, or experience, the first step to success is putting together a killer strategy. And the first step to a well-developed strategy is research. Lots of it.

There are two main types of research: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative involves pulling numbers and statistics – what most people think of when they hear the term “research.” Qualitative research, on the other hand, is more abstract and consists of information that can’t be quantified, such as people’s opinions or observed trends.

For marketers, qualitative research can be just as valuable as, if not more valuable than, quantitative research. We’ll give you the breakdown of what types of qualitative research are available and how this information can be used to create a winning strategy that will give your company an edge over the competition.

Gain Unique Insights from Primary Research

Primary research involves communicating directly with people who can provide the insights you’re looking for. Some examples of this type of research include:

Interactions of this type can be extremely helpful, as they provide information directly from members of your target audience and/or key stakeholders in your industry. It’s important to remember to ask open-ended questions on any primary research initiatives to ensure you collect the most information possible from your subjects. Asking “Have you run into any challenges in this market?” might yield only a simple yes-or-no answer, whereas asking “What challenges have you encountered in this market?” will give you a more elaborate answer.

You should keep in mind, however, that most of the information gained from primary research is people’s personal viewpoints and opinions. As such, it is important to make sure that you don’t have one representative speaking for an entire population. For example, you can’t generalize how all CEOs in a given industry feel based on an interview with one CEO in that industry.

Fill in the Gaps with Secondary Research

If you don’t have the time to conduct adequate primary research to rule out personal bias (we can’t blame you there – it takes a lot of effort!), secondary research is available to give you a more holistic view of a population, market, or competitive landscape.

Secondary research is a review of primary research that was collected by an alternate party. Some examples include:

  • Industry reports
  • News articles
  • White papers
  • Case studies

Secondary research provides more of a “big picture” view that will help support or expand upon the information gleaned from primary research.

Focus on Your Audience, Competitors, and Industry

When developing a strategy, marketers compile research into three main categories: analysis of the target audience, analysis of competitors, and analysis of the industry of which the product/service is a part. Together, these pieces create a comprehensive view of the market a company is entering or in which they’re trying to stand out. Qualitative research is extremely beneficial in defining these categories.

The audience analysis, as the name suggests, provides insight into your target audience: What problem does your product/service solve for this group? Who would be most receptive to your product/service? Who are the decision makers and influencers? Answers to these questions will help you develop effective messaging tailored specifically to the prospective customers or clients you want to reach.

The competitive analysis examines your company/product/service’s major competitors. It is important to know how many other players exist, how similar these other companies are to your own, and if any one player is dominant in the market. (You can learn more about what goes into a competitive analysis here.)

Finally, the industry analysis alerts you to any major happenings within an industry as a whole that could have a positive or negative effect on your company. For example, what new national policies should your company be aware of? What technological advances could affect the effectiveness of your product? Looking at the industry as a whole will give your company time to react to any challenges or take advantage of new opportunities as they are presented.

Assemble a Game-Changing Strategy

After conducting both primary and secondary qualitative research and combining it with the quantitative research you’ve compiled, you will have a “bigger picture” view of all three pieces – audience, competition, and industry – and you’ll be better prepared to craft a winning strategy. Use the insights gained from your qualitative research to target the right groups with the right messages and the right mix of marketing tactics while avoiding potential pitfalls. A well-thought-out and well-researched marketing plan will almost certainly lead to greater success than one thrown together with no supporting evidence.

Ready to put research to work for you? Call FrogDog – we can help!

Image courtesy of smarnad/

Posted: Jun 01, 2015
Updated: Oct 09, 2019
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