Uses for Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is appropriate for questions that ask “how” or “why” rather than “how many” or “how much.” Typical qualitative studies may ask the following kinds of questions:

Market Landscaping: What does the current decision-making process look like?

Gap Analysis: What do people think of current products, and what are the unmet needs?

Positioning: Which product image(s) (i.e., the economic product vs. the powerful product) are likely to generate the most interest and why?

Branding: What kinds of emotions do particular colors or designs evoke in people, and which ones are more likely to motivate use of the product or service? Which taglines are effective in differentiating a product in a crowded market?

Message Development: Of all the things that could be said about a product or service, which are the most motivating and why? How should they be said, and in what order should they appear? How should the message be nuanced for different audiences?

Market Optimization: Who are the people using my product? Why don’t they use more of it? Why aren’t others using it? What opportunities am I missing?

Ethnographic Research: (In-office observations of actual patient visits and follow-up interviews at a later date) What really goes on when physicians and patients interact with each other? What are the barriers to product use and missed opportunities? What might be done differently in marketing efforts to maximize the use of new brands or grow existing brands?

Portfolio Optimization: How should overlapping products be positioned so that they don’t cannibalize each other?

Disaster Check: Now that I’ve designed my marketing materials, is there any way this decision could come back to haunt me?

Precursor to Quantitative Research:

What are the parameters and appropriate levels that should be used in a quantitative survey (especially useful when designing conjoint analysis)?

Who are the types are respondents that should be included in the survey?

Follow-Up to Quantitative Research:

Now that I know the best (or worst) choices, what makes them the best (or worst)?

Now that I know how the market is likely to react to various scenarios, how can I explain those results?

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