4 Benefits of Using Transcripts in Qualitative Market Research

Market research data for analysis can be divided into two categories: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative data refers to numerical data. Think of it as information that deals with quantities and can be recorded with numbers. Your shoe size for example is quantitative. If you are a size 10, you are a size 10 and only a size 10. That size is measurable and is recorded with a number.

Qualitative research is more exploratory and is used to gain knowledge about motivations, options, and experiences. Qualitative data is collected by using open-ended questions, allowing the participant to openly share with very little restriction to the responses.

A simple example of a qualitative research question could be a basic question like this: “How do you feel today?” This simple question could yield endless possibilities of responses, from a one-word answer to a longer response describing their day thus far. This is much different than a closed-ended quantitative responses where you may offer answer choices like a 1 to 5 scale with “1” being very poor and “5” being very good.

However, trying to record those open-ended responses through formal market research can become an issue. It is much easier to garner insights from a list of people rating a scale from 1 to 5 than it is to gather insights from lengthy open-ended discussions.

Imagine having a conversation with a friend and attempting to write down the entire conversation, word-for-word, and in real time. I couldn’t do it, could you? As you can see from the example above, qualitative research can yield longer and more detailed responses. For this reason, transcripts of IDIs (in-depth-interviews) or focus groups can be beneficial in market research data collection and analysis.

4 Benefits of Using Transcripts in Qualitative Market Research

Thinking whether or not to order transcripts for your qualitative market research project? Believe me. Do it and you'll thank yourself.

What is a Transcript in Qualitative Market Research?

First, let’s define a transcript. A transcript is a written or printed version of a communication. The communication could be a focus group, speech, presentation, or even an online chat. With one-to-one interviews and focus groups, a transcript is a written representation of the discussion that ensued between the interviewer and individual, or the interviewer and group.

There are numerous companies that provide transcribing services including staff at our market research company. These companies typically charge per minute and the price will increase as the turnaround time decreases or the number of speakers increases. It is most important to choose a reputable company that is known for accuracy of the transcription and reliable turnaround time.

Benefit 1: Increase Ability to Actively Listen to Participants

Focus groups can last up to 2 hours and IDIs can last up to an hour. Can you imagine if the facilitator was concentrating on scrambling to write down every word for an hour or two? Do you think the interviewer would be able to actively listen to the participant’s responses? Focus on effectively managing the interview? Or, pay attention to non-verbal cues? Of course not.

A professional interviewer may take notes during a focus group or an IDI, but their notes will not be every single word from the entire interaction. The interviewer will typically jot down highlights or key takeaways, including important comments, behaviors, or interactions they deem valuable and important for the market research project. However, they are more focused on being present with the participants and actively listening to what they have to share. Knowing a transcript will be available allows the facilitator to be at ease and devote their full attention to the participants.

In order for participants to feel comfortable and answer openly with honesty, they need to feel a connection with the interviewer. If the interviewer was constantly looking down, writing profusely, and not making eye contact, how valued would the participant feel? Not very and it would negatively impact the data collection process.

Benefit 2: Easier Discovery of Patterns and Common Themes

Transcripts provide verbatim documentation of the interview or discussion, meaning they reflect the exact wording of the interview without leaving anything out. Due to the fact qualitative research provides detailed and varying responses, having a transcript of the interview or discussion will allow the researcher to examine the responses thoroughly after the interview or focus group has been completed.

Often times there are a wide variety of responses from the same question. In order to efficiently analyze the wide range of data, the researcher will use his or her professional expertise and identify patterns and common themes. A written transcript allows the researcher to “search” for keywords or phrases within the transcript. This feature allows these search words and phrases to be highlighted in the transcript, making it easier to uncover the patterns and common themes.

Identifying patterns and common themes is a critical component for valuable qualitative research analysis.

Benefit 3: Quickens the Speed and Accuracy of Reporting

Most market research projects come with a deadline. I have yet to come across a project that the deadline is left open for interpretation. Even long-term case studies have a start and end date. Transcripts can quicken the speed of reporting to the client.

If a presentation of the data analysis is part of the report, it is much easier to copy and paste from a transcript into a PowerPoint slide than listen to hours of recordings listening for the information needed for the presentation.

If 8 focus groups have been conducted over 2 weeks, it would be difficult to remember every key piece of information that needed to be reported later. Using transcripts to re-visit the discussions is much more time-efficient than listening to all 8 focus group recording again.
It is important that transcriptions are accurate. Qualitative research focuses heavily on detailed responses. Having a transcript of those detailed responses provides more accurate data for analysis, and ultimately a more accurate report for delivery to the company.

The longer it takes for the market research company to report the findings and recommendations, the more time and money the company is losing by not implementing the necessary changes. Inaccuracy of data reported can also represent a loss for the company. Transcripts can help to provide accurate and timely reports.

Benefit 4: Provides Additional Value-Added Deliverable

Detailed reports are provided at the completion of the market research project, and sometimes a presentation is given to demonstrate the findings of the research. The assumptions and interpretations in qualitative research are critical. The best market research firms step outside of the spoken word to tie findings together and interpret key insights.

However, transcripts can be provided to the client from the market research company as an added bonus. Some of our clients like the additional detail and prefer to go to the specifics on each conversation to make their own assumptions. We find these transcripts particularly helpful in the manufacturing, industrial, and engineering space where the level of the discussion gets extremely specific with a lot of terminology. Having the detailed transcripts as part of the final deliverable is arguably one of the most valuable pieces for these types of clients.

In Summary

As this article demonstrates, transcripts are an invaluable tool for market research analysts. Qualitative research requires in-depth and detailed responses from the participants of focus groups or IDIs. It is much different from number-driven quantitative research. Using transcripts for qualitative research enables the interviewer to actively listen and be present with the participants, helps to identify patterns and common themes, quickens the speed and accuracy of reporting, and provides an extra deliverable for the client.

Both types of research are important and the different data yielded will provide a deeper understanding of your target audience’s wants, needs, desires, and preferences about a product or service.

Contact Our Qualitative Market Research Company

If you are unsure if your project should be a quantitative or qualitative approach, reach out to us. Drive Research is ready to assist you with that decision. Contact our market research company 1 of 4 ways below. Or if you are really ambitious, try us on all 4!

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