Comparing the Advantages and Disadvantages of Qualitative Research Methods

When it comes to qualitative market research, there are a variety of methods Drive Research uses to collect data. No two research methods are created equal, which is why we heavily consider the pros and cons of each market research method with every unique project.

At Drive Research, there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” market research study. Each project is handcrafted by our qualitative and quantitative research team to best fit specific needs and accomplish the goals of our clients.

In this blog post, our full-service market research firm will explore the advantages and disadvantages of a number of qualitative market research methods. These include: focus groups, in-depth interviews, shop-alongs, and in-home usage testing.

comparing qualitative research methods | chat bubble with pie chart

There is no such thing as a "one size fits all" market research study. Understanding the pros and cons of different qualitative research studies can help decide what approach is best for the objectives and goals of your business.

Focus Groups

Advantages of Focus Groups

A focus group is a fun way to start a conversation and conduct research among a group of people. A group setting allows for the exchange of ideas, opinions, and viewpoints that might not be revealed through surveys or interviews, which helps researchers better understand the topic at hand.

While traditionally, these group discussions are held at a focus group facility, this form of qualitative research can be held online to expand the reach of the project and collect data from those who live around the world. Virtual focus groups are a great approach when trying to understand a population that is more difficult to find.

Focus groups are also highly cost-effective. Instead of collecting data from each individual in a one-on-one setting, information is collected from an entire group of people simultaneously.

Considering a focus group? Unsure if you should rent a focus group facility or conduct the group discussion online? We’ve compared the pros and cons of both traditional and online focus groups so you don’t have to.

Disadvantages of Focus Groups

More often than not, there is going to be a participant that dominates the group and another who cannot seem to get a word in. Although this is a commonality among focus groups, a well-trained moderator knows how to navigate these situations and allow each participant chances to share their opinions.

Often times, just one focus group alone is not representative of the population of interest. In order to have more generalized insights, multiple focus groups are recommended to capture the best results.

Our focus group company often recommends conducting at least two focus groups when choosing this qualitative research method. The second focus group is able to verify the findings from the first focus group, or offer an entirely new perspective on the study.

In-depth Interviews

Advantages of In-depth Interviews

A focus group setting is not for everyone, especially if a participant feels their opinion is not validated or does not feel comfortable speaking in a group setting. Since in-depth interviews or IDIs, are done in a one-on-one setting, participants are able to dive deeper into their thoughts and share more about how they feel than if they were in a focus group setting, allowing researchers to completely explore the topic.

In-depth interviews have the potential to gather high-quality data since researchers are able to ask more follow-up questions, probe, and circle-back to gather more data for important questions.

IDIs are flexible in terms of how they are conducted. Researchers are not limited to meeting participants at a market research firm, but can conduct their interviews at a local coffee shop, a restaurant, their home, or even via video chat or phone call. The opportunities are endless.

Disadvantages of In-depth Interviews

In-depth interviews can be time-consuming and costly, although technology can certainly help bring the cost down.

Focus groups reach an entire group of people in a short amount of time, as where in-depth interviews reach only one at a time, often lasting anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. However, if the correct participants are recruited for one-on-one interviews, the data collected will be extremely valuable.


Advantages of Shop-alongs

Why survey shoppers after a shopping trip when you can do it during? Shop-alongs are a more recent research method that allows a customer to take a moderator along with them on their shopping trip.

As shoppers navigate their way through the store, they’ll share their opinions and offer feedback in real-time, which allows moderators to capitalize on the recency effect. As compared to intercept or post-shopping surveys, where customers are more likely to forget or misremember their experience.

Disadvantages of Shop-alongs

There are very few disadvantages to an Accompanied Shopping Trip (AST). Participating in a shop along may cause the shopper to behave differently than normal, such as gravitating towards name brands and buying more than they usually do out of fear they are being judged.

However, a well-trained moderator will make a participant feel comfortable in order to minimize these effects. It is extremely important the participant feel most comfortable and in a natural shopping setting or the results of the shop along will be biased or misrepresented.

In-Home Usage Tests

Advantages of In Home-Usage Testing

In-Home Usage Testing, or IHUT, is a cost-effective way for a company to test its products. Participants are sent the product, where they then test it out in their everyday lives or in a natural environment, which is a great way to eliminate bias. After testing the product, the participants will typically complete a follow-up study such as an interview or survey.

An IHUT is an engaging research method, which often leads to the collection of high-quality data.

Disadvantages of In-Home Usage Testing

IHUTs have very few disadvantages because the research method is typically simple, interactive, and yields an excellent quality of data.

However, IHUTs are not always feasible. Sometimes the product is too expensive or too large to ship. Confidentiality and control are also difficult to keep tabs on with an IHUT. Although, there are ways around these issues such as non-disclosure agreements and product pick-up.

Contact Drive Research

With a seemingly endless list of market research methods, focus groups, in-depth interviews, shop-alongs, and in-home usage testing are just a few types of qualitative studies our market research firm can implement to answer your key business objectives.

Interested in learning more about our market research services? Reach out through any of the four ways below.

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Email us at [email protected]
Call us at 888-725-DATA
Text us at 315-303-2040

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