Types of Qualitative Market Research to Improve Your Marketing Strategy

Qualitative market research can help you understand how your customers feel about your products or services. Learn about the different methods, such as focus groups, interviews, and observations, and how they can benefit your business

Table of Contents

What is Qualitative Market Research?

What is Qualitative Market Research

Qualitative market research is a methodical approach used by businesses to gather in-depth insights into consumer behavior, attitudes, and perceptions. Unlike quantitative research, which focuses on numerical data, qualitative research delves into the subjective experiences and perspectives of individuals. This is achieved through techniques such as interviews, focus groups, observations, and case studies.

The primary goal of qualitative market research is to uncover the underlying motivations, preferences, and decision-making processes of consumers. By exploring the “why” behind consumer actions, businesses can gain valuable insights that inform strategic marketing decisions, product development, and customer engagement strategies. Qualitative research also allows for the exploration of emerging trends, market dynamics, and cultural influences, providing businesses with a deeper understanding of their target audience and competitive landscape. Ultimately, qualitative and quantitative market research helps businesses stay agile, responsive, and customer-centric in an ever-evolving marketplace.

Qualitative vs Quantitative Market Research

Qualitative Market Research vs. Qualitative Market Research

Qualitative market research and quantitative market research are two complementary approaches that can be used to answer different types of research questions. Quantitative market research is a process of measuring and quantifying aspects of a market, such as size, share, growth, trends, and segments. It uses methods and techniques, such as surveys, experiments, and statistics, to collect and analyze numerical data, such as numbers, percentages, and ratings. Quantitative market research aims to answer questions like “how many people buy this product?” or “what is the market share of this brand?” or “what are the key factors that influence purchase decisions?”

It is useful for businesses that want to measure and monitor their performance and position in the market, and to test and validate hypotheses and assumptions. Quantitative market research can help businesses to:

– Estimate and forecast market size, demand, and potential

– Segment and target customers and markets based on demographic and behavioral characteristics

– Measure and compare customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention

– Test and optimize pricing, packaging, and promotion strategies

– Analyze and interpret data and trends using statistical tools and models

– Provide evidence and support for decision making and strategy formulation

The table below summarizes some of the key differences between qualitative and quantitative market research:

Qualitative Market Research

  • Exploratory and descriptive
  • Non-numerical data
  • Small sample size
  • In-depth and rich data
  • Flexible and adaptable
  • Subjective and interpretive
  • Inductive and creative

Quantitative Market Research

  • Confirmatory and explanatory
  • Numerical data
  • Large sample size
  • Broad and generalizable data
  • Structured and standardized
  • Objective and empirical
  • Deductive and analytical

12 Types of Qualitative Market Research

Types of Qualitative Market Research

There are many types of qualitative market research methods and techniques that can be used to collect and analyze data, depending on the research objectives, questions, and context. Some of the most common types of qualitative and quantitative market research are:

1. Action research

Action research entails collaboration between researchers and stakeholders to address real-world problems within a market context. By actively involving participants in problem-solving processes, action research generates practical insights and solutions that can lead to meaningful changes and improvements. This iterative approach allows for continuous reflection, adaptation, and action, fostering a dynamic and responsive market environment.

2. Biometric

Biometric research employs advanced technologies to measure physiological responses such as heart rate, eye movement, and skin conductance, providing valuable insights into consumers’ emotional reactions to marketing stimuli. By monitoring subconscious physiological reactions, biometric research offers a deeper understanding of consumer engagement, arousal, and preferences, which can inform the development of more effective marketing strategies and messaging.

3. Case based research

Case-based research involves the in-depth examination of individual cases or examples to uncover underlying patterns, trends, or insights relevant to the broader market context. By analyzing specific instances in detail, researchers can identify key factors, challenges, and success stories that contribute to a deeper understanding of market dynamics and consumer behaviors. Case-based research offers rich qualitative data that complements quantitative analysis, providing valuable context and nuance to market research findings.

4. Community Forum

Community forums serve as interactive platforms for engaging with a group of individuals within a specific market or community. Through discussions, feedback sessions, and idea exchanges, community forums facilitate the exploration of diverse perspectives, experiences, and opinions related to market trends, products, or services. By fostering collaboration and dialogue, community forums enable researchers to gather valuable insights, build rapport with participants, and co-create solutions tailored to the needs and preferences of the target audience.

5. Ethnography

Ethnography involves immersive observation and study of a particular culture or social group within its natural environment. By participating in daily activities, rituals, and interactions, ethnographers gain deep insights into the beliefs, values, and behaviors that shape consumer decision-making within a market context. Ethnographic research emphasizes cultural immersion, empathy, and contextuality, allowing researchers to uncover hidden motivations, rituals, and social dynamics that influence consumer behaviors and preferences. This holistic approach enables researchers to capture the complexities and nuances of market phenomena, providing valuable insights for designing culturally relevant marketing strategies and campaigns.

6. Focus group

Focus groups bring together a small group of participants to discuss and provide feedback on products, services, or marketing strategies, offering qualitative insights into consumer opinions and preferences. Through guided discussions and interactive sessions, focus groups facilitate in-depth exploration of consumer perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors, providing valuable feedback for market research and strategy development.

7. Grounded theory

Grounded theory involves developing theories or hypotheses based on empirical data collected through observation and analysis of market phenomena. By systematically analyzing qualitative data, researchers identify recurring themes, patterns, and relationships, which form the basis for generating new theoretical insights grounded in real-world observations and experiences.

8. Individual in-depth interviews

Individual in-depth interviews allow researchers to conduct detailed conversations with participants to explore their attitudes, perceptions, and experiences related to a particular market topic. Through open-ended questioning and probing, researchers delve deep into participants’ thoughts and emotions, uncovering nuanced insights and perspectives that may not emerge in group settings.

9. Market research survey

Qualitative Market research surveys gather structured data from a sample of participants to understand their opinions, preferences, and behaviors within a market context. By employing standardized questionnaires or interviews, surveys provide quantitative data that can be analyzed statistically to identify trends, correlations, and patterns within the target market.

10. One sentence

Utilizing a single sentence, this method captures concise insights or responses from participants regarding a specific market-related topic. This succinct approach allows researchers to quickly gather key information and opinions from participants, providing valuable qualitative data in a concise format.

11. Participant diary

Participant diaries involve individuals recording their experiences, thoughts, and behaviors related to a market topic over a specified period, offering longitudinal insights. By documenting daily activities, observations, and reflections, participants provide rich qualitative data that illuminates trends, changes, and evolving perspectives over time.

12. Structured observations

Structured observations involve systematic recording and analysis of behaviors, interactions, or events within a market setting to identify patterns and trends. By following predefined protocols and criteria, researchers observe and document observable behaviors and interactions, providing valuable insights into consumer behavior, preferences, and decision-making processes.

Advantages of Qualitative Market Research

Advantages of Qualitative Market Research

Qualitative market research has many advantages for businesses that want to gain deeper and richer insights into their customers and markets. Some of the advantages of qualitative marketing research are:

– It can collect detailed and nuanced information that quantitative market research cannot capture, such as emotions, motivations, and meanings.

– It can generate new and innovative ideas and concepts that can inspire and inform product development and innovation.

– Qualitative market research can adapt and adjust to the changing needs and expectations of the customers and the market, as it is flexible and responsive to the research context and situation.

– It can reduce customer churn and increase customer loyalty, as it can build trust and rapport with the customers and stakeholders, and show that their voices and feedback are valued and respected.

Challenges in Qualitative Market Research


Qualitative market research also has some challenges and limitations that need to be considered and addressed by the researchers and the businesses. Some of the challenges in qualitative marketing research are:

– It can be affected by bias and subjectivity, as the researchers and the participants may have their own perspectives, assumptions, and interpretations that can influence the data collection and analysis.

– It can be costly and time-consuming, as it requires a lot of resources and expertise to recruit, conduct, and analyze the data, especially if the sample size is large or the research scope is broad.

– Qualitative market research can be difficult to ensure confidentiality and feasibility, as the data may contain sensitive and personal information that needs to be protected and secured, and the research may face ethical and legal issues that need to be resolved and complied with.

– It can be hard to generalize and replicate, as the data may not be representative and reliable enough to apply and compare to other populations and settings, and the research may not be consistent and transparent enough to repeat and verify by other researchers.

10 Top Online Qualitative Market Research Companies 2024

10 Top Online Qualitative Research Companies 2024

1. Ossisto Technologies

A global business process outsourcing company that offers online qualitative research services such as focus groups, in-depth interviews, ethnography, and online communities. Ossisto Technologies helps clients across various industries to gain insights into their customers, markets, and competitors. Ossisto Technologies has a team of experienced and qualified researchers who use innovative tools and techniques to deliver high-quality results.

2. Kantar

A leading data, insights, and consulting company that provides online qualitative research solutions such as digital ethnography, online communities, video diaries, and social listening. Kantar helps clients understand people and inspire growth by combining human understanding with advanced analytics. Kantar has over 30,000 experts in more than 100 countries who work with clients across various sectors and domains.

3. Ipsos

A Qualitative market research Company and public opinion firm that offers online qualitative research methods such as online focus groups, online interviews, online bulletin boards, and online diaries. Ipsos helps clients make better decisions by providing them with reliable and relevant insights into the attitudes, behaviors, and motivations of their customers and stakeholders. Ipsos has over 16,000 employees in more than 80 countries who work with clients across various industries and markets.

4. Civicom Marketing Research Services

A company that delivers secure web rooms for online IDIs and focus groups, integrating proprietary global audio conferencing technology and ResTech solutions. Civicom Marketing Research Services helps clients conduct online qualitative research projects with ease and efficiency, using state-of-the-art technology and experienced moderators. Civicom Marketing Research Services has offices in the US, UK, France, and Singapore, and serves clients in over 96 countries.

5. Eleven Market Research, LLC

A qualitative market research company and data collection partner that offers quantitative project needs for consumer, B2B, and health care research objectives. Eleven Market Research, LLC helps clients achieve their research goals by providing them with access to a network of over 1.5 million panelists across 40 countries, as well as a range of online and offline data collection methods. Eleven Market Research, LLC has a team of dedicated and professional researchers who deliver quality data and insights.

6. Borderless Access

A company that offers digital-first products and specialized online research services, delivering validated, genuine customer insights using AI-ML technology and fraud detection methods. Borderless Access helps clients gain a deeper understanding of their customers and markets by providing them with access to niche and hard-to-reach audiences, as well as innovative research solutions such as online communities, mobile ethnography, and gamified surveys. Borderless Access has over 10 years of experience and presence in over 65 markets.

7. Applied Marketing Science

A company that helps product developers and CX professionals uncover customer insights to develop better products and services with voice of the customer research. Applied Marketing Science helps clients identify customer needs, preferences, and expectations, as well as measure and improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. Applied Marketing Science has a team of experts who use proven methodologies and tools to deliver actionable and impactful insights.

8. Catapult Insights

An outcomes-focused insights and innovation consultancy that uses research as a foundational tool to help brands grow, evolve and future-proof their business. Catapult Insights helps clients discover new opportunities, create compelling value propositions, and design engaging customer experiences. Catapult Insights has a team of seasoned and passionate researchers who use a blend of qualitative and quantitative methods to deliver strategic and creative solutions.

9. Quillit ai

An AI report-generating tool for qualitative marketing researchers that cuts report-writing time by 80%. Quillit ai helps researchers save time and effort by automatically generating reports from qualitative data, using natural language processing and machine learning. Quillit ai allows researchers to customize their reports, add insights and recommendations, and share them with their clients and stakeholders.

10. Inven.ai

A company that provides AI-powered market research solutions that enable faster and smarter decision making. Inven.ai helps clients gain insights into their customers, competitors, and markets, by using advanced data analytics and artificial intelligence. Inven.ai offers a range of solutions such as sentiment analysis, trend analysis, competitive intelligence, and market segmentation.

Applications of Qualitative Research


Qualitative Market research can be applied to various domains and industries, such as healthcare, education, technology, media, retail, and more. Qualitative research can help businesses to address various challenges and opportunities, such as:

– Understanding customer needs, preferences, and expectations

– Developing and testing new products, services, and features

– Evaluating and improving customer satisfaction and loyalty

– Identifying and segmenting customer segments and personas

– Exploring and entering new markets and niches

– Creating and enhancing brand identity and image

– Designing and optimizing marketing and communication strategies

– Generating and validating insights and ideas

5 Industry Examples of Qualitative Research


Qualitative research is a method that involves gaining an in-depth understanding of human behavior, attitudes, and motivations. It’s particularly useful for exploring complex phenomena and generating insights into underlying reasons and opinions. Here are five industry examples where qualitative research plays a crucial role:

1. Healthcare Industry: Patient Experience Studies

Qualitative research is employed to understand the patient experience in healthcare settings. Researchers conduct interviews and focus groups to explore patient perspectives, uncovering insights into satisfaction, communication with healthcare providers, and the impact of healthcare services on patients’ lives.

2. Technology Sector: User Experience (UX) Research

In the technology industry, qualitative research is vital for evaluating user experiences. Through methods like usability testing, in-depth interviews, and observational studies, researchers gather user feedback on software interfaces, websites, and applications to improve functionality and design.

3. Marketing and Advertising: Consumer Behavior Studies

Qualitative research is extensively used in marketing to explore consumer behaviors, preferences, and perceptions. Focus groups and in-depth interviews help marketers understand how consumers respond to advertising campaigns, product packaging, and overall brand messaging.

4. Education Field: Classroom Dynamics and Teaching Methods

Qualitative research in education involves studying classroom dynamics, teaching methods, and the learning experience. Researchers may conduct observations, interviews, and case studies to gain insights into the effectiveness of teaching approaches, student engagement, and the impact of various educational strategies.

5. Social Sciences: Cultural Studies

In the social sciences, particularly anthropology and sociology, qualitative research is employed in cultural studies. Researchers immerse themselves in communities, conduct participant observation, and engage in interviews to explore cultural practices, norms, and beliefs, providing a nuanced understanding of societies.


In conclusion, qualitative market research serves as a valuable tool for understanding consumer perceptions, motivations, and behaviors in depth. By employing techniques such as interviews, focus groups, and observation, businesses can gain nuanced insights that quantitative data alone may not provide. These insights are instrumental in shaping marketing strategies, product development, and overall business decision-making. In today’s dynamic marketplace, qualitative market research plays a crucial role in helping businesses stay attuned to evolving consumer needs and preferences, ultimately driving competitive advantage and fostering long-term success.


1. What is qualitative market research?

Qualitative market research is a process of analyzing the psychological or emotional aspects that influence people’s decisions in a certain market.

2. Is market research qualitative or quantitative?

Market research can be both qualitative and quantitative, depending on the type of data collected and analyzed. Quantitative research uses numerical data and statistical methods, while qualitative research uses non-numerical data and interpretive methods.

3.What are examples of the most common quantitative marketing research

Examples of common quantitative marketing research include surveys, experiments, observational studies, and data analysis techniques such as regression analysis and factor analysis.

4. How qualitative research can be useful in marketing?

Qualitative research can be useful in marketing for various purposes, such as exploring new product ideas, testing concepts, understanding customer satisfaction and loyalty, identifying market segments and personas, developing brand positioning and messaging, and generating creative solutions.

5. How to analyze qualitative data for marketing research?

Qualitative data can be analyzed for marketing research by using various techniques, such as coding, categorizing, thematic analysis, content analysis, discourse analysis, narrative analysis, and grounded theory. The choice of technique depends on the research objectives, questions, and data sources.

6. How to conduct qualitative market research?

Qualitative market research can be conducted by using different methods and techniques, such as focus groups, in-depth interviews, observation, ethnography, case studies, and online communities. The choice of method depends on the research objectives, questions, budget, and time constraints.

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Qualitative market research can help you understand how your customers feel about your products or services. Learn about the different methods, such as focus groups, interviews, and observations, and how they can benefit your business