Qualitative Research QUALITATIVE RESEARCH ? • Not measurements, but WORDS! – Instead of asking how many times someone purchased an item, you ask "WHY...?" – Typically the samples are small, and not "random" Purpose? • To find out what’s on the person’s mind General approaches • Group interviews – Structured or unstructured – Focus groups • Individual interviews – Nonstructured – Structured • Projective Techniques Most frequent uses Understanding basic issues – why do people buy/use our product? Pretesting ideas or products – do people want a product that cleans their refrigerator? Message testing – How do people like this ad? To capture the basic feel of a problem prior to conducting a more analytical study To aid interpreting results of quantitative research Strengths Good for examining feelings and motivations Longer, more flexible relationship with the respondent, results in more depth and greater richness issues Provides insights Weaknesses Can’t extrapolate to the whole population Volume of data Complexity of analysis Time-consuming clerical efforts Focus Groups A loosely structured interview conducted by a trained moderator among a small number of informants. Popularity of Focus Group Percentage of Companies Using Frequently Use Sometimes Use Never Use 56% 36% 8% Why are Focus Groups Held? Because of group dynamics Focus Group Characteristics • 8 - 12 members (usually paid) • homogeneous in terms of demographics and socioeconomic factors but heterogeneous views • experience related to product or issue being discussed • 1 1/2 –2 hour session • 1-way mirror/client may sit behind • qualified moderator • conversation may be video and/or audiotaped OR notes may be taken Tiered viewing room with wrap-around mirror offers multi-perspective viewing. Room is equipped with outlets so laptops can be used during session. Strategically placed audio and video taping offer unobstructed viewing. Attached Conference Room offers closed circuit television viewing for additional 12-14 viewers. focus group1 focus group Common Applications of Focus Groups • Understanding Consumers – perceptions, opinions, and behavior concerning products and services • Product Planning – generating ideas about new products • Advertising – Develop creative concepts and copy material Advantages • Richness of data • Versatility • Ability to study special respondents – Children – Professionals (doctors, lawyers) • Direct involvement of managers (vividness) • Easily understandable • Flexibility in covering topics • May uncover unanticipated ideas that are important • Can define constructs of importance • Gives “flesh” and connectedness to real consumers/people • Can show them designs, have them try out prototypes • group synergy (group dynamics) Disadvantages • Lack of generalizability (small sample size) • High selection bias • Might be misused – focus group is not a replacement for quantitative research • Subject to Interpretation - subjective • Cost-per-respondent is high (compared to survey) – Results dependent on skill of moderator in running the group and analysis • may be the response in the moment – which may change over time • strong personalities are a hazard • Some groups hard to assemble (e.g. professionals) • “professional respondents” Process of Conducting Focus Group Research • Planning – Translate research purpose into a set of relevant questions that achieve objectives – Prepare discussion guide • Recruiting – Heterogeneity vs Homogeneity • Moderation – Critical moderating skills • Analysis and interpretation of the results – should capture the range of impressions and observations in each topic, and interprets them in the light of possible hypotheses for further testing. Skills Required for Moderator • Observation • Interpersonal • Communication • Interpretive Guiding the discussion • • • • know your objectives don’t try to do too much – 2-4 major topics have an outline of how you want to proceed be ready to be flexible if need be – or to rein in the discussion • Stick to the time limit • Use 2 people if possible – one to guide, one to take notes Moderator’s role • • • • • • • • encourage discussion encourage them to talk with one another not you bring in people who aren’t speaking Reduce influence of people who dominate Bring out a variety of viewpoints keep discussion on topic without stifling allow silence avoid premature closure Salad dressing focus group Introducing the process • • • • • Introduce purpose, sponsorship if applicable Lay out guidelines, e.g. time Be clear on the topic(s) of discussion Make introductions Specify that you are interested in thoughts not decisions Observing and Recording • videotaping • audiotaping • note-taker – someone other than moderator • One-way mirrors • Take notes at the end of each focus group session to identify important themes which may structure future groups’ questions • Don’t ignore the lone wolf -- exceptions Reporting • Fast • Synthesis of important issues • Key quotations useful but NOT a transcription – Though use a transcription to create report if at all possible • Transcripts, stories, etc. must be coded for over-arching themes (e.g. accuracy, value-congruence, effectiveness) • Analysts look for connections between themes as well (e.g. effective ads resulted in expressions of pride in the company) • Fuzzy numerical qualifications may be added, such as “many,” “few,” “most,” “widely,” “typically,” “occasionally” • Suggest opportunities and limitations Examples: “The qualitative findings give reason for optimism about market interest in the new product concept…We therefore recommend that the concept be further developed and formal executions be tested.” “The results of the study suggest that ad version #3 is most promising because it elicited more enthusiastic responses and because it appears to describe situations under which consumers actually expect to use the product... Example of limitations section: “The reader is cautioned that the findings reported here are qualitative, not quantitative in nature. The study was designed to explore how respondents feel and behave rather than to determine how many think or act in specific ways. Therefore, the findings cannot serve as a basis for statistical generalizations, but should instead be viewed as working hypotheses, subject to quantitative validation.” “Respondents constitute a small nonrandom sample of relevant consumers and are therefore not statistically representative of the universe from which they have been drawn.” Key Issues • Focus groups are small numbers, not random, not statistically valid • Focus groups are a lot of work • can get insights from focus groups that can’t get in other ways • Beware of power relations Use of Focus Groups Buick division of General Motors used focus groups to help develop the Regal. Buick held 20 focus groups across the country to determine what features customers wanted in a car. The focus groups told GM they wanted a stylish car, legitimate back seat, at least 20 miles per gallon, and 0 to 60 miles per hour acceleration in 11 seconds or less. Based on the results, Buick engineers created clay models of the car and mock-ups of the interior. These were shown to other focus groups. The respondents did not like the oversized bumpers and the severe slope of the hood, but liked the four-disc brakes and independent suspension. Focus groups also helped refine the advertising campaign for the Regal. Participants were asked which competing cars most resembled Buick in image and features. The answer was Oldsmobile, a sister GM division. In an effort to differentiate the two, Buick was repositioned above Oldsmobile by focusing on comfort and luxury features. The vehicle was also due to be renamed the Buick Lacrosse in the U.S. and Canada. Younger members of focus groups in Quebec told GM that "lacrosse" was slang for self-gratification The tag line for the Regal, “official car of the Supercharged family,” was based on focus group findings. “The Perfect Addition To Any Household” “Regal encompasses Buick's renowned comfort, quality and performance capabilities in a sleek, mid-size sedan. With plenty of interior space and loads of power for the open road, Regal is perfectly equipped to meet the demands of families on the go.” In 2005 Buick replaced the Century and Regal by consolidating them into the Buick Allure ( (LaCrosse in the USA) Online Focus Groups • Chat Room Style – good for capturing top-of-mind reactions to concepts, graphics, audio/video clips, web sites, etc. • Bulletin Style – good for eliciting more in-depth comments on complex issues, as well as for allowing participation by individuals who would be difficult to gather in “real time”. http://www.surveycompany.com/onlinesurveys/focusgroup.html Zoomerang Advantages of Online vs traditional Focus Groups • Software controls for faster responders • Ability to show websites to participants • Clients “lurk” in “chat room”; can send questions to moderator • Transcripts produced automatically • Individual responses can be tracked • Many people are more open when NOT face to face • Friendlier, more humorous online • Distant participants • Convenient for participants • less costly than face-to-face groups Disadvantages • • • • • • • • • • • • No body language (often part of analysis) Harder to read emotions Sampling issues (who is more likely to participate?) Difficult to probe Sometimes asynchronous (I.e. over several days) The Internet approach to focus group relies on an individual's ability to type effectively to participate fully Can’t show "external stimuli" to groups in order to obtain their reactions Hard for skilled moderator to utilize the group dynamics to explore an issue Comments likely to be short problem of lag in responses Lack of interaction, synergy Easy for participants to NOT participate Depth Interviews What is an In-depth Interview? A conversation on a given topic between a respondent and an interviewer • Used to obtain detailed insights and personal thoughts • • • • • Flexible and unstructured, but usually with an interview guide Purpose: to probe informants’ motivations, feelings, beliefs Lasts about an hour Interviewer creates relaxed, open environment Wording of questions and order are determined by flow of conversation • Interview transcripts are analyzed for themes and connections between themes In-depth Interviews Technique: Laddering • Laddering – questioning progresses from product characteristics to user characteristics • An example “Why do you like wide bodies? (in airplane seats)” “They’re more comfortable” “Why is that important?” “I can accomplish more” “Why is that important?” “I will feel good about myself” Advantages – Tendency to have a freer exchange – Can probe potentially complex motivations and behavior – Easier to attach a particular response to a respondent Disadvantages – Qualified interviewers are expensive – Length and expense of interview often leads to small sample – Subjectivity and “fuzziness” Focus Groups Vs. In-depth Interview • Advantages of focus groups – relatively lower cost per person – stimulating effect from group interaction – vividness to managers • Advantages of in-depth interview – more information from each respondent – flexible with the use of physical stimuli Wikis as research tool Projective Techniques Projective Techniques Projective techniques are unstructured and indirect forms of questioning which encourage the respondents to project their underlying motivations, beliefs, attitudes or feelings regarding the issues of concern. Depth Interview methods or surveys can’t get reliable answers to questions like: •How does this soda can make you feel about yourself? •Which color graphic on the can would make you feel like a sexier person when you bought it? projective techniques Main Types of Projective Techniques • Word Association – asks the respondents to give the first word or phase that comes to mind after the researcher presents a word or phrase • Completion Test – asks the respondents to complete sentences, dialogs, or stories, etc. • Picture Drawing and Interpretation • Third Person Techniques • Role Playing Example: Word Association Results of a Word Association Test with Alternative Brand Names for a New Fruit-Flavored Sparkling Water Drink Possible Brand Name Ormango Tropical Fruit Orange Sparkle Paradise Passion Associated Words Green, tart, jungle Juice, sweet, island Light, bubbly, cool Fruity, thick, heavy Example: Completion Test Investigate teenagers’ attitudes to tea Someone who drinks hot tea is ______________ Tea is good to drink when __________________ Making hot tea is _________________________ My friend thinks tea is _____________________ sentence completion Sentence Completion Example: Department Store Patronage Project 1. A person who shops at Sears is ___________________________________________ 2. A person who receives a gift certificate good for Zeller’s would be ______________________________________. 3. The Bay is most liked by ________________________. 4. When I think of shopping in a department store, I ___________________________________________ Story Completion Example: Department Store Patronage Project “A man was shopping for a business suit in his favorite department store. After spending 45 minutes and trying several suits, he finally picked one he liked. As he was proceeding to the checkout counter, he was approached by the salesman, who said, “Sir, at this time we have higher quality suits which are on sale for the same price. Would you like to see them?” “What is the customer’s response? Why? Another Projective Technique: – Shopping Lists -- Ask respondents about the type of person who would buy a particular group of products Instructions to Subjects: “Read the shopping list below. Try to project yourself into the situation as far as possible until you can more or less characterize the woman who bought the groceries. Then write a brief description of her personality and character. Whenever possible indicate what factors influenced your judgment.” Advantages • May elicit responses that subjects would be unwilling or unable to give if they knew the purpose of the study. non-threatening • Helpful when underlying motivations, beliefs and attitudes are operating at a subconscious level. Disadvantages • Require highly trained interviewers and interpreters of results • Serious risk of misinterpreting. • Subjectivity • Is the psychological material uncovered related to the topic or to the person?