Do the qualitative phase of your market research: it’s crucial!Published on 18 May 2018
Discover the steps to follow to ask yourself the right questions before performing your qualitative market research. You can read our initial advice on this blog and download the complete guide in .pdf format
Episode #6/9 – In the previous episode, we recommended preparing well for the qualitative phase of your market research, and we answered some of the most frequently asked questions on the subject. Now let’s get to the heart of the matter, i.e. carrying out these famous qualitative interviews.
Let there be no misunderstanding: an interview must be thoroughly prepared in advance. It is definitely not an improvised discussion. It must be well structured to offer you the new information (or confirmations) that you are looking for.
Step A: Preparing the qualitative interview
Preparing the interview begins with writing an interview guide. The interview guide is a document which allows you to formulate, in advance, the questions that you would like to ask in order to better understand the behaviour of your future customers: what are their current habits, what are their problems, what are their hopes, are they receptive to your idea, what do they think of your prototype, …
Most of these issues come as a natural result of step 3 during which you undoubtedly identified the main problems to which you will need to find the answers.
Step B: Writing the interview guide
Writing the interview guide is a repetitive learning process. In other words, the interview guide is not set in stone, and it can vary from one interview to the next. On the contrary, you should update the document after each interview, taking both your discoveries and your difficulties into account.
The interview guide consists of open questions which will allow you to follow a general line of enquiry without having to stick to the same questions in the same order from one interview to another. Consider the interview guide to be a kind of memo pad that will allow you to deal with every situation without forgetting anything.
The questions that you ask will of course be based on the problems that were thrown up by the research in Step 3, but they will also be based on a documentary review. The documentary review involves examining what has already been published on the subject(s) in which you are interested to ensure that you don’t miss any of the important aspects.
Some sources for your documentary review
Conducting a documentary review means first of all defining the key words which you are going to use, alone or in association, to refine your search.
If you have invented a new mobile application in the field of health, it may be interesting to see what has already been published on the subject to give you an idea of what attracts users to this kind of application: their expectations, their habits and the kind of ergonomics they expect.
Step C: conducting the qualitative interviews
Interviews will be carried out face-to-face, insofar as possible, in the context of the analysis. An alternative is to carry out the interviews in a neutral environment. Under no circumstances should you perform the qualitative interviews in a noisy environment in which the respondent may get distracted.
The interviews must be recorded (audio or video) so that they can be transcribed. You will also want to obtain prior agreement from the respondent for the recording.
Refer to the previous episode about preparing the qualitative phase of market research, for tips about the people to interview and how long the interview should last.
Watch this video (it has English subtitles) to review the steps that will allow you to analyze your qualitative interviews
Step D: Transcribing the interviews
The first thing to do is to retain your first impressions. As soon as an interview ends, we advise you to immediately record your impressions on your voice recorder. This will be useful afterwards when it comes to analysing your interviews.
Once the interview is over and you have made a note of your first impressions, it is time to move on to transcribing the interview. Transcribing means writing down word for word everything that has been said (some marketing researchers even transcribe hesitations, repetitions and other kinds of language idiosyncrasies used by respondents).
In order to be analysed, the interviews will have to be transcribed word for word. This is essential for the coding phase which follows.
In practice, you can do this job in Microsoft Word with a line break every time a new person speaks. For reasons of confidentiality, we protect the identity of respondents and only identify them with a code. In this way, we get a sequence that looks something like this:
- Interviewer: …
- Respondent 1: …
- Interviewer: …
- Respondent 1: …
Step E: Coding and analysing the qualitative interviews
Once the transcript is down on paper, you are ready to start coding the interview. This is a laborious, but extremely rewarding phase. If you can, we advise asking a third party to carry out the coding in order to eliminate any possible bias. This is how we proceed with our clients: one person prepares and conducts the interviews, another transcribes them and a third person performs the coding.
Coding the data to analyse
Coding is a manual phase that allows you to identify, in the transcript, words, phrases or partial phrases that relate to a particular theme.
Ideally, you should create a coding guide that covers all of these themes. This list will evolve in line with the discoveries you make during each interview and they will lead you back to the previous interviews to check for the presence or absence of these themes. We strongly advise using specialised software to help you with this task.
There are several programmes available: Maxqda, Nvivo, Atlas.ti.
Once the coding has been carried out, these programmes can perform a multitude of analyses. For example, software such as Maxqda can calculate correlations between themes. This feature is particularly useful for identifying the most important themes and the existing links between them.
This way, you can easily classify and categorise the most important aspects of your research and include them in the quantitative phase.
Don’t miss our next episode about location analysis
In our next article, we will tackle a stage that is specific to local retail, the question of where to locate your business.
If you intend to position yourself in the B2C market and you plan to have a point of sale, this episode will be of particular interest to you. Don’t miss it!