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Qualitative Research

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  1. Qualitative Research

  2. 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"

  3. Most frequent uses • Understanding basic issues • why do people buy/use our product? • Pretesting ideas or questions • do people want a product that cleans their refrigerator? • Message testing • How do people like this ad? • Recommended to capture the basic feel of a problem prior to conducting a more analytical study

  4. Strengths Can’t extrapolate to the whole population Volume of data Complexity of analysis Time-consuming nature of the clerical efforts require • Good for examining feelings and motivations • Allows for complexity and depth of issues • Provides insights Weaknesses

  5. General approaches • Individual interviews • Nonstructured • Structured • Projective Techniques • Group interviews • Structured or unstructured • Focus groups • Observation

  6. Depth Interviews

  7. What is an In-depth Interview? A conversation on a given topic between a respondent and an interviewer • Used to obtain detailedinsights 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 orderare determined by flow of conversation • Interview transcripts are analyzed for themes and connections between themes

  8. In-depth Interviews Technique: Laddering • Laddering • questioning progresses from product characteristics to user characteristics • An example “Why do you like wide bodies?” “They’re more comfortable” “Why is that important?” “I can accomplish more” “Why is that important?” “I will feel good about myself”

  9. 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”

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. Example: Word Association Results of a Word Association Test with Alternative Brand Names for a New Fruit-Flavored Sparkling Water Drink Possible Brand NameAssociated Words Ormango Green, tart, jungle Tropical Fruit Juice, sweet, island Orange Sparkle Light, bubbly, cool Paradise Passion Fruity, thick, heavy

  13. 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 _____________________

  14. 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?

  15. Sentence Completion Example: Department Store Patronage Project • A person who shops at Sears is ___________________________________________ • A person who receives a gift certificate good for Zeller’s would be ______________________________________. • The Bay is most liked by ________________________. • When I think of shopping in a department store, I ___________________________________________

  16. 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.”

  17. 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 materialuncovered related to the topic or to the person?

  18. FOCUS GROUPS

  19. Focus Groups A loosely structured interview conducted by a trained moderator among a small number of informants simultaneously.

  20. Popularity of Focus Group Percentage of Companies Using Frequently Use 56% Sometimes Use 36% Never Use 8%

  21. 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

  22. Tiered viewing room with wrap-around mirror offers multi-perspective viewing. Room is generously equipped with outlets so laptop computers can be utilized during session. Strategically placed state-of-the-art audio and video taping offer unobstructed viewing. Attached Conference Room offers closed circuit television viewing for additional 12-14 viewers.

  23. 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

  24. 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 • Know their limits • Beware of power relations

  25. Process of Conducting Focus Group Research • Planning • Recruiting • Moderation • Analysis and interpretation of the results

  26. 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

  27. 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 • 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 • “professional respondents”

  28. Skills Required for Moderator • Observation • Interpersonal • Communication • Interpretive

  29. Guiding the discussion • know your objectives • don’t try to do too much – 2-4 major topics is probably all • 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

  30. 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 on discussion track w/o stifling • allow silence • avoid premature closure

  31. Moderator, cont. • Ensure safety • Listen and regroup as needed • Do NOT act as a leader but DO keep the discussion on topic • Preferably someone not connected with the topic • However, for some topics, really need someone who understands topic, terminology • Use 2 people if possible – one to guide, one to take notes

  32. 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

  33. Observing and Recording • videotaping • audiotaping • note-taker • Has to be 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

  34. 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 (example-- ad/employee study): major themes were accuracy, value-congruence and 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”

  35. 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...

  36. 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.”

  37. 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

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. The tag line for the 1998 Regal, “official car of the Supercharged family,” was based on focus group findings.

  42. 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

  43. Advantages • 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 (can’t in offline or “3-D” focus group) • 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

  44. 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

  45. OBSERVATIONAL RESEARCH Watching what people do The information must be observable Helpful conditions: the behavior is repetitive and of short duration Approaches to observational research Natural Versus Contrived Situations Open Versus Disguised Observation Structured Versus Unstructured Human Versus Machine Observers

  46. Main Observational Research Methods • Direct Observation • Contrived Observation • Mystery Shopper • Content Analysis • Analyzing written material into meaningful units, using carefully applied rules • Physical Trace Measures • “Garbology” • Ethnographic Research • Behavior (Emotion) Recording Devices

  47. Discussion Example • Toothpaste manufactures have found consistently that if they ask for detailed information on the frequency with which people brush their teeth, and then make minimal assumptions as to the quantity of toothpaste used on each occasion, as well as spillage and failure to squeeze the tube empty, the result is a serious overstatement of toothpaste consumption. • How would you explain this phenomenon? • Would it be possible to design a study to overcome these problems and obtain more accurate estimates of consumption?

  48. Advantages: • We see what people actually do • May avoid interviewer bias • No information on motives attitudes or intentions • Time-consuming and expensive Disadvantages: