Regardless of what type of business you run, knowing your customer is incredibly important. Ignoring what your consumers want is a quick way to decrease profits and allow your competitors to stay a step ahead of you. Unfortunately, understanding consumers can be fairly difficult, as they simply can’t be lumped into large, easy to understand groups (regardless of whatever market researchers tell you).
That is why you’ll also want to devote a large portion of your time and resources to qualitative research, as it can allow you to get a thorough understanding of what your customers want from you and your business. There are a number of qualitative research methods that are incredibly effective, but the ones discussed below are the most common and the easiest to implement.
Interviews are easily the most common way to gather data when it comes to qualitative research. It allows you to personally interact with your customers and get to know them on an individual basis, which you can’t really do when conducting quantitative research. Depending on what you are looking to find out, you can conduct interviews in the more common one-on-one format, though you can also do group interviews.
More importantly, interviews don’t have to be done with a standard set of questions. If you just want to find out information about a couple of things, you can ask pre-determined questions, but interviews can easily be open-ended and can give you the freedom and the time to ask your customers questions that can give you an understanding of their shopping habits and how they view your products and services.
Ultimately, it is entirely up to you when it comes to determining what type of questions you want to ask; you just need to make sure they can help you get the information you want.
Focus groups are somewhat similar to group based interviews, as they involve you spending a prolonged amount of time getting feedback from a group of people about your product or services. However, focus groups are slightly different in that they aren’t very personal and are instead conducted in a manner that is looking to get feedback from the group as a whole, not from specific individuals.
Focus groups usually have a set time limit, which means you’ll need to plan everything carefully. You likely won’t be able to ask too many open-ended questions, especially if it is somewhat of a large focus group. However, focus groups can allow you to find out many things about your customers as a group, which can be incredibly important when it comes to determining how to market your products or services.
Observation studies might be a little difficult depending on what type of industry you work in, but if you are looking to see how people interact with your product or website, then this is the perfect way to conduct your research. It can easily allow you to see how a variety of potential customers view your product, which can give you tremendous insight into how you might need to make changes in order to better meet the needs of your customers.
Observation methods can be conducted in both individual and group settings depending on what you are looking to find, but they are generally more effective when looking at individual interactions.
Surveys can easily be classified as a quantitative research method, but depending on what type of questions you ask, they can easily be considered qualitative as well. The greatest benefit of surveys is that you can personalize them yourself and you can send them straight to your customers. Many businesses nowadays send surveys to their customers via email, which benefits both consumers and business owners.
Email surveys allow customers the ability to give feedback from the comfort of their own home and businesses owners can get feedback from thousands of their customers that can allow them to have a significantly better understanding of how their customers view their products, services, and business model.
It is up to you to figure out which qualitative research method is best for your business, as each one of the aforementioned methods can significantly help you gather information about your customers!
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