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Qualitative Data Analysis
Qualitative Data Analysis – Guide with Tips

Qualitative Data Analysis – Guide with Tips

Unveil the essence of qualitative data analysis. Explore its definition, benefits, and methods to gain deep insights into human behavior, uncover hidden patterns, and enhance research endeavors.

Unlike quantitative data, qualitative data, as the name suggests, focuses on quality rather than quantity (numbers). While quantitative data in market research focuses on ‘how much,’ qualitative data is more about finding the answers to ‘why.’ Why would a customer choose your product/service?

Qualitative data in market research is one of the most important aspects of marketing. It takes businesses not just a step closer to understanding their target audience but also helps them understand the needs of their customers. Knowing customers’ sentiments can bring a breakthrough in any business. With the help of qualitative data, you can ideate a game-changing product/service.

Let’s delve deeper into what qualitative data covers and how it is carried out, its advantages, and disadvantages.

What is Qualitative Data in Market Research?

Qualitative data in market research is gathered through qualitative data research methods like in-depth interviews, group discussions, focus groups, and more. All of these have one thing in common, i.e., they are organized to interact directly with the target audience. Direct interaction and deep conversations with prospective and existing customers uncover needful insights.

Qualitative data in market research is done to study the in-depth customer beliefs and behavior that will shape a business’s marketing policies. Not only marketing strategies, qualitative data also assists businesses in making major business decisions like price management and product development.

Qualitative data collects answers through open-ended questions like how, why, and what instead of close-ended questions like who and when. Open-ended questions provide detailed and descriptive answers to the problems at hand.

Qualitative Data Market Research Methods

While quantitative data research is mainly done through surveys and questionnaires, qualitative data research is carried out mainly through interviews. Here are some of the other popular methods through which qualitative data is collected:

Focus groups

Both in-person and online focus groups are popular choices for gathering quantitative data. The members of focus groups are randomly selected from a business’s target audience. They are asked questions related to the business product/services. It aims to get feedback from the end consumers about the launch of a new product/service. The questions used to gather information include:

  • What changes should be suggested in our product?
  • What are the best and worst things about our product?
  • What are the current market trends in the automobile sector?
  • What is the current trend in the industry?

Qualitative research questions can be exploratory, explanatory, descriptive, and predictive. Focus groups are usually undertaken to gather exploratory data. If a product/service isn’t successful, focus groups also help you know the reason behind the same by understanding the desires of the target audiences. However, the participants in a focus group should be limited to ensure that everyone equally gets a chance to share their opinions. A co-moderator heads a focus group that ensures meaningful communication between the participants.


Interviews are another qualitative research method through which brands can collect deeper information. Interviews for market research can be structured, unstructured, or semi-structured. Structured interviews are well-organized and executed according to a pre-set plan. Unstructured interviews are more organic and benefit from free-flowing conversations that are unbiased and raw. Semi-structured interviews are placed between structured and unstructured, thus enjoying both benefits. Semi-structured interviews include pre-prepared questions and allow the interviewees to gravitate their views on the topic naturally without following a set path.

Interviews are best done before launching a new product/service to know about the audience’s expectations and desires. In-depth interviewing can also be done with the organization’s employees to handle managerial problems.

Case study

Case studies hint at a detailed study or research on a particular contextual topic. In market research, case studies are done to find the feasibility of a business or new product idea. Before the launch of any product, a detailed structured study is required. Case studies find the root problem. It further explores and evaluates it to find the solution. They are detailed explanations that cover every aspect of the problem and are done on real-life projects.

For instance, if a research problem is to find out if foldable smartphones are useful? Case studies analyze the real-life problem related to it. Like, let’s say conducting a “Case study on the advantages and disadvantages of Samsung foldable smartphones.” Case study, in short, is an umbrella term that uses interviews and other research methods to collect data to reach an inference.

Interviews are best done before launching a new product/service to know about the audience’s expectations and desires. In-depth interviewing can also be done with the organization’s employees to handle managerial problems.


Data collected through observations can be both remote or on-site. Remote observational data is collected by observing the target remotely through cameras. For instance, observing customers’ buying behavior in shopping malls remotely. On-site observational data is collected by observing things around you without letting the word out. For instance, researchers at train or bus stations observe travelers from a distance.

Data collected through observations can be quite helpful for businesses in making basic business decisions. For instance, researchers may visit a children’s park to get a general idea of kids’ behavior if they look forward to launching a new product in the kid’s market segment.

Like any other qualitative data collection, the observational study follows its own process that involves identifying the observation study topic, choosing the type of observation for the study, setting up the observational place, and finally analyzing the collected data. Observational studies are economical and fit best for small enterprises that don’t have a spare budget for conducting huge marketing activities.

Open-ended surveys

Surveys usually form part of qualitative market research. Questions found in qualitative market research are open-ended. Instead of yes/no questions, surveys should contain questions that can be answered within 2 to 3 lines.

Such surveys are now typically sent through emails. Though getting a response from surveys is difficult, an incentive tied to them can be a great initiative to collect maximum responses. Open-ended surveys are again a low-cost method to collect qualitative data. The data collected can be used to understand the target audience or get feedback on a new launch.

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Benefits of Qualitative Market Research

  • Collects detailed information
    The best part about qualitative data is its ability to answer the whys behind the numeric data. While quantitative data focus on what it is, qualitative data focus on why it is. This helps marketers gather more concrete solutions to business problems. The in-depth analysis provides meaningful insights into customers’ preferences and, more importantly, customer perspectives.
  • Useful for product-price decisions
    Qualitative data and quantitative data analysis provide straightforward answers and are thus helpful in making product price decisions. Business decisions related to the launch of new products, stopping the production of existing products, and changes in prices of existing or new products can easily be determined by conducting qualitative data market research like case studies.
  • Prepare for unpredictable market trends

    Qualitative market research makes the marketer proactive. Qualitative research prepares marketers against sudden changes in market trends. The marketer can easily capture consumers’ changing attitudes within its target group through quantitative market research. With qualitative research methods, researchers keep a close watch on customers’ buying behavior and help them prepare for the sudden change in market trends. For instance, brands seek to expand their presence on social media platforms as more and more of their target audience spends ample time on them.

  • Go over and beyond quantitative data
    The data collected, or rather the insight collected through qualitative data, is not limited to one-time use. The knowledge and information that is gathered can be put to several uses. When implemented, it could provide positive results right on. Instead of just talking in figures and numbers, qualitative research enables marketers to search the minds of their prospective and existing target audiences.

Limitations of Qualitative Data Market Research

  • Difficult to get answers
    While qualitative data research allows marketers to know what their customers want, extracting the answers from them is difficult. Your genuine customers are unlikely to spend precious time attending a focus group discussion or filling out an open-ended survey.
  • Subject to self-selection bias
    To err is human. Qualitative research can highly get affected by self-selection bias. Each person interprets a situation or creates a view based on their perspective. Qualitative data can thus mistakenly get misinterpreted by the thoughts and perceptions of the data analyst. Qualitative data can be collected only through respondents who volunteered for the same and leave out the reviews of the rest. On the other hand, quantitative data is collected in a certain way that data is collected from a large sample, including no self-bias.
  • The pressure to ask the right questions

    Qualitative research is highly dependent on the preparedness of the study. It depends on how well the researcher prepares the questions to be asked in the focus study or how well an observer observes in the observation study. Since no one method is fixed to determine an outcome and is highly dependent on the researcher’s own thoughts and beliefs, the outcome of the same study may differ from researcher to researcher.

How Qualitative Data Market Research is Carried Out?

  1. Know your research question – Focus on the problem at hand. Why is the market research required? Examine the problem and frame a research question out of it. Some of the probable research questions can be:
    • Should I launch a new product?
    • How do I find a new product idea in the same market segment?
    • What is the feedback of customers on the existing products?
    • Should I enlarge my target audience from adults to kids?
  2. Determine the research method – Next, depending on the problem, the researcher must determine the best qualitative research methods to fit the problem. For low-budget businesses, observational studies and in-depth interviews work best. For a more refined solution, businesses with access to at least 20 participants can use the focus group research method. It is important to consider the resources, budget and benefits of each research method to select the best research method.
  3. Carry out the study – Once the research method is decided and the questions for the research study are set, it’s time to carry out the study without letting biases come in between. Allow active participation of the respondents. Ask more neutral questions. Instead of asking, “Have you ever had a bad experience with our product?” you should ask, “How was your experience with our product?”.
  4. Gather the data – Ensure that the data gathered is collected in the right manner. Note down the main points gathered through discussion. The researcher can also record the group discussions. In focus groups, a moderator or a co-moderator is responsible for gathering the responses. A researcher, moderator, or observer should be well-prepared to record the sessions conveniently as they form the data collection basis.
  5. Analyze the findings – Once all the data is collected, it is time to evaluate it and find meaningful analysis. The findings should not be distorted by personal bias or opinions in data analysis. All the findings are segregated and combined to prepare the final report. After that, the final inference is mentioned. Such a report should also mention a clear solution to examine the research problem.


Qualitative data market research is more beneficial for certain business niches, wherein numeric data cannot be helpful. It lets marketers know the root of the problem and helps determine the solution. The solution isn’t based on assumptions but inferred by carefully interpreting the collected data.

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FAQ on Qualitative Data

What is qualitative data in market research?

Qualitative data is a type of data that is collected through open-ended questions, observation, and other non-numerical methods. In market research, qualitative data is often used to understand consumers' attitudes, behaviors, and opinions about a product or service.

What are some common methods for collecting qualitative data in market research?

Some common methods for collecting qualitative data in market research include in-depth interviews, focus groups, ethnographic research, and observation.

How is qualitative data analyzed in market research?

Qualitative data is typically analyzed through a process called thematic analysis, which involves identifying recurring themes and patterns in the data. This can be done manually or with the help of software tools.

What are the advantages of using qualitative data in market research?

Qualitative data can provide rich and detailed insights into consumers' attitudes and behaviors, which can be difficult to capture with quantitative data alone. It can also help researchers understand the context in which these attitudes and behaviors occur.

What are the limitations of using qualitative data in market research?

Qualitative data is often subjective and can be difficult to generalize to a larger population. Additionally, it can be time-consuming and costly to collect and analyze qualitative data.

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