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Individual Depth Interviews
Qualitative interviewing methods are essentially borrowed from clinical psychology. Once the theme is introduced, there is a minimum of direct questioning. Every effort must be made to avoid leading the respondent.
Individual depth interviews can give great insight into how particular individuals view the world and what leads them to behave as they do.
A variation on the individual depth interview. The idea is to have two people who know each other very well interviewed jointly. The ideal is to have pairs of respondents use their intimate knowledge of each other to help deepen the discussion, while ensuring that respondents are completely at ease.
A further adaptation of the depth-interviewing method, the idea here is to have a group of 7-8 individuals from similar backgrounds discuss a theme to discover how consumers differ in their points of view and how social intercourse impacts on people's attitudes and behaviour patterns.
The pitfall for lay people in observing group discussions is to see them as debates or arguments and to look for a "winner". There is no winner. Everybody is entitled to express their point of view. The objective of the method is to help people articulate their viewpoints to provide a basis for analysis and insight.
This is a key part of exploratory analysis - particularly in generating insights.
Insights are as likely to derive from the post discussion analysis of what has been said, as from what happens at the group discussions themselves.
Although the term is often used interchangeably with group discussions, there is a subtle difference between the two approaches.
As the name implies, focus groups tend to be more forensic in orientation, less expansive and shorter in duration. Probably the better choice when one already has a detailed knowledge of the consumer mindset and one is attempting to choose between alternative strategies, the details of which are largely predetermined.
A variation on the focus group format; The principle difference is that the number of respondents is reduced - probably to between 3 and 5.
Mini-groups are typically used for:
- Children or teenagers (for reasons of focus and concentration)
- Specialists such as doctors, engineers, computer experts, chefs and so on. It can be helpful to create extra "space" for explaining complex issues.
- Opinion leaders, to get full value from their contribution
- Where there is a requirement to have people perform specific tasks during the group sessions.
- Where there is a need for a deeper exploration of issues, mini groups can afford respondents more space to tell their story
Altered State Groups
This approach is used when one wishes to test the likely impact of some new information or experience on the thought processes or behaviour patterns of respondents.
Quite often used as part of a controlled experiment in which half the sample is exposed to a new stimulus in advance and the other half is not. The idea is to discover the impact of the new stimulus.
Extended Creativity Sessions
These are an extension of the group discussion principle. They tend to be longer than regular group discussions: possibly up to three or four hours. They work best with smaller groups of perhaps 5 to 6 individuals.
Because one is normally looking for creative solutions to problems, respondents may be deliberately selected as being atypical - having a creative leaning.
To gain full benefit from this creative orientation, one may need to introduce enabling techniques of various kinds to see problems from a fresh and original perspective.
This is a qualitative method based on interviewing the respondent over the phone. The interview is discursive and usually lasts around 30-40 minutes.
Typically these will be used for business interviews where it may be difficult to contact respondents. They may also be used for interviewing people who live in different countries.
A relatively new technique where discussion groups are conducted online.
They are typically used in cases where it can logistically be difficult to bring respondents together – due to distance or time pressures.
We have also found the technique to be very useful when researching sensitive subject areas. The fact that communication takes place online can allow respondents to be more open and frank in their views than they might be in person.
If qualitative research is fundamentally about understanding consumers as people and how they interact with brands, than ethnographic research essentially takes this a step further. Rather than gathering respondents in a central location to discuss their attitudes and behaviour, ethnographic approaches seek to observe people in their own habitat, as it were – their home, their pub, their local shop
By observing how people relate to brands in these cultural contexts, we can discern the nuances and subtleties of how they interact with brands.
A great deal can be learned simply from observing how consumers behave in their everyday lives. This can vary significantly between sectors and can depend, for example, on the style of layout adopted by a store, a pub or a shopping centre.
Does the consumer stop to consider or make decisions on autopilot? Are prices checked or not?
One can often get closer to the truth by observing what people do, rather than relying on what they say they do.
Accompanied Shopping Trips
One can learn a great deal by accompanying a consumer on a shopping trip. This can afford the dual opportunity of observing what happens and questioning the purchaser in a sensitive fashion throughout the "consumer journey".