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  • Marwa Kaabour

Analysing Customer Behaviour: Qualitative Research Methods for Marketers

Updated: Jun 15

Qualitative marketing Research
uncover these deep insights through qualitative research methods, moving beyond mere statistics and understanding the “why” behind customer behaviour

We can uncover these deep insights through qualitative research methods, moving beyond mere statistics and understanding the “why” behind customer behaviour. Here are some qualitative methods that are recommended:

 1.     Focus Groups

 By moderated discussion, focus groups gather customer opinions from a variety of backgrounds. These sessions reveal consumers' attitudes, feelings, and perceptions about a product or service. A method like this can be useful during the early stages of product development and concept testing, as well as when evaluating advertising campaigns.

 Focus groups are often used by tech companies to gather feedback on design features, usability, and desired functionality for a new smartphone. Through the interactive nature of focus groups, new ideas may be sparked, and potential problems may be identified prior to the launch of the product.

 2.     In-Depth Interviews

 Interviewing customers in depth allows us to gain detailed insights into their experiences and motivations. One-on-one interviews can be held over the phone, through video calls, or in person. By using this method, a person can explore specific topics in more depth and develop a deeper understanding of customer needs and preferences. A sensitive topic or one where confidentiality is important can be explored effectively using this method.

 A healthcare provider, for example, might use in-depth interviews to understand how patients feel about new treatments. During these interviews, patients can express concerns and motivations that may not be visible in a group setting, improving the quality of care and communication between them.

 3.     Ethnographic Studies

 In ethnographic studies, customers are observed in their natural environments to understand how they behave and interact. To gain a holistic view of a customer’s daily routines and product usage, researchers spend time with them in relevant settings, such as their homes or workplaces.

Additionally, this method can improve product innovation and marketing strategies by offering insights that traditional research may miss. For example, a manufacturer of home appliances could conduct ethnographic research to understand how families use kitchen appliances throughout the day. Observations such as these can provide insights that can be used for the design and marketing of products and services.

 4.     Online Communities

 Online communities are one of the latest trends in analysing customer behaviour. Virtual platforms are used by researchers to engage with customers over an extended period of time. Activities, surveys, and discussions facilitate the exchange of ideas and experiences.

 Customer attitudes and behaviours can be tracked in real-time using this method. A special advantage of online communities is their ability to provide ongoing engagement and collaborative research, which allows customers to directly contribute to product development and marketing.

 A fashion brand might create an online community for loyal customers where they can discuss their favourite clothing lines, give styling tips, and share feedback. In this way, the brand is able to stay abreast of customer preferences and trends.

 5.     Diary Studies

 As part of diary studies, participants keep a record of their behaviours and experiences over time. With this method, real-time data can be captured, providing detailed insights into daily user patterns and emotional responses.

 Journals or digital logs are commonly used to keep track of information at regular intervals. Diary studies provide valuable information about the evolution of customer behaviour that improves user experience and product development.

For instance, diary studies can be used by software companies to learn how users interact with their applications over several weeks. The ongoing record can serve as a useful resource for identifying usability issues, preferred features, and areas for improvement.

 6.     Projective Techniques

 In projective techniques, participants are encouraged to project their subconscious thoughts onto ambiguous stimuli, to uncover underlying thoughts, feelings, and motivations. The most common techniques include word association, sentence completion, and picture interpretation.

It is helpful for advertising research, brand positioning, and product development to utilise these methods, to explore complex and sensitive topics. The creative team of an advertising agency may use projective techniques to uncover the emotional connections customers have with a brand. Using ambiguous images or sentences as triggers, they agency can develop more engaging and effective marketing campaigns.

Understanding the “why” behind customer behaviour through qualitative research methods is instrumental for marketers. Each method – whether it’s focus groups, in-depth interviews, ethnographic studies, online communities, diary studies, or projective techniques – provides unique insights that help shape effective marketing strategies and innovative products.

By investing in these research techniques, we can ensure our marketing efforts are not only data-driven, but also deeply connected to the real needs and desires of our customers, fostering stronger relationships, and driving business growth.

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