The qualitative approach within the market research industry is of increasing importance. Why this approach is required in many occasions?
Tempranillo varietal wine bottle and glass, showing colour Shot with Nikon D70s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
CASE STUDY¹. Imaging your company want to export Spanish wine to Poland. In this country, it is well known that either beer or vodka are more popular drink than wine, but nothing is clear about the Polish delight in wine, and even less in Spanish wine. For this reason, the company has contacted a market research agency and they plan to develop a telephone survey of a Polish population representative sample. Results show that just 10% of population drinks more than one glass of wine a month, instead of the 20% in other eastern European countries. Also, results show that the consumption of wine is less common in the group between 25 and 35 years old. The researcher seems to have a clear marketing strategy.
But something important is still up in the air. How to address this population? A qualitative approach has complemented the quantitative data by mean a number of focus groups in Warsaw. The idea of the research is gathering at least eight people between 25 and 35 years old that do not consume wine usually and another group of eight people at the same age who consume wine at least once a month. Questions as “habits of alcohol consumption in general”, “willingness to increase wine consumption”, “reasons to not consume” were asked. Below you can see some of the sentences that were listened to in the discussions:
“…I do not drink wine because I never know what kind of wine goes with each food…”
“…I have a feeling that wine is more for old people, and I feel young…”
“I do prefer to support Polish industry of vodka and beer”
“…yeah! and also for high standard of living people, I feel that beer is more…how to say…more akin to my people”
“…bottles information are not translated into polish so I do not even know where this wine is from”
“…I get drunk too fast! beer is more kind of easy-going…”
“…I really like wine but all my friends prefer beer so… I don´t want to be a weirdo when go to a party…”
QUESTION: WHAT MAKES THE QUALITATIVE APPROACH DIFFERENT FROM QUANTITATIVE ONE?
The quantitative approach is very important to quantify the reality. The representative percentage of wine-consumers in Poland or the frequency of consuming is unobtainable but by mean questionnaire or statistics. Ad hoc questionnaire may help us also to understand opinions and attitudes of people toward your product by mean opinion scales as well as including some open-ended questions.
However, three factors make this approach inappropriate when investigator sought a more detailed opinion:
1. Time: especially in phone questionnaires, the interviewees feel generally in hurry either by the surveyor or by him/herself. On the contrary, the more calm and tranquil atmosphere provided by qualitative methods as interview or focus group, encourages a major commitment and engagement.
2. Interaction: while the interaction in quantitative methods in occasions does not even exist or is limited to a phone conversation, in the qualitative one, the number of interaction increases exponentially, allowing at the same time a major capacity to adjust questions and improvising new ones as the interviews progress. In the case of the focus group, the interaction is produced also among the members of the group which represent a great advantage of this technique, since many of the most profound opinions we have are just seen clearly by ourselves after discussing with others.
3. Depth of the analysis: quantitative approach usually deals with countable behaviors or resources: number of wine bottles sold in Poland last year, number of wine glass per week, etc. it hardly allow researcher gets know about emotions, values and beliefs. Making use of the iceberg metaphor, focus group, interview, but also the analysis of comments in forums or just graffiti in a wall expresses better than nothing our deepest view of the world.
Finally: critical reflection for a organization manager: What values do your brand transmit? Is your organization media strategy connected efficiently with your buyers? What is more, is your organization media strategy connected with your potential market? Just when a company reach to understand its target´s deepest and detailed opinions, values and beliefs, the marketing and communication strategies implemented may cause a truly impact on the sales.
Flick, U. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research
. Sage Publications
Martínez, P., & Rodríguez, P. M. (2008). Cualitativa-mente. ESIC Editorial.
Silverman, D. (2011). Interpreting qualitative data. Sage Publications Limited.
1 This case is not real, although some of the sentences were taken from real cases