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6 min

What are some methods and examples of qualitative research?

Explore methods and examples of qualitative research

Mar 4, 2023
B2B market research
B2C market research


Qualitative research is a way of gathering information about human behaviour, experience, and attitudes. It involves observing and collecting data from human subjects in an in-depth manner, and researchers use it to understand many different things. Qualitative research is not just one specific technique; there are many different ways to conduct qualitative research, which we'll explore here:

Methods of qualitative research

Qualitative research is different from quantitative research in that it can be used to understand many different things. Companies use qualitative research methods from respondents in an in-depth manner, enabling researchers to capture rich, descriptive data about the context and meaning of experiences. This kind of research uses methods such as interviews, focus groups, and observations (or ethnography).


Interviewing is a research method that involves talking with people. The goal of this type of qualitative research is to learn about the experiences and opinions of individuals or groups. You can conduct these in person, over the phone, or via email.

Interviews are a common method of qualitative research. In interviews, you first ask respondents a series of questions. You can then analyse the answers to draw conclusions about the topic under study. They can be either face-to-face or over the phone.

In-depth interviews are one of the most common methods of qualitative research. Companies use these to gather information about a topic in a detailed and holistic way. You can conduct these types of interviews in person or over the phone; they may be done individually or in groups. The interviewer should be a skilled and experienced researcher who knows how to ask open-ended questions that elicit information from participants without leading them down any particular path.

If you want more detail than what you get from surveys or focus groups (but less than what you'd get from observation), consider doing an in-depth interview with someone who has experience with your product or service area. This can help give you insight into things like customer usage patterns, pain points users face when using your product or service, and areas where improvements could be made based on user feedback.

Interviews are a data collection method that involves asking people questions and listening to the answers they give. They're an excellent way to collect information about a person's thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

Interviews can be unstructured, meaning you don't have a list of specific questions prepared ahead of time. Or, they can be structured with predetermined questions that you ask everyone who participates in your research project.

Case studies

These are popular methods of qualitative research. Researchers often use them to understand the causes, effects, and impact of problems. Businesses also use them to understand how interventions work or don't work. Additionally, you can use a case study to explore and describe the characteristics of a single person, group, or event. The aim of case studies is to understand the characteristics of an individual, group, or event in context with their environment and other factors that may affect them.

Case studies can be used for exploratory purposes (for example when there is little information about how something works), as well as for explanatory purposes (when you want to know why something happened).

It is a method of inquiry that focuses on understanding one particular case in its natural setting. You can use it to understand many different things, including:- 

  • Individual or group behaviour
  • Organisational processes and structures
  • Social systems

The case study method involves an in-depth examination of a single case. Researchers use this method to understand how a specific phenomenon works, why it occurs, and what factors influence it. Companies often use it as part of qualitative research methods, which focus on understanding people’s experiences rather than measuring them. The case study usually involves an in-depth examination of a specific situation, such as the experiences of individuals who live near a proposed nuclear power plant.

It can be either qualitative or quantitative in nature. However, most often it is considered qualitative because it focuses on understanding complex human behaviour rather than making generalisations about large populations based on statistical analysis. They may use interviews with participants, observations of those participants' behaviour (e.g., if you're studying students at school), or questionnaires for self-reported data (e.g., if you want students to fill out surveys asking them about their health).

Case study research is a qualitative approach that researchers use to study a single individual, group, or phenomenon. Researchers most often use it to gain insight into a specific situation or problem by describing it in detail and then comparing it with other situations. Researchers can also use case studies to test theories and hypotheses.

They are a good way to understand complex situations. However, they cannot be used to draw conclusions about how often something happens or what causes it.

Focus groups

Focus groups are a qualitative research method that involves interviewing a group of people. The goal is to collect data from these people. You use it to understand how they think, feel, and behave on a topic. Companies can also use focus groups to understand the social context of a topic. For instance, you can identify how different generations think about something or whether there are any cultural differences in opinions about something. Learn more about focus groups here.

A focus group is a group of people who come together to discuss a topic. Companies use focus groups to gain insights into consumer behaviour and preferences, as well as other topics. For example, you may want to know how customers feel about your product or service, so you can improve it based on their feedback.

You can also use focus groups to help you develop a new product or service. For example, if you’re thinking of launching a new line of beauty products, you could create a focus group with women who are similar to your target market. Then, ask them questions about what they currently use and why they choose those products over others.

  • Focus groups are a form of qualitative research that allows you to gather information from people in an informal, non-threatening way.
  • Researchers use them to gather information about a specific topic or about a particular group of people. The more diverse your focus groups are, the more accurate and useful the results will be!

Focus groups are an efficient way to reach a wide range of people who have similar interests and goals. You can often use them in marketing research, but you can also use them as part of your strategic planning process or to gather feedback on a new idea or project.

Focus groups are a type of qualitative research, which means it involves collecting data from a group of people. In focus groups, the researcher asks participants questions about their perceptions and opinions on a topic or issue. This method can be used to gather information about what consumers think about products they've purchased or are considering buying, as well as how they use those products in their daily lives.

Marketers use focus groups because they give them insight into how consumers think about their products or services (e.g., whether or not they have any needs that aren't being met). They also give companies ideas for new product development based on these insights. For example, if many customers say they'd like something more nutritious than what's currently available at fast food restaurants then perhaps this would be an opportunity for fast food restaurants to introduce healthier options into their menus!

Participant observation

This is another qualitative research method that involves observing and interacting with the people you are studying. You can use participant observation to study many different things, such as cultural phenomena or human behaviour.

Participant observation is useful in many areas of study because it allows researchers to learn about what people do, why they do it, and how they think about their actions. For example: let's say that you want to understand why certain groups of people act differently from others (e.g., if one group has more power than another). In this case, participant observation may be helpful because it helps you see things from their perspective.

Participant observation is a research method that involves direct and prolonged observation of subjects in their natural settings. It is one of the most common qualitative methods because it allows researchers to observe people's behaviour without interfering with it too much. Participant observers are not always passive observers either; they might interact with participants or even shape their actions by giving them specific instructions.

What are some examples of qualitative research?

Qualitative research can be defined as research that attempts to understand the meaning behind phenomena by studying them in their natural setting. This definition implies that qualitative researchers use different methods. These could be interviews and focus groups, to collect data about a topic of interest.

Qualitative researchers use multiple methods to collect data from participants and or informants (people who are knowledgeable about the topic being studied). These methods include:

  • Interviews - asking open-ended questions about your topic with an interviewer present (often called one-on-one interviews) or recording audio files of people talking freely about your topic without an interviewer present (often called focus groups).
  • Observation - observing behaviour without directly interacting with participants or informants; this may include watching videos online where people talk about your topic.

What does qualitative research involve?

Qualitative research is a way of gathering data. It can be used to understand many different things, including

  • How people perceive an issue or problem
  • What motivates them or holds them back from taking action
  • How they feel about something (e.g., their emotional state)
  • How they react to certain stimuli (e.g., a trigger, such as an advertisement)

Qualitative research is a broad term that encompasses many different methods. The most common type of qualitative research is focus groups, where you gather people together and ask them questions about a particular topic or issue. Researchers often use focus groups because they allow them to get feedback from real consumers about what they think about your product or service offerings. They also give them insights into how they would like them improved or changed completely.

Qualitative methods also include:

  • ethnographies, which involve observing individuals within their natural environments over a period of time;
  • interviews where the researcher asks open-ended questions that encourage participants to speak freely without feeling judged by others;
  • participant observation where researchers participate in activities.

Qualitative research uses methods that enable researchers to capture rich, descriptive data about the context and meaning of experiences

 It can be used to understand many different things:

  • The impact of public policy on people's lives
  • How people feel about a new product or service
  • What consumers value most when buying products or services

The goal of qualitative research is not simply to count or compare things but rather to understand their meaning in order to better understand how they can be changed. Qualitative methods are particularly well suited for understanding complex social phenomena and processes such as health care delivery or organisational change. This is because they allow you to explore people's perceptions and beliefs about these topics without imposing preconceived notions on them. Qualitative research methods include interviews, focus groups, observations (such as ethnography), case studies, and more recently virtual reality simulations.

Curious to learn more? You might also want to check out: What industry experts advise to increase participation in qualitative research.

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