Qualitative Research Methods

Qualitative research is a broad approach to research made up of multiple methodologies with their own strengths and limitations. Each of these methods capitalizes on a different aspect of human behavior. They can either be used alone or in conjunction with one or more methods. When combined with results from quantitative studies, qualitative research done using these methods can provide an incredibly powerful understanding of consumer behavior.

Mixed Methodologies

Mixed methodologies are the combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods. Quantitative data can display overall trends and patterns, while qualitative research can produce subjective data. Therefore, a balance between quantitative and qualitative data can result in a rounded analysis rooted in both consumer opinions and statistical trends.

Monadic Testing

At its core, monadic testing is a way to get feedback on a product in isolation. Participants react to a certain stimulus without having another version or product to compare it to, therefore offering a completely neutral and clear response.


Imagine a cookie company wants to know what buyers feel about their latest double chocolate chip cookie recipe. Researchers give participants only that cookie and ask for their feedback on how the cookie tastes, smells, looks, and feels. This gives the company an understanding of how their customers feel about this specific cookie, without comparing it to another flavor.

Sequential Monadic Testing

Sequential monadic testing is a method of evaluating a number of products one after another. This can be used to compare the current design of a product to a new one and get audience feedback on which design they prefer.


An advertising company is rolling out a brand-new ad campaign but has two slightly different versions of the same ad. By using sequential monadic testing, they ask respondents to compare and contrast the two ads, highlighting what they liked and disliked about each one. The company can now use this feedback to make a clearer judgment on which ad they should launch.

How to Conduct a Focus Group

Focus groups are a crucial element in market research and are used to gauge broader consumer opinions based on a small group of participants. Focus groups are intimate discussions led by a researcher to better understand reactions to a particular product. As the name indicates, they are focused on a single topic.

Focus groups require meticulous planning. To prepare, every focus group needs a trained leader who is well-versed with the topic and is comfortable guiding conversation. Ideally, all the questions and topics would be written down in advance as a blueprint for the discussion, to make sure every aspect is covered. Additionally, the group participants should be carefully selected as a representative sample of the larger target audience. Finally, make sure to have a way to note down the participants’ reactions – either a video/voice recorder or a notebook. When conducting the session, ensure that each participant can voice their thoughts while sticking to the discussion outline.

Qualitative Observation

Your five main senses – sight, sound, smell, taste, and feel – are what make up qualitative observation. Observations based on sensation tend to be more subjective and use descriptors and emotions rather than quantifiable data.


A cosmetics company experimenting with a new line of perfumes might want to gather qualitative observational data. This can help them to understand how customers may react to the new fragrances. What do they think of the color and shape of the bottle? Do they like the feel of the frosted glass, or do they prefer the regular? And most importantly, what do consumers think of the smell? For a company looking to expand its range of products, questions like these help guide their thinking.

Triangulation in Qualitative Research

Triangulation is using multiple qualitative research methods to develop a thorough understanding and gain various perspectives on a product. While a single method might reveal one aspect of consumer behavior, using multiple methods in conjunction with each other can paint a richer, more holistic portrait.

Monadic testing can get you raw feedback, sequential monadic testing can provide comparative analysis, and a focus group – designed based on the results of the previous research methods – might offer new perspectives only brought about by the group discussion. The results from these three different qualitative research methods reveal insights that just one wouldn’t be able to.

Limitations of Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is time-consuming, labor-intensive, and may not lead to simple conclusions. It requires gathering troves of perspectives and experiences from numerous participants, which is neither an easy nor quick task. Additionally, the subjective nature of qualitative data means that analyses might not be as straightforward as quantitative data, such as statistics. However, while qualitative research might require a fair amount of effort, the resulting data is invaluable for market researchers.

How Is Invoke Different?

Invoke Is Big Qual. An Invoke LIVE session brings every stakeholder together on a consumer-led journey that leads to a real-time decision.

  • Invoke is inclusive, bringing together showrunners, marketing, brand managers, business executives, and market researchers on an hour-long conversation with your target audience.
  • It’s conclusive, enabling you to probe audience sentiment, test concepts on the fly, attain clarity about strategy and message – and make the right decisions, often by the session’s end.
  • Our research is organic and illuminating, offering rich and sometimes unanticipated insights into how your audience views you and their world: the Why behind the What.
  • It’s qual and quant simultaneously, with audiences of many hundreds in a single session.

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