Watching the Olympics is inspiring. Seeing athletes who are the best-of-the-best motivates a lot of every-day Joe’s to get off the couch and try their hand at whatever sport inspires them. It usually becomes pretty clear, pretty quickly that what the Olympians made look so easy and graceful on the screen, is in reality really, really hard. Believe it or not, analyzing qualitative research is similar.
Take focus groups for instance. It sounds easy, right? What can be so hard about gathering some people in a room and asking a bunch of questions? This is a perfect example of something being harder than it appears. Depending on how your questions are structured you could end up with answers that support what you want to hear, rather than an honest evaluation of what your product is and how it is perceived. When deciding to work with a research marketing company, it’s important to know if moderators and analysts are trained and educated in developing questions that avoid confirmation bias.
With the list of questions in hand a well-trained moderator knows how to gently probe focus-group participants so they reveal the how and why behind their thinking. It’s never as simple as questions that allow for yes/no responses. A good moderator knows how to elicit why and why not, or explore to find what’s missing that the respondent would like to see/know more about. In fact, the best moderators (like the one InterQ has) are trained in psychology and use a variety of psychological techniques to ensure that we’re diving below the surface to learn how people actually respond, instead of taking at face-value what people say.
At the conclusion of a focus group, the moderator will then transcribe everything that was discussed in the group so that a qualitative research analyst can read through what was shared and begin to distill a few hours of conversation into a more manageable document. From there, the analyst will search for patterns in responses. Analysts are so titled because they—analyze. Some questions are more important than others and knowing what the company’s objective is, the analyst will focus in on the responses to questions that best illuminate what the company wants to know more about. A typical focus group will yield 300-500 pages of transcribed documents that need to be painstakingly coded and analyzed for the final report.
Analyzing qualitative research is a multi-step process
The challenge for the analyst is knowing what to pay attention to. There is often a lot of superfluous information that comes out of a focus group. While some of it may be really interesting, it doesn’t necessarily need to be included in a final report that is delivered to the client.
It should be clear by now that qualitative analysts are the Olympians of marketing research. The final reports and presentations they deliver to the client should be clear, concise, and easy to follow with calls to action. InterQ prides itself of hiring well-trained moderators and analysts who can make sense of a lot of information and create a roadmap for companies that is easy to navigate. Sure, our final analyses seem easy and obvious, but as any top athlete will tell you, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes activity involved.