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Qualitative marketing research

Qualitative research is a set of research techniques, used in marketing and the social sciences, in which data are obtained from a relatively small group of respondents and not analyzed with statistical techniques. This differentiates it from quantitative research in which a large group of respondents provides data that is statistically analyzed.

Table of contents
1 The role of qualitative research
2 Approaches
3 The main types of qualitative research are:
4 See also
5 Lists of related topics

The role of qualitative research

Qualitative research methods are used primarily as a prelude to quantitative research. They are used to define a problem, generate hypotheses, identify determinants, and develop quantitative research designs. They are inexpensive and fast. Because of the low number of respondents involved, these exploratory research methods can not be used to generalize to the whole population. They are however, very valuable for exploring an issue and are used by almost all researchers. They can be better than quantitative research at probing below the surface for affective drives and subconscious motivations.


Most qualitative methods use a direct approach : they clearly disclose the purpose of the study and the organization that commissioned it. Questions are direct and to the point. Many other qualitative techniques use an indirect approach. The true intent of the research is disguised, either by claiming a false purpose or by omitting any reference to the study’s purpose. Some researchers have ethical misgivings about the deceit involved in this approach. Those researchers that use this approach feel that it provides the more honest and accurate responses. If disguised methods are used, all respondents should, on completion, attend a debriefing session in which the true purpose of the research is given and the reason for the deception explained.

The main types of qualitative research are:

See also

Lists of related topics