Watchouts

  • Qual results are not representative of the general population and cannot be projected. Those marketing decisions that rely on the measurement of one or more variables should not be based purely on qual.
  • Qualitative lacks the statistical foundation that guides decision makers in quant, as to the significance of the results. It is therefore susceptible to selective perception and interpretation.  Marketers and decision makers should be wary of this and remain open to all responses and comments, not merely those findings that they would like to hear.
  • Qual findings are exploratory, not conclusive. Decision makers should neither place greater confidence than warranted in the results, nor should they dismiss the findings as inconsequential.
  • Low cost should not be the reason to use focus groups as an alternative to quantitative research.
  • The unstructured nature of the responses in qual research complicate coding, analysis, and interpretation. Furthermore since analysis in qual is the product of the researcher’s implicit models of evaluation and interpretation, it will vary with researcher. The capability of the researcher is accordingly a determinant of research quality, which introduces a level of inconsistency in qual.
  • The growth of online qual has led to the influx of boutique agencies some of which rely more on technology than the soft skills that distinguish a qual researcher. At the same time some end-users enamoured by technology, and lured by low costs, may fail to fully appreciate the true benefits of qual. The resulting commoditization may lead to deterioration in the overall standards of quality of qual research.
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