7 Benefits of qualitative market research (and how to overcome the challenges)

Get new ideas.

Challenge outdated assumptions.

Create narratives that hit home.

Design products that users can’t live without.

These are all reasons to do qualitative research…

The benefits of a qualitative study of your target market are endless, but we’ve gathered the 7 best ones.

Because qualitative research can — and should — be used for so many scenarios. From discovering unexpected insights to validating what you think you know about your customers. It’s essential for everything from refining your product and services based on direct feedback to ensuring your marketing messages hit the mark.

Whether you’re exploring new markets, enhancing customer experience, or simply aiming to connect more deeply with your audience, qualitative research opens up a world of possibilities for informed decision-making and strategic innovation. Let’s look at the advantages that you get from doing qualitative research the right way.

1. Create data-driven marketing and brand campaigns

2. Support and streamline product development

3. Qualitative research is flexible and easy to adapt

4. Stay on top of trends

5. Understand nuanced customer experiences

6. Increased depth of consumer knowledge

7. Reduced customer churn

1. Create data-driven marketing and brand campaigns

Some brands just seem to get their audience, and that’s not just because they’ve hired a team of ”people-persons”. In fact, it’s probably a lot more data-driven than you might think from just looking at their campaigns. What you see there is qualitative research at work, leading brands to decisions that are grounded in their customers’ real feelings and needs.

By integrating these insights, they find the right words, the most relatable stories, and the most engaging content, all based on what their audience truly cares about.

Moreover, every decision, from the tone of voice in an email to the theme of a major campaign, is backed by solid data from their qualitative analysis.

Using qualitative data like this aligns the brand’s actions with consumer expectations, creating experiences that feel tailor-made. That’s when brands become fluent in their audience’s language, and a real conversation can be had.

2. Support and streamline product development

Great product development isn’t developers saying ”hey, look at what we can do!”‘ but about them saying to users: ”hey, look at what YOU can finally do!”. It’s about empowering consumers and that starts with having a deep understanding of how they interact with your product.

And qualitative data helps them do exactly that.

When analytics show where users get stuck, the data collection from qualitative research shows why —and how to help them move forward. Using that combination of quantitative and qualitative research will enable you to create user-friendly and market-ready products far quicker and more efficiently than with guesswork.

3. Qualitative research is flexible and easy to adapt

There are so many ways to uncover the ‘why’ behind the what, the qualitative data behind the numbers. That’s one of the many beauties of qualitative research methods: you can adapt it to specific situations.

If you want to zoom in, get some customers to sit down one-on-one with you. If you want to uncover sentiments or trends in a larger group, you can send out video surveys. And if you want dynamic, creative discussions, you use focus groups.

You can combine methods to collect data of different formats and test whether your findings from one match with the other. This versatility in gathering data is great for really getting to know the nuances that live within your target audience.

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If you want to know what’s going to be trending soon, all you need to do is listen. With the right qualitative market research methods you can catch sentiments that turn into trends before your competitors do.

Luckily, qualitative research, with its smaller sample sizes, means you can gather and analyze consumer opinions pretty quickly. This speed combined with the reassurance from quantitative research lets you identify emerging trends before they’re already cringe.

But it’s not just about being fast — it’s about being right. That’s exactly what qualitative research lets you be.

Sure, numerical data can also quickly show you trends — peaks or drops in any graph highlight that something is going on. But without knowing exactly what, taking action is a big risk that you shouldn’t be taking.

5. Understand nuanced customer experiences

On paper, customers might seem very similar, all fitting the description of your ”ideal target customer”. But one might give you 10/10, while another might leave quietly after a free trial.

People are nuanced, and anything can influence their experience with your product or service. Qualitative research allows you to discover those nuances.

With qualitative research, you find out that people say that newsletters past 6PM are ”annoying”, or that they’re not reading anything attentively past that time.

And that’s just scratching the surface of just how deep qualitative research methods can go.

Knowing what your target customers are thinking and feeling will increase your empathy for them and allow you to make more tailored decisions that truly suit their needs.

6. Increased depth of consumer knowledge

Quantitative research methods don’t allow for ”yes, but..”.

You might think you’re getting to know your customers through a quantitative research study, but you’re only getting to know them within the limits of the framework that you yourself built for this research.

With qualitative research, you can step outside of that and give your audience the freedom to tell you new, surprising things about themselves.

It places you right in the middle of their natural environments, whether that’s through ethnographic studies, diary entries, or in-depth interviews. This context enriches your understanding, making the data collected far more meaningful and actionable.

7. Reduced customer churn

So, let’s sum it up. What happens when you take the time to listen to someone, actively try to cater to their needs and even get to learn the unspoken truths about them through observation or reading between the lines?

Exactly: people will want to stay close to people and brands who make them feel heard and understood.

By deeply understanding their needs, preferences, and the nuances of their experiences with your brand — and acting on this knowledge — you set the stage for increased customer loyalty and reduced churn.

And it’s not ‘just’ some form of emotional attachment, it also simply boils down to something practical: When your products and services are sculpted with the rich insights gained from qualitative research, they align more closely with what your customers actually want and need — so why would they leave?

The challenges of qualitative market research

We couldn’t call ourselves lovers of research and not provide some balance to this list.

Of course conducting qualitative research isn’t just big benefits and amazing insights. Here are some challenges you’ll face through your qualitative market research, and how to overcome them:

  • Bias and subjectivity can sneak in. When you’re dealing with open-ended responses, it’s easy to read too much into them based on your own perspectives and assumptions. Mix up your research team to bring different viewpoints to the table and use structured ways to look at the data. Tools that help with data analysis can also keep things more objective.
  • Getting the right people to talk to can be tough. Finding participants that perfectly match your target audience is easier said than done, and that doesn’t even include convincing them to participate. Use a tool that takes care of this for you, so you can focus on the questions and answers.
  • Qualitative research often involves fewer participants. This might leave you wondering if what you’re hearing reflects the bigger picture. Blend in some quantitative data to round out the picture. Platforms like Attest make it easy to combine both qualitative and quantitative insights.
  • So much data, so little time. Sifting through all the feedback can feel overwhelming. Not just because of the amounts, but also because you’re not sure whether you’re processing it right. Luckily, there are qualitative data analysis tools out there that can help you sort, organize, and make sense of all the information.

We’re not saying Attest is the answer to everything, but it is for a lot of issues. Check out our rundown of how different market research tools work to see whether or not we are right for each other.  

How to ace a new client pitch with qual

Qual research helped retail experience agency Barrows understand glasses wearers’ pain points and wow a prospective client. Read on for the full case study.

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Power your product development with qualitative market research

It’s clear that qualitative market research is the best way to hit the jackpot, particularly for product development and data-driven decision-making.

Getting genuine, unscripted insights can steer your product development in directions you might not have considered before.

And the ultimate market research toolkit will include insights from both qualitative and quantitative research. Blending the two will make sure you have a comprehensive understanding of your target customers.


What is qualitative market research?

Qualitative market research is about understanding your customers’ perspectives through their own words. Qualitative research methods involve collecting non-numerical data like opinions, experiences, and motivations through methods such as videos, interviews and focus groups. This approach helps you grasp the why behind customer behaviors.

Through methods like interviews, focus groups, and observation, you get to hear the stories, understand the emotions, and uncover the motivations that drive consumer behavior. It’s a way to collect valuable, in-depth insights that numerical data (quantitative research) and other research methods can’t provide, helping you grasp not just what your customers are doing but why they’re doing it.

Why is qualitative market research important?

Qualitative marketing research is crucial because it offers insights into your customers’ minds that you can’t get from numbers alone. It’s crucial because it gives you a clearer picture of consumer behavior, beyond what can be measured in surveys or captured in quantitative data.

Understanding the nuances of how people feel about your product, brand, or service allows for more tailored and effective decision-making. Whether you’re refining your marketing messages or developing new products, conducting qualitative market research helps your strategies resonate deeply with your target audience.

What are the benefits of qualitative market research?

Qualitative research shines when it comes to uncovering the rich, complex fabric of consumer opinions and experiences. It’s a powerhouse for generating valuable insights that inform data-driven marketing and brand campaigns.

By engaging directly with consumers, you gain a nuanced understanding of their needs and preferences, which is gold for guiding product development and enhancing user experiences. Additionally, this approach’s flexibility makes it easier to adapt to market changes, stay ahead of trends, and identify unmet needs that can spark innovation.

Moreover, it can significantly reduce customer churn by ensuring your offerings align closely with what your customers truly value.

What challenges do market researchers face with qualitative methods, and how can they be overcome?

One of the biggest challenges is ensuring the reliability and objectivity of the data collected, as personal biases from both researchers and participants can skew results.

Overcoming this requires a careful research design, a clear and structured research process, and, when possible, triangulation of data from multiple sources to validate findings. Another challenge is the time and resources required for data collection and analysis, which can be mitigated by using technology like online focus groups or qualitative analysis software.

These tools not only streamline the research process but also expand the reach of your research, allowing you to conduct studies across diverse demographics and geographical locations more efficiently.

What are some common methods of conducting qualitative market research?

Qualitative market research can take many forms, from one-on-one interviews that offer deep dives into individual consumer experiences to video interviews and focus groups that provide a broad spectrum of opinions and dynamics.

Other methods include ethnographic research, where researchers observe consumers in their natural environments, and content analysis, where the focus is on analyzing communication patterns and content. Each method serves different research objectives, from developing new products to understanding consumer behavior and gathering data that informs every aspect of your marketing efforts.

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Liam Leahy

Customer Research Manager 

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