Three ways to optimize your next qualitative research project

Using qualitative approaches is nothing new in research. It is often applied to help strengthen quantitative approaches to give answers to questions that cannot always be obtained by measurements alone.

Qualitative research – as a broad approach – often employs in-person focus groups, in-person interviews or online survey open-end text boxes to tap into a respondent’s thoughts, feelings, attitudes and behaviours.

Insightrix has been collecting qualitative data for years – and we’ve directly benefited from using these approaches to enrich survey data.

Using qualitative data in online surveys can be engaging (and, dare I say… sometimes fun?) for respondents, while research groups find it easy and rewarding to support quantitative data – and that can be a game changer in presentations to your board members. In the past, Insightrix has employed qualitative tools for many exciting projects with partners and clients.

We’ve used qualitative methods like:

  • Observational research – like ethnography – and we have been served well by using this approach.
  • Market research online communities (MROCs) – using MROCs in select research projects allows for much larger participant groups and exciting opportunities for survey design.
  • Open-ended text questions on online surveys – these can be fun for participants and can really help provide researchers with a more complete picture
  • Focus groups – we even travel across the nation to facilitate focus groups. Yes… still.
  • In-depth interviews – for many consulting projects that require explicit details from participants, IDIs are essential.

But what do all these approaches have in common?

They require human intervention, human coding – and time.

Yes, qualitative research takes time to dig into. It’s a way to uncover more about a subject rather than determining the research narrative by crunching the numbers.

But when insights are wanted quickly and are expected to come with depth – are these qualitative methodologies the best approach to get the whole story?

That depends.

By using these approaches, will it take the research team time and effort to develop the insights?


We know that, going into a new decade, our research participants are changing – they expect quick survey experiences, they appreciate best-in-class user design and have more immediate distractions than ever before.

So, if our clients’ demands are changing and survey participants’ experiences are evolving rapidly – shouldn’t market research be innovating qualitative approaches at the same pace?

Here are three ways to optimize your next qualitative research project that will appease both your research participants, as well as your clients:


Find a unique way to tell the story through another person’s lens.

For example, if you are an ice cream producer who is curious about the visibility of your packaging in a specific chain superstore you operate in – you may want to conduct market research to find out what is most visible to your customers and who frequents these chain stores of interest. Your business would then work with a research team who may use an ethnography approach to answer this research question about your product and its visibility in stores.

Ethnography would allow the research team to find participants who have purchased the ice cream in the past 12 months and those who frequent the chain store.

The participant/ice cream connoisseur may be tasked with a research scenario that employs video response using an application to help the respondent tell their experience in their own words. The brand could follow up by asking about a competitor’s visibility and how it compares to your own. You could even have the participant travel to other locations to explore the same research question.

While the incentive would have to outweigh the work involved for the participant, the research team would be able to gather rich qualitative data which the ice cream brand could then include in their next product packaging or distribution decisions.

Let video responses tell a larger-than-life story for consumer research.

Video is one of the most effective ways to provide a short survey experience for your participant. Not only does it provide the opportunity to see through the eyes of the consumer – it allows for rich storytelling that can bring life to research findings.

Take Vox Pops – they are a fly-on-the-wall video research approach that are quick and cost effective, and they allow us to share market research information while gaining hot topic insights from the general population.

Insightrix uses Vox Pop video research for consumer-curated content that gives greater engagement and deeper interaction with our brand. It gives us an opportunity to share video research with the general population who may be interested in the topics discussed while exploring the insights of the gen pop through video that is digestible for social media audiences.

Vox Pops are quick and easy to turn around – avoiding the time a qualitative survey would take to set up. A short and informal interview can be a great way to simplify collecting public opinion that can be applied to many business needs – like marketing!

We have recently done Vox Pops on subjects like quality of life, opinion on professional sports, holiday shopping and purchase habits – and even favourite beer brands! These Vox Pops can be done in 48 hours from question to completion.

Use a video response tool to gain insights into your target market’s desires and expectations.

One easy and cost-effective way to improve qualitative research online is the inclusion of video responses. Video responses can assess attitudes or immediate reactions associated with a question. Survey participants are more likely to elicit feedback and give the researcher more diverse data to evaluate.

Video responses provide the participant the opportunity to answer authentically because they are in a comfortable setting using one-way communication – instead of driving to a strange facility or sitting on the other line of a one-on-one interview, answering thoughtful questions.

This approach can provide video reels that capture multiple respondents’ answers and allow clients and stakeholders to view responses from the consumers themselves. Video insights are deeper than an open-end at the end of a market research survey – they provide an opportunity for the survey participant to tell an authentic story, they let the researcher ask for a unique answer and they give video research data that can be applied to internal stakeholder presentations that provide more depth than any well-designed PowerPoint slide.

Video response questions can be applied in ad hoc market research projects – they require very little work to include in an online survey and provide a value add to any quantitative research project.

Without being intrusive, video questions can be easily opted out of and the same question can be applied in other methods, so as not to lose data, and not have to re-involve your participants either.

We do not require video responses to be mandatory, and we know the response rate is important. An extra (small) incentive to provide a video response is important – but so is the question you ask!

Make the survey experience is rewarding and don’t ask a question that can be effortlessly typed out in a text box or that will create any bias. Ask a question that allows the respondent to share a story. Ask about an experience or get feedback on something they have just been shown – like a new logo or new product packaging.

Video responses are a great storytelling solution for your survey that will both enrich your qualitative data while providing the top of mind feedback that can take your research report to the next level.