Qualitative Online Research

New technology or new tool?

Qualitative online researches are not always able to substitute in-site focus groups. It should be considered as a tool for performance of researches of specified type that are very difficult or impossible to be realized in another way or when face-to-face communication is not important.

But online qualitative method has some characteristics that don’t only make it differ from traditional focus groups and deep interviews, but also give researchers new tool for search of consumer in-sites at the century of digital communication and data transfer technologies.

What can online qualitative method add to your quantitative projects?

  • Technologies of qualitative online research give more freedom and give additional value to your projects;

  • It gives answers on questions “How?”, “What?” and “Why?” in addition to “How many?” and “How often?” in quantitative researches;

  • Bigger amount of team members may take part in the research process;

  • Transcripts are available for further analysis immediately.


When should qualitative online researchers be performed?

Before quantitative stage:

  • Hypothesis formation;

  • Initial concept testing;

  • Idea generation.

While quantitative research:

  • Design variants;

  • Packaging;

  • Advertising.

After quantitative stage:

  • Support of quantitative results, specification of answers;

  • Ideas of further researches.


Variants of online qualitative method usage

  • Deep interviews;

  • Usability – suitability of use, for example, of Internet services;

  • Longitude researches: ability of referring to the same responders during long period;

  • Diary researches:

    • Consumption;

    • Diaries of doctors and patients;

    • Media researches (TV, radio, Internet);

  • Moderated blogs: one day from life of product or brand;

  • In-house use testing (IHUT);
  • Home tasks:

    • Photo and video materials made by responders;
    • Tasks in the places of sales.

  • Division of groups into subgroups: dyads and triads;

  • Researches before quantitative stage;

  • Brain storms of task or problem solving: groups with company employees;

  • Mixed groups: for example, doctors and representatives of insurance companies.


Types of qualitative online researches

Online focus groups

  • Synchronous groups with usual duration from 1 to 2 hours;

  • 8-10 responders in the group;

  • Ideal for quick data collecting in projects with tight deadlines;

  • Several groups may be conducted during short time. It gives opportunity of significant exceeding of studied audience;

  • Created for first thoughts and expressions collection;
  • Specification questions, key directions of further work, measurement of emotional phone;

  • Group program interface may be branded at your desire.

Forum format focus groups

  • Asynchronous (responders take part in discussion at different similar with usual online forums);

  • 20 and more people in the group;
  • Give opportunity of sensible discussion performance during several days or even weeks;

  • Amount of participants may be increased, so representatives of different social and demographic groups take part in forum format focus groups;

  • Ability to connect with busy responders (chiefs, doctors, professionals, etc.);
  • Group program interface may be branded at your desire.

Advantages of forum format focus groups

  • Economy of time for participants recruiting and performance of the group;
  • Decrement of costs for qualitative part (up to 50%);

  • More honest, deep and sensible answers of responders;

  • Control of discussion by the moderator (time to give questions, duration of stimulus view, answer status of other participants (closed/opened), etc.);
  • Control the dynamics of group: minimization of influence of hyperactive responders, productive work with passive participants, influence exclusion/ stop;
  • Wide opportunities for video, audio and printed materials testing;
  • Suitability of passing to individual chat and division the group into subgroups;
  • Extended participation of client – virtual watching room;
  • Opportunity of additional discussion performance after concept rework;

  • Integration of exercises and tasks for responders: classification, keyword underlining, placement of own photos and videos, shopping, photo of sale points etc.

  • Suitable integration into quantitative projects;

  • Ability to use forum format focus groups for acquaintance with concepts as opposite to in-site focus group;

  • Ability of blog and diary maintenance for in-house use testing (IHUT);

  • Ideally fits for B2B projects, researches of profitable audiences, projects with wide geography;

  • Ability to study unsuitable topics: health problems, personal hygiene products, anti-fertility agents, sexual behavior etc.

  • Immediate availability of results (transcripts, loaded content etc.).


iMarkit tool

iMarkit is an innovative tool for concept testing. It gives responders the opportunity to estimate advertising materials, video, web pages, packing and any other stimuluses. Participants have several tools for expression of their opinions: comments, fragment selection, arrows, ability to draw on creative, text selection, enlargement and some others.


On-line communities

  • Unique competitive advantage;

  • Ability to interact with consumers in real-time mode for getting information necessary to make operative decisions;
  • Interactive channel for connection, communication and development of relationships with your clients. Ability of creation of involvement sense of community participants as for brand life;
  • Ability to detect key participants of community and to invite them to participate in more detailed discussion;

  • Module for research performance allows to invite community participants to take part in quantitative and qualitative researches;

  • Address communication and opportunity to target messages by different profile attributes of community participants;

  • Use of Web 2.0 technologies for getting content generated by consumers. Community participants may load images and create photo galleries. It gives rich material for ethnographic researches. Also responders may load video using links from YouTube or Google Video and systematize it by categories;

  • Ability to create branded interface of online community with corporative colors, fonts and logo.


Work format and cost

As a rule, realization of qualitative research projects assumes the following work division:


  • provides professional programming tool for research performance;

  • learns employees of client company how to use the software;

  • performs installation and adjustment of software including guide setup for online focus groups and forum format focus groups;

  • controls adequacy of software work while group performance;

  • performs participants recruiting from the groups of own online panels;

  • sends invitations and reminding to participants, i.e. provides presence in groups;

  • pays reward to participants;

  • performs transcript load.


  • determines research design;

  • prepares moderator’s guide;

  • moderates groups;

  • performs transcript analysis;

  • prepares analytical project report.

Cost of qualitative online researches depends on chosen type, amount and time of group performance, complexity of target audience and amount of participants.


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