Qualitative Methods Examples

Qualitative methods are used to understand, beyond the quantitative approach, the behaviors and attitudes of people by tapping into interviews, focus groups, and qualitative observation.

One-on-one interviews

Detailed, one-on-one interviews are one of the most popular qualitative data collection approaches.

It involves a natural and free-flowing conversation where the interviewer asks open-ended questions that encourage in-depth answers.

The success of this method ultimately rests on the quality of primary (and follow-up) questions. Indeed, the researcher must ask the sorts of questions that will yield the most meaningful data.

Most interviews are performed either on the phone or face-to-face, with the latter enabling the business to read the body language of respondents as they react to certain questions.

Focus groups

Focus groups are another popular source of qualitative data.

They tend to be most effective in eliciting data on cultural norms or clarifying issues of concern within those cultures.

They are also useful for complex processes and in instances where market research on new products or ideas is required.

The ideal size of a focus group is around 5-8 participants, but the size of the group can be increased to 10 if individuals are less experienced with the topic at hand.

Ethnographic research

Otherwise known as participant observation, ethnographic research involves direct observation of people in their natural environment.

This environment may be a home, city, remote location, or even another organization.

In essence, ethnographic research is a form of research design that seeks to understand the motivations, challenges, cultures, and settings that individuals encounter whilst living their lives.

Aside from direct observation, interviewers may also take notes from diary studies, photography, artifact analysis, and video recordings. Studies themselves can last anywhere from a couple of hours to several years.

Qualitative observation

Qualitative observation is a method where the researcher collects information based on the five senses of hearing, taste, touch, smell, and sight.

This is a form of direct observation where both the study organizer and participants are immersed in the research.

Questions are established as the study evolves which allows room for new tests or hypotheses to emerge.

This is a highly subjective form of qualitative data collection.

Bias can be introduced to the study since each individual lives a unique experience and interprets interactions based on their particular skillset and experiences.

Grounded theory model

Grounded theory model is a method with a core focus on building theories from naturally occurring field data.

In other words, it strives to develop new ways of understanding the patterns of interaction among study participants in real-life contexts.

Corporations use the grounded theory model whilst conducting surveys to determine why consumers use their products or services.

Insights from the model enable the company to better manage customer loyalty and satisfaction.

The model is also used to examine key issues in a B2B context such as complex decision-making processes and the interactions (or relationships) that exist in social and professional networks.

Read Next: Characteristics of Quantitative Research

Connected Analysis Frameworks

Cynefin Framework

The Cynefin Framework gives context to decision making and problem-solving by providing context and guiding an appropriate response. The five domains of the Cynefin Framework comprise obvious, complicated, complex, chaotic domains and disorder if a domain has not been determined at all.

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT Analysis is a framework used for evaluating the business’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It can aid in identifying the problematic areas of your business so that you can maximize your opportunities. It will also alert you to the challenges your organization might face in the future.

Personal SWOT Analysis

The SWOT analysis is commonly used as a strategic planning tool in business. However, it is also well suited for personal use in addressing a specific goal or problem. A personal SWOT analysis helps individuals identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Pareto Analysis

The Pareto Analysis is a statistical analysis used in business decision making that identifies a certain number of input factors that have the greatest impact on income. It is based on the similarly named Pareto Principle, which states that 80% of the effect of something can be attributed to just 20% of the drivers.

Failure Mode And Effects Analysis

A failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) is a structured approach to identifying design failures in a product or process. Developed in the 1950s, the failure mode and effects analysis is one the earliest methodologies of its kind. It enables organizations to anticipate a range of potential failures during the design stage.

Blindspot Analysis

A Blindspot Analysis is a means of unearthing incorrect or outdated assumptions that can harm decision making in an organization. The term “blindspot analysis” was first coined by American economist Michael Porter. Porter argued that in business, outdated ideas or strategies had the potential to stifle modern ideas and prevent them from succeeding. Furthermore, decisions a business thought were made with care caused projects to fail because major factors had not been duly considered.

Comparable Company Analysis

A comparable company analysis is a process that enables the identification of similar organizations to be used as a comparison to understand the business and financial performance of the target company. To find comparables you can look at two key profiles: the business and financial profile. From the comparable company analysis it is possible to understand the competitive landscape of the target organization.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

A cost-benefit analysis is a process a business can use to analyze decisions according to the costs associated with making that decision. For a cost analysis to be effective it’s important to articulate the project in the simplest terms possible, identify the costs, determine the benefits of project implementation, assess the alternatives.

Agile Business Analysis

Agile Business Analysis (AgileBA) is certification in the form of guidance and training for business analysts seeking to work in agile environments. To support this shift, AgileBA also helps the business analyst relate Agile projects to a wider organizational mission or strategy. To ensure that analysts have the necessary skills and expertise, AgileBA certification was developed.

SOAR Analysis

A SOAR analysis is a technique that helps businesses at a strategic planning level to: Focus on what they are doing right. Determine which skills could be enhanced. Understand the desires and motivations of their stakeholders.

STEEPLE Analysis

The STEEPLE analysis is a variation of the STEEP analysis. Where the step analysis comprises socio-cultural, technological, economic, environmental/ecological, and political factors as the base of the analysis. The STEEPLE analysis adds other two factors such as Legal and Ethical.

Pestel Analysis

The PESTEL analysis is a framework that can help marketers assess whether macro-economic factors are affecting an organization. This is a critical step that helps organizations identify potential threats and weaknesses that can be used in other frameworks such as SWOT or to gain a broader and better understanding of the overall marketing environment.

DESTEP Analysis

A DESTEP analysis is a framework used by businesses to understand their external environment and the issues which may impact them. The DESTEP analysis is an extension of the popular PEST analysis created by Harvard Business School professor Francis J. Aguilar. The DESTEP analysis groups external factors into six categories: demographic, economic, socio-cultural, technological, ecological, and political.

Paired Comparison Analysis

A paired comparison analysis is used to rate or rank options where evaluation criteria are subjective by nature. The analysis is particularly useful when there is a lack of clear priorities or objective data to base decisions on. A paired comparison analysis evaluates a range of options by comparing them against each other.

Related Strategy Concepts: Go-To-Market StrategyMarketing StrategyBusiness ModelsTech Business ModelsJobs-To-Be DoneDesign ThinkingLean Startup CanvasValue ChainValue Proposition CanvasBalanced ScorecardBusiness Model CanvasSWOT AnalysisGrowth HackingBundlingUnbundlingBootstrappingVenture CapitalPorter’s Five ForcesPorter’s Generic StrategiesPorter’s Five ForcesPESTEL AnalysisSWOTPorter’s Diamond ModelAnsoffTechnology Adoption CurveTOWSSOARBalanced ScorecardOKRAgile MethodologyValue P

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