Qualitative research is a behavioral research method that relies on non-numerical data derived from observations and recordings that approximate and characterize phenomena. It’s collecting, analyzing, and interpreting non-numerical data, such as language. It sometimes seeks to understand how an individual subjectively perceives and gives meaning to their social reality.
Instead of numbers, qualitative data comes from studying subjects in their natural environment and focusing on understanding the why and how of human behavior in a given situation. It’s especially effective in obtaining information about people's values, opinions, and behaviors.
What are the different types of qualitative research methods?
Qualitative research methods reveal the perspectives of your target audience. You can decide which method you want to use that'll help you receive the highest impact of information from your target audience.
- In-depth or unstructured interviews
In-depth interviews are optimal for collecting data on individuals’ personal histories, perspectives, and experiences, mainly when exploring sensitive topics or follow-up questions are likely necessary. When asking open questions, the interviewer can get a real sense of the person’s understanding of a situation. For example, they might say one thing, but their body language says something else. You may decide on this method to create better solutions and experiences by exploring your users' attitudes, preferences, and opinions as they test out designs and prototypes.
- Focus groups
Focus groups are what you may consider a “group brainstorm”—when a moderator effectively gathers information from multiple subjects at once and generates broad overviews of issues or concerns related to the demographics represented. These offer a lot of flexibility and can be done in person or online.
- Ethnographic research
Ethnographic research observes and studies people in their natural environment to understand their daily habits and provide more context around their behaviors and actions. Without the influence of a researcher present, people are more likely to provide honest reactions, giving teams a clearer window into the lives of their customers.