Author: Dawn McElfresh, Director of Qualitative Research, The Farnsworth Group
Qualitative research in the building products and home improvement industry can be a combination of in-person and remote conversations. Instead of just simple yes/no answers, qualitative focuses on the why behind these answers. The purpose is to understand the motivating factors, emotions and experiences that drive customer thought processes.
While quantitative research often answers WHAT, qualitative research helps uncover WHY. This valuable information assists our clients with the creation of customer strategies, marketing & sales communications and product development to truly meet the needs of their target market.
Qualitative methods involving in-person experiences include focus groups, retail shop-alongs and in-store intercepts. During these unpredictable times of COVID-19, all travel and face-to-face interactions have ceased.
What does this mean for qualitative research?
Adjust the Methods
Qualitative research must continue and there are other methods that deliver. Our firm has often utilized phone interviews as a primary qualitative tool, and it’s now proving to be very effective. A 30-minute focused conversation, with a well-designed discussion guide, can provide a deep understanding of WHY.
When a project requires visual assets to be understood, use technology to assist. The Farnsworth Group utilizes online conferencing tools for face-to-face interactions or screen sharing to showcase an image or video. If the client can ship samples to our respondents, we can physically test a concept remotely using these tools.
Reduce Costs & Timeline
Remote qualitative research is also cost-effective. There are no facility fees, travel costs and, often, no shipping costs. Plus, it saves your team days of travel to a focus group facility to observe three or four groups.
Expand Your Reach
Our research is customized; therefore, each discussion guide and interview are tailored to meet the needs of that project. We have found that sometimes a respondent is even more willing to open up over the phone, without reservation, given the privacy that a phone call can provide.
With more respondents at your disposal remotely, you should conduct interviews from broader geography or even broader target. Include states and demographics that otherwise are not available by conducting in-person focus groups in one or two cities.
Now is a critical time for our clients to develop their product pipeline and understand customer behaviors. As they move forward with product development and customer marketing strategies, qualitative research must continue to deliver insights on WHY customers are behaving the way they are in this new market.
While we do not know what our future holds as it relates to COVID-19, manufacturers and suppliers in the building product, home improvement and lawn & garden industry still need qualitative research.
For help with your qualitative research needs, contact us to start your project today.