Life science marketers and executives tends to give more value to quantitative research and to undervalue qualitative insights. Quantitative research answers how much of a population thinks a certain way, whereas qualitative information gets to the root of what the population is thinking to begin with.
Quantitative methodologies include surveys, which rely on statistical differences between fixed choices in response, while qualitative research encourages open-ended response through one-on-one interviews, dyads and triads, focus groups and observational (or anthropological) studies.
Often, marketers forego the rich texture that qualitative research unearths in favor of the statistical significance of quantitative studies, reasoning that the relatively small number of respondents in a qualitative study is not reliable. This cannot be farther from the truth. Solid qualitative research can consist of interviewing as few as six to twelve subjects.
Conducting Qualitative Research
Conducting an actionable qualitative study is dependent on three key variables: First is to cherry-pick the right set of respondents who represent archetypes of their audience. Once the optimal respondents have been identified, it is imperative to develop a robust discussion guide that encourages respondents to open up and provide their opinions. Masters of qualitative research treat every interview as a conversation, and use a series of probes or provocations, to encourage respondents to talk freely. Finally, qualitative research requires systematic analysis of the transcripts, which serve as the raw data. Here, analysts need to look for language patterns to identify themes as well as the triggering thoughts that lead to those themes.
For example, during a qualitative research for a capital equipment purchase, we noticed that almost every respondent used familial themes when provoked about brands. Words such as “family” “cousin”, “sister”, all suggested that researchers place a great level of their self-identity in this specific instrument. This insight was golden in developing a marketing strategy and campaign.
Analyzed results from such a targeted qualitative study can then be used to shape the design of an online survey very quickly, which enables marketers to benchmark the market. Further, a combined qualitative and quantitative approach provides a depth of information unachievable with either, singly.M