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Our 5 best practices for qualitative market research

22 Sep 2021
Group of people sitting in a focus group.

Qualitative research is a cornerstone of market research, but ensuring we provide the right insights from qualitative methods to our clients is paramount to us. Here are our five most important practices for conducting successful qualitative research at FieldworkHub.

1.     Be clear about the research objectives

Getting the right responses depends on asking the right questions, and to determine the right questions to ask you need a clear set of research objectives.

We believe that aligning ourselves with what our clients want to achieve is the best way to orient ourselves in a new market research project. We take the time to understand what our clients want, think about future outcomes and try to avoid making assumptions about the research. Where the research objective is broad, we often find it helpful to lay out a series of smaller sub-goals.

After clearly defining and understanding research objectives, we recommend confirming that the proposed research method is the best one to adopt. For example, would individual interviews be better than focus groups and would an ethnographic approach be even better?

2.     Know your audience like the back of your hand

Familiarity with your audience is familiarity with your research. We always encourage our clients to ask, “who is the audience and what are their distinctive characteristics?”.

Your research might target multiple audiences in multiple markets, and your messaging may be drastically different across these audiences. Thinking about the specific questions you need to ask each segment in each market to gain the insights you need will help ensure that your screeners and discussion guides are tailored for each group. Also, to get the best from your respondents you want to ensure that their experience of taking part feels personalised and exciting.

3.     Limit the bias in your research

It is impossible to get rid of bias within your research completely, particularly with qualitative methods, but you should still strive to minimise bias to improve your chances of uncovering new perspectives or new prospective customer groups. Think about possible causes of bias when specifying the screening criteria for your sample, but also keep it in mind when developing the research materials: simple things such as the introduction given by the moderator, the ordering of research questions and the design of your stimulus materials can unintentionally introduce bias in your research.

4.     Use skilled researchers to support your work

Excellent researchers are a key contributor to excellent research: use experienced moderators and interviewers and you are likely to get a deeper understanding of your audience. This is why at FieldworkHub, we try so hard to work with the best researchers, mostly using third-party researchers with specific subject-matter or sector knowledge rather than pushing our clients to use in-house interviewers.


Besides gaining more insightful responses, a skilled researcher will put everyone at ease, pick up on non-verbal cues and handle vulnerable participants in a sensitive manner. A good researcher will also introduce balance in group discussions, ensuring that all respondents are heard and the conversation isn’t dominated by the more vocal members of the group.

5.     Consider combining your qualitative research with quantitative insights

Qualitative and quantitative research make the best team, as they complement each other. Whilst qualitative research can explore new themes and help you get to know your audience on a deeper level, quantitative research provides easily digestible numerical values that contribute to a complete picture of your overall audience.

For example, quantitative insights can help you understand a broad market or audience, whereas qualitative research can help you explore a subset of your audience at a more detailed level. In many cases, a mixed methods approach can provide you with a more vibrant and dynamic image of your audience than using qualitative or quantitative research on its own.

FieldworkHub runs qualitative research in the UK, Europe and many other countries worldwide. We’d be delighted to discuss your research requirements with you!

FieldworkHub is an agile, knowledgeable market research fieldwork agency providing high-quality focus group recruitment as part of our full range of qualitative and quantitative fieldwork services.
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