Using qualitative research in branding

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Before conducting quantitative research in a new product category, researchers should first use qualitative research to develop a firm understanding of the landscape they’re preparing to assess. This early knowledge base will be helpful when determining consumer motives, segments and targets. Today we’re discussing our best tips for using qualitative research to inform branding strategy.  

1. Ethnography  

Any psychological, sociological, or marketing researcher can warn about the dangers of the “observer effect”, a common phenomenon that occurs when a subject acts differently while being observed. Because this effect often leads to data inaccuracies in surveys and focus groups, many qualitative researchers turn to ethnography. Customers in ethnographic environments tend to be more open and honest in their answers, and by talking to customers in their own environments (often at home or work), marketers can observe customers actually using the products instead of relying on explanations of how they use products. It’s even rumored that ethnographic research originally uncovered the need for the flashlight feature on smartphones. When it comes to merging ethnographic research with quantitative data, we recommend categorizing opinions and behaviors into unifying themes and assigning dummy variables to qualitative traits and answers.

2. Multiattribute Attitude Model

Also known as the Fishbein Model, the Multiattribute Attitude Model is a great example of how qualitative and quantitative variables can merge to generate valuable data and insights. Conducted in the early stages of the research process, the model uses three components of attitude – salient beliefs, object-attribute linkages, and evaluation – and determines a measurable score that represents a consumer’s attitude toward a product. Researchers use qualitative research (surveys, ethnographic research, etc.) to determine the most important attributes in the product category, and can use the measurable score as quantitative research going forward.

Both ethnographic research and the Multiattribute Attitude Model provide valuable qualitative insights that can later be integrated into quantitative data collection and analysis. Qualitative research often involves thoughts and feelings more significantly than quantitative methods, and these customer emotions can be closely tied to a successful brand strategy.

Getting to know your customers is no easy feat, and these methods only scratch the surface- check out our tips for getting to know your customers as individuals instead of datasets.

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