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A Guide to Qualitative Research Methods

With so many qualitative research methods to choose from, it’s sometimes difficult to confidently select the right approach for your research brief. Even if you're a seasoned researcher, this guide will help you navigate that choice and make the right decision.

Why do qualitative research in the first place?

In a nutshell, researchers use quantitative research when they want to know how many people are feeling, thinking or doing something. For example, how big a market share is, how many people buy one product over another, or what percentage of the population is aware of a certain brand.

Qualitative research – often referred to simply as ‘qual’ - is altogether different and is used to explain why things are happening or what causes or motivates people to do the things they do. It’s also used to explore subjects and topics, or enrich our understanding of people’s lives and behaviours. It’s even used to test ideas and concepts and to engage people in developing new concepts and products.

So, if you get a brief that is about ‘exploring’, ‘getting insights’, ‘explaining’, ‘refining’, ‘enriching’,‘deep diving’, ‘testing’, ‘getting feedback’, ‘ideating’ or ‘co-creating’, then it’s likely that qualitative research is the right way to go!

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