Overview of qualitative data collection techniques in international marketing research

This article is intended as a brief review and reminder of some valuable but often overlooked techniques for collecting data on international markets and consumers.

When thinking about market research, surveys are most likely the first technique that comes to mind. However, surveys are quantitative research and in order to understand customer behavior and the social and cultural context in which our business will operate, we will also need to conduct qualitative research.

Qualitative methods are certainly a more appropriate option when it is necessary to investigate patterns and attitudes in customer behavior, understand the depth of the environment surrounding the customer, and understand the cultural characteristics that then influence a customer, especially when the closer is not around. familiar with country culture.

There are certain situations in which qualitative research alone can provide the marketer with all the insights needed to make decisions and take action; while in some other cases quantitative research might also be necessary.

We will focus on the main qualitative techniques and we will see how and where they can be used in international marketing.

Craig and Douglas (2000) mention three main types of qualitative data collection techniques:

– observation and quasi-observation techniques;

– projective techniques and in-depth interviews;

– creative group sessions (synectics).

1. Observation and quasi-observation techniques

Observation techniques involve the direct observation of phenomena (in our case, consumer behavior) in their natural environment. Observational research may be somewhat less reliable than quantitative research, but it is more valid and flexible as the seller can change his approach when necessary.

The disadvantages are given by the limited behavioral variables and the fact that such data may not be generalizable: we can observe the behavior of a client in a given moment and situation, but we cannot assume that all other clients will act in the same way. manner.

Quasi-observational techniques are reported to have increased in use in recent decades, due to the large-scale use of in-store surveillance cameras. Such techniques cost less than pure observation, since the costs associated with video surveillance and recording are much lower than a researcher’s salary; the tape can be viewed and analyzed at a later time, at the marketer’s convenience. By videotaping consumer behaviors, consumers can be asked to provide feedback and insights into their thoughts and actions, while the conversation itself can be further recorded and analyzed.

pure observation: The salesperson observes the behavior of customers in real-life situations, either in the place or videotaping consumers (less intrusive). Videotaping can be specifically recommended when studying patterns from different cultures, as we can easily compare tapping behaviors and highlight similarities and/or differences.

trace measurements: consist of collecting and recording the traces of consumer behavior. Such traces can be fingerprints or package tears, empty packages, analysis of garbage cans and any other way a seller can imagine (it’s all about creativity here!). In eMarketing, tracking measures come in the form of logged visits and hits: there are numerous professional applications that can help an emarketer analyze visitor behavior on their company’s website.

Stock Measurements: can be any type of historical records, public records, archives, libraries, collections of personal documents, etc. Such data can be very useful for analyzing behavioral trends and changes over time. Marketers can also identify the cultural values ​​and attitudes of a population at a given time by studying the content of the media and advertisements of the period in question.

trawl measurements: are indirect techniques (compared to the previous ones) and consist of asking the interviewee to react to a certain stimulus or situation, when the real object of the investigation is totally different. The salesperson plants the real stimulus among many fake ones and studies the reactions. The method is quite unobtrusive and the seller can collect valuable and non-reactive data. When the respondent realizes the true issue under investigation, he may change his behavior and compromise the study.

protocols: are another observational market research technique that asks respondents to think aloud and verbally express all their thoughts during the decision-making process. The protocols are invaluable in determining the factors of importance for a sale and can be collected from both real and simulated shopping trips.

2. Projective techniques

Such techniques are based on the respondent’s performance of certain tasks assigned by the marketer. The purpose is for consumers (respondents) to express their unconscious beliefs through projective stimuli; to express associations towards various symbols, images, signs.

Cooper (1996) suggests that projective techniques can be used successfully to:

– indicates emotional and rational reactions;

– provide verbal and non-verbal communication;

– give permission to express novel ideas;

– encourages fantasy, idiosyncrasy and originality;

– reduce social restrictions and censorship;

– encourages group members to share and “open up”.

Projective market research techniques can take the following forms, which are presented below.

collages – used to understand lifestyles and brand perceptions, respondents are asked to assemble a collage using images and symbols from selected stimulus sets or from magazines and newspapers of their choice.

image completion – Certain images can be designed to express and visualize the subject under study and respondents have to make associations and/or attribute words to the given images.

analogies and metaphors They are used when a greater range of projection is needed, with more complexity and depth of ideas and thoughts about a certain brand, product, service, or organization. Respondents are asked to freely express their association and analogies towards the object of study; or they may be asked to select from a set of stimuli (for example, photographs) those that fit the test subject.

psycho drawing is a technique that allows study participants to express a wide range of perceptions by drawing pictures of what they perceive the brand (or product, service) to be.

Personalization It consists of asking respondents to treat the brand or product as if it were a person and begin to make associations or find images of this person. This technique is especially recommended to understand what type of personality consumers assign to a brand/product/service.

3. In-depth interviews

These marketing research techniques emphasize verbal communication and are especially effective when it comes to discovering underlying attitudes and motivations towards a product or a specific market/consumer situation.

In-depth individual interviews. They are done in a one-on-one setting and the interviewer can get very specific and precise answers. These interviews are common in B2B market research practices, for example, when a company conducts product research among its existing corporate clients.

Interviews can be conducted over the phone or through Internet-based means, from a centralized location: this can greatly reduce the costs associated with market research, and the results are nearly as accurate as face-to-face. The only con would be the lack of non-verbal visual communication.

Focus groups They are basically discussions conducted by a researcher with a group of respondents who are considered representative of the target market.

These meetings are usually held in an informal setting and are moderated by the researcher. Videotaping sessions is common these days and you can add more sources of analysis at a later time.

Focus groups are perhaps the ideal technique, if available in terms of cost and time, to test new ideas and concepts towards brands and products; to study customer response to creative media, such as advertising and packaging design, or to spot trends in consumer attributes and perception. One of the important advantages of focus groups is the presence of several respondents at the same time, which provides a certain synergy. The disadvantages mainly refer to the costs involved and the scarcity of good professionals to conduct the interviews and discussions.

To conclude, we must note the importance of non-survey data collection techniques in today’s market research. Not only do they provide greater depth of analysis, but they can be completed in much less time than surveys and are better suited for use during the exploratory phases of international market research.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *