Ho creato questo blog per parlare di sociologia e ricerche di mercato, "fare ricerca sul campo" e condividere opinioni e professionalità.
I have done this blog in order to speak about sociology and market research, to do survey and share opinions and skills about this topic.


Focus Groups and Individual Depth Interviews 1. QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS Qualitative research is a research which is undertaken using an unstructured approach with a small number of targeted individuals. This type of survey produce non-quantifiable insights into behaviour, attitudes and motivations. Focus group discussions and individual depth interviews are the most commonly used forms of qualitative research. 1.1 Groups Discussion Focus groups are interviews with small groups of relatively homogeneous people with similar background and experience. It usually consists of 6-10 individuals who come to a central location to sit around a table to answer questions from a trained moderator or facilitator. The moderator has an outline of questions, usually three to four pages in length, which cover all the topics he wants to discuss during the session. The interviewer introduces the subject, guiding the discussion, cross-checking each other comments and encouraging all members to express their opinions. Participants are asked to reflect on the questions asked by the interviewers, provide their own comments, listen to what the rest of the group have to say and react to their observations. The main purpose is to elicit ideas, insights and experiences in a social context where people stimulate each other and consider their own views along with the views of others. Typically, these interviews are conducted several times with different groups and in different cities so that the evaluator can identify trends in the perceptions and opinions expressed, in fact if you do multiple groups, and discover the same points in all groups, it is more likely that the conclusions you draw will be relevant to the larger market. The fact that the focus group members may have similar demographic characteristics helps the researchers to focus on the responses, with a high degree of confidence that the responses from these individuals are generalizable to a larger population. In general, focus groups are usually used in one of three ways: 1) They are used as a self contained method in studies in which they serve as the principal source of data. 2) They are used as a supplementary source of data in studies that rely on some other primary method such as a survey. 3) They are used in multi-method studies that combine two or more means of gathering data in which no one primary method determines the use of the others. Focus group research is a useful strategy-building tool for harvesting information from customers, competitor customers, suppliers, and employees. Focus groups are often an excellent starting point when scanning and uncovering opportunities for new products, branding, naming, positioning, and generating strategic options, in fact a well designed focus group study can help decision makers understand the range of beliefs, opinions and buying behaviour among key segments.[i] They are helpful in order to better understand the phenomenon and in forecasting the future in fact using this qualitative method reactions, discussion, supporting and contrary points can all be brought to light, and added into the discussion. While focus groups are one of the most popular qualitative techniques, it's important to understand the "do's and don'ts" and situations where they should be used, and where they should be avoided. It's a technique that's easy to misuse and abuse. Different from statistically reliable public opinion and market surveys, online surveys, and other quantitative techniques, these qualitative methods should not be used for market sizing, measuring consumer or B2B brand preference, brand position, customer satisfaction or buying or product usage behaviour. They are best suited for uncovering the spectrum or range of views, beliefs, attitudes, opinions, and experiences. This helps build assumptions and generate ideas which may warrant further assessment. It is right to use focus group for : 1) To learn about the range of beliefs, attitudes, and usage habits of the target segment. The goal is to hear and understand the range: if it's said once in a focus group, it's important. 2) To become acquainted with unfamiliar territory. Group research is achieves some fast track knowledge about new market, new segment or new product categories. If you've found an interesting opportunity, but know little about the market, it's an excellent use of groups. 3) To screen concepts. Concept screening is valuable in the opportunity scan stage. The focus group setting is suitable for screening a range of concepts: product ideas, advertising, store design, web experience, and brand names. 1.2 Individual depth interviews When using key informant interviews, questions are predominately open-ended rather than closed ended, and are best used for exploring issues or understanding the thinking behind attitudes, perceptions and behaviours. In-depths are conducted using a one-to-one (respondent-moderator) format, and thus generate highly detailed, qualitative feedback. In this method, respondents are interviewed separately instead of in a group and most often in person. There are key characteristics that differentiate an in-depth, qualitative research interview from a regular interview[ii]. 1) Open-ended Questions. Questions should be worded so that respondents cannot simply answer yes or no, but must expound on the topic. 2) Semi-structured Format. Although it is important to have some pre-planned questions to ask during the interview, it is necessary that questions to flow naturally, based on information provided by the respondent without a specific order. In fact, the flow of the conversation dictates the questions asked and those omitted, as well as the order of the questions. 3) Seek understanding and interpretation. It is fundamental try to interpret what respondents say and as well as seek clarity and a deeper understanding from the respondent throughout the interview. 4) Conversational. There should be smooth transitions from one topic to the next. 5) Recording responses. The responses are recorded, typically with audiotape and written notes. 6) Record observations. It is important to observe and record non-verbal behaviours on the field notes as they occur. 7) Record reflections. In essence, in-depth interviews involve not only asking questions, but the systematic recording and documenting of responses coupled with intense probing for deeper meaning and understanding of the responses. Thus, in-depth interviewing often requires repeated interview sessions with the target audience under study. In-depth interviews consist two types: full in-depths, and mini-depths. The primary distinction between the two is length: in-depths last 1½ hours, while mini-depths last 45 minutes to an hour. In-depths are better-suited for discussions that require a highly detailed exploration of an issue, while mini-depths are better-suited to less technical topics. In most situations requiring an in-depth technique, mini-depths are preferred over full in-depths for cost and efficiency reasons. In-depth interviews often take place at a focus group facility, but in-depth interviews can take place anywhere that respondents are. In-depths are usually audio-taped or videotaped. Written transcripts of in-depths are commonly provided (more so than for focus groups) given the richness of verbatim responses, and a better ability to follow lines of questioning. It is possible to use in-depths at any point in the marketing process when it is important to explore a problem in great depth or detail or in situations when focus groups are neither appropriate nor practical for the audience of interest. It is helpful to use in depth interview when there are problem of privacy and sensitivity[iii], (for example, they are often used in areas of personal hygiene, or among sufferers of an embarrassing condition) in fact this method provides a format in which respondents can speak openly about private or sensitive issues that could not be discussed in a group setting, besides in-depth interviews allow to get individual attention because the moderator can give individual attention to each respondent, probing in depth every thought and opinion. Finally in-depth interviews can be extremely helpful if respondents are difficult to pin down (doctors, C-level executives) or live far away from one another. Unlike focus groups, in-depth interviews can be conducted by phone, so respondents can be reached anywhere, and they don’t have to take time to travel to a facility. In general, they may be used for the same purposes as focus groups. Most often, they are used to develop a detailed look at consumer attitudes, motivations, and buying behaviours and purchase decision-making process. As compared with focus groups, one-on-one interviews eliminate any bias that might be introduced from one respondent to another. They also allow more time for each respondent to talk since there is no competition for airtime. And, they are efficient since it is easier to keep one individual on track than it is a group of people. When conducted by an interviewer that is skilled in asking open-ended questions and able to build rapport quickly, they can provide information that is difficult to obtain by any other means. One-on-one interviews are often used in lieu of focus groups where it is not practical to gather people in one place. As with focus groups, they are especially effective when things must be seen or touched, etc. in order to be evaluated. Testing products and communications materials are often done with this method. Anyway one-on-one interviews are highly dependent on the skill and training of the interviewer to develop the conversation and to avoid biasing the answers. Using in depth interviews is very important designing an interview guide with questions and probing follow-ups that helps to stay on track; helps insure that important issues/topics are addressed; provides a framework and sequence for the questions; and helps maintain some consistency across interviews with different respondents. There are three basic parts of the interview guide: face sheet, actual questions, and post-interview comment sheet. The face sheet is used to record factual information such as time, date, and place of the interview, any special conditions or circumstances that may affect the interview are recorded, demographic information. The actual interview questions, probing questions or statements, and anticipated follow-up questions comprise the second part of the interview guide. The final part of the interview guide provides a place to write notes after the interview that detail researcher feelings, interpretations, and other comments. 2. QUALITATIVE DATA ANALYSIS IMPORTANCE Qualitative research is an important sector of the research industry but it is not always appropriate to every research problem and it is particularly important to see the world through consumer’s eyes and understand the bases for their attitudes and behaviour, in fact it provides insight. Quantitative research concerns with describing and measuring while qualitative research is all about explaining and understanding. The two types of research different in a number of ways, using qualitative or qualitative depend on the type of the problem that the researcher wants solve, the approach and the techniques of analysis. Qualitative marketing studies are best suited when these situations exist[iv]: § We are in new territory and little is known. When considering products or new markets, qualitative research can deliver an early landscape profile of consumer or business buyer attitudes and behaviour. § Customer perceptions or attitudes may be hidden from easy view. When the product category may represent unspoken meaning to buyers, qualitative market research may provide needed tools. § Generate ideas for products, advertising, or brand positioning. The nuances of buyer attitudes and beliefs can often provide stimulus for fresh new ideas, and feed a formal idea generation process. § Screening ideas and concepts. Qualitative market research can be a useful first step, prior to quantitative research, to screen new advertising, product, or positioning concepts. This allows time for refining concepts prior to quantitative market research. 3. METHODS OF DATA ANALYSIS There are many varied techniques to collected the data. Often the data are collected asking little, asking only open-ended and non-value-loaded questions and using body language. Also silence is a powerful tool. There is no one right way to interview, the moderator have to gain and understanding of the group. Stimulus material can form a helpful part of many group discussion project, for example products, advertising, promotional materials , words and pictures. It is possible also to use projective techniques for example word association, story completion, bubble cartoons, role playing. There are not right ways to analyse qualitative data. Methods of analysis depends upon the skill, experience and preferences of the researcher , the goals of the study and a other factors. Analysis can be conducted either from the raw data (tape recording) or a transcription of the interview. Neither method is better , the researcher mist choose the preferred method and he have to be prepared to change in base of the different circumstances. There are two approaches to the analysis of qualitative data in market research. : the large-sheet-of-paper approach is the equivalent of manual cut and paste and involves breaking the transcripts down into text segments and allocating these under themes and headings identified deductively and/or inductively. This approach is clearly considered as inferior to the annotating-the-scripts approach which involves reading the transcripts (and/or listening to the audio tapes) and writing interpretive thoughts about the data in the margins. The benefits of this approach are that each transcript is considered as a whole rather than as a set of discrete responses and that it allows the analyst to re- experience the group, body language and tone of the discussion. Usually it is possible to analyze data coding, (the primary purpose of coding is to organize the data in a way that assists further analysis and interpretation) , cutting and pasting data, counting words or text segments, and using computers to assist with analysis. Since the 1980s qualitative researchers have been using computer programs to assist in the analysis of their data.[v] Early programs, such as The Ethnograph provided assistance with the clerical tasks associated with analysis including, for example, retrieval of all data with the same code. Certainly, one of the chief benefits of computer programs is recognised as their ability to alleviate the cutting, pasting and subsequent retrieval of field notes or interview transcripts. In addition, to providing clerical assistance, however, there are now a wide variety of programs such as HyperRESEARCH, NUD*IST, AQUAD and ATLAS/ti which can be employed to help researchers in theory development and testing. Some of the more advanced software packages make it possible to graphically display links between categories or concepts codes. Of course programs cannot replace the analyst's core role which is to understand the meaning of the text, a role which cannot be computerized because it is not a mechanical one. Programs can only be expected to support the analyst's own intellectual processes and particular programs will be more appropriate for different types of qualitative research as has been illustrated by in his recent collection of user reports across a range of projects. The use of computer programs to assist in qualitative data analysis can cause the loss of information[vi] , for example some researcher suggest that the general model of data marking and retrieval in CAQDAS is responsible for the increasing trend towards homogeneity in ethnographic research. It is true, as and point out, that the early code and retrieve facilities have been supplemented by a whole variety of additional features such as memoning, features for defining linkages between codes and hypertext systems. Anyway the loss of process dimensions is not confined to analysis employing computers, it is just as likely to occur in manual cut and paste operations . 3.1 Focus groups data analysis Cut and paste approaches, manual or computer, can fail to capture or even recognize some events in the unfolding story of the focus group: when there is a sequence to a focus group discussion that can help explain the different kinds of talk at the beginning (forming and storming), the middle (performing) and the end (mourning). when participants comments can be self-contradictory, in other words what they say at the outset of the group may be different from and directly contradict what they say later. Participants are often aware of these self-contradictions and point these out themselves, others may also point these out, and even help explain them. every time that participants change their views and opinions in the course of the discussion once they have had an opportunity to hear and reflect on other opinions, through introspection and retrospection. when participants expand later on experiences recounted earlier; adding new information, giving the experience a new and sometimes different interpretation or, simply placing this experience in the context of another participant's experience. Most programs have been designed in a manner that encourage the analyst to fracture the data and it is difficult to identify how an analysis of the interaction in focus groups can be undertaken when one step on-screen coding is employed. In other words, the analyst will need to work with the complete transcript as an off-screen document in order to identify the group’s dynamics. One possible approach is to trace issues and/or participants through each transcript from beginning to end. For example, we might be trying to identify the arguments relating to a particular issue that stimulate others to rethink their position and those arguments that may be discounted or challenged. The arguments can then be coded or labelled on a range of dimensions including, say, strength of response provoked, type and range of emotions evoked and so on. In summary working with focus group data, two separate codings, analyses and interpretation activities should take place: on-screen when we are dealing with transcript content (for example, in what ways can participants' experiences with a particular topic be categorized), off-screen when we are dealing with the interaction aspects of focus groups. 3.2 In-depth interviews data analysis Data analysis begins with the field note-taking of the interviewers. As a first step, therefore, the study coordinator must ensure that all field data including notes, comments, and recordings (if any) are recovered from the interviewers. The analysis can be done by hand or by computer depending upon researcher skill and the resources available to researcher. Most in-depth studies can easily be analyzed by hand though there are various computer programs that have been developed to assist this process. Many different strategies have been developed for analyzing the data from a series of in-depth interviews. A simple way of approaching the analysis involves the following steps: 1) The first step for in-depth interviews data analysis is creating a written text of the interviews. This step involves bringing together all of information-gathering approaches into one written form and categorizing interview material into various sub-topics. This is commonly described as the cut and paste process, and involves sorting out notes and transcriptions into the broad topics or sub-topics used in the guide, or adding any new themes from the interviews. This procedure ensures that "scattered pieces of information" on the same sub-topic are put together for a complete review . 2) The second step consists in writing out each question and response (verbatim) from the interview using the recorded audiotape and notes including side notes (observations, feelings and reflections). The side notes are differentiated from the respondent's notes, typically by highlighted text or labelling category using appropriate headings This important step involves determining the meaning in the information gathered in relation to the purpose of the study. If more questions are raised that need clarity in order to serve the purpose of the study, then another in-depth interview is warranted to examine the issue more thoroughly. Verifying involves checking the credibility and validity of the information gathered. A method called triangulation is used as a means of checks and balances. Basically, one type of triangulation would be to use multiple perspectives to interpret a single set of information. For example, if the researcher is studying the fathers communication with their children he have to interview the fathers, the children, and the spouse or partner-if applicable. If each one says basically the same thing, then the weight of evidence would be that the information is credible and valid. Another simple way to triangulate would be to have a colleague read the transcripts to see if she he/she came away with the same overall meaning. 3) The final step of the process is to describe and interpret the major findings and to share what you have learned from the in-depth interviews with other internal and external stakeholders. Analysis consists of considering responses in each topic as group, and drawing interpretive conclusions about commonly held beliefs, attitudes, or opinions. Implications for interventions should always be considered. It is also possible to report findings by the proportion of various sub-groups interviewed giving their reasons under each category, the apparent strength with which certain attitudes are held, or issues on which there is substantial difference of opinion. Sometimes a data sheet can be used to organize the analysis. A data sheet lists the major topics and sub-topics of the interview guide in order to record responses in a logical manner. Some reporting could be in the form of a formal written, others could be oral reports. CONCLUSION Quantitative and qualitative research can be used in the same survey, in fact with qualitative research is possible to understand behaviour and attitudes and gather preliminary information that will help to better define problems and suggest hypotheses and using quantitative is possible to measure how widespread these attitudes and behaviours are in order to allow statistical analysis. Often a research project to be complete needs of both approaches. Words Counted : 3.521 Bibliography guidelines [i] Luca Molteni, Gabriele Troilo, (2003) Marketing research , (Mc Graw Hill) [ii] Lisa Guion , Conducting an in-depth intervieew. University of Florida. Original publication date October 15, 2001. Revised January 2006 [iii] Kate Willis, (2004),The International Handbook of Market Research Techniques, London, (Robin J Birn) [iv] David Silverman, (2005) Doing qualitative research, London , (Sage Publications Ltd) [v] Catterall, M. and Maclaran, P. (1997) Focus Group Data and Qualitative Analysis Programs: Coding the Moving Picture as Well as the Snapshots' Sociological Research Online, vol. 2, no. 1 [vi] Bryman , A.& Burgess, R.G , (1994), ‘Reflections on Qualitative Data Analysis' in A. Bryman & R. G. Burgess (editors) Analyzing Qualitative Data. London, ( Routledge).

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