Qualitative research

«ARYSTOWN Research» has extensive experience in using the following methods of qualitative research:

The main difference of qualitative methods from quantitative ones is in gathering data from a small group of respondents. These data are not analyzed with the help of the statistical analysis. While quantitative data are gathered from a large group of people and data are analyzed statistically. Qualitative studies are mainly used for identifying the problem and developing hypotheses.

They can also be used as a preliminary stage before conducting the quantitative research. In this case the qualitative study is used to identify major indicators. Since the respondents group is small, the obtained qualitative data cannot be generalized on the whole population. However, they can be very useful for studying certain questions and evaluating certain programs. Besides qualitative methods help in identifying internal motives of people. In-person or face-to-face focus groups and depth interviews are the gold standards of the qualitative research. Below are the qualitative research techniques we employ:

Traditional focus groups

A typical focus group consists of 8 to 10 respondents (although smaller groups are possible) and a moderator. Each session lasts from 90 to 120 minutes. The moderator creates a relaxed, open, accepting atmosphere so that the participants feel free to express their thoughts and feelings honestly. Usually, focus groups are conducted in rooms with one-way mirrors to allow clients to observe discussions.

Focus groups are ideal on the early stages of research; they can be used as a problem-reduction "filter" when the questions and issues are so numerous that quantitative research is not yet feasible. The focus group is an ideal exploratory technique because of the freedom, stimulation, and spontaneity inherent in group interactions.

Sensitized Groups

Focus groups can sometimes yield richer and more insightful answers if respondents have time to think about a topic. For a sensitized group, respondents are in some way sensitized in advance to allow time for reflection upon the topic. For example, respondents may be given a list of questions several days before the group discussion, or respondents might be asked to use a specific product or visit a store before the group discussion. These "sensitized" respondents typically provide greater depth of information and more insight than regular focus group respondents.


Similar to an in-person focus group, the typical telegroups consist of 8 to 10 respondents (although smaller groups are possible) and a moderator. Each session lasts from 90 to 120 minutes. The moderator creates a relaxed, open, accepting atmosphere so that the participants feel free to express their thoughts and feelings honestly. The major difference with in-person groups is that the telegroup is conducted via the telephone. Respondents and the moderator can participate from their home or office. This is highly beneficial for low incidence products or for busy b2b professionals.

Bulletin Board

Sometimes in-person focus groups are not possible if a project involves a highly targeted audience or the audience is geographically scattered. In these cases, we often conduct focus groups on the Internet either via a bulletin board online discussion, real-time instant messaging, or webcam.
This methodology allows respondents from around the country to log into a bulletin board discussion group at different times during the day that are convenient to them to answer questions posted by a moderator while reading and responding to other participants’ posts. It tends to be more of an online community for participants. Respondents can also view printed materials, advertising and animatics online for evaluation. All of the discussion is visible on-screen to the moderator, the participants, and the clients. These discussion groups have roughly 10-15 respondents per board and take place over a period of time – typically 3-5 days – with respondents participating twice each day.

Some advantages to using bulletin board discussion groups:
- The longer timeframe provides more in-depth and detailed responses;
- Respondents are participating for 3-5 days for an hour a day;
- One online bulletin board discussion equates to the same amount of information as yielded by roughly three in-person traditional focus groups;
- The longer timeframe allows us to present stimuli, gather feedback, refine concepts and re-present to the same group of respondents;
- Participants have time to reflect, re-visit and add new thoughts; and,
- Respondents do not feel time pressures and can read and post at their convenience, providing more thoughtful information and feedback.

If desired, we also have the capability to conduct bulletin boards accessible through respondents’ smartphones. This feature allows participants to post messages, pictures and videos to the bulletin board from anywhere.
Clients are able to follow the conversation thread online at their convenience and interact with the moderator over the course of the session to maximize learning opportunities.
Just like in a traditional focus group facility, bulletin board discussion groups have a virtual backroom that allows for moderator and client interaction. Respondents are not able to see any of the activity that occurs in the virtual back room.
Online bulletin board groups are used when a traditional focus group is not feasible due to disparity of geographic locations, or because of a need for anonymity, or because of a very highly targeted respondent type. They also work well with executive level respondents.
This methodology is also useful when testing media, websites and other stimuli. Since respondents are able to review the materials at their convenience, it gives respondents time to explore websites and read longer messaging statements that we can typically cover in a focus group format.

In-depth interviews

This research methodology allows us to speak with very targeted or hard-to-reach audiences. IDIs allow for a more in-depth, candid discussion and probing on specific issues than a traditional focus group. We explore in-depth what is most important to an individual respondent and how an issue personally affects them. These interviews give a more detailed look at an individual’s attitudes and feelings about an issue and what language resonates most with an individual. The interview is roughly 30 minutes to an hour in length.
One-on-one in-depth interviewing can be conducted over the telephone or in-person depending on the sensitivity of the subject matter to be explored. We recommend conducting the in-person IDIs at a professional focus groups facility in order to provide audio and video recording as well as allowing for client observation of the interviews.
IDIs are generally not a “stand-alone” research segment, but completed as part of an overall research plan including other elements.

Dyadic And Triadic Interviews

In dyadic and triadic interviewing, two or three respondents are interviewed at the same time. This approach provides some of the interpersonal stimulation afforded by groups, yet allows the interviewer to cover topics in some depth. The dyadic or triadic design lends itself to "confrontation" techniques—users can be paired with nonusers, believers with nonbelievers, antagonists with protagonists—to uncover underlying feelings and motives.

Depth Motivational Studies

A depth motivational study typically consists of 20 to 40 depth interviews. The depth interview can be conduct in-person face-to-face or over the telephone. The qualitative interview generally lasts from 50 to 90 minutes. Usually depth interviews are tape-recorded and transcribed. The depth interview is the most powerful and comprehensive of the various qualitative techniques. Depth interviews are used primarily to address motivational questions, particularly if unconscious motives are thought to be important. Depth interviews are used when the topic is extremely complicated and much time is needed to cover all the questions. Depth interviews are especially useful for sensitive topics that could not be discussed freely in a group setting.


Ethnography is a qualitative research method based on observation and combines a set of market research tools that is observation, diaries, interviews, artefacts gathering and analysis. This method is aimed at studying consumers’ behavior in their natural environment (work, home, shopping) and allows to find true factors influencing motivations of the target audience representatives. Ehtnography gives an opportunity to see and understand the following:

  • how brands, products or services are used in real life;
  • to avoid unnatural behavior from the side of respondents;
  • to evaluate the level of influence of context;
  • to determine what meaning brands have for consumers;
  • to get insights regarding brands, products and services and to identify peoples’ emerging emotions, words and symbols regarding them.

Ethnography allows to solve the following problems:

  • Search of ideas for new products and services development;
  • Identifying competitive advantages;
  • Identifying peculiarities of products’ usage;
  • Search of a potential niche for creating a new product/service;
  • Identifying regional peculiarities of consumers and specifics of consumers’ usage culture by age and gender;
  • Identifying perspectives of product’s/service’s rebranding;
  • Studying consumer trends and ways of their development, identifying settings, habits and motives.

The Shop-Along methodology

The Shop-Along methodology can be very useful in complex studies.
This method can be combined with observation.
The Shop Along methodology can be useful for studying factors of choice and purchase – what influences buyer’s decision at the point of sales.
This methodology is also useful for identifying people’s perception of the retail space (advantages/disadvantages) and specifics of consumer behavior in the retail space for developing recommendations on arranging the shelf space.

Home visits

Home visits are used when it is necessary to get a deep knowledge of the research subject (target audience, personality, lifestyle, values, purposes, category consumption, etc.) via full “immersion” into the natural environment (participant observation, dairies, etc.)
This methodology helps to study the specifics of consumption and usage in the respondent’s natural environment (where and how the category is stored, used, etc.)