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Ch apter F ive

Exploratory Research Design:

Qualitative Research

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Ch apter O utl ine
1) Overview
2) Primary Data: Qualitative Versus Quantitative Research
3) Rationale for Using Qualitative Research Procedures
4) A Classification of Qualitative Research Procedures

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Ch apter O utl ine
1) Focus Group (FG) Interviews
i. Characteristics
ii. Planning and Conducting Focus Groups
iii. Telesessions and Other Variations
iv. Advantages and Disadvantages of Focus Groups
v. Applications of Focus Groups
vi. Online Focus Group Interviews
vii. Advantages and Disadvantages of Online FGs
2) Depth Interviews
i. Characteristics
ii. Techniques
iii. Advantages and Disadvantages of Depth
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Hall Applications of Depth Interviews
Ch apter O utl ine
7) Projective Techniques
i. Association Techniques
ii. Completion Techniques
a. Sentence Completion
b. Story Completion
iii. Construction Techniques
a. Picture Response
b. Cartoon Tests
iv. Expressive Techniques
a. Role Playing
b. Third-Person Technique
v. Advantages and Disadvantages of Projective Techniques
vi. Applications of Projective Techniques
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Ch apter O utl ine
1) Analysis of Qualitative Data
2) International Marketing Research
3) Ethics in Marketing Research
4) Summary

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A Cl as sif ic ati on of
Ma rketi ng
Res ear ch Da ta
Fig. 5.1
Marketing Research Data

Secondary Data Primary Data

Qualitative Data Quantitative Data

Descriptive Causal

Survey Observational Experimental

Data and Other Data Data
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Qua lita ti ve Vs. Q ua nti tative
Rese ar ch
Table 5.1
Qu ali ta tiv e Res ea rch Quanti tativ e Re search

Objective To gain a qualitative To quantify the data and

understanding of the generalize the results from
underlying reasons and the sample to the population
motivations of interest

Sample Small number of non- Large number of

representative cases representative cases

Data Collection Unstructured Structured

Data Analysis Non-statistical Statistical

Outcome Develop an initial Recommend a final course of

understanding action
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A Class ifi ca ti on of Qu al itative
Res ea rch Pr oce dur es
Fig. 5.2
Qualitative Research

Direct (Non- Indirect

disguised) (Disguised)

Depth Interviews Techniques
Focus Groups

Association Completion Construction Expressive

Techniques Techniques Techniques Techniques
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Ch ar ac teristi cs o f F ocus Groups
Table 5.2

Group Size 8-12

Group Composition Homogeneous, respondents,


Physical Setting Relaxed, informal atmosphere

Time Duration 1-3 hours

Recording Use of audiocassettes and


Moderator Observational, interpersonal, and

communication skills of the
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Key Qu ali fi ca ti ons of F ocu s
Group Mod era to rs
1. Kin dn ess wi th firmn ess : The moderator must combine a
disciplined detachment with understanding empathy so as
to generate the necessary interaction.
2. Per mi ssi ve ne ss : The moderator must be permissive yet
alert to signs that the group’s cordiality or purpose is
3. Invo lve men t: The moderator must encourage and
stimulate intense personal involvement.
4. Incompl et e u nder st an din g: The moderator must
encourage respondents to be more specific about
generalized comments by exhibiting incomplete
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Key Qu ali fi ca ti ons of F ocu s
Grou p Mod era to rs, cont.
5. Enco urag emen t: The moderator must encourage
unresponsive members to participate.

6. Fle xi bi li ty: The moderator must be able to improvise

and alter the planned outline amid the distractions of
the group process.

7. Sen sit ivi ty : The moderator must be sensitive

enough to guide the group discussion at an
intellectual as well as emotional level.

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Proce dure for P lannin g a nd
Co nd uc ting Foc us G roups
Fig. 5.3

Determine the Objectives and Define the Problem

Specify the Objectives of Qualitative Research

State the Objectives/Questions to be Answered by Focus Groups

Write a Screening Questionnaire

Develop a Moderator’s Outline

Conduct the Focus Group Interviews

Review Tapes and Analyze the Data

Summarize the Findings and Plan Follow-Up Research or Action

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Va riati ons i n Focu s Gr oups
 Tw o-way focu s gr oup. This allows one target group
to listen to and learn from a related group. For
example, a focus group of physicians viewed a focus
group of arthritis patients discussing the treatment they

 Du al -mo der at or group. A focus group conducted by

two moderators: One moderator is responsible for the
smooth flow of the session, and the other ensures that
specific issues are discussed.

 Du el ing- mo der ato r group. There are two

moderators, but they deliberately take opposite positions
on the issues to be discussed.
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Va ri ati ons i n Focu s Gr oups
 Res po nden t-mo der at or gro up . The moderator
asks selected participants to play the role of moderator
temporarily to improve group dynamics.
 Cl ie nt-par ticipan t gr oups. Client personnel are
identified and made part of the discussion group.
 Mi ni gro up s. These groups consist of a moderator
and only 4 or 5 respondents.
 Tele -se ssi on g roups . Focus group sessions by
phone using the conference call technique.
 Onl ine Fo cu s gro ups. Focus groups conducted
online over the Internet.
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Adva nta ges of F ocu s Gr oups

1. Synergism
2. Snowballing
3. Stimulation
4. Security
5. Spontaneity
6. Serendipity
7. Specialization
8. Scientific scrutiny
9. Structure
10. Speed
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Disadva ntages o f
Focus Groups

1. Misuse
2. Misjudge
3. Moderation
4. Messy
5. Misrepresentation

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Online Vers us Tr adi ti ona l Foc us
Table 5.3

Char ac te ris tic Online Fo cus Gr ou ps Trad itio nal Fo cus Gro up s

Group size 4-6 8-12

Group composition Anywhere in the world Drawn from the local area

Time duration 1-1.5 hours 1-3 hours

Physical setting Researcher has little control Under the control of the researcher

Respondent identity Difficult to verify Can be easily verified

Respondent attentiveness Respondents can engage in other tasks Attentiveness can be monitored

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Online Vers us Tra dit iona l Foc us
Gro ups
Table 5.3, cont.

Respondent recruiting Easier. Can be recruited online, e-mail, Recruited by traditional means
panel, or by traditional means (telephone, mail, mail panel)

Group dynamics Limited Synergistic, snowballing

(bandwagon) effect

Openness of respondents Respondents are more candid Respondents are candid, except for
due to lack of face-to-face contact sensitive topics

Nonverbal communication Body language cannot be observed Body language and emotions
Emotions expressed by using symbols observed

Use of physical stimuli Limited to those that can be displayed A variety of stimuli (products,
on the Internet advertising demonstrations, etc.)
can be used

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Online Vers us Tr adi ti ona l Foc us
Table 5.3, cont.
Transcripts Available immediately Time consuming and expensive to

Observers’ communication Observers can communicate with the Observers can manually send notes
with moderator the moderator on a split-screen to the focus group room

Unique moderator skills Typing, computer usage, familiarity Observational

with chat room slang

Turnaround time Can be set up and completed Takes many days for setup and
in a few days completion

Client travel costs None Can be expensive

Basic focus group costs Much less expensive More expensive: facility rental,
food, taping, transcript preparation

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Adva nta ges of On line Focu s

 Geographical constraints are removed and time

constraints are lessened.
 Unique opportunity to re-contact group participants
at a later date.
 Can recruit people not interested in traditional
focus groups: doctors, lawyers, etc.
 Moderators can carry on side conversations with
individual respondents.
 There is no travel, videotaping, or facilities to
arrange so the cost is much lower.
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Di sa dv anta ges of Onl ine F ocus
Grou ps

 Only people that have access to the Internet can

 Verifying that a respondent is a member of a target group
is difficult.
 There is lack of general control over the respondent's
 Only audio and visual stimuli can be tested. Products can
not be touched (e.g., clothing) or smelled (e.g.,

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Dept h Int ervie w Technique s:
In lad dering , the line of questioning proceeds from product
characteristics to user characteristics. This technique allows the
researcher to tap into the consumer's network of meanings.

Wide body aircrafts (product characteristic)

I can get more work done

I accomplish more

I feel good about myself (user characteristic)

Advertising theme: You will feel good about yourself when flying
our airline. “You're The Boss.”
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Depth Interv iew Tec hn iqu es:

Hidden Issue Questioning

In hid den iss ue qu est io ning, the focus is not on
socially shared values but rather on personal “sore spots;”
not on general lifestyles but on deeply felt personal

fantasies, work lives, and social lives

historic, elite, “masculine-camaraderie,” competitive


Advertising theme: communicate aggressiveness, high

status, and competitive heritage of the airline. 5-23
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De pth In terv iew Tec hn ique s:

Symbolic Analysis
Symb oli c an al ys is attempts to analyze the symbolic
meaning of objects by comparing them with their opposites.
The logical opposites of a product that are investigated are:
non-usage of the product, attributes of an imaginary “non-
product,” and opposite types of products.

“What would it be like if you could no longer use airplanes?”

“Without planes, I would have to rely on letters and long-

distance calls.”

Airlines sell to the managers face-to-face communication.

Advertising theme: The airline will do the same thing for a
manager as Federal Express does for a package. 5-24
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Focus G ro ups Ve rsu s D epth
Inter vi ews
Table 5.4

Cha ract er ist ic Fo cus Dep th

Groups Inte rv ie ws
Group synergy and dynamics + -
Peer pressure/group influence - +
Client involvement + -
Generation of innovative ideas + -
In-depth probing of individuals - +
Uncovering hidden motives - +
Discussion of sensitive topics - +
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Focus Groups V ersu s D epth
Inte rview s
Table 5.4, cont.

Cha ract er ist ic Fo cus Dep th

Groups Inte rv ie ws
Interviewing competitors - +
Interviewing professional respondents - +
Scheduling of respondents - +
Amount of information + -
Bias in moderation and interpretation + -
Cost per respondent + -
Note: A + indicates a relative advantage over the other
procedure, a - indicates a relative disadvantage. 5-26
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Defi niti on of Projecti ve
Te ch ni qu es
 An unstructured, indirect form of questioning that
encourages respondents to project their underlying
motivations, beliefs, attitudes or feelings regarding
the issues of concern.
 In projective techniques, respondents are asked to
interpret the behavior of others.
 In interpreting the behavior of others, respondents
indirectly project their own motivations, beliefs,
attitudes, or feelings into the situation.

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Wo rd Associ ati on
In wo rd a sso ciat ion, respondents are presented with a
list of words, one at a time, and asked to respond to each
with the first word that comes to mind. The words of
interest, called test words, are interspersed throughout
the list which also contains some neutral, or filler words
to disguise the purpose of the study. Responses are
analyzed by calculating:
(1) the frequency with which any word is given as a
(2) the amount of time that elapses before a response
is given; and
(3) the number of respondents who do not respond at
all to a test word within a reasonable period of time.

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Wo rd Associ ati on


washday everyday ironing
fresh and sweet clean
pure air soiled
scrub don't; husband does clean
filth this neighborhood dirt
bubbles bath soap and water
family squabbles children
towels dirty wash

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Co mpl etio n Tec hn iqu es
In senten ce comp let ion , respondents are given incomplete
sentences and asked to complete them. Generally, they are
asked to use the first word or phrase that comes to mind.

A person who shops at Sears is ______________________

A person who receives a gift certificate good for Sak's Fifth

Avenue would be __________________________________

J. C. Penney is most liked by _________________________

When I think of shopping in a department store, I ________

A variation of sentence completion is paragraph completion, in

which the respondent completes a paragraph beginning with the
stimulus phrase.
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Co mpl etio n Tec hn iqu es
In sto ry co mp let io n, respondents are given part
of a story – enough to direct attention to a
particular topic but not to hint at the ending.
They are required to give the conclusion in their
own words.

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Co nstr uc ti on Tec hni qu es
With a pict ure respo ns e, the respondents are
asked to describe a series of pictures of ordinary as
well as unusual events. The respondent's
interpretation of the pictures gives indications of that
individual's personality.

In car toon tests , cartoon characters are shown in a

specific situation related to the problem. The
respondents are asked to indicate what one cartoon
character might say in response to the comments of
another character. Cartoon tests are simpler to
administer and analyze than picture response
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A Ca rtoo n Test
Figure 5.4

Sea rs

Let’s see if we
can pick up some
house wares at

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Exp ress ive Tech nique s
In exp ressi ve tech ni que s, respondents are presented
with a verbal or visual situation and asked to relate the
feelings and attitudes of other people to the situation.

Ro le playi ng Respondents are asked to play the role or

assume the behavior of someone else.

Thi rd-pe rs on te chn ique The respondent is presented

with a verbal or visual situation and the respondent is
asked to relate the beliefs and attitudes of a third person
rather than directly expressing personal beliefs and
attitudes. This third person may be a friend, neighbor,
colleague, or a “typical” person. 5-34
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Adva nta ges of Proj ective
Te ch ni qu es
 They may elicit responses that subjects would be
unwilling or unable to give if they knew the
purpose of the study.

 Helpful when the issues to be addressed are

personal, sensitive, or subject to strong social

 Helpful when underlying motivations, beliefs, and

attitudes are operating at a subconscious level.
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Dis adva nta ges of Pro jec ti ve
Tec hnique s
 Suffer from many of the disadvantages of unstructured
direct techniques, but to a greater extent.
 Require highly-trained interviewers.
 Skilled interpreters are also required to analyze the
 There is a serious risk of interpretation bias.
 They tend to be expensive.
 May require respondents to engage in unusual

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Gui del ine s fo r U si ng
Pro jec tive Tec hni que s
 Projective techniques should be used because the
required information cannot be accurately obtained
by direct methods.
 Projective techniques should be used for
exploratory research to gain initial insights and
 Given their complexity, projective techniques
should not be used naively.

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Co mpariso n of Fo cus G ro ups , D ept h
Int er views , a nd P ro ject ive Te chni que s
Table 5.5

Cri te ria Focu s Depth Projectiv e

Grou ps Inte rvi ews Te ch ni ques
1. Deg ree of St ru ct ure Rel at iv el y hig h Rel at iv el y m ed ium Rel at iv el y lo w
2. Prob ing of ind ividua l Lo w Hi gh Med ium
resp ond ent s
3. Mod erat or bias Rel at iv el y m ed ium Rel at iv el y hig h Low to hi gh
4. Int erp ret at ion bias Rel at iv el y lo w Rel at iv el y hig h
5. Unco veri ng Lo w Rel at iv el y Hi gh
sub co nsci ous med ium Med ium t o
in format io n hi gh
6. Disc ov ering i nnov ative Hi gh Low
in format io n
Lo w Med ium Hi gh
7. Ob tai ni ng sensi tive
in format io n
No Yes
8. Involv e unusual Med ium
behav io r or quest io ni ng
Hi ghl y usef ul Some wha t
9. Ov eral l useful ness To a limited useful
ex tent
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An alysi s of Qu alita ti ve Da ta
1) Data reduction – Select which aspects of the data
are to be emphasized, minimized, or set aside for
the project at hand.
2) Data display – Develop a visual interpretation of the
data with the use of such tools as a diagram, chart,
or matrix. The display helps to illuminate patterns
and interrelationships in the data.
3) Conclusion drawing and verification – Considers the
meaning of analyzed data and assess its implications
for the research question at hand.

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Inte rn atio na l Ma rke ti ng
Res ea rch

 Qualitative research is crucial

 The moderator should be familiar with the language,
culture, and patterns of social interaction
 Nonverbal cues (voice intonations, inflections,
gestures) are important
 The size of the focus group could vary across cultures
 Focus Groups may not be appropriate in some

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Inte rn ati ona l MR, con t.
 Equivalence of meaning of stimuli across
cultures should be established.
 Line drawings subject to fewer problems of
interpretation than photographs.

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Eth ical Iss ues
 Ethical issues related to the respondents and the
general public are of primary concern.
 Disguise can violate the respondents' right to know
and result in psychological harm.
 In debriefing sessions, respondents should be
informed about the true purpose and given
opportunities to ask questions.
 The use of qualitative research results for
questionable purposes raises ethical concerns

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Et hi cal I ssue s, cont.
 Deceptive procedures that violate respondents’
right to privacy and informed consent should be
 Video- or audio-taping the respondents without
their prior knowledge or consent raises ethical
 The comfort level of the respondents should be

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