4 Powerful Market Research Interview Techniques
Market research interviews can be difficult to master, especially when all of your interviews will vary — after all, different people will have different responses to your questions. So how can you get market research interview techniques down to an art?
It’s all about looking at every factor at play: how you’ve set up the interview, how you’re conducting it and how the person you’re interviewing is responding. The environment you create is vital in getting the responses you need to find helpful insights.
In this article, we provide you with 4 market research interview techniques that can help you conduct the best interviews you can, so you can get the information you need to impress your clients.
1. Pick the interview method carefully
Market research is a large industry with many facets. It encompasses a wide range of quantitative and qualitative data. As such, your interview method should be carefully matched to the kind of data you expect to mine from the interview.
Do you want the interview to be structured or unstructured? How many respondents will make up your sample? What kinds of questions will you ask and what kind of answers will you expect? Are you prepared for long form answers or simple “yes” and “no” answers. Will your respondents be on-site or will you interview them over the phone or internet?
To help you figure out these answers, let’s take a look at some of the interview techniques at your disposal:
A focus group consists of a small sample of respondents (usually between 6 and 9) along with a researcher who moderates the focus group and has a series of questions prepared. There will usually be some commonality between the respondents. They might all use the same product, all have seen the same video presentation, all work in the same industry or all share a common interest.
The goal of the focus group is to for the questions to be a jumping-off point to create a natural dialogue. This is then recorded and analysed for qualitative data.
Quick, easy and cost-effective, these are useful for getting quick and simple answers. A series of pre-arranged questions is put to respondents and they give simple answers. These might be binary answers (e.g. yes or no) or use a scale such as a Likert scale in response to a series of statements.
If you need to collect data from a large sample size in a short space of time, these are really advantageous.
These are great if you have the time to carry them out. They can provide you with in-depth qualitative data and allow you to introduce visual stimuli such as images of products or marketing materials. They’re particularly useful for getting a snapshot of public reaction to a new marketing campaign or product.
2. Don’t neglect preparation
As in all things, failing to prepare is preparing to fail when it comes to your market research interviews. Questions need to be decided upon well in advance of your interview as soon as you’ve decided on the format.
Your questions will be shaped by a number of factors including who your respondents will be, what kind of format your interview takes and, of course, what kind of data you expect to get from the interview.
That said, when an interview has certain outcomes in mind, it’s always possible (however unconsciously) to allow leading questions to leak into the interview. Make sure your questions are open-ended and as comprehensive as possible. Market research data that is engineered to confirm suppositions is a waste of everyone’s time.
Make sure all respondents understand the process of the interview. When they know what to expect, they’ll be able to think about their answers within more clearly defined parameters and their responses are likely to be more useful and better organised.
Finally, you’ll need to make sure that you have a plan in place to record relevant data and make it easy to access and parse later. However, raw audio data can be extremely time-consuming and painstaking to mine for important information, so you may want to get it transcribed — but more on that later.
3. Listen and respond as necessary
As important and necessary as preparation is, an agile and adaptable approach to interviews can provide real quality in the information you get out of them. So don’t be afraid to deviate from the script if the occasion calls for it.
Every person has their own unique perspective and you have to prepare for the possibility that respondents might give you unexpected or unusual responses. When this happens, you’ll need to be ready to ask the right follow up questions, so that you can glean the most useful insights from them.
Treat every interview as if it’s the only interview of the day. Help the respondent to feel comfortable and that their opinion is valued. Uncomfortable or rushed interviewees rarely give the most valuable feedback. Call them by their name and be as patient and as positive as possible. This will create the perfect conditions for them to deliver high-quality responses.
Read their responses and remain mentally present. Keep an eye on non-verbal signifiers like eye contact, facial expressions and how they sit in their chair. If a line of questioning is making them uncomfortable, abandon it and move onto something else. If you notice them leaning in and getting more visibly engaged with a line of questioning, match their energy and ask them other relevant questions that aren’t necessarily on the script but will still be useful.
Not only does a present and responsive approach make it easier to create interviews which are full of market research gold, the process will be much more enjoyable, less repetitive and more valuable for you.
4. Ensure that you have the tools you need
Make sure you invest in good quality dictaphones or have the right voice recording apps. As we mentioned earlier, raw audio isn’t the easiest format to parse for useful data. So, not only should your recording apparatus record high quality audio, it should also make it easy to send audio data to a third party transcription service in order to convert it into a more usable format.
Many market researchers find that the most convenient solution is to download an audio transcription app that not only provides high-quality recordings but also allows you to easily send the audio files to an external transcription service. Once this is done, a team can get to work on a professional quality transcription that will provide better quality and accuracy than using a speech-to-text app. It will also be much faster than if you tried to transcribe it yourself in-house!
These transcription services can also arrange your audio transcript so that it’s in a format that’s easy to interrogate in order to get the insights that will drive your business forward. This might mean adding extra touches like timestamps and speaker identification. Or you can even get a ‘detailed notes’ transcript which will trim the fat off a lengthy audio file, remove any off-topic chat altogether and condense a lengthy transcript into the insights you need.
The next time you’re preparing a new campaign or product launch, keep these tips in mind for better quality, more readily parsable insights which will help you to steer your business in the right direction.