Qualitative Market Research

Do you ever wonder how new products get onto the shelves of supermarkets, shops and so on, or how TV adverts are made, or why TV programmes are made?

Most new ideas don’t appear until they have been thoroughly tested – it’s not cost effective for companies to make something on the off-chance that people will buy it; they need to check before they commit to spending a lot of money on a new idea. To do this, they need to ask people who use similar products, or might be in the market for new ones.

This is where you come in. All of us are consumers of something every day and it’s a good bet that at some time someone will be researching what you buy, what you watch, where you shop. So that could be the chance to make your opinions heard and at the same time, be rewarded for giving up your time.

Have a look at the types of market research that we do to get an idea of the variety of topics and the types of companies that undertake research.

What is a market research focus group

It’s a group of (usually eight) people) who all have at least one thing in common – they all drink the same brand of coffee, read the same newspaper and so on. The group is led by a researcher (known as a moderator) who doesn’t work for the end client but is neutral. They will get the group talking about particular topics and from what is said, will write a report for their client. The report wouldn’t say: “Mrs Bloggs said” but “people think that…, people feel that….”. The group isn’t an exam and there are no right or wrong answers. People all have different opinions and these are respected. People who have been to groups tell us that they are stimulating, very enjoyable and can be a lot of fun, as well as offering a chance to have your opinions heard and acted upon. And eventually you could see the product you’ve been discussing appear on the supermarket shelves, or the advert you’ve been talking about, appearing on TV.

Focus groups may take place face to face, although they can also take place online using online meeting tools and activities. 

What the advantages of focus groups for customer research?

Your opinions are very important because you are the users of the products or services and so are (edit) uniquely placed to comment on them.

Companies want the chance to discuss their products and services in depth and this type of qualitative research gives them valuable insights into their products/services, their customers and their market.

Companies want to increase their chances of success with the products/services so gathering customer opinion is very valuable to them. The sorts of things that they can learn from people like you:

  • What customers or potential customers think and feel about your product / service
  • How customers choose between different products or suppliers
  • What motivates customers’ choices
  • How branding, design and packaging influence customers
  • What sort of marketing messages are the most positive
  • What sort of marketing messages do customers or potential customers dislike
  • How making a decision is influenced by price
  • Whether there is demand for the companies proposed new product or service

Paid market research – what can you get out of it?

The obvious benefit is the opportunity to say something to companies about their products and services; to influence decisions on whether something actually gets made. Having your opinions heard and respected.

You can also get paid for your opinion. People who take part in paid focus groups are compensated for giving up their time. Typically groups last between one and half to two hours, and people receive anything from £30 – £50.

Interested in taking part in market research focus groups?

Rest assured that any information you provide will be securely managed by Considered Response in accordance with our
Data Protection and Security Policy

What we have to do is to be forever curiously testing new opinions and courting new impressions

Walter Pater (1839 - 1894), 1873

Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor

Stephen Sondheim (1930 - ) Into The Woods

The outcome of any serious research can only be to make two questions grow where only one grew before

Thorstein Veblen (1857 - 1929)

It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them

Steve Jobs (1955 - 2011), BusinessWeek, May 25 1998

Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee and just as hard to sleep after

Anne Morrow Lindbergh, 'Gift From the Sea'

A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he gets to know something

Wilson Mizner (1876 - 1933)

Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising

Mark Twain (1835 - 1910), A Connecticult Yankee in King Arthur's Court

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort

Herm Albright (1876 - 1944)

I happen to feel that the degree of a person's intelligence is directly reflected by the number of conflicting attitudes she can bring to bear on the same topic

Lisa Alther, Kinflicks, 1975

The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind

William James (1842 - 1910)

The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public

George Jessel

In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.
Management cannot be expected to recognize a good idea unless it is presented to them by a good salesman

David M. Ogilvy

In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield

Warren Buffett (1930 - )

Change your thoughts and you change your world

Norman Vincent Peale (1898 - 1993)

Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings

Samuel Johnson (1709 - 1784)

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong

Joseph Chilton Pearce

Creativity is a drug I cannot live without

Cecil B. DeMille (1881 - 1959)

Seize the moment of excited curiosity on any subject to solve your doubts; for if you let it pass, the desire may never return, and you may remain in ignorance

William Wirt (1772 - 1834)

The more alternatives, the more difficult the choice

Abbe' D'Allanival

The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice

George Eliot (1819 - 1880)

Give no decision till both sides thou'st heard


A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (1893 - 1986)

Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (1893 - 1986) in Irving Good, The Scientist Speculates, 1962

One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time

Andre Gide (1869 - 1951)

The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance - it is the illusion of knowledge

Daniel J. Boorstin (1914 - 2004)

The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand

Frank Herbert (1920 - 1986)

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them

Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642)

Mistakes are the portals of discovery

James Joyce (1882 - 1941)

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eye

Marcel Proust (1871 - 1922)

There is no harm in doubt and scepticism, for it is through these that new discoveries are made

Richard Feynman (1918 - 1988), letter to Armando Garcia J, December 11, 1985

He who never made a mistake never made a discovery

Samuel Smiles (1812 - 1904)

If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion

George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists

John Kenneth Galbraith (1908 - 2006)

Strive for excellence, not perfection

H. Jackson Brown Jr., O Magazine, December 2003

It's not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required

Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965)

The secret of joy in work is contained in one word - excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it

Pearl Buck (1892 - 1973), The Joy of Children, 1964

Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him

Aldous Huxley (1894 - 1963), Texts and Pretexts, 1932

Experience teaches only the teachable

Aldous Huxley (1894 - 1963)

Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment

Barry LePatner

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so

Douglas Adams (1952 - 2001), Last Chance to See

Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again

Franklin P. Jones

Experience teaches slowly and at the cost of mistakes

James A. Froude (1818 - 1894)

Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes

Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), Lady Windermere's Fan, Act III 1892

Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done and why. Then do it

Robert Heinlein (1907 - 1988)

Let us take things as we find them: let us not attempt to distort them into what they are not. We cannot make facts. All our wishing cannot change them. We must use them

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801 - 1890)

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored

Aldous Huxley (1894 - 1963), Proper Studies, 1927

Where facts are few, experts are many

Donald R. Gannon

Get the facts, or the facts will get you. And when you get them, get them right, or they will get you wrong

Dr. Thomas Fuller (1654 - 1734), Gnomologia, 1732

An idea is salvation by imagination

Frank Lloyd Wright (1869 - 1959

Don't worry about people stealing an idea. If it's original, you will have to ram it down their throats

Howard Aiken (1900 - 1973)

Do something. If it doesn't work, do something else. No idea is too crazy

Jim Hightower, The New York Times, March 9, 1986

When ideas fail, words come in very handy

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832)

I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones

John Cage (1912 - 1992)

Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen

John Steinbeck (1902 - 1968)

Lack of money is no obstacle. Lack of an idea is an obstacle

Ken Hakuta

Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions

Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809 - 1894)

Imagination is more important than knowledge

Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 - 1940), The Crack-Up, 1936

The best way to predict the future is to invent it

Alan Kay

If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. The free mind is not a barking dog, to be tethered on a ten-foot chain

Adlai E. Stevenson Jr. (1900 - 1965), speech at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, October 8, 1952

Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information on it

Samuel Johnson (1709 - 1784), quoted in Boswell's Life of Johnson

Knowledge must come through action; you can have no test which is not fanciful, save by trial

Sophocles (496 BC - 406 BC), Trachiniae

I have opinions of my own - strong opinions - but I don't always agree with them

George Bush (1924 - )

Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinions in good men is but knowledge in the making

John Milton (1608 - 1674)

Our opinions do not really blossom into fruition until we have expressed them to someone else

Mark Twain (1835 - 1910), quoted in Mark Twain and I, Opie Read, 1940

You get fifteen democrats in a room, and you get twenty opinions

Senator Patrick Leahy (1940 - ), May 1990

Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you've got to say, and say it hot

D. H. Lawrence (1885 - 1930)

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life

Dr. David M. Burns

Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance

Samuel Johnson (1709 - 1784)

That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the task itself has become easier, but that our ability to perform it has improved

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)

Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless

Thomas A. Edison (1847 - 1931)

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity

Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

Statistics: The only science that enables different experts using the same figures to draw different conclusions

Evan Esar (1899 - 1995), Esar's Comic Dictionary

Wisdom is what's left after we've run out of personal opinions

Cullen Hightower

Science is organised knowledge. Wisdom is organised life

Immanuel Kant (1724 - 1804)

A coincidence is a trend we have decided not to take seriously

Philip Slater, The Wayward Gate: Science and the Supernatural.

Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals

David Ogilvy, Ogilvy on Advertising, 1983

Advertising research is one-half frustration, one-half exclamation point, and one-half question-mark. If this adds up to more than 100 percent, it proves that mathematics and research sometimes gives confusing results

Michael P. Ryan, of Allied Chemical Corp, 1968

Any genuine philosophy leads to action and from action back again to wonder, to the enduring fact of mystery

Henry Miller

Basic research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing

Wernher von Braun (1912 - 1977)

Changing the way we measure things is vital. So is decompartmentalising society - making sure that economics and politics are not divorced from other crucial areas of life

David Attenborough

Do not put your faith in what statistics say until you have carefully considered what they do not say

William W. Watt

Every path to a new understanding begins in confusion

Mason Cooley

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable

Mark Twain 2

First get your facts; then you can distort them at your leisure

Mark Twain

I know quite certainly that I have no special gift. Curiosity, obsession and dogged endurance have brought me my ideas

Albert Einstein

I must have a prodigious quantity of mind; it takes me as much as a week, sometimes, to make it up

Mark Twain 4

Most people, sometime in their lives, stumble across truth. And most jump up, brush themselves off, and hurry on about their business as if nothing had happened

Sir Winston Churchill

Opinion is that exercise of the human will which helps us to make a decision without information

John Erskine

Quality means doing it right when no one is looking

Henry Ford

"Research is the process of going up alleys to see if they are blind

Marston Bates

Searching is half the fun: life is much more manageable when thought of as a scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party

Jimmy Buffett

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known

Carl Sagan

The human body has two ears and one mouth. To be good at persuading or selling, you must learn to use those natural devices in proportion. Listen twice as much as you talk and you'll succeed in persuading others nearly every time

Tom Hopkins

The most important word in the vocabulary of advertising is TEST. If you pretest your product with consumers, and pretest your advertising, you will do well in the


David Ogilvy, 1963

The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible

Arthur C. Clarke

The way to do research is to attack the facts at the point of greatest astonishment

Celia Green, The Decline and Fall of Science

We can be absolutely certain only about things we do not understand

Eric Hoffer

You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions

Naguib Mahfouz

It is sometimes said that Tony Blair will not blow his nose until a focus group has pronounced on the wisdom of such a move

The Independent, 1999

Inquiry is fatal to certainty

Will Durant (1885-1981)

The best research for playing a drunk is being a British actor for 20 years

Michael Caine (1933 - )

Our investigations have always contributed more to our amusement than they have to knowledge

Will Rogers (1879-1935)

There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after

J R R Tolkien

Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known

Carl Sagan

Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose

Zora Neale Hurston

The trouble with research is that it tells you what people were thinking about yesterday, not tomorrow. It's like driving a car using a rearview mirror

Bernard Loomis

For most of human history we have searched for our place in the cosmos. Who are we? What are we? We find that we inhabit an insignificant planet of a hum-drum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people

Carl Sagan

Any communication or marketing professional needs cross-cultural research and communication skills to be able to succeed in the future

Marye Tharp

Inquiry is fatal to certainty

Will Durant

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism, to steal ideas from many is research

Wilson Mizner (1876 - 1933)

Research is the act of going up alleys to see if they are blind


That's the nature of research - you don't know what in hell you're doing

Harold "Doc" Edgerton (1903 - 1990)

Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It's freedom from fear. It's a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you're doing is OK. You are OK

'Don Draper' Mad Men

If you don't like what's being said, change the conversation

'Don Draper' Mad Men

It wasn't a lie, it was ineptitude with insufficient cover

'Don Draper' Mad Men

The drunker you are, the funnier I become. ABC did research

'Jimmy Barratt' Mad Men

We're going to sit at our desks and keep typing while the walls fall down around us because we're creative - the least important, most important thing there is

'Don Draper' Mad Men

Hindsight is 20/20. Research. Plan. Execute. Evaluate. This makes your forward vision 20/20

Mr Prophet

My ultimate research goal is to transform our human existence to just eating, sleeping, drinking, playing - nevermind

Luis von Ahn

If all people are unique, and if they are constantly changing each and every day, then all one can say about any social research finding is that it applied to that group of people on that given day, and given the propensity of humans to be different and to change, then it is unlikely that one would get the same results if one were to repeat the study

Wayne Dyer

"One of the principal objects of theoretical research in my department of knowledge is to find the point of view from which the subject appears in its greatest simplicity

Willard Gibbs (1839 - 1903)

Research is a scientific activity dedicated to discovering what makes grass green

Russell Baker

Research teaches a man to admit he is wrong and to be proud of the fact that he does so, rather than try with all his energy to defend an unsound plan because he is afraid that admission of error is a confession of weakness when rather it is a sign of strength

Prof. H E Stocher

Study and research into truth often only serves to make us see by experience our natural ignorance

Magdeleine Sable (c.1599 - 1678)

Accustomed to the veneer of noise, to the shibboleths of promotion, public relations, and market research, society is suspicious of those who value silence

John Lahr

By seeking and blundering we learn

Johann Wolfgang Goethe

Fools make researches and wise men exploit them

H. G. Wells

If I have seen further... it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants

Isaac Newton

If we knew what we were doing it wouldn't be research

Albert Einstein

Just as the largest library, badly arranged, is not so useful as a very moderate one that is well arranged, so the greatest amount of knowledge, if not elaborated by our own thoughts, is worth much less than a far smaller volume that has been abundantly and repeatedly thought over

Arthur Schopenhauer

Lost in a gloom of uninspired research

William Wordsworth

Scientific research consists in seeing what everyone else has seen, but thinking what no one else has thought

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

To write it, it took three months; to conceive it - three minutes; to collect the data in it - all my life

F Scott Fitzgerald (1896 - 1940)

There is no substitute for face-to-face reporting and research

Thomas Friedman

In much of society, research means to investigate something you do not know or understand

Neil Armstrong

We don't ask research to do what it was never meant to do, and that is to get an idea

William Bernbach

We don't devote enough scientific research to finding a cure for jerks

Bill Watterson

I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgment; they are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunkard uses a lamp post for support, rather than for illumination

David Ogilvy

The federal government has sponsored research that has produced a tomato that is perfect in every respect, except that you can't eat it. We should make every effort to make sure this disease, often referred to as 'progress', doesn't spread

Andy Rooney

Research is creating new knowledge

Neil Armstrong

Money won't buy happiness, but it will pay the salaries of a large research staff to study the problem

Bill Vaughan

There is no such thing as a good or bad ad in isolation. What is good at one moment is bad at another. Research can trap you into the past

William Bernbach

No. Better research needed. Fire your research person. No fishnet stockings. Never. Not in this band

Gene Simmons

Research your idea. See if there's a demand. A lot of people have great ideas, but they don't know if there's a need for it. You also have to research your competition

Magic Johnson

It has taken me years of struggle, hard work and research to learn to make one simple gesture, and I know enough about the art of writing to realize that it would take as

many years of concentrated effort to write one simple, beautiful sentence

Isadora Duncan

I basically did all the library research for this book on Google, and it not only saved me enormous amounts of time but actually gave me a much richer offering of research in a shorter time

Thomas Friedman

Research serves to make building stones out of stumbling blocks

Arthur D. Little

Research is subordinated (not to a long-term social benefit) but to an immediate commercial profit

Walter Modell

What is research, but a blind date with knowledge?

William Henry

When recruiting a group, a tricky quota is only half as difficult when there are twice as many people recruiting it

Lynne Chapman & Marilyn Beaumont

You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new

Steve Jobs (1955 - 2011)