What is Qualitative Research and Why is it Important?

The importance of understanding your customers can't be overstated. Both qualitative and quantitative research methods are beneficial for businesses across a range of industries, and can provide you with an insight into your customers' unique needs.

The importance of understanding your customers can't be overstated. Both qualitative and quantitative research methods are beneficial for businesses across a range of industries, and can provide you with an insight into your customers' unique needs.

While there are several ways to obtain quantitative research, from surveys to questionnaires, qualitative research can be harder. Fortunately, mystery shopping services can give you a better understanding of consumer behaviour and attitudes. Below we have explored what qualitative research is and explained why it's crucial for businesses.

What is Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research is a popular method of market research that focuses on understanding human behaviour and the motivations behind the behaviour. Unlike quantitative research, which collects data through numbers and statistics, qualitative research is more concerned with understanding the 'why' and 'how' behind actions and opinions.

Qualitative methods often include interviews and focus groups, but mystery shopping has proven to be an excellent way to learn more about consumer behaviour. For instance, in the world of mystery shopping, qualitative data collection could involve sending shoppers to physically visit retail stores and interact with sales staff. These mystery shoppers then provide detailed feedback about their first-hand experiences, addressing a variety of factors.

This type of insight helps businesses understand not just what’s happening in their stores, but why it’s happening. Mystery shopping offers information that numbers alone can't provide.

Why is Qualitative Research Important?

Both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods have their place, yet learning more about customers’ attitudes, opinions and motivations can be invaluable. First-hand and in-the-moment feedback will enable you to drive your business forward. This non-numerical data is beneficial for reasons such as;

  • Provides Context to Numbers

Quantitative data might tell you that your sales have dropped by 10% in the last quarter, but it won't tell you why customers aren’t purchasing from you. Qualitative research fills this gap by providing some context to numerical data. It digs deeper into consumer experiences, helping you to make sense of trends and statistics. Understanding the ‘why’ enables you to introduce changes that can make a real difference.

  • Enhances Customer Experience

Understanding customer behaviours offers you an opportunity to provide a better experience. Qualitative research can reveal what customers truly value, whether it’s efficient customer service, a friendly atmosphere or a streamlined checkout process, for instance. Once these elements are identified, they can be incorporated into day-to-day operations to make the customer’s journey as enjoyable as possible.

  • Facilitates Strategic Decision-Making

When you’re armed with the insights gained from qualitative research, you are better positioned to make informed strategic decisions. Whether it's introducing a new product or fine-tuning your existing services, the detailed understanding provided by qualitative research can support the planning and execution. Using mystery shopping services, you can also evaluate the success of any new changes you make to your business.

  • Ideal for Market Exploration

If you're entering a new market or thinking about expanding your services, qualitative research can offer invaluable insights into the new area. By focusing on human behaviours, emotions and attitudes, qualitative research can provide a clearer picture of what to expect and how to adapt your strategies accordingly. This type of data analysis provides insights that you’re unable to achieve through quantitative research.

  • Empowers Employees

In the context of mystery shopping, qualitative research won’t only help to improve customer experiences, it can also encourage employees to perform better. When mystery shoppers provide context-rich feedback, it becomes easier to identify areas for staff training and development. You can ensure that every member of your team is delivering impeccable service and improving customer satisfaction.

Working With a Mystery Shopping Company

All in all, qualitative research is a strategic tool for any business. It provides the depth of understanding needed to improve customer experiences, make informed decisions and ultimately, gain a competitive edge in the market. If you’ve always focused on quantitative research, it’s undoubtedly worth exploring this more hands-on data collection method.

If you would like to find out more about how mystery shopping can help you learn more about your business and your customers, contact our team at Performance in People today. Since 2000, we have been providing mystery shopping services to some of the world’s leading brands, such as Audi and Pandora. We can design a bespoke mystery shopping programme for your business, helping you to understand the ‘why’.

Unlock the insights you need with the help of our mystery shopping team.