The Power of Qualitative Research: Part 1

Market Research, Qualitative Research

In our new eBook, Applying Qualitative Research to Marketing Challenges: Better Insight, More Success!, we discuss how qualitative research can be used to address common marketing and business challenges and provide several case studies to illustrate real-world applications of qualitative research. As a follow-up to the eBook, we have identified some additional case studies that further exhibit the power of qualitative research. In this post, we will discuss two of these case studies: The first study demonstrates how qualitative research can be used to develop your brand strategy and the second study illustrates the importance of conducting qualitative research when developing concepts for new products.


A major U.S. homebuilder wanted to determine if the same brand strategy could serve all six divisions, or whether they needed to pursue division level brand positions. The divisions were all related to construction and community development, but were quite different in terms of their target audiences. Some divisions sold to consumers (apartment dwellers, home buyers) and some to businesses (building owners/managers and community developers). A series of in-depth interviews with key business clients and focus groups with consumers (homebuyers and apartment renters) were conducted to identify potential positions and to evaluate the positions for subsequent quantitative research. The qualitative research finding was clear: one umbrella position could serve the target audiences of all six divisions. Additionally, the qualitative research was able to eliminate some of the potential brand positions, allowing the quantitative research to be more focused and efficiently identify the optimal positioning.


  • Qualitative research provides insight into your brand as it is perceived by customers. This makes qualitative research your starting point and foundation for major brand decisions.
  • Qualitative research can increase the efficiency and quality of quantitative research by delivering an understanding of how consumers talk about your product/service, as well as eliminating low performing concepts.


New Product consultancy Schneider Associates tells this story of Coca Cola’s C2 product launch: “For its biggest launch since Diet Coke, Coca-Cola identified a new market: 20- to 40-year-old men who liked the taste of Coke (but not its calories and carbs) and liked the no-calorie aspect of Diet Coke (but not its taste or feminine image). C2, which had half the calories and carbs and all the taste of original Coke, was introduced in 2004 with a $50 million advertising campaign. However, C2’s benefits weren’t distinctive enough. Men rejected the hybrid drink; they wanted full flavor with no calories or carbs, not half the calories and carbs. Moreover, the low-carb trend turned out to be short-lived. (Positioning a product to leverage a fad is a common mistake.)” Even though Coca Cola had conducted plenty of marketing research on the new product, they failed to ask the right questions. Qualitative research might have been more effective at getting underneath men’s lukewarm reception of the product. The good news? Apparently Coca Cola learned from their mistake and launched Coke Zero, a full flavor, zero-calorie product that can be found in stores—and men’s hands—today.


  • Even the most successful companies can benefit from a little qualitative marketing research!
  • Qualitative research could have identified the flaws in this concept earlier, allowing the company to change the product and avoid an embarrassing failure.