Qualitative research theories and approaches have evolved significantly, with the advance and adoption of behavioural economic thinking. This has put greater emphasis upon human behaviour and context rather than motivations and attitudes. There is a growing reliance on digital approaches, with technology such as mobile apps, voice, chatbots and online communities enabling the capture of participants’ everyday behaviours, or brand interactions, in the moment. The increasing use of AI and machine learning is blurring the lines between qualitative and quantitative research, and enabling faster results.
Qualitative Research is a broad methodological approach that is used to gain an understanding of underlying attitudes, opinions, motivations and importantly behaviours of consumers. Qualitative methods essentially examine and observe (ideally in real time and in context) the why and how of decision making, not just what, where, when, or "who". It provides insights into the problem or helps to develop initial ideas or hypotheses for potential quantitative research with a larger sample. Typical techniques include focus groups and in-depth interviews.