The Pros and Cons of Qualitative Research
27 May 2021

What is Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research is non-numerical data that assesses a small number of people in order to garner ideas and insights. This is typically achieved through methods such as focus groups, ethnographies, and in-depth interviews. These exploratory strategies can provide a deep look into the minds and thought-processes of consumers. However, the results can not be used to represent the population as they can with quantitative research. Here are some pros and cons of qualitative analysis to keep in mind when deciding if this methodology is suitable for your brand’s current needs.


Gain Deeper Insight into Your Consumers’ Minds

Focus groups and interviews allow  brands to probe into a person’s opinions and feelings. Follow-up questions give moderators or interviewers the opportunity to gain deeper understanding of the “why” in response to an initial question. Though open-ended questions in a survey can touch the surface layer of understanding, there is no comparison to what can be uncovered through intimate conversation. These detailed insights can provide your brand with a colorful picture of who the audience is and what they think of your brand or product. 

Observe Emotions

People can sometimes hide their true feelings behind tone of voice, gestures, or facial expressions. This is why it is difficult to detect sarcasm in an email or text message. It is difficult, if not impossible, to pick up on individual consumers’ inner thoughts and feelings through quantitative methods. You can only experience these unspoken nuances through personal interaction with a subject. Including these unspoken details in your research can lead to more accurate and insightful observations.

Expand Your Audience by Conducting Research Virtually

The pandemic taught the world that many industries could pivot to conduct business in ways outside of traditional procedures. This is true for qualitative research strategies. Conducting in-depth interviews and focus groups online has allowed for research to continue through the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking beyond 2021, virtual qualitative sessions have the potential to allow brands to conduct qualitative research that may have previously been out of budget. 

Furthermore, virtual focus groups make it possible to include subjects from different locations in the same session to allow for a more diversified conversation. 

A research facility allows for minimal distraction. However, another unforeseen benefit of online qualitative research is that it captures the audience where they are. The research provides a glimpse into their life and environment that you do not capture at a facility. 


Results Are Directional

Qualitative studies generally utilize a small sample size due to the in-depth nature. This means that although a brand may find useful insights through the results of a focus group or interview, the results are specific to each individual respondent. Patterns can not be quantified to match the population. A brand should consider how they plan to use their research when deciding how to approach the study. If the goal is to gather feedback on product features or gain insight into consumer decisions or behaviors, qualitative research can be helpful even though patterns can not be generalized. But when trying to calculate market opportunity or measure brand resonance, quantitative methods are the way to go.

Results Rely Highly the Moderator and Proper Questioning

Qualitative research relies on the researcher’s ability to assess all aspects of a respondent’s answer from what they say, to how they say it, to what facial expressions they made while they say it. Some of these features can be difficult to interpret correctly and may come down to the subjective judgement of the moderator. If the moderator misinterprets any pieces, a company can be left missing details or incorrect information. These misjudgments can be avoided by allowing for multiple researchers to give thoughts on consumer responses. This can be done by having additional observers watching live from a ‘back room’ and for recording sessions to be reevaluated at a later time.

Researchers may also influence results through their questioning style. It is crucial for respondents to be as genuine as possible. In order to ensure this, questions must be clear and open-ended. Leading questions can cause an interviewee to respond with “the answer that the moderator wants” instead of with their true feelings. This can skew the results in favor of your brand’s agenda and provide an inaccurate outlook on your subject’s perceptions.

Qualitative Methods can be Costly

There are a number of expenses involved in conducting qualitative research. A moderator must be hired for each focus group or interview. Compensation for participants will generally be higher than the amount you would pay a survey respondent. It is also generally necessary to rent a facility to conduct the focus groups. However, in today’s climate, this cost can be reduced by holding sessions virtually through a video platform. If qualitative research is in your brand’s agenda, be sure to budget for all of the costs involved in conducting the study.

Interested in learning more about qualitative and quantitative research? Check out our other blogs here. 
Are you interested in our market research capabilities? 
  • Take a look at our research strategies here.
  • Sign up for our newsletters here


The Pros and Cons of Brand Research
27 May 2021

Why Conduct Brand Research?

The best way to grow your brand is to know your brand. Typical marketing ROI measures have their benefits, but brand research is the best way to follow through on business objectives, cement positioning and inform future marketing strategies.

Imagine using a bow and arrow blindfolded. Even the best archer would likely miss the mark without being able to see the target. Brand research is like taking off the blindfold. With a clear vision and a targeted goal, organizations can take full advantage of their marketing strengths.

Pros of Brand Research

Build Better & Sustain Stronger

It is possible to conduct research at any stage of developing and growing a business. During the first steps of brand creation, research can provide the tools needed to make informed decisions regarding developing a launch strategy. New studies can also refine concepts for a new product and define the ideal target audience.

Established brands can periodically conduct research to evolve with changing consumer attitudes. Similarly, brands can reevaluate their target audience to shift messaging, polish positioning, and further develop brand assets. 

Customize Every Aspect

Branding research can be completely tailored to the company’s needs. The brand can commission as much or as little research as needed and pick any combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. The business and research objectives will determine the best combination. For example, brand tracking research follows your organization’s strategies and outlook over time, while thought leadership research boosts engagement. 

If your organization is unsure where to start, market research professionals can determine the best design to meet the objectives.

Cons of Brand Research


Though branding studies is important, commissioning it is an additional cost for your business. Furthermore, it may take a while to see the return on investment. That being said, these projects can help save money by avoiding branding errors and making informed decisions. It can also project sales and engagement down the road. Therefore, it is definitely worth considering when putting together your annual budget.


The time commitment for brand research can range from a few weeks to a few months. It takes time not only to decide on research strategies, but also to design the questionnaire/guide, field the research, and analyze findings. To avoid running up against marketing/advertising deadlines, companies should integrate such projects into long-term strategies. 

Constantly Changing Market

It’s no secret that the market is constantly evolving. This is certainly the case in the age of COVID-19. The pandemic disrupted consumer habits and business operations around the world in 2020. Pandemic aside, consumer habits can change at a whim. Additionally, brands should consider unforeseen events. It is important to update research at regular intervals. 

Ultimately, though this kind of research comes at an extra cost, additional time, and a need to be updated, your organization will see a return on investment in the long term. Like an archer with a clear vision, with brand research, your organization can hit the target!

Interested in reading more of our Pros/Cons blogs? Check out our other blogs here. 
Are you interested in our market research capabilities? 
  • Take a look at our research strategies here.
  • Sign up for our newsletters here


What B2B Firms Use Marketing Agencies For – MarketingProfs
25 May 2021

Provoke Insights’ research on B2B companies is featured in MarketingProfs, a hub for business and marketing education.

The article discusses the results from Provoke Insights’ 2021 B2B study, which began in mid-January 2021. The project sought to gather and analyze information on the marketing initiatives of B2B, B2C, and B2B-B2C hybrid companies. 

The standout findings include:

  • 23% of B2B professionals turn to outside marketing agencies for SEM and SEO purposes
  • 21% of B2B professionals commission social media agencies for social media marketing
  • B2B firms are more likely to use tradeshow marketing than B2C companies
  • B2C companies are more likely to use TV commercials than B2B companies

Marketing professionals, B2B professionals, and the general population looking to better understand marketing initiatives may find this particularly interesting.

This research is part of an in-house research study conducted by Provoke Insights in 19 different industries including Banking/Investing, Clothing, Hospitality/Tourism, and the Outdoors. Download Provoke Insights’ complimentary Brand Equity 2021 report here for newly-published insights on B2B, B2C, and dozens of other industries.

Provoke Insights: Pandemic Has Created A ‘Newfound Love For The Outdoors.’
10 May 2021

Inside Radio reports on a webinar delivered by Carly Fink and Rachael Ryan of Provoke Insights

In this article, Inside Radio reports on findings presented by Provoke Insights founder, Carly Fink, and Associate DIrector of Research and Strategy, Rachael Ryan. The webinar discussing outdoor consumers was presented on May 5, 2021 as part of Radio Advertising Bureau’s Business Accelerated initiative.

Inside Radio discuses how Provoke Insights’ research shows a newfound love for the great outdoors over the past year.

Health & Wellness & COVID-19
05 May 2021

Provoke Insights’ research on consumer trends is featured in Happi, a media company devoted to covering the global personal care.

This article uses research from various companies to show how consumers are turning various self care methods during the pandemic. It uses the Provoke Insights Brand Equity 2021 survey to show the public’s attitudes towards the return of in-person stores, top beauty brands, and more.

Happi also quotes Carly Fink, president and founder of Provoke Insights, on issues surrounding traditional shopping malls and the eventual return to in-person offices. Carly is also quoted in noting current trends in health and beauty products.