The Importance of Stories in Qualitative Market Research

Conducting qualitative market research is an essential part of the business cycle because it provides an organization with insight into consumer sentiment and brand performance in the marketplace. As an alternative to collecting quantitative data that takes time and energy to sort through, these days companies frequently rely on a qualitative approach in order to more swiftly get information and recommendations on action items that can affect the business. While comprehensive data analysis based on detailed research completed following months of studies and testing has been standard in the past, it might not be as effective in many cases today. Being able to tell a story to executives and decision makers opens up new possibilities for growth and revenue moving forward.

Cut Through the Clutter

Clients and executives do not have the time or resources to dedicate to lengthy market research projects. Sitting through presentations that are time consuming is a drain, especially when it is easy to get lost in all of the facts and figures being conveyed. On the other hand, as a market researcher it is important to streamline the process by presenting information in a clear and concise story that captures the essence of what the data shows.

Whether your organization completes in-depth interviews with customers, or puts on an online focus group over a few days, the goal is to present results in a way that is easily understood. A well-articulated story is clear and detailed, and shows clients and management the implications of different actions they might take based on the findings of the research.

Why Stories Work

Reporting on hundreds of PowerPoint slides explaining demographic shifts and emerging market trends is tedious. The information overload can turn out to be a waste if the key findings are not memorable and impactful. A story is an effective tool for market researchers because it achieves a number of goals.

  • By contrast. The human brain is pre-programmed to be especially responsive to stories. This is a capacity shaped by millennia of humans sitting around a camp fire to here stories of the hunt or fables that build group history and identity. A narrative arc grabs our attention. Today’s most effective reports are cast into a narrative format whenever possible.
  • Stories solve problems. Company executives have a list of business objectives, and they want to know the information they need to reach those goals. A story conveys the main results of the research and allows for the making of informed decisions.
  • Stories are efficient. As all firms compete to deliver results in shorter business cycles, market researchers must be able to provide value in a timely manner. Simply put, increasing the efficiency of a study or focus group is of the utmost importance. Telling a story at its conclusion streamlines the process and shows how the data collected relates to the big picture.

As you build your presentation following the conclusion of qualitative market research, understand how the results tie into the organization’s stated research and business goals. Use visuals to assist in delivering the message to the audience and make sure that the content you include is direct. When you are finished creating the presentation, it should be formatted in such a way that leads the viewer to see a compelling story that he or she can act upon if need be.

Learn more about crafting an effective market research story by contacting an e-FocusGroups expert today at (707) 585-7363.