Conducting Qualitative Customer Research

Derrick DayeAugust 23, 20061212 min

When conducting qualitative customer research, projective techniques overcome some of the limitations of direct questioning:

  • people are not always conscious of their underlying motivations,
  • people tell you what they think you want to hear,
  • people are sometimes embarrassed to admit their real motivations, thinking that divulging them would reflect negatively on them,
  • most people think of themselves as being completely rational in their decision making, so they discount or dismiss non-rational reasons for their behaviors, and
  • some people fear how marketers might use the information “if they were to learn the truth about me” so they withhold that information to avoid being manipulated.

Projective techniques can help you better understand brand personality. For instance, “if the brand was an animal/car/person/sports team/occupation, what animal/car/person/sports team/occupation would it be and why?”

Other projective research techniques that help you get below the surface include:

  • sentence completion
  • brand sorting (on a wide variety of dimensions)
  • word association
  • collages
  • brand obituary/epitaph
  • brand press release/headline
  • consumer letters
  • brand time capsule
  • stereotypes
  • thought balloons
  • psychodrawing/modeling
  • role-playing and reenactment

What techniques can you share?

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