To deepen the understanding of a market, custom research employs extensive or targeted primary research to go beyond what can be uncovered through secondary research alone. In-depth interviews are the most versatile form of primary research and are appropriate when targeting detailed perceptions, opinions, and attitudes. In-depth interviews are particularly effective when the goal is to capture feedback that is sensitive. These interviews can be conducted in-person or over the telephone to gain deeper insight to specific objectives by probing for quality responses. This offers an advantage over self-completion methods, such as surveys, because the respondent is more likely to give their full attention and the interviewer can deduce the quality of each response.
Importance of the Interviewer
It is important to have a well-seasoned interviewer than can adapt with the conversation—as the discussion may not flow exactly in sync with the discussion guide or questionnaire. A good interviewer will tailor the discussion to objectives and sustain more control over the data received. The ability to conduct a complex or even technical interview is the ability to see how key pieces of information fit together. An interviewer does not need to be an expert on the subject. At times, being an expert may bring your own bias to the table and can hinder the ability to acquire and possibly analyze the data objectively. However, an interviewer should do a fair amount of background research to hold an intelligent conversation on the subject matter.
Face-to-face (F2F) interviewing is one of the oldest and most widely-used methods of conducting primary research. F2F interviews are conducted by a market researcher and a target respondent in the street, home, office, meeting place, etc. There are many advantages to using F2F interviews, such as the use of visual aids and the detection of social cues and body language. However, F2F interviewing can be costly and time consuming. F2F interviews require a significant amount of time on the front end to identify, recruit, and schedule the interview as well as the travel time and costs to meet the respondent in person.
Advantages of F2F Interviews:
- F2F allows for more in-depth data collection and comprehensive understanding
- Body language and facial expressions are more clearly identified and understood
- The interviewer can probe for explanations of responses
- Stimulus material and visual aids can be used to support the interview
- Interview length can be considerably longer since the participant has a greater commitment to participate
Disadvantages of F2F interviews:
- Interviews are more time consuming to recruit and conduct
- As a result of timing and travel, F2F interviews can be expensive
- Interviews can deliver biased responses – personal connection to the issue
- Must carefully vet the respondent’s ability before investing time in the recruitment process and interview process
Using telephones to conduct in-depth interviews is a quicker, easier way to approach primary research. As opposed to survey methodology conducted over the internet, through mailings, or in focus groups, telephone interviewing gives the interviewer and the respondent the chance to ask questions and inquiry about topics and questions just like in F2F interviews but without the extensive time and costs. Telephone interviewing is ideal if the target respondents are spread out over a large geographic scope or if a large number of interviews are required to complete the project objectives.
Telephone interviewing is an in-between methodology serving as the median between F2F interviews and surveys/panels. As a means of collecting primary, qualitative data, telephone interviews are typically the preferred method as they deliver high-quality responses with less timing and cost commitments than F2F interview.
Advantages of telephone interviews:
- Telephone interviews are cheaper and easier to conduct than F2F interviews
- Interviews can deliver similar quality data
- Multiple points of view can be gathered through multiple interviews
- Interviews can be conducted over a wider geographic scope, even globally
- Answers to questions are as valid as F2F interviews
Disadvantages to telephone interviews:
- Using the telephone can be difficult to connect with target respondents, and they can exit the interview at any time
- Behavior and body language cannot be observed
- Interviews tend to be shorter than F2F interviews
- Difficult to use visual aids to assist in the interviewing
Regardless of methodology (F2F vs. telephone), the most important aspect of in-depth interviewing is accessing the right people. In B2B research, there may not be a directory or panel of target respondents, and they may have to be identified through a tailored investigation. The key is discerning how to identify decision-makers and access them without any pre-existing relationship. Many projects may be completed in a certain market or industry segment, but the same contacts are rarely able to be used for a new project. Each custom market research project is exactly that, customized and tailored.
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This post was written by Priority Metrics Group (PMG), a MarketResearch.com partner in custom research.
Priority Metrics Group (PMG) is a professional marketing consulting firm based in Spartanburg, South Carolina. PMG provides customized research, analysis, and consultation services designed to generate profitable growth for clients. They work with leading organizations in a variety of manufacturing and service industries. They are experts at gathering and processing market information, analyzing data, and translating information into actionable growth initiatives.