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Does your B2B brand need Qualitative Research? 

Learn why qualitative research is important to understand emotions and motives behind consumer decisions for your brand. Also explore different stages when you can deploy a qualitative research project.


Before reading/skimming this blog-post, you must understand the 95/5 ratio.

The 95/5 ratio is an interesting one and states that only 5% of your target audience will respond to your outreach and be ready to buy anytime.
The remaining 95% are out of your market and will not be buying anytime soon.

Source: DAWES, J. (2024) Advertising effectiveness and the 95-5 rule: Most B2B buyers are not in the market right now, Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science.

Here’s the silver lining: That 95%, which won’t be buying soon, will fuel your future cash flow when they’re ready.

For now, they don’t need to know precisely what you do; they just need to know that you exist.
(But hey, if they know you do, then that’s a win in your books. 🏆)

And that’s where your brand comes into play.

But what exactly is a brand?

According to HubSpot a brand is ‘The identity and story of a company that makes it stand out from competitors that sell similar products or services.’

And if you read further, they also give a little snippet on what the goal of branding is – ‘To earn space in the minds of the target audience and become their preferred option for doing business.’

Now let’s also briefly dissect ‘Qualitative Research’:

  1. What is qualitative research?

    Qualitative research is a type of research that focuses on understanding concepts, opinions, and experiences by collecting and analysing non-numerical data such as text, video, or audio.
  2. How is qualitative research different from quantitative research?

    Qualitative research is an in-depth, flexible and interpretive approach focused on understanding human experiences, behaviours, and perspectives, in contrast to the numerical focus of quantitative research.

Having understood both key terms, let’s examine why they are so closely related.

Based on the definition of what the goal of branding is, you need be present in the minds of your target audience. And mental presence is based on a lot of factors like, emotions, motive, ease of understanding your solution, how big the pain point is, etc.

All of those factors have one thing in common. Did you spot it? 👀

They focus on how your target audience feels.

If you look at what qualitative research is and what differentiates it, you’ll see they both focus on opinions and human experiences; something that’s not easily captured through quantitative formats.

You might say that I’m overanalyzing the definitions, but worldwide Google trends don’t lie. Both search terms (Qualitative research and Branding) show a direct correlation. To give these findings further substance, I also compared search queries for ‘Quantitative Research’.

You can clearly see the search trends are fairly similar for the qualitative research and branding, compared to quantitative.

Now let me be clear, in no shape or form am I saying that quantitative research isn’t relevant for your brand.

In fact, we recommend deploying both qualitative and quantitative research to strengthen your findings.

If you’re unsure which one to lead with, we can help you decide what kind of research is best for you. Based on the results, we can map out your next steps together.

To further back the importance of qualitative research I looked at the latest trends from the B2B Benchmark Report by LinkedIn.

Here is a split of different marketing channels used to reach your target audience:

Globally, 1/5 of marketers use ‘Thought leadership content’ and ‘in-person events’ to reach their target audiences. Both those channels seem time-consuming and expensive, but on the contrary, they are not.

Their main challenge is grabbing attention and keeping readers glued to what they have to say. This further emphasises the importance of knowing your audience extremely well.

So, what forms of qualitative research can you do to get to know your audience?

We’ve listed our most in-demand services below.

What are popular forms of qualitative research?

  1. Face-to-face vs. Online interviews

    Face-to-face interviews can help you gain a deeper understanding of your audience’s opinions and emotions on a particular topic. However, they are difficult to arrange since the interviewee needs to make a significant effort to show up for the meeting.

    On the other hand online interviews are easier to arrange, have reduced dropout rates and less-stressful to attend, but in contrast to face-to-face interviews they are more difficult to analyse the interviewee’s body language.
  2. Focus groups

    Interviewing a group of people helps capture a wider range of opinions and can help validate themes and ideas. Additionally, focus groups are a cost effective way of interviewing multiple people and gathering qualitative research data.
  3. In-Depth telephone interviews

    In-depth telephone interviews (or IDIs) can collect crucial qualitative primary market research information for your project. This is often used when your audience have hectic work/life schedules or live/work abroad.
  4. Online communities

    An online community panel is a qualitative research method where a group of individuals participates in discussions, surveys, and activities on an online platform. Participants are chosen based on specific criteria and engage in moderated discussions and tasks.
    The goal is to foster long-term engagement and gather insights, feedback, and data. Pop-up communities offer a flexible solution for short-term research needs.

Great, but what if your target audience is very diplomatic?

We recommend deploying Social Listening tools.

Social media monitoring can stumble upon penetrating, unstructured data offered by other methods of qualitative research which are more traditional qualitative research tools, but it’s less intrusive.

The biggest advantage of deploying social listening tools is that it can reduce confirmation bias by listening to your customer’s authentic point of view without an interviewer present. This will help you draw parallels and give you a different perspective to examine further with qualitative research.

Sure, all this sounds great and achievable, but is it too late for you to run a qualitative research project? 😟

Let’s dive into that now…

When is the right time to deploy qualitative research for your brand?

  1. During the brand development process (early stage) ✍🏼

    Qualitative techniques like projective exercises and brand collages can help identify the optimal brand positioning, messaging, and visual identity that resonates with the target B2B audience.
  2. When engaging internal stakeholders for buy-ins (early stage) 🫱🏼‍🫲🏽

    Findings from qualitative research can be used to get buy-ins from internal stakeholders on marketing campaigns. Understanding key reasons and emotions behind decisions being made can be the make-or-break factor in many purchasedecisions.
  3. When defining your market research objectives (mid-stage) 🧪

    Often, what you’re looking for can get muddled with what your target audience is looking for. Conducting qualitative research early on can redeem deeper insights into your problems and help you redefine your objectives.
  4. When validating quantitative findings (mid-stage) ✅

    Qualitative research can be used to validate and provide context for quantitative brand research, as well as generate compelling quotes, case studies, and stories to bring the data to life.
  5. When trying to break down your brand architecture (late stage) 🪜

    As you grow as a company or a brand, you will tend to expand your offerings. Sometimes, it’ll be under your brand’s umbrella, and sometimes, they’ll branch out due to mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures. That’s when it becomes increasingly important for your target audience to associate with the correct brand.
    Qualitative research allows you to explore brand perceptions in-depth. Because qualitative techniques are more exploratory, you can go beyond superficial statements to identify the underlying emotional reaction to brands.

So, does your brand need qualitative research?

TL;DR – If you’re looking to gain some context for your brand and make decisions based on your consumers’ feedback, then yes, absolutely!

Qualitative research goes beyond the ‘How many?’ and ‘How much?’ questions. It gives you an in-depth understanding of the ‘Why’ and ‘How’.

As a brand you are fighting for mental availability amongst your target audience – that depends on many factors that you will find tough to analyse with just a quantitative survey.

To conclude, there are two ways you can run brand research:

  1. Conducting qualitative research before doing a quantitative survey so that you can incorporate all of your findings into your questionnaire design
  2. Run a quantitative survey first and then conduct qualitative research to get context on your research findings

If you’re not sure what route to take, we are offering a free 30-min. consultation call to go through your problem and brainstorm on what kind of research works best for you.

Drop us a message here. 📧

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