Qualitative Practice

Where quantitative research measures what consumers (and business decision-makers) think, feel, and do, qualitative research delves below the surface, to plumb the rational and emotional underpinnings of what people think and feel and do.

  • Why do people feel the way they do about a brand, a product, an advertisement, a Web site—what deep-seated needs, interests, and beliefs drive their opinions?
  • What thoughts, ideas, and images do people associate with particular brands or products?  How do those associations affect the way people feel about a brand or product?
  • What’s important to people when it comes to the type of relationship they want to have with the brands that provide specific products and services?  How exactly does that type of relationship solidify the bond between buyer and provider?

Well-executed qualitative research allows the marketer to tap into what’s truly important to the target audience—in order to (1) develop products and services that will best meet consumers’ underlying needs, and (2) communicate with consumers in ways that will resonate most strongly.

At The Taylor Group, we have a strong group of qualitative researchers—two full-time focus group moderators and a corps of executive interviewers, all with extensive experience in a variety of industries.  We rely on a range of qualitative methods, depending on the topic and audience:

Traditional Focus Groups

Traditional focus groups are the hallmark of our qualitative offerings.  We have conducted well over 3,000 focus groups since the company’s inception in 1987.  Our focus groups run the gamut:  from full groups to mini-groups to triads and dyads.  We have worked extensively in every major market in the U.S. and in 22 countries across five continents.  We have done groups in convention center hotels and in rural motels.

Online Focus Groups

More and more our clients are open to, and interested in, the idea of online groups.  Apart from the overall lower cost of doing them and the opportunity they provide to eliminate travel expenses, online groups also offer the significant advantage of being totally free of geographic restrictions and limitations.  While online groups provide less depth and are not appropriate for every study, we often propose online groups as an option for qualitative research.


We have conducted more than 10,000 one-on-one in-depth interviews (both in-person and by phone), ranging from . . .

  • Small 12-IDI-type ad hoc projects among consumers or business people, to . . .
  • Large-scale, 500-interview projects with C-level decision-makers that represent our clients’ most important, highest-revenue-generating business customers.

Our in-depth interviewers are subject to rigorous and ongoing training and feedback that ensures they possess the required knowledge and skills, that they understand our research philosophy and the demands of the specific project, and that they fully comprehend the standards their work will be measured against.

Online Bulletin Boards

One advantage of online bulletin boards as discussion forums is that participants are not rushed and have more time to think about and compose their responses, which allows for more consideration, depth, and detail.  While this is not an appropriate method for every study, we conduct several online bulletin boards each year—from customer satisfaction to new product development.

One growing form of online bulletin boards involves “video diaries,” where consumers use a product or service and talk about their experiences with it over a period of time—days or even weeks.  Our work in this area has focused on new consumer electronics products.


We do “ethnographic” research in the 21st century market research sense of that term:  at-home observation, photographs, and in-depth interviews (often video-recorded) with consumers.  Of course, what the market research industry calls “ethnography” is a long way from what an anthropologist would consider ethnography, which involves a purer form of participant observation.

Field Interviews at POS

We have done a great deal of intercept interviewing at the point of sale, for example, bank branches, retail stores, auto dealers, etc.  Our experience in this area covers both actual interviews at point of sale and qualitative screening for subsequent quantitative data collection (via phone or web).

Exploring what’s behind how consumers and business decision-makers think, feel, and behave in the marketplace isn’t always a straightforward task.  Indeed, one often needs to take an indirect approach to such exploration, through the use of projective techniques.  At Taylor, our qualitative researchers are adept at the full range of projective techniques, including:

  • Laddering
  • Image sorting
  • Brand/product sorting
  • Brand personification
  • Collage
  • Group perceptual mapping.