The method of research that is used varies according to the approach that is chosen (quantitative or qualitative) and whether it is a one-off or an on-going study.
It might be a one-off "ad hoc" study (conducted at one particular time for a single customer) or an on-going study (panel). In the case of an opinion survey the sample is based on quotas (one defines the structure of the sample and constructs it) or by random selection.
The following types of study should be distinguished:
- face-to-face interviews, possibly using CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing)
- telephone interview, with or without CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing)
- postal surveys
- CASI (Computer Assisted Self Interviewing), where the respondent himself (herself) enters the answers into the computer
Panels are continuous surveys that study a fixed and semi-fixed sample on a rotating basis. There are panels of users, subscribers, retailers and TV viewers. In this case new technologies are often used like scanning (optical reading of the product bar codes at shop checkouts), audimats (a box connected to the TV recording the audience of each programme) etc.
"Omnibus" surveys are continuous multi-client surveys using a regular pre-determined programme of fieldwork, in which you add questions of your choice.
Qualitative market research is used to find in-depth and underlying motivations and attitudes of the target group concerning all the elements of the marketing mix, which form the basis of people's behaviour.
The most common types of survey in qualitative research are:
- individual in-depth interviews either in a hall or, more rarely, in people's homes
- group discussions.
One typical aspect of this sort of research is a longer contact time with the consumer (from one to several hours), which enables one to explore the subject in full.