Describe the major marketing research methods with which you are familiar. What kinds of insights do you envision from observational research for new product development?

Essay by ophof33University, Master's April 2005

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Qualitative observational research describes and classifies various cultural, racial and/or sociological groups by employing interpretive and naturalistic approaches. It is both observational and narrative in nature and relies less on the experimental elements normally associated with scientific research. Because the field of qualitative research is still evolving, the criteria and terminology for its evaluation are not yet agreed upon.

What is agreed upon is that qualitative observational research is a systematic inquiry into the nature or qualities of observable group behaviors in order to learn what it means to be a member of that group. The researchers job is to give continually updated accounts of observations on multiple levels of group interactions that occur on both a temporal and continuous basis simultaneously.

Most of us are familiar with marketing research methods like online surveys, telephone interviews, completing mail forms and attending focus groups. However traditional these research methods are, observational research is proving itself better in that it allows the researcher to personally witness, record and analyze the interaction between the consumer and the product.

This situation allows the researcher to take notice of fine details. The events to be observed would take place in an uncontrolled environment. Factors or variables that may not have been previously considered would be presented. Data gathered from observational research may be more concise.

Qualitative research expands the range of knowledge and understanding of the world beyond the researchers themselves. It often helps investigators see why something is the way it is, rather than just presenting a phenomenon. For instance, a quantitative study may find that students who are taught composition using a process method receive higher grades on papers than students taught using a product method. However, a qualitative study of composition instructors could reveal why many of them still use the product...