Profit Formula. How to hold the qualitative research and earn money?


A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.
Michael Leboeuf, author of “How to Win Customers and Keep Them for Life”

The basis of holding qualitative research is an in-depth study of the psychology of customer behavior regarding the brand. The value of such a marketing research is to actualize the business for the consumer, it is impossible to formulate in terms, it is indicative by the results. 

In the article we will analyze the cases and on the basis of real experience you will find out whether this type of research is effectively conducted. 

Why business holds qualitative researches?

Read more about the methods and areas of qualitative researches in the Services section.

In today’s competition, the one who knows the needs of his target audience wins. Thus, the product condition and quality will meet the expectations of the client. 

The consumer’s attitude to the brand cannot be digitized. This is not just a statement of certain facts.  This is a deep analysis of perception, the search for motives that encourage buying, designing customer experience.

A qualitative approach in research provides a conceptual answer to the questions why a consumer performs a particular action with a product. Their main value is an understanding of the internal motives that drive people.

The profit formula in their context is the revision and strengthening of the existing products and, as a result, the updating and improvement of the quality, which will inevitably lead to an increase in the consumer loyalty.

Qualitative research is an investment that, with skillful and systematic work, will allow the business to lead the client.

Marina Harchenko, Head of Qualitative Research, 4Service Group: 

“Holding research, we not only record the consumers’ actions. Our task is to find the true motive behind the consumer’s action in order to answer the question: why does a person do that?”

How to make a profit?

Profit is measured by the willingness to influence the product loyalty and quality: by improving the product, rebranding, changing the communication strategy with customers, revising prices, etc.

The profit formula in this example can be represented as follows:

Surface or primary information is easy to analyze – obtained, for example, in the course of quantitative research or Mystery Shopping. In the qualitative research, it is important to pay attention to the social characteristics (gender, class, cultural differences), individual preferences (brand opinion, opinion about a niche, attitude to a product), as well as the sincerity of questions asked and answers received.

Do it yourself or contact the agency?

We will answer this question for you. Therefore, we invite each reader to hold a qualitative research right now.

Let’s look at a simple example:

Task: Your company sells product “A” and you need to understand how to increase the company’s profit and brand recognition.

Question: If we are talking about attracting new customers, how do you understand why they choose or do not choose your brand? What will affect the choice among the similar companies of this product? How to influence this choice? 

Your actions:

WRONG SOLUTION: First of all, look at the numbers. Hold the market analysis, study demand, positions and the share of competitors.

But what practical conclusions do you get when you learn, for example, that the product “A” is now bought by fewer consumers compared to the identical product of the competitors in the market? Probably, something needs to be changed with the product “A”. 

RIGHT SOLUTION: Carrying out qualitative researches, you make a sampling of several customers ask what are, in their opinion, the main disadvantages of the product. The dialogue with the consumer will allow you to understand the underlying motives that determine the behavior of the entire audience. This is what no metric is capable of giving. 

How to hold a qualitative research and not waste the budget. Case of a food manufacturing company.

The key objective of a qualitative research method is to identify factors that prevent a company from increasing conversion and retaining customers. In order to determine correctly these factors, you need to look at the product/service through the eyes of the customer. 

Marina Harchenko, Head of Qualitative Research, 4Service Group: 

“Qualitative researches are about the company self-honesty and honesty towards its customers. This is a study for a growing and developing business that sincerely wants to know, ask, and be interested in its customers. And, as a result – to make changes based on the received responses, insights. It’s important not to call oneself a customer-oriented company, you need to be one.”


Holding research with a qualitative approach and putting it on the table is like not using the detailed map on which the treasure is marked. The customer must have a clear understanding of the action plan at the end of the research. This is a delicate and systematic work of the customer and the research company.

Marina Kharchenko, Head of Qualitative Research, 4Service Group, shares her research experience:

“We have received a request from a food manufacturing company. The task set by the client is the launch on the market of a new product related to the healthy nutrition. At that time, it was novelty and there were no ready-made solutions yet. 

In order to start the project quickly, we: 

  1. Created a sighting focus group, which included the representatives of marketing and research companies. 
  2. Identified three categories of the potential product consumers. 
  3. Customers were engaged in the production of a “pilot” product version, including packaging.
  4. Representatives of 3 groups got a test product for a week. 
  5. Have a second meeting so that the respondents share their impressions. Draw the first conclusions. 
  6. Formed 8 focus groups for product testing with the participation of a moderator. This time, the participants evaluated the product and exchanged views in the group. 
  7. As a result, we conducted an analysis of the data obtained, developed a plan for implementing solutions together with the customer.

Thanks to a qualitative research, we determined how the consumer lives, how much he is willing to spend on the product, what packaging details he pays attention to.

During the research, the customer also participated, watched the broadcast of the focus group meetings, and together with the research team evaluated reactions and emotions.

The product was successful, and the first batch of goods was blown away.

The key factor in obtaining a grandiose result was not even played by the factor of conducting a qualitative research with the help of our researchers’ team. The solution involved integrated approach and immersion in the customer’s business. 

The banks, telecommunications companies (for example, Beeline), transport companies, and government organizations (Mosenergo) are among the leaders in using this technique in Russia.

What affects the behavior of a customer of bank. Case

Niche: banking services

Task: to study consumer behavior and segment their attitude to the banks.

As part of this project, we hold: 

  • 4 focus groups with customers of the leading Russian banks
  • 16 in-depth interviews with bank customers 
  • 28 in-depth interviews with legal entities

Results: in the process of focus groups and interviews, emotional and rational factors that directly affect consumer behavior were identified.

The benefits of focus groups, international practices

Southwest Airlines is the largest low-cost airline in the United States and in the world in terms of the number of passengers carried, the second among all airlines.

It regularly holds the focus groups with employees to find out what customers like and what are their main complaints. They go even further than Kraft in terms of the employees’ potential disclosure inviting them to become the models in advertisements. For many years, the flight attendants have played in Southwest Airlines commercials, and the movers have also acted in the recent television spots.

The airline uses technology to collect suggestions and advice from its employees – SWALife. Before the launch of the advertising campaign, it is shown to the employees to test the effectiveness and collect the feedback.


Frito-Lay: PepsiCo set a goal to increase market share. They launched a competition for the customers – “Make our taste.” The target audience for the competitions was chosen by young men and women using social networks. The users were asked to send ideas on how do they see the new taste of the potato chips. The main prize of the competition was the financial reward.

On the company’s Facebook page, everyone could make a proposal for a new taste and get a bonus for a photo with a package of potato chips. The “Like” button in every advertisement was turned into the “I would eat it” button. 

Frito-Lay created an online focus group, where the consumers involved wanted to participate and win. An additional advantage was that the competition acted as a permanent advertisement for the product.

This innovative way of holding research has provided the company with reliable data on what do customers want from the potato chips.

Summing up, we will approve the recommendations for you:

  1. Holding any marketing research on your own is not a cheap risk.
  2. The ultimate goal is not the results of the research. The result of the research is one of the stages.
  3. You need expert help to understand how and what you need to implement in order to achieve the maximum efficiency.
  4. Choose a contractor not with a tool, but with an understanding how to use it to benefit your business.
  5. The prerequisite for a qualitative research is a sincerity in the desire to solve the problem of the consumers.

Why are we here?

Often, research companies present to the customers the results of researches held, but do not give the recommendations for use. This requires an expert opinion made by the specialists immersed in the subject. 

18 years of experience in the field of  Mystery Shopping has helped us to become leaders among service providers. We believe that the key to business success is the mechanism itself and the ways to implement the results of the research. Further support of the project will be also important. 

The bonuses that the customers receive include the opportunity to conduct various types of research and adapting them to business goals (increasing sales, improving brand reputation, developing and testing innovations, etc.).  

The secret to success is the professionalism!

A company manufacturing products will not be successful in independently conducting high-quality and effective research. Among the reasons, there is the lack of an arsenal of techniques and many years of experience, bias and inability to look at the situation from the side.

As an external company, we have no prejudice. This ensures the realistic of the research. Our author’s approach is based on the following principles:

  • we’re not just exploring, but immersing ourselves in your business;
  • after the study we support the company, provide advice, ensure practical solutions “in the fields”;
  • we create a large team of the specialists for each specific project, which works in different directions;
  • we use a full range of modern marketing tools;
  • we understand the industry trends; we offer non-standard solutions;
  • we are flexible, offering a variety of research options and creating a marketing strategy for the company;
  • we are mobile, we can work in any region;
  • we offer employee training services;
  • qualitative research is complemented by the quantitative, and vice versa; 
  • we work “in fields”, reinforcing the theory with practice;
  • we follow the new trends in the field of qualitative research and set them independently;
  • we offer a systematic long-term cooperation.

We know who is your customer, what are his needs and desires, under what conditions he will buy the product, and what exactly is needed for this.

You can spend the huge amounts on experiments by burning. We recommend you to hold a professional research and to get a clear plan of action. 

Do you want to get a detailed analysis of your business?!

Our experts are ready to provide a free consultation and become your analytical support.


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