We're here with practical information for your business. Learn about business planning, running a business and more.

For a successful business, you need a viable business idea, the skills to make it work and the funding. Discover whether your idea has what it takes.

Forming your business correctly is essential to ensure you are protected and you comply with the rules. Learn how to set up your business.

It is likely you will need funding to start your business unless you have your own money. Discover some of the main sources of start up funding.

Businesses and individuals must account for and pay various taxes. Understand your tax obligations and how to file, account and pay any taxes you owe.

Businesses are required to comply with a wide range of business laws. We introduce the main rules and regulations you must comply with.

Learn why business planning is an essential exercise if your business is to start and grow successfully, attract funding or target new markets.

Marketing matters. It drives sales and helps promote your brand and products. Discover how to market your business and reach your target customers.

Some businesses need a high street location whilst others can be run from home. Understand the key factors from cost to location, size to security.

Your employees can your biggest asset. They can also be your biggest challenge. We explain how to recruitment and manage staff successfully.

It is likely your business could not function without some form of IT. Learn how to specify, buy, maintain and secure your business IT.

Few businesses manage the leap from start up to high-growth business. Learn what it takes to scale up and take your business to the next level.

What is qualitative research?

If you want to get inside your customers' minds, you need to do qualitative research. Face-to-face interviews and focus groups can provide valuable insights into your products, your market and your customers' opinions and motivations

Qualitative research methods

Qualitative research is about finding out not just what people think, but why they think it. It's about getting people to talk about their opinions so you can understand their motivations and feelings.

Face-to-face interviews and group discussions are the best way to get this kind of in-depth feedback. With focus groups, you work with small samples of your target market, typically with four to eight people. Or you could conduct one-on-one interviews.

Qualitative market research can be valuable when you are developing new products or coming up with new marketing initiatives and you want to test reactions and refine your approach.

Why do qualitative market research?

Research is an important first step before you undertake many key marketing tasks including preparing a marketing plan, doing SWOT analysis, product development, branding and pricing.

And market research should also inform your online marketing strategy - everything from the design of your website to email newsletters, SEO and social networking.

Market research can also help you develop your products and services and make sure they meet the needs of your target audience. For instance, if you run a restaurant and you want to introduce a new menu, you could invite local people to come and give you feedback on your dishes, service and proposed pricing.

This kind of exercise would not cost you much, but it could provide you with important feedback and increase your chances of success.

Qualitative research before a new product launch

Before you go into production with a new line, it's vital to get your product into the hands of some members of your target market: Ask them:

  • Is it easy to use?
  • Does it do what it's supposed to?
  • Is the design appealing?
  • Does it look as if it will stand out next to competing products in-store?
  • Is the packaging working?
  • Is the price right?

This type of customer research almost always reveals one or two important issues that can then be ironed out before you launch your product.

Qualitative research and group discussions

Getting clear results from qualitative research can be difficult. Some people may be positive just to be polite, while others may dominate the discussion.

Choosing the right person to interview people or to moderate a group discussion is vital. Business owner/managers shouldn't run the sessions themselves.

It's vital to find an independent person to do the job, such as a professional market researcher - that way, they'll remain unbiased and the interviewees will feel they can speak honestly.

A good moderator will run the session in an unstructured way. Answers should be probed and proceedings should be recorded for analysing later. Body language and non-verbal responses should be noted - video is useful here.

What can qualitative research tell you?

Qualitative research is useful for answering questions such as:

  • what customers or prospects think and feel about your product or service;
  • how they choose between different products or suppliers;
  • how branding, design and packaging influence them;
  • what sort of marketing messages have the most impact, and what turns them off;
  • how price affects decision-making;
  • whether there is demand for a new product or service.

Qualitative research is about getting people to expand on their answers so that you can get more insight into their attitudes and behaviour. It's all about getting underneath people's responses to find out what is driving their decisions.

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