Qualitative Data

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Table of Contents

What is Qualitative Data?

Qualitative data is used for describing information. As this data can be easily grouped into categories, it is popularly known as categorical data. Play a key role in the investigation, this data is open-ended that enables respondents to express their views and opinions completely.   

Since this data type cannot be measured or expressed using numbers, it is usually categorized on the basis of identifiers like attributes, properties, labels, etc. This type of data is mainly gathered through one-to-one interviews, open-ended survey questions, focus groups, or case studies.

Example of Qualitative Data ​

Being used for characterizing objects or observations, the aspects related to qualitative data majorly include subjective and abstract qualities. For example, there’s a meeting scheduled for a manager and an employee at the time of appraisal. If the supervisor gives feedback based on the previous projects’ performance, problem areas, and behavioral analysis without giving a rating to the subordinate, this can be considered as an example of qualitative data. 

Why Qualitative Data matter?

By seamlessly determining the qualities or characteristics of a particular subject, Qualitative data empowers researchers to gain insights into the behavior, emotions, or personality of the respondents. With an aim to build parameters for observing large data sets, Qualitative data offers a dynamic approach to research that quantitative data cannot match.  

In the case of conducting market research, qualitative data plays a crucial role as it helps researchers to understand their customers, their choices, and the issues they’re dealing with. By uncovering the motivations and perspectives of customers, qualitative data empowers brands to focus on the problem areas so the problems get resolved in a minimum timeframe. Voxco offers best-in-class omnichannel solutions for collecting qualitative data.

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How to collect Qualitative Data?

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Intending to perform comprehensive research and analysis, Qualitative data helps to figure out why respondents feel, react, or behave the way they do. Since this data type cannot be measured in numbers, here are the data collection methods that researchers use to gather qualitative data:

Individual Interviews

Individual interviews follow a personal approach to gather qualitative data which makes them a highly preferred data collection tool for conducting research. As the interviewer collects data from their respondents one-to-one, the interviews are usually conversational and interactive. These types of interviews are informal, so there’s no defined structure and the questions (open-ended) are asked impulsively based on the flow of the ongoing interview.

While conducting an interview, it’s important to include questions that are likely to generate as much information as possible (about the subject). By including open-ended questions that are neutral, sensitive, and easy to understand, Voxco helps you create surveys that resonate with the respondents while addressing the objectives of the research.

Focus Groups

Being a popular qualitative research strategy, a focus group is a group discussion on a specific topic among a batch of 5-10 people. The discussion is monitored and managed by a moderator (or researcher). Although focus groups have similar features like less structured interviews, they do more than merely collecting similar information from multiple respondents at once. 

Based on the sorted data, the members of a focus group share similar kind of interests. For instance, on conducting a study on cricketers, a researcher will choose sportspersons who are cricketers or were cricketers and have in-depth knowledge about the topic.

Case Studies

Qualitative data is also collected with the help of case studies. By leveraging an in-depth analysis of case studies, it becomes easy to dive deeper into the intricacies of the subject. Moreover, it is a versatile method of analyzing simple as well as complex subjects.


A systematic method for qualitative research, observation enables the researchers to look at the respondents’ activity in their specific environment. By keeping an eye on the respondents and creating notes, the process of observation provides direct information about research. It can help researchers to gather the information that respondents might not share otherwise during one-to-one interviews or focus groups.

How to make the most of Qualitative Data?

Arrange the data wisely

The data you’ve gathered would be raw and unstructured. To make it meaningful and readable, it’s the duty of the researcher to transcribe it. That’s where the need for data arrangement arises. Transforming the data into text format and exporting it to spreadsheets can be an effective option.

Organizing is essential

Once you’ve arranged the data, organize it in an orderly manner on the basis of the questions asked. On creating a dedicated table for your research objectives, it becomes simple to organize the required data. However, it’s recommended not to work with unorganized data in any case.

Coding is key

A crucial step to analyze qualitative data, coding helps to classify data by categorizing them into meaningful divisions. This streamlines the process of analysis. By carefully reviewing the developed categories and using them for creating codes, the process of data coding becomes effortless.

Don’t forget to validate and summarize

For successful qualitative data analysis, it’s essential to keep a tab on data accuracy by ensuring there are no flaws. Data validation is a continuous process that is obligatory at every stage of the research. Once you’re done with validation, it’s recommended to create a report (by concluding all data) that can be used for future research.

What are the advantages of Qualitative Data?

It helps to understand changing attitudes

As customer preferences keep on changing, qualitative data enables researchers to seamlessly understand the customer mindset. By gaining insights into the attitude shift and the reason behind it, businesses can effortlessly adapt to the perspective shift which strengthens customer relationships. The use of qualitative data plays a pivotal role in understanding customer perceptions which streamlines the process of market research.

It provides detailed analysis

Leveraging qualitative data, it becomes easy for the researchers to collect in-depth and intrinsic information. Unlike quantitative data (which is bound by various limitations), qualitative data can help to add context to subjects where numbers are unable to reveal insights. Using the right set of questions can help researchers to gather necessary information for better conclusions.

It offers accurate data

While collecting qualitative data, there are open-ended questions used primarily. This allows the respondents to express their views/opinions freely and share everything that’s on their minds. As the respondents participate with full vigor, they’re likely to provide more information that is accurate.

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What are the disadvantages of Qualitative Data?

It consumes a lot of time

Gathering qualitative data takes a lot of time and once the researchers are done with it, they need extra time to sort that data. As every data point shared by respondents is analyzed subjectively, the worth of qualitative data gets in doubt always.

It generates misleading outcomes

As different respondents have different opinions, the results of qualitative data can often come out at two extreme levels. While some users will resonate with the findings whereas others do not. Thus, it’s impossible to generate a generalized outcome from qualitative data. 

It is not reliable

As qualitative data relies on the perspectives of the respondents and those perspectives keep on changing, there’s no reliability when it comes to drawing conclusions. As the gathered data is true only at the time of collection, it cannot be trusted for taking decisions in the long-term.

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