In-Depth Interview as a Research Method
An in-depth interview consists of a confidential conversation that the interviewer uses in the interests of his research. This article is about the application of the method in marketing and the tasks for which it is effective. We will also analyze the advantages of in-depth interviews over other qualitative studies.
Concept of in-depth interview
In marketing, a deep interview is called an interview, during which the user is invited to share their own experience. This is a qualitative research method, so the result will not be statistical data, but answers to questions about the reactions, motives and difficulties of the consumer.
In-Depth Interview (ID) is used in product analysis. The purpose of the interviewer is to get in touch with the respondent. Either a user of the product or a representative of the target audience, whom the company sees as a potential consumer, is invited to the conversation. Interviews are devoted to finding answers to questions that help to understand how a product or service is perceived by the buyer. The facilitator directs the conversation, says little and happens to the respondent a lot.
The content of the questions depends on at what stage of the production of the product the study is planned. Prior to the launch of a new product in production, interviews will help to understand whether the target audience uses any analogues,and what are their strengths and weaknesses. For an already existing product, a hypothesis is often tested: what can be inconvenient for the user? What would he like to change? Is everything clear in the product interface? The received answers are analyzed and used to refine the product, adjust the advertising policy or change the economic strategy.
In the Indian-speaking market, an in-depth interview is sometimes called CustDev (from the English Customer Development). The term has already taken root, but has not gone beyond the Indian segment, because it already has a different meaning. Customer Development is an approach to creating startups, a method of creating a new product. In India, the term has narrowed down to a tool for testing marketing hypotheses, which in English also already has a name - user research.
Types of in-depth interviews
Most GIs are carried out when the customer already has a hypothesis: how the consumer perceives his product, what is the reason for the low sales growth, and what qualities the client lacks in the product. According to what hypothesis is being tested, the interviews are divided into problem and solution ones. The former help to confirm or refute whether the alleged flaw really exists and what its essence is. The latter provide an opportunity to test possible solutions.
There are also GIs:
- focused: the interviewer tells the purpose and topic of the interview, and tells what brand he represents. The conversation goes according to plan, sometimes with
- regulated questions, but always in the format of a discussion, not monosyllabic answers;
- unfocused: the respondent is not informed in whose interests the presenter is acting, and the conversation does not directly relate to the product.
According to the format, there are such options:
- dryads and triads - conversations with two or three participants;
- semi-formalized discussions;
- expert interviews.
When is it effective?
GI is usually tied to a hypothesis, as the idea is adjusted, the interview can be repeated with the same or with other respondents. This method is used in the following situations:
- Testing a new product or service. The user is offered to try to use the object of study and talk about his experience.
- Testing the hypothesis about the composition of the target audience.
- Analysis of the reasons for the purchase. The data obtained helps to correctly set up advertising and sales strategies. The user experience is especially important before product development: for example when changing packaging.
- Checking a one-time offer: promotions, discounts, services, bonuses. The respondent tries what is offered and tells if everything is clear to him, and how convenient and necessary it is for him personally.
- Finding out the objections of the client: why exactly he does not buy the product or stop using the service.
- Market and competitor analysis. The respondent is asked to evaluate the products of competitors, to tell which of them he used, why he changed, and what guides the choice. At the stage of creating or refining a product, such information helps to find your USP - a unique selling proposition.
Benefits of an in-depth interview
GI has the following features:
- gives access to deep, non-obvious information;
- eliminates the influence of other respondents on the opinion of the interlocutor;
- allows you to understand the motives and preferences of the consumer, and his strategy of action;
- reduces the level of embarrassment and discomfort, which makes it possible to discuss sensitive topics more freely;
- allows projective methods: associations, drawings, graphic tests - this gives the respondent more tools to demonstrate their wishes;
- simplifies the use of visual materials - drawings, samples, drawings, photographs;
- helps to assess the non-verbal reactions of the respondent;
- allows you to study the opinion of specific categories of customers: for example, permanently employed narrow specialists or wealthy buyers who are not disposed to spend their time participating in group studies.
GI requires a long preparation and analysis of the information received. This method can be used to study a limited number of respondents, and the results of one or more conversations cannot be projected onto the entire target audience or any of its categories.
When organizing a conversation, it is worth remembering the task: to test the hypothesis, and not to confirm it.
The main stages of the interview
The study is carried out in 3 stages:
- Preparation: scenario development, formulation of questions, goal setting, selection of respondents.
- Conducting an interview. The conversation takes place in person or online, each conversation takes from half an hour to two hours.
- Analysis of the results: grouping and studying the answers, identifying the most important and repetitive statements, compiling reports. Based on the interview materials, they either draw a conclusion and, in accordance with it, make the necessary changes, or assign a new hypothesis and test it with the next series of conversations.
Interpretation of results
First, the GI materials need to be processed: listen to and decipher the dialogues, and translate them into text format. When reading or listening to a conversation, the answers of the respondent that are important for the study are highlighted. Such statements are divided into blocks and then work with each of them in more detail. The results are entered into a report, which helps to save and structure the data.
It will not be possible to automatically process the information received, you will have to interpret it yourself, taking into account the task at hand. You can connect a team that did not participate in surveys to data analysis. A fresh look will help you notice subtle details.
You can conduct a GI and draw conclusions from it yourself, but it is more reliable to entrust the study to professionals. So there is no risk of incorrectly formulating questions or losing contact with the respondent. Professional marketers are proficient in data processing and analysis techniques, which speed up the process and make the search more accurate.