In-Depth Interviews – Advantages & Disadvantages

In-depth interviews are one of the most effective ways to learn more about your consumers. They are a qualitative research method, with the aim to explore each participant’s feelings, perspectives and points of view. They can be used as a standalone research method or in conjunction with others, depending on the type of project.

One to one interviews are ideal for research projects that may cover sensitive or divisive topics, or where it would be logistically difficult to get multiple participants in the same space for a focus group. They are also of great value when we need to truly understand the differences across different customer types on a granular level, which methods like focus groups do not deliver on.

Whether face to face or digitally the most important factor is that the researcher builds a rapport with the participant. The style of the interview itself will depend on the researcher, but the best ones will make sure the participant feels relaxed enough to give honest and open answers. You’d be surprised how open people are once they feel comfortable to share their feelings.

At Spark our team are experts at conducting in-depth interviews, and work with brands across all different industries. We are naturally curious, and maybe a little nosey, which means we love finding out how people interact with brands, products and services, whether that be a bank, a supermarket or a food / drinks outlet.

We have worked with all types of people, from age 6 to 86, across all different backgrounds, to provide insight that can help take your brand to the next level. Find out more about our in-depth interviews here.

The different types of in-depth interviews

Conducting interviews takes a lot of planning, and there are a variety of formats they can be in depending on what your ultimate objectives are.

In- depth interviews are not always one to one. In some instances, there may be the need to conduct a paired depth – such as an interview with a couple or a friendship pair

Sometimes all that we need is just to sit with people for 45-60 minutes to uncover a wealth of information that helps brands grow.  Other types of interviews are:

In home In situ Online
In home interview are great when we need to learn from observing as well as listening. This really helps us uncover the real vs reported. We’ve had many people claim things like they don’t buy branded goods only to open their cupboards to find them full of them. Sometimes to truly understand how customers interact with brands, products and services, it’s great to see this in real life.  Shop-alongs are a popular version of this where we can chat to consumers as they go through their shopping routine.


Observing how people interact with brands online is often a requirement to ensure that the digital journey is up to scratch.  We undertake ‘surf ‘n’ chats’ which follows them on their online journeys allowing them to highlight in real time the highs and lows.


How we get the best out of our in-depth interviews

Warm up: We always start broad and get our participants in a relaxed and comfortable state of mind before probing on more detailed views. It’s important to build rapport and trust.

Flexible: We use a semi structured guide to keep us on topic, but our expert team know when something ‘off topic’ is worth exploring.

Iterative and Interactive: The iterative process is the practice of building, refining, and improving a project, product, or initiative. We learn and adapt according to our cumulative learnings. Even within each interview we must think two steps ahead to inspire further questions and exploration.

Deep: We have ways of making you talk!! We have lots of what we in the industry call ‘projective or enabling techniques’ that help our participants articulate their feelings. This might be as simple as projecting on to a third person, or object to remove the personal nature of a question.

Fun: This must be an enjoyable process, so where appropriate we will sprinkle in some fun questions or gamify the process a little to keep the energy high.

The advantages of in-depth interviews

There are many reasons why in-depth interviews are an excellent way to find out more about your target market.

Work alongside other methods

In-depth interviews can work well as a pre cursor to measuring opinions. All the information gathered means we can really hone the questionnaire into a more relevant set of questions and test hypothesis emerging from the Qual.

Deeper understanding of participants

Interviewers can gain incredibly deep insights due to the one-on-one nature of interviews. It allows for the exploration of topics that may not be explored in quantitative methods of data collection. It can also help build clear customer segments for our clients, which can then be measured.

Observing the unsaid as well as the said

If taking place face to face (or visually online), the interviewer can pick up on non-verbal cues from the participant and construe their emotions on different topics.

The disadvantages of in-depth interviews

As with every method of data collection, in-depth interviews have their own disadvantages which need to be considered.

Time intensive

In-depth interviews are one of the most time-consuming ways of collecting data, as they require a large amount of preparation beforehand. The interviews themselves take time, in addition to then transcribing them and analysing the results after the fact.

Trained interviewer

To be able to conduct effective research, interviewers need to be well-trained. This will allow them to gather rich and detailed information from each participant. They also need to be able to utilise the latest interview techniques and be personable so they can allow the participants to feel comfortable and give honest answers.

Lack of idea generation

In depths are not as useful when trying to generate new ideas or create new concepts. This is where a focus group format is usually preferred where participants can spark ideas off one another.

What is the purpose of in-depth interviews?

In-depth interviews allow brands to understand their target market, from their likes and dislikes to their behaviours. They can also really bring to light the highs and lows of a customer journey.  This allows brands to make well-informed decisions for things such as marketing strategies, product launches, store placement and customer service.

Businesses can also gain a better understanding of product demand and can design products that have higher potential for being accepted into the market. It’s fair to say that in-depth interviews have both advantages and disadvantages but can be an incredibly useful tool to help you achieve your brand goals.

Spark’s in-depth interviews

In-depth interviews are one of our favourite research methods! We like to keep them informal and friendly and call them ‘Chit Chats’. Time and time again they have proved fertile ground for potential for new marketing campaigns and can take your brand in new and exciting directions.

Our trained research experts are fantastic at diving under the surface and assigning meaning to even the most complex perceptions, behaviours, and experiences. Our focus is always on really moving beyond the ‘reported story’ to uncover the ‘real one’, that sometimes even the participants themselves are surprised at!

Spark Market Research is an award-winning company and we have worked with a variety of prestigious brands in a whole range of industries. Our core value is using innovative ways to gain meaningful consumer insights for our clients. We collaborate with our clients every step of the way in order to gain fruitful results that drive incredible marketing strategies. Find out more about In- Depth Interviews here.

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