The Future of Qual in our Changing Times

The Future of Qual in our Changing Times

Admittedly I’ve always been a fan of being physically in a room with a group of total strangers, getting them to reveal their habits and opinions on any given subject. It’s challenging but fun.

Online Qualitative Research was something we did from time to time but not always our first choice. Our new reality has meant online is the ONLY option right now and I’m starting to wonder why I was so attached to face to face

It’s a bit like moving from a physical book to a kindle, and I love my kindle!

We always look to analyse these things from three different perspectives, 1) How does the client feel? 2) The participant? and 3) Ourselves, the moderators. The past several weeks have shone the light on Online Qual and here’s my summary of what we see each party loving about it:



Our Clients

They don’t have to drag themselves to focus groups late in the evening, travel across Ireland to find out what their customers think. They can view any group, being conducted anywhere in the comfort of their own home or office.

Online Qual also means they can get results slightly faster as researchers aren’t spending time travelling from one location to another, so instead they can start analysing and writing up quicker than ever.



The video footage available is better than ever, with vox pops of each person speaking very clearly and with only their face shown when they speak. Gone are the days of fuzzy video footage as we try angle a camera into the corner of the room to capture everyone!

Clients don’t have to hire viewing facilities with limited attendance numbers. Ok so they might miss the takeaway but I’m sure we can arrange some popcorn while they watch our groups online.


People seem to be much happier to attend online groups or depths as it’s much more convenient. They don’t lose an hour or more travelling to and from the research venue. They don’t have to walk into a room full of strangers and overcome their nerves of giving their opinions in front of their new acquaintances.

Generally speaking, we are observing healthy participant engagement levels via online platforms, and decreased ‘posturing’, perhaps due to the fact their confidence is lifted by being in their own environment and comfort zone.



We’ve spoken to people across a range of age groups and social classes and all have been really comfortable with chatting online and using our online platforms. The Digital space is so natural now to most people that it’s really not a big deal anymore to join a group chat.

The moderator

We can do pretty much everything we could do f2f, online such as break out groups and individual score sheets. Visual stimulus can be easily shared, and physical stimulus can be couriered to homes.

We’re loving these groups and finding them just as fun as f2f. The Storming, Norming, Forming and Performing stages of each session are still evident as we work our way through each topic.

We get instant access to transcripts, which are not perfect, but act as a prompt for us during analysis sessions.

The fact we don’t have to travel and survive on a diet of whatever dry sandwiches are left at the end of the group is a mere bonus to all the other benefits we are seeing.

Our clients are loving Spark online groups and depths and we are too! Feel free to get in touch to find out more.

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