What is an in-depth interview and how to conduct it effectively

An in-depth interview is a method of qualitative marketing research in which a confidential conversation is conducted with consumers in order to collect data on the true motives of their behavior when choosing certain goods and services. This method allows you to ask customers in as much detail as possible about their preferences, tastes or difficulties, and then take this information into account in the process of developing or improving products.

In this article, we will talk about the features of conducting an in-depth interview and the advantages of this research method.

What is an in-depth interview

This type of personal interview helps to get detailed answers to marketing research questions, understand the motives of consumer decisions, and study their needs and desires.

The in-depth interview method allows discussing the topics of specific, professional knowledge of the respondents, talking with representatives of competing organizations. An in-depth interview is indispensable for researching various confidential, sensitive, personal topics and issues, such as the treatment of any disease.

Unlike a traditional interview, where answers can be quite superficial, when conducting an in-depth interview, the researcher has the opportunity to ask the respondent questions that will help get to the bottom of the matter: find out the consumer’s attitude to the product and its changes and find out how the buyer comes to choose what he it helps and what hinders it.

An example of conducting an in-depth interview is a survey of users of a mobile application before updating it. In this case, the standard answers to direct questions will not be able to show the full picture, since there will always be little things that go unnoticed. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct an in-depth interview: to select questions and interview people who know the product well in a personal conversation, in which they will share their opinion about all its advantages and disadvantages.

Why use an in-depth interview

An in-depth interview is effective in the following cases:

  • In order to clarify the target audience of the business. This is of great importance for companies offering a wide range of products and services. At the same time, questions may arise about what exactly and to what target audience should be offered. An in-depth interview will help create approximate portraits of the audience for each of the directions and, in accordance with them, build advertising strategies.
  • If you want to analyze why people buy this product. For example, when developing applications, you can find out which features should be improved in accordance with the wishes of users, and which should be left as is.
  • This research method is also suitable for studying opinions about a particular proposal. It will help in testing new services or promotions.
  • An in-depth interview is also indispensable for market analysis before launching a product, especially when it comes to a specific product with a small number of customers. The study will allow you to understand whether the market is overloaded with offers and find out what difficulties potential customers have and what should be emphasized when developing a marketing strategy.
  • A detailed conversation will allow you to find out about the objections of the client that interfere with making a purchase or ordering a service. For example, a patient of a medical center may doubt the professionalism of doctors, which will stop him from buying a consultation.
  • It is in the process of in-depth interviews that you can find out why customers go to competitors. This method involves open questions and the creation of a trusting environment that allows for a frank dialogue, during which the respondent will honestly share information about what, in his opinion, the advantages of competing companies.
  • When developing a new product or if you want to modify an existing one, an in-depth interview will help you understand whether it will be of interest to potential buyers.

Stages of an in-depth interview

The structure of an in-depth interview includes a preparatory stage, the interview itself and analysis of its results. Let’s take a look at each of these steps:

  1. At the preparation stage, you need to set a goal, that is, decide what you want to find out with the help of an in-depth interview. In accordance with this, a script is developed, a list of questions is compiled and participants are selected for the conversation. To get different opinions on one issue, marketers advise interviewing at least five people.
  2. An in-depth interview is best done offline, and if this is not possible, use a video call. It is highly desirable to talk with respondents individually, since in a group participants can be guided by each other’s answers. Try to show your interest, understand the mood of the person and adapt to it. At the beginning of the conversation, tell a little about yourself and your research, try to gain confidence and establish contact. When you feel that the conversation has started, you can gradually move directly to the questions.
  3. At the stage of processing the results, all the information obtained during the interviews is studied. You should sort the answers by questions and highlight the most interesting points. When listening to audio recordings, it is convenient to use stickers to record important thoughts of the respondents on them. Then put the stickers into logical blocks and analyze which answers were heard most often. Based on the analysis of the responses, it will be possible to decide what information is key to achieving the goal of this marketing research and in what direction it is worth developing the product.

Tips for the Interviewer

  • Count the time. Please note that an in-depth interview takes quite a lot of time – on average, it takes from half an hour to 1.5-2 hours per respondent.
  • Do not offer answers to respondents. When a person has to formulate an answer himself, he will in any case analyze his motives and, thus, may come to conclusions that are unexpected and important for your research. Questions should be open-ended, for example: “Tell me about…”, “How…”, “Why…?” etc.
  • Try to speak slowly, quietly, in a calm, friendly tone. Do not rush the respondent and do not put pressure on him, trying to extort the answer.
  • Speak in a simple and understandable language to the interlocutor, do not use professional terms that are difficult for him. Try to use the words of the respondent himself: repeat the words and expressions that he utters, even if they are unusual for you.
  • Use a voice recorder to record your answers. Be sure to warn the interviewee that the conversation is being recorded. When discussing personal topics, assure the respondent of the anonymity of the conversation.
  • During the conversation, show your interest: nod your head, ask counter questions, repeat the last thought of the interlocutor and in no case interrupt him, even if you think that he is wrong. However, you still need to moderate the conversation in order to prevent the person from getting away from the topic.
  • The interviewer should take a neutral position , not giving an assessment, especially a negative one, to what he heard from the respondent, otherwise the person may close from you.
  • At the end of the interview, be sure to thank the respondent. As a thank you, it is appropriate to present some small gift related to the product under discussion.

Benefits of an in-depth interview

In conclusion, let us dwell on the advantages of the method of marketing research considered in this article.

Firstly, due to the fact that trusting relationships are formed between the interlocutors, with the help of an in-depth interview, it is possible to obtain unique information from the respondent.

Secondly, this way of conducting a conversation completely excludes the influence of the opinions of other people on the respondent. Unlike a focus group, where respondents often take into account the opinions of others, an in-depth interview is conducted one-on-one, which allows the interlocutor to say what he thinks himself.

The third factor is the ability to avoid the discomfort that some respondents experience in the process of group work. Using this method, based on a confidential conversation, makes it possible to get answers even to uncomfortable questions.

Also, an in-depth interview will allow you to study the characteristics of the target audience at the start of the project. The answers received with its help will allow you to take into account all possible problems and difficulties in advance and help you avoid mistakes when launching a new product.

 

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