Qualitative research often gets a bad rap. It’s old-fashioned, it’s too basic, it’s not projectable, the detractors say. While there is some truth to each of those criticisms, qual has endured for decades and, if the results of our ninth annual Q Report survey are any indication, it looks set to do so for many more.

Similar to the 2017 Q Report, a focus of this year’s survey was tools and methods – their effectiveness; how they are chosen; what factors influence their adoption – and while tech-driven quant approaches acquitted themselves well, mobile qualitative notched noticeable increases in the percentages of respondents labeling them as effective or very effective compared to 2017.

(The data is remarkably consistent across the five-year span; percentages for most other tools and techniques were within a few points of each other. Traditional in-person focus groups held their own, earning a slight increase in the percentage of effective or very effective, from 83% in 2017 to 86% in 2022.)

In 2017, a combined 67% said online qualitative/focus groups were effective or very effective. For 2022, that number rose to a combined 83%.

In 2017, combined 44% said mobile qualitative was effective or very effective. For 2022, that number rose to a combined 58%.

We didn’t delve into the reasons for these assessments but it’s likely that many 2022 respondents viewed the digital qual methods as lifesavers during the pandemic, perhaps turning to them out of necessity but obviously pleased with their efficacy and utility – especially against the backdrop of concern some respondents expressed this year over panel data, which can be tainted by fake respondents and other bad actors. To be sure, people can lie their way into focus groups and fail to give truthful answers during them but qual’s in-person nature definitely has a leg up on panel research’s black-box anonymity for those worried about who’s ans...