Editor’s note: Jodie Shaw is the head of global marketing at Kadence International. This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared under the title “An Exploration of Sampling Methods in Qualitative Research.”

Unlike its quantitative counterpart, qualitative research is not a mere collection of numbers. It is a deep dive into the uncharted waters of human behavior, experiences and perceptions. It peels back the layers, seeking to understand the “why” and “how” behind actions and beliefs. 

However, its richness is not automatically derived from merely interviewing a person or observing a behavior. It’s extracted from the meticulous act of choosing who to observe or interview, from where and under what conditions. This brings us to the crux of the qualitative endeavor: the sampling method.

Selecting the correct sampling method in qualitative research is not just a procedural step. It’s akin to choosing the right lens for a camera. Just as a wide-angle lens and a macro lens offer vastly different perspectives on the same subject, different sampling methods can also shed light on varied facets of the same research question. The consequences of this choice can reverberate throughout the study, affecting the depth, breadth, validity and relevance of the findings.

In market research, where the granularity of insights can be the difference between breakthrough and oblivion, the importance of appropriate sampling in qualitative studies cannot be understated. It’s a decision that carries weight, demanding more from researchers than mere awareness – it requires mastery.

Sampling, at its core, is a discerning act. It’s the process by which specific individuals, scenarios or data points are chosen from a larger pool to represent or illuminate a broader phenomenon. In qualitative research, sampling bridges the nuanced world of individual experience with the broader patterns that infor...