The impact of AI on qualitative marketing research

Editor’s note: Jay Zaltzman is the president of Bureau West. This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared under the title “AI for Qualitative Researchers – What You Need to Know.”

What is artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a computer or machine’s ability to mimic human capabilities. This includes tasks like learning, problem-solving and decision making. AI can be implemented in many areas ranging from self-driving cars to facial recognition software.

AI systems are typically trained on large amounts of data. The data can be used to teach the system how to perform a specific task like recognizing faces or translating languages. In addition, AI systems can learn from experience. This means that they can improve their performance over time as they are exposed to new data. AI systems can make decisions on their own, meaning that they can be used to solve complex problems without human intervention.

The launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT

On November 30, 2022, OpenAI released ChatGPT, an AI-based chatbot which was a big step forward in AI capabilities. ChatGPT can generate human-quality text, translate languages, write different kinds of creative content and answer questions in an informative way. 

ChatGPT is considered a significant development because it demonstrates the potential AI has in a broad range of sectors. ChatGPT can be used to create virtual assistants that can help people with tasks like appointment scheduling, making travel arrangements and providing customer service. The underlying ChatGPT capabilities could also be used to help with marketing research.

How can AI help improve qualitative marketing research? 

AI can perform marketing research tasks faster and more efficiently. AI algorithms can process and analyze large amounts of data in a fraction of the time it would take a human to do so. This enables marketing researchers to gain insights more quickly and to make data-driven decisions with greater speed and accuracy. In addition, AI can identify patterns and trends in data that might not be easily noticeable to the human eye. This can lead to new insights and a deeper understanding of consumer behavior.

When it comes to qualitative research specifically, AI can be used to:

Write screeners

It’s possible to give ChatGPT a screener example and tell it what you want to screen for. From there it can generate a first draft of your screener. It might not be perfect, but it will save you a great deal of time vs. generating the screener from scratch.

Transcription and analysis 

AI can transcribe and analyze audio recordings of interviews and focus groups. AI has already been used for a while by providers to transcribe interviews and focus groups with surprising accuracy, including identifying who is speaking. With recent advancements, AI can categorize statements and provide sentiment analysis.

Write reports

That’s not a typo! AI can be used to summarize interviews and focus groups. It may not yet be a perfect report, but it can save us a great deal of time to have a first draft of a summary written for us.

Something to consider when using AI to transcribe or summarize your research: You may not want to input your clients’ confidential research information into ChatGPT. There are a variety of providers who say they can use AI to analyze our research data while keeping it confidential. 

The above is a partial list, as things are developing rapidly. Some other ideas: Could AI be used to aid recruiting? To help prevent cheaters and repeaters? Also, many large companies already have knowledge bases containing all their prior research, but it’s difficult to analyze that data effectively. AI could change that. Imagine AI briefing you on all your client’s prior research before you embark on a new project!

P.S. Portions of the above were written by asking ChatGPT and Bard (Google’s AI-powered chatbot) questions such as:

  • What is AI?
  • What’s the significance of the release of ChatGPT on November 30?
  • How can AI help with market research?
  • Can AI help with qualitative market research?