CM Research has undertaken many hundreds of in-depth interviews on topics as diverse as stem cell research to water fountains for pet cats, with participants from around the world.

In-depth interviews are a valuable market research method, normally conducted one-on-one (one interviewer, speaking to a single participant) and can take place over the phone or in person. In comparison to other qualitative techniques, they are particularly useful for hard-to-reach audiences, professionals in senior roles or as a method of addressing emotional or sensitive topics.

Our interviewers are trained on the technicalities of working with pet owners and individuals in the veterinary profession to draw out the rational, contextual and emotional side of decision-making. Through probing, adaptation of the interviewing style and projective techniques in-depth interviews can produce reliable, valid and actionable insight.

Veterinary professionals are highly specialised, technical individuals but they are also emotional and multi-faceted people who make decisions which take into account numerous factors. In our experience, veterinarians can be challenging research participants as the knee-jerk reaction can often be to err on the side of rationalisation and technical detail. We recently managed a project for clients in the pharmaceutical sector, evaluating propositions for a new advertisement campaign for parasiticides. Ten veterinarians from across the UK were selected to take part in an hour-long interview and were visited in-practice by one of our experienced qualitative researchers. The interviewer used various projective techniques, including word association, and participants were given the time and space to verbalise their feelings regarding each of the proposed campaigns. Analysis conclusively revealed which campaign best resonated with the target audience on both a rational and emotional level, and it has since been rolled out in the UK.   

Indeed, talking to pet owners about their pets also requires special consideration as topics related to pet care, health and wellbeing can be highly emotional. In this regard, there is a very real danger of collecting data which is corrupted by the pressure an individual may feel to give the 'best' answer, the one that makes them feel good about their relationship with their pets. One of our current studies – focussing on a health condition prevalent in older cats – aims to address the difficulty of social desirability bias through savvy research design. This project will be carried out over the phone to give participants a greater sense of anonymity and will use a funnelling approach whereby the questioning style is deliberately chosen to foster confidence and honesty through the use of general questions at the start before gradually narrowing down to discuss the sensitive topic of choices about their pets' healthcare.

In both sectors, conducting depth interviews can produce top-quality findings as they rely not only on understanding the words that an individual saying, but also how they are communicating in other ways; body language, tone of voice and facial expression. The nature of an interview – the length and individual attention – provides space for the interviewer and respondent to build rapport and foster a safe, honest atmosphere which leads to a better overall picture of the research subject. Actually speaking to participants adds an important element to the research – the capacity to analyse the subtleties and nuances between responses (for example, sarcasm) which is difficult to achieve when written down.

Our analysis is conducted in-house, normally by the same interviewers who conducted fieldwork and therefore are in the best position to properly understand the insight. Qualitative research can produce a very large amount of information, which can be difficult to sort through, but our researchers are highly skilled at drawing out information to address the research objectives and support your internal decision-making processes.

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