The following are exerpts from the Research Industry Trends 2008 study Key Findings related to qualitative research.  The study was conducted by Rockhopper Research with several research sponsors.  The free entire report can be downloaded at http://www.rockhopperresearch.com/about/index.aspx?pageID=269

Apart from the economy, which is likely to trump all other issues in 2009, the results unline the need for research providers to innovate, to be prepared to provide the latest and greatest technology and methodologies, and to be flexible.  Being up to the moment is more important to clients than providers realize.

Whatever the level of optimism or concern, it is clear that the economy is definitely on the radaar.  Costs/budgets and the economy were the two most frequently mentioned “challenges facing the research industry in 2009.”  Last year, in RIT 2007 neither issue was in the top ten.

Overall, respondents do not forsee accelerated growth for any specific qualitative research methodology.  At the same time, some growth was predicted for a number of traditional and non-traditional qualitative research methodologies.  RIT 2008 respondents predicted the highest levels of growth for hybrids.  Lower growth levels were forecast for traditional focus groups, ethnography, and in-person IDIs.

In the qualitative providers selection process, providers over estimated the importance to clients of also does quantitative research, good relationship with client, has knowledgeable staff, high quality analysis.  Of interest, providers tended to vastly under estimate the importance of uses the latest data collection technology to client evaluations of qualitative providers.  Also relatively more important to clients than providers were company is financially stable and understands online data collection.

Overall, providers and clients have a very similar hierarchy of selection criteria when deciding between quantitative and qualitative methodologies.  Key decision factors for both were effectiveness, control of quality, timeliness of results and cost.  More important among providers were data security and demand for a method.  Clients felt stronger about familiarity with technique and something new and different.