Qualitative research is a powerful tool to understand the needs, preferences, and motivations of your target audience. Yet it can often be under-utilized in favor of larger quantitative projects for perceived advantages such as being cheaper and faster to complete. However, that does not mean that larger quantitative projects are the answer for every type of research objective. 

When it comes to qualitative research, the benefits are clear and unique – you can establish a direct line of communication with consumers, explore the motivations and aspirations behind consumer choices, and provide a platform for real stories, straight from the voice of the consumer, behind the statistics. Let’s dive a bit deeper into these benefits and how AI can support qualitative research and unstructured data. 

What is Qual-at-Scale? 

Qual-at-scale is a new approach to qualitative research that leverages AI/machine-learning algorithms to reduce or eliminate manual labor, while maintaining the quality and depth of the data. Qual-at-scale is focused on speed, cost efficiency, and opening the aperture of the amount of data you can ingest and analyze. 

A key aspect of effectively running qual-at-scale is relying on “human-in-the-loop”: that is, AI tools should be viewed as a partner and not a replacement. Human intervention is necessary in the workflow (or loop) to guide AI into the best outputs that will wind up removing barriers to qualitative research long-term. 

How to Use AI to Run Qual-at-Scale 

Here are some of the ways you can leverage existing qualitative research at scale, in partnership with AI tools: 

  • Discussion Boards: Discussion Boards serve as a digital platform for open conversations. Brands can pose questions, gather opinions, and observe discussions in real time, which can require some heavy lifting on the researcher’s part. Creating discussion board prompts, engaging with respondents throughout fielding, and analyzing a large amount of unstructured data takes a lot of thoughtful consideration and know-how. This tool is instrumental in exploring diverse perspectives, uncovering hidden pain points, and identifying emerging trends that may not be apparent through quantitative data alone. Discussion boards are a perfect use case for leveraging AI by submitting a research prompt to recommend the best way to pose this question to respondents. Moreover, you can use AI post-fielding to automate the moderation of the responses, such as flagging irrelevant or inappropriate comments or prompting for more details. Most impactfully, you can also use AI to generate executive summaries of the key themes, insights, and quotes, and recommend next steps from the discussion board. 

  • Focus Groups + In-Depth Interviews (IDIs): These traditional avenues for qualitative research provide a structured environment for in-depth discussions, enabling brands to explore specific topics with a select group of participants. Historically, researchers have specialized in this area due to the specialized nature of conducting live interviews and understanding how to appropriately manage a discussion flow driven by a research objective. AI can be an invaluable partner tool by feeding it a strong research prompt to generate a discussion guide for a human moderator to follow during these research sessions, as well as to aid with probing and pivoting during the interview based on live feedback. Similarly to the function for Discussion Boards, AI can save weeks’ worth of time by transcribing interviews and generating executive summary reports highlighting the key themes, sentiments, and follow-up recommendations. 

  • Video Analysis: Video feedback can be collected outside of a live focus group and can help facilitate a wide range of research objectives, such as product reviews, user testing, or diary studies. Video analysis can help you capture the non-verbal cues, emotions, and contexts of the participants, which can enrich your qualitative data. AI significantly widens the breadth of analysis by ingesting 100+ videos and using machine learning to transcribe, translate, and code the videos, as well as generate insights and recommendations from the video data. Additionally, sharing the highlights of this project becomes even easier by automating highlight reel creation, which can show you the most relevant and interesting clips from the videos. This allows a quick, digestible format to bring the voice of your customer to life and share it with the stakeholders who need to hear it. 

Fuel Cycle + Qual-at-Scale 

Fuel Cycle is leading the charge in amplifying qual-at-scale research, with a unique set of capabilities that sets it apart from the competitors. Fuel Cycle has: 

  • AI-powered tools: Fuel Cycle has the most advanced, secure AI tools that can help you run qual-at-scale research, such as question recommendation, summary, and analysis. Fuel Cycle’s AI is trained on a large and diverse dataset of qualitative research, which ensures its accuracy and relevance. Moreover, Fuel Cycle AI training is conducted in a closed system within the Research Engine, generating stronger learnings about the work being conducted while also getting smarter for the individual client’s project database. 

  • Verified audiences: Fuel Cycle prides itself on its commitment to recruiting verified and engaged participants, who can provide you with high-quality and authentic qualitative data. Fuel Cycle can help you recruit and segment your target audience, as well as incentivize and reward them for their participation. 

  • Safe and unique space: Fuel Cycle creates a safe and unique space for qual-at-scale research, where you can interact with your participants securely and ethically. Fuel Cycle protects the privacy and confidentiality of both the researchers and the participants and complies with industry standards and regulations. 

Qual-at-scale – The New Way Forward 

Qual-at-scale is a new and exciting way to run qualitative research, that can help you gain more insights, faster and cheaper, without compromising the quality and depth of the data. Fuel Cycle is the best platform for qual-at-scale research, with its AI-powered tools, verified audiences, and safe and unique space. If you want to learn more about qual at scale and how Fuel Cycle can help you, contact us today.