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  • Writer's pictureScott Johnson

Empower Your Small Business with AI: Qualitative Market Research Made Accessible

Updated: Apr 17, 2023

Savvy small business owners know that getting into the minds of customers is like striking gold.

One way to tap into this treasure trove of insights is by conducting a qualitative market research study. In this article, I'll guide you on a journey to unlock the secrets of customer preferences using ChatGPT.

Step 1: Set sail with clear objectives

Chart your course by defining the objectives of your research voyage. Let's say we have a client, we'll call them "Unicorn Organics", who wants to explore the market for their skin care product. After asking ChatGPT for 10 useful objectives of the study, we settled on these six:

  1. Map out customer experiences and preferences.

  2. Uncover the key factors that guide purchasing decisions.

  3. Investigate consumer awareness, perceptions, and attitudes.

  4. Evaluate product performance against competitors.

  5. Reveal secrets of the customer journey and decision-making process.

  6. Delve into the role of social and environmental responsibility.

Step 2: Assemble a diverse crew of participants

Next we need to decide on the number of participants and the demographic breakdown for our study. We can ask ChatGPT to help us based on on the nature of the product, and also according to any market information we want to provide.

​In this hypothetical case, we decided to have 30 participants, which we will break into three separate group. Working with ChatGPT, we defined our demographic breakdown as follows:

  • 20 female participants and 10 male participants

  • Age range: 25-45 years old to target the age group that is likely to use organic skincare products

  • Geographic location: Participants should be located in different regions of the US to ensure geographical diversity

  • Education level: Participants with a college degree or higher to ensure a certain level of consumer sophistication and engagement with the skincare industry

  • Income level: Participants with an annual household income of $50,000 or higher to ensure they can afford premium organic skincare products

  • Skin type: Participants with different skin types to ensure a diverse range of experiences and preferences

Step 3: Prepare thought-provoking questions

ChatGPT is great for generating question ideas. For your study, draft a list of intriguing questions to spark engaging conversations during your focus group sessions.

For "Unicorn Organics", we asked ChatGPT for 40 questions designed to unveil customer insights. From this list, we will likely pick 10 questions to use in our focus group.

  1. What motivated you to try organic skincare products?

  2. Can you describe your experience with the Unicorn Organics skincare product?

  3. How important is the use of organic ingredients in your purchasing decision for skincare products?

  4. Can you describe the types of organic skincare products you typically use?

  5. What criteria do you use to evaluate the effectiveness of organic skincare products?

  6. How do you find out about new organic skincare products?

  7. How important is packaging and design when purchasing skincare products?

  8. How do you incorporate organic skincare products into your daily routine?

  9. Can you describe a time when you were not satisfied with an organic skincare product you used? What were the reasons for your dissatisfaction?

  10. How important is sustainability and environmental responsibility in your purchasing decision for skincare products?

  11. Can you describe a time when you were particularly satisfied with an organic skincare product you used? What made the product effective?

  12. How do you decide which organic skincare products to purchase?

  13. How do you assess the safety and health benefits of organic skincare products?

  14. Have you ever recommended organic skincare products to friends or family members? If so, what led you to recommend the products?

  15. How do you prioritize your skincare needs when shopping for organic skincare products?

  16. How do you perceive the value of organic skincare products in comparison to non-organic products?

  17. Can you describe your experience with other organic skincare brands? How does Unicorn Organics compare?

  18. How important is the fragrance of skincare products in your purchasing decision?

  19. Can you describe the texture and feel of the Unicorn Organics skincare product? How does it compare to other organic skincare products you've used?

  20. How do you balance cost and quality when purchasing organic skincare products?

  21. Can you describe a time when you were frustrated with the availability or accessibility of organic skincare products?

  22. How important is the brand reputation when purchasing organic skincare products?

  23. Can you describe the types of claims made by organic skincare products that are most important to you?

  24. How do you assess the ingredient list of organic skincare products?

  25. Have you ever had any adverse reactions to an organic skincare product? If so, can you describe what happened?

  26. How important is customer service when purchasing organic skincare products?

  27. Can you describe the customer experience with Unicorn Organics skincare products? Was it positive or negative? Why?

  28. How do you perceive the quality and performance of organic skincare products in comparison to conventional skincare products?

  29. Can you describe a time when you were surprised by the results of an organic skincare product you used?

  30. How important is the social and ethical responsibility of the company when purchasing organic skincare products?

  31. Can you describe the level of education and awareness you have about organic skincare products and their ingredients?

  32. How important is the texture and consistency of organic skincare products in your purchasing decision?

  33. Can you describe a time when you were satisfied with the customer service of an organic skincare brand?

  34. How do you evaluate the transparency of organic skincare brands in terms of ingredient sourcing and production?

  35. Can you describe the types of information that are important to you when choosing a new organic skincare product?

  36. How do you balance the use of organic skincare products with other aspects of your self-care routine?

  37. Can you describe a time when you found a specific organic skincare product to be ineffective? What were the reasons?

  38. How important is the convenience and ease of use of organic skincare products in your purchasing decision?

  39. Can you describe the price points that you are willing to pay for organic skincare products?

  40. How do you perceive the quality and effectiveness of Unicorn Organics skincare product in comparison to other premium organic skincare products on the market?

Step 4, option a: Conduct the focus group sessions

​For our study, after we've narrowed down our list of discussion questions, it's time to conduct the focus group sessions, whether in-person or online.

First, of course, we'll need to recruit the participants. Asking ChatGTP for help with this task, we determined that we can recruit through the following methods:

  • Use social media: create a post or an ad to attract participants

  • Use an online focus group recruitment service: There are several online services that can help recruit participants for focus groups. These services allow you to specify the criteria you are looking for, and they will match you with participants who meet your requirements.

  • Use an existing customer database

  • Use local advertising

We'll want to offer our participants an incentive for their time and participation. This can be in the form of cash, gift cards, or a free product sample.

We'll need to schedule our sessions and fill our time slots. For the focus groups, we'll want to engage a moderator with subject matter expertise who is a skilled communicator. A good moderator should remain neutral and not impose their own biases or opinions on the group. They should be able to create a safe and non-judgmental space for participants to share their opinions and experiences.

After the sessions are complete, convert your audio recording to text so ChatGPT can derive findings and deliver suggestions.

Step 4, option b: Simulate a focus group

As a low-cost option that can be completed quickly, you can simulate a focus group. To do this, simply ask ChatGPT to create detailed personas to serve as participants.

We can ask ChaGPT to generate 30 personas according to our demographic requirements. Our personas will individually include this information: age, gender, occupation, education level, income level, family status, hobbies, interests, values, goals, pain points, and buying behavior. We will give each person a name.

Sample persona: Sophie, 35-year-old working mother Sophie is a married mother of two who works full-time as a marketing manager at a technology company. She has a college degree and an annual household income of $80,000. Sophie is interested in health and wellness, and she values organic products that are safe for her family. She enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors, and she's always looking for ways to simplify her busy life.

Once you have your personas loaded into ChatGPT, engage in a dynamic conversation, just like a real focus group session. Ask follow-up questions and use the AI-generated responses to guide the discussion and explore various aspects of the topic.

This approach will work better when questions are likely to elicit responses that can be modeled by a large language model like ChatGPT. Most of the questions on our list fall into that category.

Simulated focus groups will be more difficult to perform if the research study requires direct experience of the subject matter — for example, taste tests, evaluation of visual displays, music, etc.

Of course, who knows what will become possible as AI evolves. Just this week we are seeing the emergence of AutoGPT and other autonomous AI agents that run continually and can complete complex tasks on their own. This includes developing a plan, and taking action through self-prompting.

Looking into the future, it should be possible soon to simulate multiple focus groups with hundreds of personas automatically, and have the autonomous AI generate a complete actionable report from this process.

Creating the Report

Step 5: Analyze the data and determine findings

After your focus group sessions, you will need to put on your explorer's hat and analyze the gathered data.

First, feed the focus group transcript to ChatGPT, asking it to look for trends, patterns, and insights to uncover the secrets hidden within the conversations. This process might involve organizing the responses into categories, identifying recurring themes, or even comparing the perspectives of different participant profiles. To ensure a comprehensive understanding, pay close attention to both the explicit and implicit messages conveyed in the AI-generated responses.

Remember, ChatGPT might not always generate the ideal response on the first attempt. You may need to rephrase or clarify our prompts to obtain the desired outcome.

Step 6: Eureka! Offer suggestions based on your discoveries

Based on the findings, you can ask ChatGPT to suggest improvements or changes to your product or service.

Let your findings guide you in addressing customer challenges and pain points effectively. These insights can help you refine your marketing strategies, adjust product features, or even identify potential new target segments. Remember to prioritize and focus on the most impactful changes that can drive tangible results for your small business.

Also, feel free to spend time questioning ChatGPT with respect to findings and the range of possible suggestions that could be useful to you.

Step 7: Chronicle your adventure in a summary report

Compile a summary report that outlines the research objectives, methodology, findings, suggestions, and abstract. This report should be clear, concise, and easy to understand.

To see an example of findings, suggestions, and a summary report generampower Your Small Business with AI: Qualitative Market Research Made Accessibleted by ChatGPT, read this post from last month:

Small business owners, with the power of ChatGPT at your fingertips, you can uncover valuable insights and make informed decisions to boost your business. You can access the in-depth knowledge once reserved for those with larger budgets and resources.

The era of AI has truly democratized qualitative market research, making it accessible and doable for businesses of all sizes. Embrace the opportunity to explore your customers' minds, refine your offerings, and elevate your small business to new heights.

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