Implementing AI Technology to Enhance Traditional Qualitative Research Practices

By Shanna Taller

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a growing technology that continues to emulate human intelligence more and more, giving it capabilities to change traditional qualitative research practices.

AI is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, specifically focused on self-regulating computer programs. The technology uses computers to understand human intelligence, and in recent years, has even been able to recognize aspects of consciousness and emotionality.

Just like any emerging technology, there are pros and cons.

Some significant advantages of deploying AI in your marketing research project are reduction in human error, digital assistance and 24/7 availability. Human error is reduced drastically since the technology uses previously gathered information, applying a certain set of algorithms. Thi programming gives more opportunity for accuracy. Artificial Intelligence is a great opportunity for firms to reallocate Human Resources. Chatbots are designed to be digital assistants, providing resources for users at any time. These chatbots are available 24/7, making rapid decisions and actions to provide results.

Some major setbacks to Artificial Intelligence are high costs and although emotional recognition technology is advancing, it remains limited. There are high costs associated with keeping up to date software and troubleshooting. Certain forms of AI are very complex and require a lot of ongoing maintenance. Although AI works more efficiently at scale, it cannot replace the human connection or intelligence. This is quite a setback when researchers realize that AI cannot replace certain human resources. For example, you will always need a human being to interpret insights, or to offer the high-level soft skills and judgment and decision-making that machines might not be able to make accurately.

You may be wondering how AI technology can be applied to qualitative research practices.

AI has the ability to enhance the work of a moderator. It has the ability to respond to forums with probes and conduct chatbot conversations with users using algorithms. The content of the respondent’s answer is analyzed, interpreted and responses are suggested, replacing or saving time for the moderator. Further, with permission of the participant it can transcribe audio and capture video clips from the camera to even conduct basic emotion analysis. Although it cannot replace human connection, composing transcriptions from interviews as well as video clips saves time for the moderator. Here’s a case study on facilitating group chat discussion by improving efficiency and participation with an AI-powered chatbot.

So, what does the future hold for AI in marketing research?

Marketing researchers looking to enhance their traditional qualitative research methods must learn, adapt and implement AI technology.


Market Researchers must educate themselves and their colleagues about the background and ever-changing modality of AI.  The tools continue to change and grow as research and different applications continue. By learning more and creating a foundation, they will have more tools to enhance their practice which will reduce potential human error.


They also must adhere to best practices of market research while using AI, always keeping in mind confidentiality and privacy of respondents by using the codes from the CRIC and ESOMAR. Personal information and responses from participants can never be shared without consent which must be taken in consideration if chatbots are being used. These best practices always apply to in person qualitative research, and apply to AI powered data collection as well. Therefore, chatbot data must be collected and stored in a secure, private database.


Lastly, market researchers must be able to apply AI technology that suits their needs to enhance their qualitative Market Research practices. After establishing a foundation and ensuring that MR best practices are being adhered to, the last step is making the substitution with the chosen AI tools. This could entail chatbots enhancing the work of the moderator by conducting conversations with participants using user algorithms and transcribing.

Although Artificial Intelligence is great for enhancing practices, Market Researchers should never underestimate the value of their own intuition and the traditional qualitative methodologies that have always been used. They will always provide a check and balance to human emotion and connection, which AI cannot replace at this time.

About the Author:

Shanna Taller is a candidate to graduate the Market Research and Business Intelligence Program at Algonquin College, building on a previous Honours Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Carleton University. Through her work and education, Shanna has exhibited an interest in assessing the intersection of marketing, public opinion research and AI development. She has developed a passion for client relations from holding various positions in retail and digital consulting.