Our Consumer Research Process

What is consumer research?

Consumer research is part of the market strategy and planning. It is the detailed process businesses use to identify consumers’ needs. Furthermore, the process unearths targeted consumer attitudes, behaviors, motivations, purchase drivers, and product usage among other benefits. Therefore, it is the process done to help businesses identify new market gaps and opportunities. Additionally, it helps in the identification of threats to businesses and related industries. The process involves the collection of data through secondary research, focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, observations, qualitative interviews as well as quantitative surveys.

Do have any other research project targeting any of the African countries?  Contact us we are ready to partner.

Why do businesses carry out consumer research?

For many businesses either providing services such as beauty and health care, banking, insurance, telecommunication, or those in manufacturing consumer goods commonly (FMCGs), consumer research helps them in the following:

  • Understanding consumer usage and altitudes
  • Segmenting the market
  • Identifying new opportunities for new product development as well as innovations
  • Testing new concepts, advertisements, and products
  • Testing existing and new prices

Therefore, it forms an integral part in creation of market strategy by enabling:

  • Segmenting the market
  • Market Positioning
  • Market strategy execution

Therefore consumer research role business role is in:

  1. Understanding how the market is structure
  2. Identifying consumer needs and identifying unmet needs
  3. Segmenting the market and coming with new sets of consumers

Consequently, the process plays a vital role in the marketing decision-making process.

Do have any other research project targeting any of the African countries?  Contact us we are ready to partner.

How we do it at AfriQSense

Setting up the project

Together with our clients, we develop the research overall objectives. This way we are able to identify the type of research needed, whether it’s exploratory or descriptive.

If the client is doing research for the first time, either as a company or for a product, we help them plan for a usage and attitude study, commonly known as U&A. For example in a U&A, we first gather secondary data in form of desk research.

This process involves gathering the already existing information held in the public domain. Such information includes various reports, government information, sales report from the company or from its competitors. Call this process market intelligence gathering.

Once that part is done we, develop the hypothesis and design the study.

From this stage, the study is done in two phases. These two phases are:

The qualitative research phase and the quantitative research phase

The qualitative research phase

Why qualitative research?

We start with qualitative research. The reason for doing this is because the process at this stage is still exploratory in nature.

Though very subjective, it is ideal to use qualitative research at this stage because:

  • It provides a creative, interactive forum 
  • The interviews and sessions are free-ranging hence enabling respondents to explore their actions and decision-making process
  • Respondents can therefore use the discussion format to identify their needs, motivation drivers, and expectations
  • Qualitative also allow for the use of projective techniques, which enable respondents to loosen up as well as overcome problems related to verbalization

Sampling for the qualitative research phase

AfriQSense develops a sample of between 4 and 8 Focus group discussions distributes across different parts of a country. In qualitative research, we also carry out in-depth interviews among key stakeholders such as distributors, wholesalers, and retailers.

Others who may be included in the qualitative research are industry experts and opinion makers as well as civil servants. For example, if the product in question is a new mobile phone application such as money transfer, it would be ideal to talk:

  • Civil servants in the country’s Ministry of Communication. Such as regulatory authority’s employees. Additionally, interviews are carried out among revenue collectors, and other civil servants of interest.
  • Furthermore, we will also have key informant interviews with telecommunication opinion formers such as journalists who write about telecommunication articles. Other opinion formers are university and college lecturers teaching in the telecommunication colleges and departments.
  • Still using our example of telecommunication, other depth interviews are carried among the value chain players such as existing telecommunication products and service distributors, wholesalers, and retailers.

Consumers’ interviews are generally done through Focus Group Discussions (FGDs). In this step, between 4 and 8 FGDs are distributed across the country, in both major urban centers and their adjacent rural areas.  The focus groups age groups are distributed as so are gender and social classes. The respondents included in the FGDs are drawn from current users of any existing product that resembling the new proposed product, non-users and rejecters of such products. We also ensure that the sample is drawn from subscribers of telecommunication players in the country.

Additionally, observation session can be added to the repertoire of the study.

Once all that is done, a screener, also known as a recruitment questionnaire is developed, which helps in the recruitment of the right respondents.  The discussion guides are developed and translated to the local language. Moderators are identified; the briefing of both the recruitment team and moderators is done and the data collection phase kicks off.

The data gathering process can be either face to face or through phone interviews. Additionally, technologies such Zoom are used to allow the clients to view the proceeding especially for FGDs. All depth interviews and FGDs are recorded; however this is done with respondent’s consent.

Quantitative research phase

Once the data collection process is over, the audios and any videos are transcribed and reporting is done. This qualitative reports is shared with the clients and any issues or queries raised addressed,


The quantitative process commences after the end of the qualitative phase. Respondents are selected mainly through probability sampling methods such as stratified sampling. However, where that product or market in question is highly specialized, non-probability sampling such as snowballing may be used.

For example, if the sample is done through stratified random sampling; recent country census data is used. For example if the project is carried in South Africa, the sample is first distributed in the country’s nine provinces namely:

  1. Eastern Cape
  2. Northern Cape
  3. Western Cape
  4. Free State
  5. Gauteng
  6. KwaZulu-Natal
  7. Limpopo
  8. Mpumalanga
  9. North West

The sample is distributed according to each provinces population percentage of the national figure. For example, Gauteng which has the country’s highest population accounting for 26% will get 260 interviews if the proposed sample is 1000. The second highest sample would go to Kwazulu Natal, while Northern Cape would get the lowest sample since it has the country’s lowest population percentage.

The provinces sample would be distributed in each province’s metropolitan municipality also known as Category A municipality in-case of major urban area and districts and rural municipalities where the population is mainly non-urban based. This too would be based on population percentage. Further down, the sample will be divided local municipalities and finally into the lowest administrative unit which acts as our Primary Sampling Unit (PSU).

Read more about How AfriQSense does its sampling and Planning and Executing a national wide study in South Africa

Read more About South Africa Administrative divisions.

Do you want to sample for a project in any of the African countries, contact us we are ready to partner.

How AfriQSense Develops the questionnaire

Using the data from both secondary and qualitative research, question to quantify attributes are generated. This is the initial stage of questionnaire development. Unlike the qualitative phase which is highly subjective, the quantitative phase is objective in both its questionnaire development and sampling.

How AfriQSense carry out quantitative fieldwork and enters the data

The field team is recruited from all the regions identified through sampling and centralized briefing is done. During the briefing the field team is taken through the sampling points, homestead identification and respondents selection. This is done and practiced to ensure the team understands everything. The other phase of briefing is taking the team through the questionnaire.

The data is gathered either through face to face pen and paper, face to face using mobile app, telephone /mobile phone interviews or online. The method used in gathering quantitative data is influenced by nature of the study, type of respondents, and or client’s preference.

Except for pen and paper where data entry is entered after fieldwork, in the other collection types, data is automatically entered during interviewing. Once the data is entered, it is cleaned and analyzed. If the client wishes, we write reports or send raw clean data through ASCII, Excel or other methods based on our client preference.  


Do you have any consumer research project in any of the African countries, contact us we are ready to partner.

Do you have a marketing or social research project in Africa, contact us we are ready to partner.

You are not sure where to start, contact us we are ready to advice.