Michael Antman writes at MarketingProfs.com that qualitative research can be the most effective form of market research, despite the fact that it lacks rigor and requires the researcher to act on intuitions:
"But the most-effective research isn't necessarily the most rigidly designed. In fact, a loosely designed program—whether qualitative or quantitative—may not appear as 'scientific' at first glance, yet sometimes can do far more to reveal real truths than more carefully crafted and comprehensive research programs."Antman goes on to describe five ways for a market researcher to ensure she facilitates the surprise answers to questions that can't be scripted.
"In short, rigidly designed research doesn't allow anything to fall between the cracks—because there are no cracks. Yet it is the stray answer, the unexpected insight, and the uncategorizable response that often creates the greatest opportunity for genuine insight on the part of the marketing professional."