First things first, you might be asking yourself what is an in-depth interview (IDI)?  An IDI is a conversation between a researcher and a single respondent with the purpose of exploring issues or topics in great detail.  The interviewer encourages participants to freely discuss their feelings and opinions, and probes on questions to gain insight and depth to responses.  IDIs can last anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour depending on the topic.  A script is developed in advance to help guide the interview process and ensure that essential information is captured.

When it comes to qualitative research, most people will immediately think of focus groups.  Although focus groups are a great source to gain exploratory feedback in a group setting, IDIs can provide the same type of results in a more unbiased one-on-one setting.  If you conduct a series of IDIs you can also report findings cumulatively, which may give you a pool of respondents as large as multiple focus groups. 

There are a lot of methodologies to choose from when you want to do qualitative research, but the Bunker often argues that not many offer as much bang for your buck as a good collection of IDIs.  The immediate attraction with IDIs is the engagement with respondents.  In most cases, you are discussing topics that are pertinent to the respondent, something that they can speak in great detail about.  Obviously you hope to achieve the same engagement with more mass-scale surveying, but the truth is it is very difficult to do all the time.

What is an In-Depth Interview IDI

"This is the point when we engaged RMS to do the IDIs."

IDIs can be conducted with both business and consumer interviewees.  With B2B interviews, the researcher often visits the workplace of the employee to discuss topics relevant to their job at-hand.  Being on-site to conduct these makes it more convenient for the respondent and, if applicable, offers the researcher observational findings from the workplace.  For example, let’s say RMS was conducting a series of IDIs with employees who work in the registrar’s department at a college to determine better ways to streamline the registration process for students.  It may be beneficial to be on-site to conduct these IDIs so the employees can walk you through their current registration process and you can ask questions as you go.

Another major benefit of IDIs is they can be conducted on any scale to fit any budget.  RMS can customize a market research study with 5, 15 or 50+ IDIs.  The length of interview can also be modified to reduce the project cost for your budget as well (15 minutes versus 1 hour – however much depends on the talkativeness of the respondent).  Focus groups do not offer that flexibility, as in most cases you’ll have to pay for room rentals and a moderator’s time at a higher hourly rate.  Therefore, focus groups have more of an attached lump sum, IDIs are more adaptable. Another benefit is the ability to spend one-on-one time with each respondent.  In a typical focus group of 8-12 people, each respondent will have on average 10 minutes to talk.  IDIs allow for more probing and greater detail from each individual.

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To discuss your market research needs or if you are interested in conducting IDIs, contact Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) at 1-866-567-5422.