The Relative Insight guide to analysing interview data

The key to commercial success is always being able to keep your finger on the pulse of your target audience. But how do you really know what your customers want? One effective method is through market research interview analysis.

Interviews and focus groups are a tried and tested way of obtaining actionable consumer insights. But whether you’re conducting a focus group or one-on-one interviews with the members of your target audience, it’s important to have a robust system in place for effectively analysing your interview data.

So, what are the most effective interview questions and how do you analyse interview data to get the most out of this lean research method?

In Relative Insight’s ultimate guide, we’ll go through the steps involved in analysing the data gathered from interview sessions and look at how you can effectively utilise this information within every aspect of your business.

Why is interview analysis important for market research?

Interviews are one of the most effective ways to identify consumer attitudes and preferences towards a brand, product or service.

If done properly, interviews provide qualitative information about what people think and how they feel. The ability to communicate personally with customers enables you to ask follow-up questions and delve deeper into your target audience’s thoughts and opinions.

Asking open-ended questions during an interview can be extremely useful because:

  1. Participants use their own language and are not limited to pre-determined answers.
  2. The quality of the data is often superior to other channels, as the research is more specific and substantive.
  3. Qualitative market research can be tied to quantitative analytics. By asking people for their thoughts and opinions, you will be able to answer the why behind the numerical measurements i.e. why customer loyalty has decreased, how consumers react to product features, drivers of customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction.

Analysing interviews and focus group transcripts can provide businesses with vital audience insights. If analysed thoroughly, unstructured qualitative data can be turned into actionable forms of business intelligence that can influence strategic decision making.

Top tips for conducting an interview or focus group

When conducting an interview or focus group, it’s important to inform participants that there are no right or wrong answers. After all, you want to identify the real drivers of customer satisfaction, dissatisfaction or purchase intent.

To ensure you have valuable data to work with, it’s essential to make sure that your interviewees are encouraged to answer your questions in as much detail as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask participants to elaborate on their answers, clarify what they mean or phrase the question in a different way to ensure the topic of discussion has been fully addressed.

That being said, if the conversation takes a different turn, it can often be beneficial to just roll with it. It is the job of the focus group facilitator to manage time, keep the conversation flowing and ensure the discussion doesn’t steer too off track. However, the beauty of organic conversation is that unbeknown to you, important trends and themes might emerge that hadn’t occurred to you before.

A key challenge of focus groups is trying to incite all participants to give their views and opinions. Facilitators should help to encourage quieter interviewees to share their opinions, along with managing those who speak for longer.

How to analyse qualitative data from an interview


Once interviews and focus groups are complete, it’s important to change the format of the data as raw audio can be difficult to analyse. Employ a reliable transcription service to convert your audio files into text, and this will enable you to conveniently analyse your unstructured interview data.

Transcription services typically refer to a professional company that will transcribe your audio recording into written words. This can be an extremely useful resource for future analysis and reference.

Using transcripts of consumer interviews for market research is important because they allow the researcher to interrogate the data, spot trends and uncover insights that might otherwise go unnoticed.

How to analyse interview data

When it comes to analysing all these transcripts, you’ll find that there will be a lot of words to get through and the manual process is lengthy. Market researchers often follow the below process:

  • Get familiar with your market research – Read and reread interview transcripts in order to familiarise yourself with the data and have a general understanding of questions, themes and topics.
  • Code or label the text – Code and label any topics within the text that you feel could be relevant or interesting. Each time you write a code, you’re essentially summarising a point that someone has made.
  • Discover broader themes and patterns – After the initial analysis is complete, group your codes into wider themes that are relevant to your project. Narrow down your codes to ensure that they are practical and useful, and discard codes that are irrelevant to your field.
  • Manually compare transcripts and review themes – Conducting a review of the interview data is a crucial step. It includes reading through verbatims and checking if there are any inconsistencies or overlaps between the data. It’s important to make sure each data point within the theme is cohesive.
  • Define and finalise themes – By defining your themes, you are describing what each theme is about. In this stage, you should be able to answer questions such as: Why is this theme interesting? What story does this tell? How does the thematic analysis contribute to my understanding of the interview data?
  • Write up Finally, write up your findings and analysis as a coherent narrative, which explains the methodology to your market research and analysis and highlights the themes found throughout the data evidenced through quotes from participants.

While this approach is effective, it’s not perfect. Unfortunately, when interview analysis is done by humans, consciously or subconsciously the insights are infused with bias. To analyse interviews manually is a complicated, time consuming and expensive process to get right.

There’s a new way of analysing this data

Relative Insight makes analysing all your interview data straightforward, scalable and efficient.

By layering Relative Insight’s text analytics technology on top of your existing interview and focus group transcripts, you can transform your data into immediate, actionable insights.

Our technology utilises comparison to analyse text data, enabling you to discover trends you didn’t know to look for. The platform compares two or more written data sets to highlight the differences and similarities in topics, words, phrases, grammar and emotion. This form of analysis enables businesses to find out what is unique about a data set, be it a customer segment, time frame or competitor.

Relative Insight is used by market research and insight teams who want to squeeze the most value out of their qualitative research. Our software taps into the full potential of interview data to develop actionable insights by:

Identifying what is valuable

Our comparative approach to analysis means identifying what is valuable in a data set. By sifting through the ‘building blocks’ of language – the ifs, buts, ands that participants use during an interview – and surfacing the interesting, significant words and phrases that target consumers use, you can uncover key customer insights and trends that are invaluable to every area of your business.

Maximising the value of one data set

By using Relative Insight’s split functionality, businesses can get the most out of their interview data. Transcripts can be sliced and diced in different ways using various metadata points, such as age or location, enabling multiple comparisons to be ran.

Removing bias

Through comparison, Relative Insight overcomes the confirmation bias of hypothesis-driven searching. This uncovers surprising nuggets of information within your interview data that you might not have known to look for.

Quick analysis at scale

Relative Insight provides an accurate and scalable way of analysing large volumes of interview transcripts. The algorithm provides you with an effective method of analysing millions of words without having to read them.

Our use cases are as limitless as your imagination, but through comparison you can discover transformative insights from your interview data and run comparisons such as:

  • Customer segment – How does the language used by two customer segments differ?
  • DemographicsHow do British and American attitudes to a topic or brand differ?
  • Interviews over time – Has consumer opinion of your product, brand or service changed over time?
  • Promoter vs Detractor – What language do promoters use in comparison to detractors?

Analysing interview transcripts is crucial if you want to find out what your customers are thinking. So, if you’re sitting on a mountain of interview data that you don’t know how to analyse, get in touch. Relative Insight can transform your interview transcripts into a goldmine of insights. What are you waiting for!

Extract value from your interview data