What is Online Qual and why is it so effective?


What is Online Qual and why is it so effective?

August 17, 2023
Want to see more?
Register here.

Ever wondered what all the hype is around Online Qual?  We’ve gone to the source and asked our Agile Qual Lead, Ajanta Malhotra, why you would use Online Qual and what makes it stand out from other research methodologies.

Ajanta, can you briefly describe what Online Qual is and how you got started in it?

Online Qual has been around for a while, but has seen a significant boost since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic forced everyone to take the next leap into communication – not just being comfortable on camera with all the video conversations, but also in the language and detail we now use in communicating our thoughts.

When done right, Online Qual harnesses this advancement in our communication skills to access feedback and behaviours as they happen, rather than relying on memory.

It was this progress in the Qual space that lured me back into an agency-side role, after spending close to a decade on the client-side.

Where do you think Online Qual fits in the research mix?

I believe that every day we are presented with two choices, Evolve or Repeat.

Online Qual is the current evolutionary leap we have had to make in this post-pandemic era where online shopping, working from home and everyday experiences have made customers more adept and available online.

But Online Qual is not just about moving traditional Focus Groups and In-depth Interviews online. That is easy and only an adaptation – not an evolution.

True Online Qual needs to be agile, engaging, meaningful, interactive and scalable.

For example, when running a focus group online, we are juggling the same issues as being in a room, such as participants having to wait in turn to provide feedback – which sometimes means they hold back on their thoughts, because the moment has passed by the time they get a turn.

At Platform One, we have recognised this and many other such social nuances that have previously limited our learnings, and done away with them. Our methodologies and techniques are designed to provide every participant the opportunity to voice their thoughts in as much detail as they desire, without influence, doubt or restraint.

What do you do to ensure people tell you what they actually think and feel as opposed to just going along with the group?  

We’ve found text-based LIVE chat groups great for helping participants be more direct and less prone to herd mentality.  Not only do participants feel more comfortable without video and voice, they also share more information without having to wait for others to finish their sentences. There is more directness and transparency, more interaction, more bouncing of ideas, more details and more insights. Throw in some polling and ranking exercises, heat maps to mark-up stimulus, and we have less ambiguity and more detail on customer feedback.

And the cherry on top - a much, much quicker analysis and project turnaround time.

What methodology would you recommend it you wanted to look deeper into customers’ lives?

At Platform One, our preference is to use multi-day online forums to unpack customers’ attitudes, behaviours and choices

These dynamic sessions allow for a deeper immersion with customers in an active way, where they can record and share their behaviours (via images, video and even screen shares) as they happen, rather than relying solely on memory in focus groups.

This not only allows us to see detailed thinking and behaviours in action, but also creates ‘Aha!’ moments for participants, where they become aware of paradoxes between their perceived and actual behaviours - making them reflect and self-investigate the causes of these contradictions.


We hope this has given you a bit of an insight into some of the ways that you can use Online Qual to get deeper customer insight. To find out more about our revolutionary approaches to qualitative research, contact us on info@platform1.cx.

Ajanta is a human behaviour enthusiast with over 18 years of research experience across both agency and client-side roles. With an MBA in Marketing and Diploma in Consumer Psychology, she is a strategic thinker served well by her business acumen, enabling her to deliver truly action-inspiring research. In addition to her broader Qualitative research experience, she is passionate about Agile Qual, recognising its role in delivering impactful, efficient and effective research insights.

Ajanta has worked across a plethora of industries including FMCG, finance, utility services, automotive, QSR and Not-for-profits, in both Australia and overseas. Ajanta is curious to a fault, loves travelling and in combining the two is passionate about cultural anthropology and understanding what makes people tick and make the choices they do.

Download now