Qualitative Research for Social Marketing: One Organization’s Journey to Improved Consumer Insight

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Population Services International (PSI) is an international NGO working to improve outcomes in developing countries through behavior change communications and the social marketing of health products and services.  Consumer insight is central to PSI’s social marketing strategy because it informs which messages to promote and which products and services to offer to make the concept of healthy behavior change attractive to consumers. Qualitative research provides rich insight by exploring consumers’ values, feelings, thoughts, intentions, barriers, motivators, culture, and social norms that affect their behaviors and use of products and services. In this paper, we describe how PSI’s qualitative research program developed from 2003 to 2013, and how using an interpretive approach and more appropriate data collection methods improved our consumer insight and marketing planning process.