Interviews are a great research tool for any fashion brand.
Sometimes it’s only by sitting down with your customers and taking the time to talk to them, that a brand can really gain helpful insights to develop better products and optimize its services.
An interview is a conversation for gathering information. A research interview involves an interviewer, who coordinates the process of the conversation and asks questions, and an interviewee, who responds to those questions.
Interviews are really helpful to move beyond descriptive data and delve into the behavioral analysis of your customers so that you can really understand their habits and reasons to buy.
Only by collecting this higher-quality data can your brand correctly profile and segment its customers.
At the same time, conducting interviews can be daunting.
It’s a time-consuming and expensive process, and unless they are correctly planned, they can result in failure.
This is why in this post, we’re going to address the 5 essential steps to design and conduct an interview for your fashion business.
The process follows the best practices of research and allows to simplify what would otherwise be a very challenging project.
Let’s delve right into it!
#1 Identify the Problem
Before focusing on the interview process itself, it’s important to make sure that the problem we’re looking to solve is well defined and aligned with this research approach.
Ideally, with interviews, we’re looking for information to solve a problem that connects to customers’ ideas, values, and habits.
Before progressing any further, however, we need to make sure that interviews are the correct research methodology for the problem we’re trying to solve.
Interviews can be a very versatile tool, but before embarking on this research approach, we need to make sure that the information we’re going to collect from our participants can really help us address the problem we’re studying.
Try to write down the problem in a clear and concise way.
Write it as a clear research question and reflect on how the information you are going to collect from your participants will help you answer your question.
Are you sure there is no other way to collect the same data? Maybe through questionnaires or surveys?
If you’re confident that the interview is the most effective approach, then you can proceed to the next step.
#2 Identify Your Ideal Participant
The next step in the process is identifying your participant.
Considering that you’ll be probably able to run a limited number of interviews, it’s important to make sure that you’re investing your time with the right people.
Look at the problem you’re trying to solve. Who are the ideal participants for your research?
How would you profile them?
It would be ideal to create a participant persona so that you can condense your research on customers or participants that fit specific criteria. In academia, this approach is called “purposive sampling” because it allows researchers to focus their efforts on candidates that display qualities and characteristics which are relevant and interesting for your study.
It’s still a good idea to have some variety of voices and opinions, so don’t be too strict with your requirements, in some cases the most insightful answers can come from unexpected voices.
You can run as many interviews as you like, as long as you are able to source new information and not exhaust the topic.
In academia, a rule of thumb to have a sufficiently large sample size for an interview study is approximately 30 people.
#3 Develop Your Interview Format
Once you have identified your perfect participant, it’s time to devise your interview format.
You can choose among three types:
In this case, all participants will answer the exact same questions. If you use this format you will have a much easier time reading and processing the results, as all questions will be the same.
At the same time, if you’re always asking the same questions, you don’t have any freedom to ask questions which are more specific to any particular interviewee.
Semi structure interviews revolve around a set of questions that are fixed and a little bit of time for you to ask questions which are unscripted and potentially different for every participant.
This approach is a good balance between structured and unstructured, as it provides you with some freedom to improvise if necessary.
In an unstructured interview, there is no pre-defined set of questions to go through. In this case, the interview consists of a conversation that revolves around a series of pre-determined topics.
This approach can be suitable to explore areas of consumer behavior that are still new and not fully understood. At the same time, it can be hard to compare and contrast results as there is no common ground between interviews.
#4 Consider Ethical Matters
As you plan your interview it’s important to put a lot of consideration on the ethical dimension of research.
Make sure you are asking questions that your participants would feel comfortable answering, as the interview process can put them in the spotlight and create anxiety or stress.
It is good practice to inform your participants about the research you are conducting, the purpose of the interview, and how the data will be used.
It is usually the case that participants’ names are confidential and no specific opinion will be attributed to them.
All in all, it is necessary, as a standard practice, to review and fill out an ethics form to make sure that the process you are following will provide all participants involved with a safe and – ideally – enjoyable interview experience.
#5 Process and Code Results
After the interviews have taken place it’s time to process the results.
First and foremost, take into account your own researcher’s bias. It’s very common for interviewers to steer conversations and answers in the direction they want, even if this may compromise the authenticity of the results.
All in all, there are many common mistakes that researchers do when collecting and processing data. We list some of the most common in this article.
In qualitative research, like the one we conduct with interviews, the typical approach to processing data is to identify patterns and recurring keywords in the answers of our participants.
Codes or keywords are those terms that our participants mention again and again in multiple interviews, showing that particular responses or opinions are common for specific questions.
These codes are then liked to themes. These themes represent topics and broader areas of conversation that come up in multiple interviews.
By spotting these patterns and connections between data we can understand a lot about our customers and collect valuable insights into our participants’ habits and behaviors.
Great, now that we’ve covered all 5 steps it’s time to draw some conclusive remarks.
There you have it! In this post, we’ve looked at the 5 steps necessary to design an interview in fashion business research.
As we’ve discussed the process itself is not too complicated, but there are still a lot of things to bear in mind to make the research a success.
If you’d like to read up more about research methodologies that apply to the fashion business, in this post, we discuss another useful research approach: questionnaires.
Don’t hesitate to visit our blog and explore more topics in market research, there are hundreds of articles for you to read! Enjoy!