How to Write Qualitative Marketing Research Reports

Marketing research reports contain the data, information, and knowledge gained from qualitative research – focus groups and depth interviews.

The report highlights important findings. It is your evidence.

The report helps stakeholders. Written reports are useful when several managers have a stake in the research. It is a common basis for understanding, discussion, and decisions.

A written report is useful when you want to compare reports over time, or against other research. You can refer to reports months or years later. They are historical records.

A report is a story. It is a story about people and their collective knowledge, views, beliefs, feelings, desires, and actions about products, services, and ads. It is a collective snapshot of people’s attitudes and behaviors.

Three Types of Written Reports

Typically, written qualitative marketing research reports come in three formats.

  1. Briefing Report
  2. Summary Report
  3. Full Report of Findings

Here are the basic features of each report.

Briefing Report

  • Bullet points of major findings (answers research objectives)
  • One or two pages
  • Use the Briefing Report for quick reporting

Summary Report of Findings

  • Headlines of findings
  • Supported by a handful of relevant word-for-word quotes
  • Includes major theme or big idea
  • Includes implications
  • Usually three to 10 pages
  • Use the Summary Report for executive reporting

Full Reports of Findings

This is a formal report and typically includes,

  • Title
  • Table of Contents
  • Research Objectives
  • Research Methods
  • Executive Summary
  • Detailed Findings by Major Topics: headlines with verbatim quotes
  • Implications
  • Includes major theme or big idea
  • Appendix
  • Interview Guide and Screener
  • Supporting documents
  • Transcripts

Full qualitative marketing research reports consist of 10 to 50 pages, sometimes more.

Use Full Reports for formal reporting

How to Write Qualitative Marketing Research Reports – 8 Steps

Use the results of analysis to write reports.

1) Ask for whom are you writing the report. Are they executives, copywriters, product managers, advertising managers, marketing managers, sales managers, research managers, and analysts?

2) Decide which report format to use… brief, summary, or full. Outline the report using the format.

3) Write information headlines. Develop information headlines from information labels in analysis.

4) Support information headlines with verbatim quotes. They are the evidence that supports information headlines.

Here is an example of an information headline with supporting quotes.

Small companies lack information about green energy

“I have not heard much about green energy alternatives.” Energy buyer, small company

“None of the energy companies told me how to buy green energy.” Business owner, small company

“I asked about green, but never received a quote.” Plant engineer, small company

5) Write headlines about major findings from information headlines. Findings answer the research objectives.

6) Write major theory or thesis headlines.

7) Write major implications headlines.

8) Write a report title. It may be the major theme, or big idea. Treat the title as a headline. The title headline should entice people to read the report.

Writing Tips

Write marketing research reports in clear, plain English.

Write in the active voice. Make reports easy to understand. Management is busy. Most are not interested in the language of marketing research.

Write engaging headlines. Keep headlines concise, clear and to the point. Get attention with headlines. Motivate your readers to read on and pay attention.

Use enough evidence to support your headlines, but don’t bury readers with a pile of data. In a full report, use two or three verbatim quotes to support an information headline. Keep quotes to the point.

Deliver your main point, thesis, or punch line in the executive summary, or right at the beginning of the report. Executives are busy and want to know now. The rest of your report supports your major thesis.

Write the first draft. Check for factual errors, then edit and rewrite. Edit a second time. Proofread. Read it out-loud. Polish your report until you are proud of it.

Your Product

Your report is your product. Make it look professional.

Clients often judge moderators by the quality of their marketing research reports. If you are conducting depth telephone interviews, clients do not see you interview, so they judge you on your report.

Report content is most important, but the appearance of the report influences people’s perceptions and judgment. If you are presenting the report to clients, use a graphic designer to make the report look professional.

When you write reports, do the best job you can.

A good report makes you look good. A good report makes your sponsor look good. A good report may get you repeat business. It may get you praise, and even a raise. A report is your product.


Marketing research reports contains the information and knowledge gained from focus groups and depth interviews.

It highlights insights and knowledge gained from qualitative research. It is the evidence for your thesis.

Use reports for direction and business decisions.

Write reports from your analysis. Be sure to read the article about analysis.

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