Spontaneous conversations: the charm of intercept interviews

Intercept interviews are a qualitative research method which involves going to specific, usually public, spaces to speak to people to gather spontaneous yet focused responses about where they are, what they are doing and how they are feeling at that specific time and place.

Intercepts are impulsive and interactive and there are many benefits to doing them.

Intercepts are great for in-the-moment reactions.

If you want to understand small snippets of how people are feeling, asking them there and then can be a great way to get these unfiltered, immediate responses.

Intercepts can often get great response rates.

Getting instant reactions from those who are willing to respond here and now can get more responses compared to other research methods, like being emailed a survey for example, which can easily be overlooked or forgotten, and the responses themselves can be more considered due to the researcher being able to directly talk to the respondent.

Intercepts are flexible.

The interviews can be adapted to the situation, allowing researchers to probe further on things that may have come to light throughout the interviews or are relevant to the person they are talking to.

You can talk to lots of different people that other research methods may miss.

Busy parents, older people, or those who may not have thought to get involved in market research can have a chance to get interviewed and have their feedback heard, allowing for opportunities to understand people you may not have had a chance to talk to using other research methods.

There are, however, some limitations to intercepts and reasons why they may not be the method to use for the research project at hand. 

Intercepts can be too focused.

Limiting yourself to small locations can mean that you may not be getting responses that represent the broader population.  This means you need to really think about if intercepts make sense for the project you are doing.

Travel and costs can be high.

Despite the fact that the intercepts themselves can be low-cost by not needing to incentivise participants, the travel and time for researchers can be high, especially if you want to conduct intercepts in many different locations.

Getting people to take part can be difficult.

The public can often feel uncomfortable by being stopped to talk to strangers, so researchers need to be friendly, upfront and brief with their questions in order to get people involved and feel comfortable divulging information about themselves.

Responses can be inconsistent.

Because you are not giving participants standardised questions to answer, and often not speaking to each individual for the same amount of time, you can get a myriad of responses back which increases time for organisation and analysis.

So when do we think you should use intercepts?

  1. If you are at a specific location or event, intercepts are great ways to get feedback from the people in the midst of a behaviour rather than getting to reflect on it later.
  2. If you are looking for quick, spontaneous and unfiltered qualitative responses, intercepts an effective way to get it.
  3. Using intercepts to bring in some qualitative feedback, particularly to quantitative projects, can help bring the data to life and show the people behind the percentages.

In summary, intercepts are a great way to connect with new audiences and get in the moment feedback. A method we shouldn’t overlook and makes a valuable addition to our research toolkit.

Leah McMahon, Senior Research Executive 

The Nursery’s expertise covers the full range of the planning cycle from Market Understanding, Segmentation, Proposition Development, Creative Development, Campaign Evaluation and brand and experience Tracking.

As pioneers in brand research, get in touch to find out more about how we can help achieve your research goals at hello@the-nursery.net