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Qualitative research in marketing: Road‐map for a wilderness of complexityand unpredictability

Evert Gummesson (School of Business, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 1 March 2005




To discuss and analyse three themes in qualitative research in marketing which are objects of both frustration and confusion: analysis and interpretation; theory generation; and a quest for scientific pluralism and individual researcher lifestyles.


Underpinning the discussion is that complexity, ambiguity, fuzziness, chaos, change, uncertainty and unpredictability are characteristics of a market economy; that qualitative and subjective interpretation is necessary to add the spark of life to marketing data; and that general marketing theory needs more attention from researchers.

Practical implications

The proper use of methodology and the generation of better marketing theory will make it easier for practitioners to reach the right decisions.


Quantitative and qualitative research processes are not by nature antagonistic, although their advocates may be; quantitative methodology carries qualitative “bugs”, necessary for its sustenance.


The article ends with a recommendation that every researcher in marketing should design his or her individual research approach, one that suits the personality of the researcher. As an example, the author presents his own current methodology‐in‐use, interactive research.



Gummesson, E. (2005), "Qualitative research in marketing: Road‐map for a wilderness of complexityand unpredictability", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 39 No. 3/4, pp. 309-327.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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