How to Create Effective AI Prompts for Qualitative Market Research

May 03, 2024
Table of Contents

If you’re starting out with AI market research tools, you may wonder why your  generated responses are either a hit or miss. In one moment, the model creates usable  outputs, and in the next, you receive irrelevant, redundant, or overly biased results.    

This is because the quality of your AI-generated responses is only as good as the  quality of your input – data in = data out. Getting the results you want from your AI tool  is both an art and a science. As such, prompt writing is a craft that a researcher must  master on their journey to actionable insights.  

In this handout, we’ll share essential market research prompt-writing techniques to  help you gather comprehensive and relevant insights from your data. We’ll also provide  tips to help you master this emerging way of getting to the heart of what you need to  extract from your research.

How to Write Prompts that Hit the Mark on the First Try

First, an ideal prompt is characterized by three things – it  has to be clear, concise, and contextual. You want your  input to include as much information as possible in as few  words as possible.  

To put it differently, say as much as you can without saying  too much. This helps the AI to understand your intent more  accurately. 

As a rule of thumb, a good prompt consists of these six key  components to help you generate high-quality responses

  • Persona - Identify who you want the AI to mimic in its response.
  • Context - Include relevant background information.
  • Task - Start with an action verb and clearly define the goal.
  • Format - Specify the desired format of the output.
  • Exemplars - Give a sample framework to guide the response.
  • Tone - Decide on the tone of voice for the response.

If we create a hierarchy for these components, giving your AI  a task to perform is mandatory, providing context and  exemplars is secondary, and including a persona, format,  and tone is a plus but not necessary.

Sample Prompt

[Persona] You are an expert qualitative market researcher  with a focus on consumer behavior. [Context] Your client is  launching a new line of eco-friendly household cleaning  products and needs insights into the attitudes and  purchasing habits of environmentally conscious consumers.

[Task] Develop a [Format] focus group discussion guide to  gain insight into the factors influencing your consumers'  buying decisions.

[Exemplar] The guide should begin with an ice-breaker to  make participants comfortable, followed by open-ended  questions that explore their daily routines, brand  perceptions, and willingness to pay a premium for  sustainable products.

[Tone] The questions should encourage thoughtful and  detailed responses, creating an engaging atmosphere for  participants to share their honest opinions.

How to Define Specific Personas 

One of the best ways to prompt your AI is to give it a role to  mimic. These personas should reflect the necessary qualities  for your scenario, whether gathering respondent feedback  for a new product line or going through your research  findings as an analyst to create your reports.  

By doing this, the AI can adapt its delivery to improve the  relevancy of your outputs. Here are a few tips to help you  determine the right persona for your prompt:

  • Identify the Expertise - Determine the specific skills and characteristics required. This could include domain knowledge, communication style, problem-solving approach, and emotional intelligence.
  • Use Real or Fictional Figures - Consider using well-known individuals or characters whose traits represent your persona to guide the AI’s outputs. For instance, you can prompt the AI to simulate a famous market research influencer or even a well known personality.
  • Adapt to Context - Adjust your persona's tone and approach based on the flow of conversation to maintain coherence. For example, suppose you want the AI to switch from performing a competitor analysis to gathering customer feedback. In that case, you can prompt the chatbot to change its persona from "The Strategic Analyst" to “The Emphatic Moderator.”

How Prompt Variations Change the Output 

When structuring your prompts, every word matters. How a  prompt is expressed significantly influences the depth and  quality of responses you receive. By tweaking different  components—Task, Context, Exemplars, Persona, Format,  and Tone—you can guide the AI to generate your desired  responses.  

Here’s a breakdown of how different variations can change  your AI response:

Creating a Task

Starting your prompt with a directive verb and a short  explanation of your objective draws the chatbot's focus  towards a specific outcome, resulting in more targeted  insights.

Sample Prompt with Clear Task

Prompt: "[Directive Verb] Analyze the key features of Product A [Directive Verb] and compare them to its competitors. [Objective] Provide insights on how Product A can improve its market positioning."

Response: " Product A currently lacks in terms of user interface compared to its competitors. Improving its UI design could enhance user experience and differentiate it in the market."

Sample Prompt without Clear Task

Prompt: "Tell me about Product A and its competitors."

Response: "Product A is similar to its competitors in many ways. It has features like [list of features]. However, there are some differences in pricing and availability."

Adding Context

Providing contextual details such as your project objectives and demographics helps the AI tool understand the scope of your research and provide more relevant insights.

Sample Prompt with Context

Research Objective - Understanding consumer preferences for eco-friendly packaging.

Demographics - Millennials aged 25-35.

Prompt: “Extract comments on what the millennials aged 25-35 said about eco-friendly packaging when purchasing household products.”

Response: "Brad: As a millennial who cares about sustainability, I actively seek out products with eco-friendly packaging. It makes me feel like I'm making a positive impact on the environment with my purchasing choices. Brands that prioritize sustainability resonate with me and earn my loyalty."

Sample Prompt without Context

Prompt: "What do respondents think about eco-friendly packaging?"

Response: "Eco-friendly packaging is good for the environment. Respondents prefer products that use it."

Using Exemplars

Specifying a framework of what you want in your response helps guide the AI tool on what should be included in its output. This gives the AI tool a roadmap of what it should include in its output.

Sample Prompt with Exemplar

Prompt: “Construct a comprehensive market research report that analyzes the feedback on the smartwatch's physical activity feature. [Exemplar] Begin with an executive summary highlighting key findings. Follow this with a detailed analysis of respondents' physical health challenges, current coping strategies, and reactions to the proposed smartwatch feature. Include direct quotes to illustrate key points and identify emerging themes."

Response: “Executive Summary: Our report examines consumer feedback on the smartwatch's physical activity feature, revealing a strong demand for a user-friendly and motivating activity tracker. Key findings highlight consumer interest in seamless integration with daily routines and customizable goal-setting options.

Analysis: Respondents cited sedentary lifestyles, lack of motivation, and difficulty tracking progress as primary health challenges. While current coping strategies mainly involve manual tracking methods, respondents express frustration with accuracy and accountability issues. The proposed smartwatch feature garnered enthusiasm for its potential to improve physical activity levels and overall well-being. Key themes include the importance of gamification, personalized feedback, and concerns regarding data privacy.”

Sample Prompt without Exemplar

Prompt: “Write a market research report about the smartwatch."

Response: “Introduction: This report presents an analysis of the market for smartwatches.

Analysis: Key features driving consumer demand include fitness tracking capabilities, notification alerts, and smartphone integration. Market trends indicate a growing preference for sleek designs and advanced health monitoring features.


As competition intensifies, smartwatch brands must prioritize innovation and user-centric design to maintain relevance and capture market opportunities.”

Simulating a Persona

Defining a persona for the AI tool to embody changes the language and content of the generated responses, mimicking the expertise and perspective of your designated persona.

Sample Prompt without Persona

Prompt: Provide verbatims that mirror this idea: "As a health-conscious fitness enthusiast, provide recommendations for nutritious snacks to fuel an active lifestyle."

Response: "Amelie: As a fitness enthusiast, I prefer having light snacks that satisfy my cravings but also help me hit my macros for the day. For example, I’ll have some greek yogurt topped with berries and almonds for a high-protein snack or a banana with a tablespoon of almond butter before my workout.

Julian: Instead of chips, I like snacking on hummus and veggie sticks like carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers for a satisfying crunch with added vitamins and minerals.

Alex: I’m always on the go, so I like to pack a handful of mixed nuts and seeds for a nutrient-dense snack or some whole grain crackers with avocado slices and cherry tomatoes.”

Sample Prompt without Persona

Prompt: "Provide a list of suggested snack options that were mentioned in the interviews"

Response: "Here are some snack options mentioned in the interviews:

  • Fruits like apples, oranges, and bananas
  • Chips and candies
  • Yogurt cups
  • Vegetable sticks with hummus
  • Pastries like a croissant or a muffin

Provide a Format

When conceptualizing your research, it's essential to outline your output structure (e.g., comparative list, case studies, or demographic breakdowns). This ensures that your findings are presented in a way that makes interpretation and utilization more straightforward.

Sample Prompt with Format

Prompt: "What are the primary factors influencing consumers' choice between Product A and Product B? Please provide a comparative list highlighting key differences in features, pricing, and customer reviews."


Factors Influencing Consumer Choice:
Product A vs. Product B

FactorsProduct AProduct B
FeaturesAdvanced technologyUser-friendly interface
Wide range of optionsSimplified design
PricingsCompetitive pricingHigher initial cost
CustomerReviewsPositive feedbackon durability andperformanceMixed reviews regarding customerservice

Sample Prompt without Format

Prompt: “How do consumers feel about Product A and Product B? Please provide insights into their experiences."


Consumer Sentiment: Product A and Product B

  • Consumers generally express satisfaction with both products.
  • Most users within the study appreciate Product A's features, while others prefer the simplicity of Product B.
  • Pricing seems to vary among consumers, with some finding Product A's pricing reasonable and others considering Product B's initial cost too high.
  • Mixed reviews are observed regarding customer service for both products.

Tone Adjustment

Choosing the right tone for your prompts (e.g., confident, authoritative, emphatic) affect how your generated insights are communicated. In turn, this impacts how your AI tool’s responses are perceived.

Sample Prompt with Tone

Prompt: "Identify common themes in respondents’ customer experience while using the mobile banking app. Use a confident but neutral tone."

Response: "Respondents’ experience with the mobile banking app has been mostly positive. Its intuitive and convenient interface allows them to manage my finances seamlessly. While there are areas for improvement, such as streamlining the bill payment process, respondents find the app to be efficient and user-friendly."

Sample Prompt without Tone

Prompt: "Describe respondents’ experience using the mobile banking app."

Response: "The mobile banking app is easy to use. Respondents like how It can quickly check their balance and transfer money between accounts."

Supporting Documents that Shape AI Responses

When engineering effective prompts that generate meaningful outputs, it is important to include supporting documents for context. Providing relevant background information helps improve the quality and relevance of your AI solution's responses.

The following types of supporting documents could be beneficial to include as context in a prompt:

Market Research Reports - These reports contain an in-depth analysis of the market, including current trends, size, growth, and forecasts. Adding your key findings from these reports provides the AI with a solid background on the subject matter.

Consumer Feedback - Including a summary of your customer chat logs, support tickets, or product reviews offers a direct perspective from your target market. This helps your AI tool gain insight into consumer preferences and behaviors.

Competitor Analysis - Providing details about your competitors, including their sales strategies, ethos, and marketing tactics, gives your AI research assistant a broader view of what’s out in the market.

Industry News and Articles - Incorporating current news and articles related to your industry offers up-to-date context on which the AI tool can base its responses, especially for prompts related to market trends or shifts.

Data Sets - If applicable, providing data sets or summaries of data relevant to the market research can help your model understand and analyze patterns or trends within the market.

Key Tip: Provide just enough context to guide the AI and avoid information overload, which could dilute the focus of the response.

Mitigating Prompt-Writing Biases

When using artificial intelligence to conduct qualitative research, addressing biases or “hallucinations” within AI systems is a useful practice to follow. Eliminating bias will take some effort, but ensuring your prompts represent different consumer perspectives is an important first step toward ethical, quality insights.

Here are some helpful tips to guide you in detecting and preventing AI biases:


  • Fact-Check Outputs: Conduct a thorough fact-checking process to ensure the trustworthiness of your AI-driven generated insights.
  • Understand Data Sources: Understand the references used by your AI tool to help you contextualize its responses and identify potential biases and limitations.


  • Clear and Specific Prompts: Use clear and specific AI prompts to focus your generated responses and produce relevant content.
  • Multishot Prompting: Provide multiple examples and contexts to enhance your AI's ability to recognize patterns and adapt to different scenarios.
  • Ground Prompts with Data: Include relevant data and sources in your prompts to enhance the accuracy of generated content.
  • Specify a Role: Assign a specific role to your AI model to clarify expectations and reduce the likelihood of generating off-topic responses.
  • Provide Exclusions: State the type of responses you don't want. This steers the AI toward answers more aligned with your research objectives.
  • Create Data Templates: Use data templates as reference points to guide AI behavior based on structured data.

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