What’s the Difference Between Qualitative and Quantitative Research?

Mar 9, 2020

Before you start pulling in data, you need to choose the correct research method that aligns with your goals. There are two types of marketing research, qualitative and quantitative. It’s important to note that the two can not be used interchangeably. Each one has its own tactics and gives you a different type of information.

What is the difference between Qualitative Research and Quantitative Research?

Simply put by My Market Research Methods, qualitative research is unstructured information (focus group comments, observations, etc.) that is summarized subjectively, as opposed to mathematically. Quantitative research is more structured and creates numerical data that can be plugged into a spreadsheet and analyzed with statistical methods.

Qualitative Research

Primarily used as an exploration of information, qualitative research helps businesses understand consumers’ opinions, reasonings, and motivations. It provides a deeper look into a problem to develop ideas or objectives to test with quantitative research.

Susan E. DeFranzo mentions that qualitative data collection methods vary using unstructured or semi-structured techniques. Focus groups (group discussions), individual interviews, and participant observations are most commonly used and the sample size is typically small. The results of qualitative methods are descriptive and subjective and the conclusions can easily be drawn from the answers given.

Quantitative Research

This method solves a problem or accomplishes its goals by constructing numerical data that can be transformed into usable statistics. It takes attitudes, opinions, and behaviors and puts them into quantifiable and measurable data to produce facts and uncover patterns in the research. For the data to be reputable, typically a larger sample population is required.

Quantitative data collection methods are much more structured than qualitative data collection methods. “Quantitative data collection includes various forms of surveys other research methods, such as controlled observations and questionnaires” (McLeod, 2019). The results from these methods can be put into categories, in rank order, or evaluated in units of measurement that will be used to create graphs and tables of the raw data.

How do I know which method is right for my needs?

To decide which research method you should use, take a look back at what you want to accomplish. Do you want to know how often someone is searching for your type of product or service? Then you would need quantitative research. If you want to know what someone’s thoughts and opinions on a service or product, then you would need qualitative research.

Choosing the correct research method is a crucial part of your marketing research, but there are still other important things to consider.