Quantitative and qualitative research. How does it work?
Marketing research is designed to provide information that allows us to better analyze the problem under study, complements previous experience, and helps reduce risk in any decision-making. We can divide this research into qualitative i quantitative. They differ significantly in many aspects, from the method of posing research questions to the way in which the results are interpreted and conclusions drawn.
Marketing research is a valuable tool used by entrepreneurs, among others. Managing a company requires constant decision-making, which should be supported by adequate information resources. Companies conduct such research to better understand the market, customer preferences and behavior, as well as to identify trends.
The difference is in the needs
The most noticeable difference between the two types of research is the different scope of research problems and questions. Researchers choose the type of research depending on what kind of information they need. In simplest terms, unlike quantitative research, qualitative research briefly examines a selected issue, focus on a "deeper" analysis of the phenomenon under study, noting its diversity. They answer questions: "why", "how", e.g. "why do you choose brand X products?". Quantitative surveys, on the other hand, consist of Collecting figures on specific topics, As well as on showing the connection between variables. In addition, we can call them more structured because of their numerical description of reality. They answer the questions: "how much", "when", e.g. "how many times a month do you choose company Z's products?".
A few steps ahead
The right choice of survey type will affect the matching of the information collected. In order to do it the right way, it is necessary to determine at the beginning purpose and focus of the study. It may be helpful to write down the decisions made, so as to narrow down and clarify the project. The next step should be formulation of hypotheses and research questions, which will allow us to formulate conjectures and, in the process, check what we may be investigating.
Who to ask questions to?
In addition to the differences mentioned earlier, different sampling also plays a big role, which is one of the most important steps. In quantitative research, participants are selected to best represent the population under study. Only the responses of correctly selected respondents can be quantitatively generalized to the entire population. In qualitative research, on the other hand, the fallacy is the random selection of participants, i.e., one in which all elements of the population have an equal probability of getting into the sample. The selection of respondents is determined by the objectives of the study, so that there is an opportunity to collect as much information as possible on a given topic.
A significant element of qualitative research is the appropriate selection of groups so that participants do not feel uncomfortable during the survey. The selection of groups can be made on the basis of target selection criteria be demographic criteria. The first is derived from the objectives of the study and assumes the selection of respondents, due to a specific characteristic, such as owning a car of a particular brand Y, which allows researchers to obtain as much information as possible about consumers of Y cars. The second type of criteria assumes the creation of groups as homogeneous as possible, divided by demographic aspects such as age, gender, income, which contributes to the comfort of participants and the free exchange of views.
Different methods of conducting tests
The characteristics of the two surveys mean that information is obtained from participants using different methods. The primary tool of quantitative research is a questionnaire, which includes closed questions asked to each participant in a fixed order and an unchanging form, so we can assume that the differences are the result of the participants' dissimilarities rather than measurements. Unlike quantitative research, qualitative ones assume the task of open-ended questions, allowing participants more freedom of expression and flexibility. Form and order are not so important.
Analysis of research results
The final stage includes analysis of the obtained results. For quantitative studies, researchers use statistical analyses, thus gaining the ability to compare indicators and the objective nature of the research. On the contrary, the interpretation of the results of qualitative methods is sometimes more problematic, due to the different type of information obtained, which is more likely to understand rather than measure certain phenomena. Hence the impossibility of such transparent analysis as in the case of quantitative research, which can often involve overinterpretation and erroneous inference.
Research methods in practice
Already knowing the objectives and the list of questions, we can start looking for a method that will help us get the right information. Referring to the previous paragraphs, quantitative research will help us study the numerical aspects of the phenomenon under study, in order to learn more about the broader context, it is worth reaching for qualitative methods. However, it is worth mentioning that research is an iterative process, which means that the desire to get an answer to one problem can cause an avalanche of further questions. Therefore, often after the "quantitative stage" of our study comes the "qualitative stage", which will allow us to identify the causes of the phenomena and relationships shown earlier. In addition, when designing a survey, it is important to take into account such aspects as planned time and cost implementation.
In conclusion, today's technology makes it possible for each of us to become a "researcher." However, simply laying out a form will not always produce the results we expect. In view of this, it is advisable to get acquainted in advance with the positive and negative aspects of both methods, clearly formulate the objectives and questions that will enable us to effectively investigate a given problem. Finally, do not forget to use appropriate statistical tools and correct inference.
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