Quantitative or qualitative research, or how to study the market?

Key information:

  • A quantitative survey allows the collection of data on the amount of occurrence of phenomena and allows the results to be clearly presented in the form of numbers or graphs.
  • Qualitative research focuses on the process and allows for in-depth and unique information, but the results are unrepresentative and incomparable, making it difficult to analyze. Qualitative research should be preceded by quantitative research to identify the phenomena on which to focus.
  • Conducting only quantitative research carries the risk of erroneous conclusions and interpretation of the results, as it does not take into account the context and causes of the phenomena occurring.
  • Qualitative research, such as interviews or observations, allows the selection of appropriate research tools and the formulation of the right questions, which helps avoid the problems associated with quantitative research.
  • Once quantitative data is obtained, qualitative research provides a better understanding of the causes of the phenomena occurring and helps avoid misinterpretation of the results.

Details below!

So as not to give anyone false hope, let's note right away that there is no clear and universal answer to the question of which market research method is better - qualitative or quantitative. The two approaches are completely incompatible with each other and serve different purposes. Thus, the choice of method depends on what we want to study and find out. This statement will lose its triviality when we consider in more detail what each method is used for.

Quantitative research, or the power of numbers

Quantitative survey is directed at the size and scale of certain phenomena. The most characteristic question to which he answers is "how much?" such as:

  • How many people find your product interesting?
  • How many people prefer your product to your competitors' offerings?
  • By how much has your brand awareness increased this year compared to last year?

The above questions will allow us to study how often a phenomenon occurs among the people surveyed, and we can clearly present the results in numerical form or in the form of graphs. An additional advantage of this method is the strict standardization of measurement tools, which makes it possible to compare results obtained from different sources and at different times. Simplicity of issues Instead, it allows to survey a large group of subjects in a relatively short period of time. Quantitative research is usually conducted in the form of questionnaires or surveys.

Qualitative research, or not by data alone man lives

As opposed to quantitative research, Qualitative research is process-oriented. Characteristic questions will be "how?" and "why?" such as:

  • How did we promote the brand in the past year?
  • Why do you prefer our product to our competitors' offerings?

We then leave the respondent a great deal of freedom in formulating the answer. This will not only allow us to learn in-depth and unique information about a particular phenomenon, but will also often draw our attention to previously overlooked problems. However, the results obtained from qualitative research will be unrepresentative and incomparable, making analysis much more difficult. The foundation of qualitative research is usually the results obtained from quantitative research. Only when we have these can we see what phenomena we should focus our questions on. The in-depth nature of this form of market research will, unfortunately, result in a greater time cost and, as a result, a much smaller group of people surveyed. Qualitative research can be conducted in the form of an interview or an experiment/observation.
For a broader discussion of specific quantitative and qualitative interviewing methods, I invite you to visit here.

The most commonly used research techniques

The most commonly used methods when conducting quantitative and qualitative research include:

  • Online surveys CAWI (English. Computer Assisted Web Interviewing),

This method involves making an online survey available to respondents, who are invited to fill it out online. These surveys are usually hosted on dedicated online survey platforms, which make it easy and fast to conduct surveys and analyze the results.

  • Telephone interviews CATI (English. Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing),

This is a technique for conducting quantitative research, in which Interviewers conduct telephone interviews with respondents, using special software for data entry and storage.

  • In-depth individual interviews IDI (English. In-Depth Interview),

It is A research method that involves conducting individual interviews with a single respondent, which usually last from 30 minutes to several hours. The purpose of these interviews is to understand a more detailed perspective of the topic under study, such as thinking, feeling, attitudes or experiences.

  • In-depth individual interviews TDI (English. Telephone In-Depth Interview),

This research method involves conducting individual telephone interviews with respondents to obtain detailed information On their behavior, beliefs and opinions.

On the art of choice, or what to finally decide on

At first glance, it seems very tempting to conduct only a quantitative survey. The large number of respondents, or the easy comparability of unambiguous numerical results, are tempting arguments for decision-making. However, we must note that Trusting the decision only to quantitative studies carries risks. The implication is that regardless of the number of phenomena studied, the correlations between the results obtained will only be a matter of intuition, which can lead to erroneous conclusions. Because if in a given village we observe a significant relationship between the number of storks and the number of children born, it means that storks actually bring children? Rather unlikely, and experts may cite, for example, the occurrence of a severe winter in the past year as a reason. However trivial this example may seem, we will face very similar problems in actual market research.

Seeing that our store chain is losing customers and our competitors are increasing their sales, we don't know:

  • We have lost customers through overly high prices or inferior service,
  • The product we offer is now obsolete,
  • Competing companies have managed to change their business profile.

And the number of potential causes is huge, after all! Even if we were to investigate that, in fact, customers have recently rated the quality of service in our network worse, we still wouldn't know whether sales are actually declining through poorer service, whether the staff is demotivated and weary due to fewer customers in the store.

The second problemthat may affect us when carrying out quantitative research will somehow impose a suggested answer through poor selection of research tools. The essence of this method is unambiguous answers, and it brings with it a wide range of misunderstandings and insinuations. The best remedy for the above problems is a qualitative study. Prior interviews or observations will allow us to select the appropriate research tools and formulate the right questions, while once we have specific quantitative data, qualitative research will allow us to determine the causes of specific phenomena.

In conclusion!

Each method, therefore, has its advantages and dangers. Certainly, the most effective and efficient way to research the market will be a skillful combination of both methods, but there is not always a need. Therefore, When deciding to conduct a study, we must first determine exactly what we want to study, and the choice of the appropriate research method will already be only a consequence of the given choice.

If you were curious about our article on quantitative and qualitative research, would like to learn more about it, or are planning to conduct one -. fill out the form below. During your free, no-obligation consultation, we'll be happy to determine how, we can help you get the information your business needs!

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    Wojciech Suwiński

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