What is the difference between qualitative and quantitative marketing research?

What is the difference between qualitative and quantitative marketing research?

Sometimes clients who want to study consumers and turn to us ask the question this way: should we choose qualitative or quantitative research in our situation? This formulation is not entirely correct, because that the two species have completely different goals. Let's look at the fundamental difference between qualitative and quantitative marketing research.

We tell you in detail what qualitative and quantitative marketing research is needed for! (Photo source -

Qualitative research

* The essence. We deeply survey respondents and collect insights, study the motives, principles of decision-making, brand perception, and much more. Thus, we are looking for answers to the questions " How is it what's going on?/ Could this be happening?» and "Why is this happening?".

* Selection and method. A survey of a relatively small number of people – usually from 10 to 50 respondents. Due to the high duration of interviews and groups (on average, about 2 hours each)) we can interview everyone in as much detail as possible respondents.

The bottom line. Knowledge of the motivations, decision-making options, and perception characteristics of our target audience. As a result, we gain an understanding of what direction we can take next to achieve our business objectives. And sometimes as a side result – and the generation of sudden new ones ideas based on the collected insights.

Quantitative research

* The essence. We collect statistically significant information about the target audience. There are no in-depth consumer surveys or insights, but we do get specific numbers and correlations. The key question is "how Much?/ Which percentage of the target audience?".

* Selection and method. Survey of a statistically significant number of respondents (depending on the tasks, it can be 300, 500 or more people) based on standardized questionnaires.

The bottom line. Statistically significant information and distribution of the target audience by options for consumption, perception, and knowledge of the market/ brands. Based on the obtained data, we can build hypotheses and predict market trends. However, this should be done carefully: the numbers do not explain themselves, so we can only assume why we got such results.

Someone can to say that quantitative research is more important than qualitative research, because there we get figures that can be used to make strategically important decisions. However, this opinion is not entirely correct. Of course, data from a quantitative study is statistically confirmed facts, but based on them we can hardly explain the reasons why certain events occurred in the market. Moreover, sometimes the results of a quantitative study can be fundamentally incorrect due to errors in the preparation of the questionnaire. Therefore, we will always say that quantitative research should be carried out in conjunction with high-quality data – otherwise there is a risk of getting incorrect data.

A simple example. Let's say we formulate a question for quantitative research: "Why do you choose this brand?". Our team generates 5 possible answers to this question. But the problem is that there can be many more options. more, and most importantly-some of the options we have come up with may not reflect the vision of consumers at all or be perceived by them in some other way. And if we decide to conduct research with such a questionnaire, we will end up with data that does not correspond to reality simply because the questionnaire itself was embedded not all of the options. In addition, a number of important questions may be overlooked, which also did not occur to us – after all, we did not conduct groups and interviews and do not know that they are relevant.

Thus, the classic option is to conduct a qualitative study and then "digitize" it within the framework of quantitative.

Here is an example of such a combination. Let's assume that we conducted a consumer segmentation based on a qualitative study, resulting in 6 segments. Of course, we can't tell the exact size and significance of each segment – and that's where quantitative research comes in. we can use it to check whether all segments were counted, and also measure the percentage of each segment.

But there are situations when qualitative and quantitative research can be conducted independently of each other.

• In the case of quantitative studies, these are tracking studies that they assume annual / quarterly monitoring of the market for a number of indicators. Here, strictly the same questions are asked in the same wording, which guarantees the unity of the methodology and, as a result, the possibility of adequate comparison.

* Qualitative research can be conducted separately in the following cases:, when we test some idea and get fairly unambiguous data. For example, understanding how to Refine this idea. Of course, its quantitative testing without preliminary refinement in this case simply does not make sense.

As we have seen, quantitative and qualitative research is about not options that you have to choose between. These are two completely different methods of market research that exist separately from each other. However, their correct combination can be a powerful tool for understanding your customers and the market as a whole.

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