Are you planning, or looking to plan, some market research?

If you are, one of the first – and most critical – questions you must answer correctly is which type of research you need: quantitative or qualitative.

Which of the “2 Qs” do you need?

Quantitative market research is collecting lots of data using surveys, questionnaires, polls, etc.

Qualitative market research is discovering what motivates your customers by interacting with them directly, possibly over the telephone, by video, or in small groups.

Making your decision more difficult is the fact most people don’t have sufficient expertise in both types.  This clouds their judgment as they stick with what they know best – regardless of whether it’s the best solution or not.

To ensure your next market research endeavor is an investment, not an expense, you must look objectively at your goal.  Only then can you determine whether you need quantitative research, qualitative research, or both.

The following should help you reach the correct decision.

Quantitative Research

The point of quantitative research is to get accurate, standardized facts and statistics to help you answer important questions such as:

  • Is there a market for our product/service … and, if there is, how strong is it?
  • How many of our target customers care about the chief benefit of our product / service?

Your initial quantitative data is usually gained using surveys and questionnaires. These use mainly close-ended questions to generate the insights you’re after.

You’ll also need a decent number of respondents and ensure their representation is balanced.

For example, only using mobile surveys will mean those who don’t have a mobile will be underrepresented.

Remember, capturing your data is only the start of your quantitative research.  To turn it into the reliable information you need, you must organize and analyze it… then communicate your findings to the decision makers.

Qualitative Research

Qualitative research gives you a deeper understanding of your customers’ motivations and emotions:

   – it’s the “why”, rather than the quantitative research “what”.

Qualitative research is useful for revealing things like why customers like – or hate – a particular brand …

    … why they like certain marketing messages and not others …

… and what actually motivates them.

Qualitative research methods include focus groups,  in-depth interviews and online bulletin boards.

Whichever you opt for, be aware that each has its advantages and disadvantages.  However, a professional researcher will know which methodology is best to use and how to get the best insights from it.

With far fewer respondents required than for quantitative research, you must make sure to avoid bias, or you may end up with inaccurate information and no reliable insights.

Quantitative Vs. Qualitative Research: How to make the right choice

Now that you understand the differences between the two research types, the following questions will help you correctly decide which you need:

Are you testing a hypothesis or exploring perceptions?

With its large sample pool, quantitative research will help you discover agreement or disapproval.

Qualitative research provides detailed, open-ended learning about perceptions – without coming to “black or white” decisions.

Is your research measuring opinions, or an in-depth study into why customers have a certain opinion?

When you’re measuring opinion, quantitative research is what you need.

If you want to go in-depth to understand perceptions or reveal why customers think like they do, then it’s qualitative research you should be doing.

Do you want to understand a larger audience, or map an individual participant’s experience?

To better understand a larger audience, you should carry out quantitative research.  To get the nuanced experience of a single person, it’s time for qualitative research.

Using both quantitative and qualitative research: “integrated research”

If you want comprehensive, robust information, you probably need to conduct both quantitative and qualitative research.

When their individual, valuable perspectives are combined, you get the actionable insights you’re after.

But it’s not simply a case of doing both.  The mix you need is unique; based on the business decisions you need to make and desired impact you want – coupled with the time frame, scope, and budget you have.

Work With An Expert Partner

If you’d like to know more, or are interested in working with people who are experts in quantitative and qualitative research, drop us a line here