Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research?

What is the Difference Between Qualitative and Quantitative Research?

Let us help you understand the difference.

Quantitative - Research Methods Emphasize Measurement

Quantitative research is concerned with the measurements of a market. Areas of study can include the size of a market, the make up of market segments, purchase frequencies, general awareness of brands, distribution levels, etc.

Quantitative methods emphasize objective measurements and the statistical or mathematical breakdown of data gathered through polls, questionnaires, and surveys. You can also analyze pre-existing statistical records using data processing techniques. This style of research focuses on taking numerical data and generalizing it across groups of people to explain a particularly peculiar phenomenon.

The main goals of quantitative analysis are to quantify data and apply the results from a group to the population of interest and to measure the incidence of various views and opinions in a chosen sample.

Quantitative Research is used to quantify the problem by way of generating or mining for numerical data that can be transformed into useable statistics. It is used to quantify thoughts, principles, actions, and other defined variables to then generalize the results from a larger sample population. Quantitative Research uses measurable data to formulate truths and uncover patterns in research. Quantitative data collection methods are much more structured than Qualitative data collection methods. Quantitative data collection methods include various forms of surveys –paper surveys, online surveys, and mobile surveys, face-to-face interviews, or interviews over the phone, longitudinal studies, website interceptors, online polls, and systematic observations.

Qualitative – Research Methods Emphasize Understanding

Qualitative information is harder to define but the emphasis is on understanding rather than measurement. For example, quantitative research may tell you that product A is recalled more often than product B, but how does A function as a product and why is it more effective than B?

A significant amount of qualitative research is concerned with understanding the customer and establishing the meanings he or she attaches to products, brands and other marketing objects. Another focus is motivation. For example, why does one product meet customer needs over another - and what are these needs that are being met? Is this simply the ‘Jobs-to-be-Done Theory’?

Qualitative research is conducted amongst a smaller sample group compared to quantitative research. In the case of attitudes to products, for example, qualitative research may determine a specific view held about the product, whereas quantitative research would tell us what proportion holds that view. Collection methods can vary from using unstructured or semi-structured techniques. Some common methods include focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and participation/observation tactics. The sample size for these studies is typically small, and respondents are selected to fulfill a given quota.

Qualitative research is principally investigative. It is used to generate insights about underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations. It can perceive elements of the problem or help to develop ideas or hypotheses for potential quantitative research. Qualitative Research is also used to uncover trends in thought and attitudes, and dive deeper into the problem.

Quantitative and qualitative research work in tandem when used in the most effective way. The qualitative element frequently takes place first, exploring traits that need to be measured in the subsequent quantitative phase. The result is downright awesome research.

For more information on Trig's qualitative and quantitative stakeholder research services, please check out our Voice-of-the-Customer services page

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