Qualitative and Quantitative Research – Concept

Broadly speaking, Quantitative Research is applied when there is no ambiguity about the business problem with a definitive structure in the research process. Qualitative Research on the other hand deals with the uncertainty or unclear problem statement and uses exploratory research for results.

Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is the deeper understanding on how the respondents behave or act in the manner that they do. The underlying principle is identifying and perceiving the intent, opinions, behavior patterns and the motivations behind their actions. It helps in adding more insights to the consumer’s decision-making process.

Qualitative studies assist in the following business situations:

  • Market studies: Typically use cases involves analyzing consumer interest in the company’s new idea in a particular demographic, customer feedback on an experience etc.
  • Product launch & development: Understanding the actual need of the end user.
  • Marketing collateral study: Related to creative development such as branding, PR exercises, events, and messaging (what should be said and how should it be said)
  • Diagnostic studies: Understanding how the company’s category or brand is doing as compared to the competitor’s offerings and image respectively. 

Qualitative research techniques include

  • Focus Group Discussions: This is the most effective and preferred technique where a respondent group of 5-8 persons are asked general questions first and then steered towards answering on the research topic. This provides information on their initial reactions to a new product idea or marketing programs.
  • In Depth Interviews: Personal interviews are conducted to discuss on private/confidential topics (like healthcare, finance etc.), understanding the intent behind consumer’s buying patterns (like buying a new car etc.), to prevent respondents from being influenced by situations.

Qualitative research also involves using projective technique, which captures the emotions of the consumer. Generally, they are not fully able to express themselves when asked direct questions. These techniques include creating brand personalities, drawing collages and word association.

Quantitative Research

Quantitative research consumes numerical data to present facts or uncover patterns in the study. The results of the quantitative research are drawn statistically as they can be projected to help in business decisions. This method is more objective as the sample is reasonably big and carefully selected from the target population. It is said to have a 95% confidence interval which means that if this survey is 100 times, 95 times the same response would be obtained.

Using formal instruments numeric information that can be analyzed with statistical tools is collected.

Quantitative research is the most used technique for determining cause effect relations. For example, suppose the marketing budget is increased, by how much will your revenue increase. This cause and effect are dependent on different variables. A variable is any quality of a person, group or situation that varies or takes on different values at different times. They are the central building blocks of quantitative studies.

Quantitative research techniques include various kinds of surveys using questionnaires. The survey can be done through various mediums such as face-to-face, email, telephonic, online, or mail surveys etc. Designing questionnaires for a survey is a detailed exercise to generate accurate numeric data.

Depending on the time, complexity and budget, choice of the above mediums is selected. Mail surveys can be used if budget is a constraint. Due to faster access and instant results, online surveys are used if time is a constraint. Personal or telephonic surveys can be used when interaction is required.

Concluding Remarks

Both quantitative and qualitative research have their own pros and cons. The business situations determine which research method can be used. Ideally, we can use both types as they give variant perspectives and complement one another for optimal results.

– Shantha Kumari,
Sr. Technical Writer,
Infoholic Research