Conducting Market Research: Quantitative or Qualitative?

With the global economy becoming more interconnected in recent years and with trading becoming an indispensable need, market research has become ever more important for businesses. There are many ways to conduct market research, with quantitative and qualitative research as the two principal methods. While you may have heard these terms before, do you really understand the difference between them? Here we to give some clarity to the terms, and also to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both.

Table of Contents

  1. Quantitative Research
    • What is quantitative research?
    • Types of quantitative research
    • An example of quantitative research
  2. Qualitative Research
    • What is quantitative research?
    • Types of quantitative research
    • Quantitative vs qualitative: strengths and weaknesses
  3. The SynoAnswers Research Service

Quantitative Research

 

What is quantitative research?

Quantitative research is a research method that uses statistics and mathematics to explain anything from opinions, attitudes, and behaviors to trends and events. Researchers work closely with numerical data to measure and quantify the relation between different factors—which help to solve the problem. The results of their research include percentages, averages, etc.—answers to the questions, “how many?” or “how much?”.

Types of quantitative research

When we talk about quantitative research, we mostly talk about surveys, structured interviews, or other observations. Information from a single response, or sample, will then be generalized to the whole population, with statistical tests verifying the data’s significance. When doing quantitative research, the researcher is supposed to collect and analyze the raw data using analytical tools such as Microsoft Excel, R, or SPSS to make assumptions and conclusions for the question at hand.

Example of quantitative research

As an example, let’s imagine that an automotive manufacturer wants to measure his market share compared to other competitors. A good researcher would propose conducting a survey with different types of questions, from single answer and multiple choice questions to rating or Likert scale questions. Respondents are then recruited from countries where either the company’s products are sold or from countries that the company wants to target in the future.

Continuing our example, after the survey, the data obtained showed that the car manufacturer has a 40% market share in Europe, but only a 5% market share in Asia and America. In other words, the company’s products hold an important market position in their base, and their branding/positioning is on track. On the other hand, their market share in Asia and America, despite heavy investment costs, is quite low. This outcome might prompt the company to ask: Are our investments targeted correctly? Does our current marketing strategy work? Have we captured the tastes of Asian or American customers? Is our pricing strategy appropriate? From here, the company can review its business and marketing strategies to make appropriate adjustments.

The above is an example of what the numbers from quantitative research can provide. It helps businesses overview their development and come up with appropriate strategies for the future.

Qualitative Research

 

What is qualitative research?

Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.
Albert Einstein

Qualitative methods are used most often when conducting exploratory research. It is a non-statistical method. In this case, a researcher tries to have an in-depth understanding of opinions and motivations. Qualitative research can be performed at the beginning of a quantitative project to develop ideas/hypotheses, or at the end to confirm hypotheses. Unlike quantitative methods, qualitative research often tries to answer the questions “why?” and “how?”.

Types of qualitative research

Popular qualitative methods include focus groups, individual interviews, and observations. The sample size is usually small and more carefully selected. Qualitative research tries to approach the research subjects in a most natural way, in order to ensure that the behaviors, opinions, and views will be objective and accurate. During a personal interview, for example, the interviewer will ask open-ended questions. Respondents can freely present their opinions, thereby allowing researchers to gather a variety of information which could never have been gathered otherwise.

Quantitative research Qualitative research
Strengths More objective: Quantitative data can be explained by statistical analysis. As statistics are based on mathematical principles, quantitative method is considered scientific and reasonable. It is suitable to test hypotheses. Deeper understanding: The interviewer plays an important role in helping us understand the issues that quantitative research can overlook. Qualitative research helps clarify the factors which affect behavior and attitudes of research subjects. The interviewer can also explain the question’s meaning to the interviewees, and make sure they understand the questions correctly.
More dependable and generalizable: The reliability and representativeness of the research results is high, so the results can be generalized from the sample to the population. High flexibility: As qualitative research uses unstructured research methods, the flexibility is very high.
Less time consuming for survey administration: when the questionnaire is ready, it can be sent to all respondents with one click. The data can also be collected automatically through software. Helpful for discovering useful information quickly.
Quick analysis: Analysis software helps process large amounts of data quickly and accurately. It minimizes technical errors that may occur due to human factors in data processing. Shorter time and cost: Conducting time of a qualitative research project is usually shorter, this research is less costly than quantitative one.
Weaknesses Question misunderstanding occurs when the respondents understand the questions differently from the researcher’s intentions, hence responded according to their interpretations. For quantitative research, most interviewers are unable to intervene, explain, or clarify questions to respondents. Limitations on the reliability of research results: Because of issues related to costs and time, qualitative research cannot have a large number of samples. Thus, the results of qualitative research are very subjective. The interviewer can also impact the interviewee’s responses by his/her personal point of view.
Contextual errors may affect the survey content: Quantitative research assumes that human behavior and attitudes do not change according to the context. However, respondent’s answers can possibly vary depending on different contexts. Time consuming for interview: The time required to collect and analyze data for a qualitative study is quite long. The average time for a qualitative survey is usually around 30 minutes. This can make respondents uncomfortable and depressed.
More expensive: Because of the need to generalize for a large sample, the cost of conducting a quantitative study is often very high, much higher than that of qualitative research. Less generalizable: Due to the subjectivity, the generalization of a qualitative research results to the whole population is limited.

 

These methods have their own strengths and weaknesses. You should consider different factors before choosing a suitable one for your case. Also, the combination of the methods can be a good way to have a complete research project.

SynoAnswers Research Services

Syno International provides consumer data as a service to help data-driven organizations make better business decisions​. We do this by bringing many different types of data together in one place, making it easy to see the bigger picture.

For example, one of our tools, SynoAnswers, is a cost-effective quantitative research method. It works by aggregating questionnaires from multiple customers in one run. Answers are collecting from 1,000 respondents (18-80 years old) in the selected country. The schedule can be flexible to customer’s demand.

The data collected from this kind of survey can help you see trends in society, understand product categories, product usage, brand awareness, brand image, as well as concept test and creative ideas.

If you are interested in quantitative survey with limited time and resources, the SynoAnswers is the best choice for you. On the other hand, if you’d like to combine both quantitative and qualitative research methods, we can do that too. We offer a range of packages that are designed by our expert, in-house researchers. Do not hesitate to contact us as we are always ready to support you, no matter your data needs.

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