Difference Between Qualitative and Quantitative Market Research

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Market research comes in many shapes and sizes.

The most popular way to compare and contrast different methodologies is by explaining the difference between qualitative and quantitative market research

There are a few key differences between these two approaches in the industry. Ultimately, the direction you choose should be guided by your objectives and goals. 

Each type offers its own unique set of pros and cons. It often helps to receive advice from a professional market research company when scoping out your project.

How would you conduct these different types of market research effectively? 

We’ll discuss the key concepts of each method, and how to know what works for you. Both options yield actionable insights, especially when you’re working with a third-party research company

Keep on reading to understand qualitative and quantitative market research examples, results, and the overall concept.

Qualitative Market Research

Qualitative market research aims to explore.

The methodologies used for qualitative research focus on diving deep, asking why, and exploring mindsets with great detail.

The methodologies focus on obtaining smaller sample sizes so more time can be spent with each individual respondent. This includes 90-minute focus groups or 30-minute 1-on-1 interviews.

Common Types of Qualitative Research

Focus Groups

Focus groups are one of, if not the most common form of qualitative market research.

These involve a small group of about 4 to 12 participants and a moderator. The moderator poses questions to the group and listens to the dialogue.

Throughout the group, participants are often asked to complete activities to further engage in discussion and extract insights.

focus group facility

In-depth Interviews (IDIs)

In-depth interviews or IDIs are another type of qualitative market research.

These are 1-on-1 discussions between a participant and a moderator either in-person, over the phone, or through a screen share online. These conversations are more intimate and there is no group bias interjected.

💡 The Key Takeaway: Exploratory in nature, qualitative research priorities in-depth respondent research. Such methods as focus groups and IDIs allow for detailed insight to be obtained. 

Quantitative Market Research

Quantitative market research aims to measure.

The common forms of quantitative research focus on benchmarking, quantifiable statistics, and measurement.

The methodologies here focus on obtaining larger sample sizes so although time spent with each participant is less, obtaining a larger pool of respondents allows for a higher degree of statistical reliability.

Additionally, margins of error are often applied to quantitative studies using a 95% confidence level.

A total of 100 responses will obtain a +/- 10% margin of error whereas 400 responses will obtain a +/- 5% margin of error.

Need a margin of error calculator? Here you go.

Common Types of Quantitative Research

The most common type of quantitative research is likely online surveys.

Surveys aim to collect a large amount of feedback from respondents. Whereas with qualitative research, you can go deeper, with quantitative you are forced to be broader.

The idea is to collect statistically reliable feedback, not in-depth feedback. Although some of the best quantitative studies can do both.

💡 The Key Takeaway: Big sample sizes and measurements are at the core of quantitative research. This allows for a high degree of statistical reliability while promoting clear data. 

Choosing the Right Methodology

When it comes to choosing qualitative and quantitative market research for your next project, there are a few key things to consider. 

Think of it this way–what kind of data do you want to obtain from your research? Are you looking for widespread feedback or more detailed, in-depth feedback? Neither option is wrong, it just depends on what you need. 

Spend some time researching qualitative and quantitative market research examples, so you make the proper decision. 

Here are some tips for choosing the proper method: 

  • Research: Take time really planning out what kind of information you want your project to yield. 
  • Have an understanding of both research methods: When you understand both qualitative and quantitative research, you’ll be able to easily choose a route. 
  • Be aware of the collection methods use: Both qualitative and quantitative methods rely on different forms of data collection. As we discussed earlier, qualitative research relies heavily on one-on-one interviews, whereas quantitative research relies on surveying. 

Simply taking the time to study each method can make your decision that much easier. 

There is also no rule that says you have to choose. Consider conducting a hybrid market research study that provides both exploratory feedback and measurable data.

💡 The Key Takeaway: The choice of one of the other is achieved by simply asking yourself: "Do I want to measure, explore, or do both?" If you want to measure lean quantitative. If you want to explore lean qualitative. If you want to do both, pursue both types.

Choosing a Market Research Company

You’ll also want to carefully consider what third-party research team to partner with. This decision is as important as which method you choose! 

Consider these questions when making your decision: 

  • Do they specialize in multiple industries? 
  • Do they customize their projects for each case? 
  • Is there a reliable project manager? 
  • Do they have a good track record?

Asking yourself these questions while on the hunt for your perfect team is essential! 

You know you’ve found a solid team when they meet these criteria. Specializing in multiple fields translates to a good experience. Take it as a warning sign if you’re looking at a team with little variation in fields. 

Additionally, you’ll want to work with a third-party team that is able to simply customize the research to your specific needs. 

Knowing that your third-party team also has a reliable project manager to work with you is key. This will make communication about goals a whole lot easier. 

Lastly, a team with a track record of successful projects is the biggest sign that you’re partners with the right firm. 

Taking a deep look at online reviews can be a huge help for this step. For instance, it was found that up to 94% of consumers will stay away from a product or service that is poorly reviewed or rated. Keep that in mind during your search! 

Just as there are countless methodologies to choose from in market research, the same can be said of marketing research companies. Watch this video before making your selection.

💡 The Key Takeaway: Qualitative and quantitative market research have their distinct differences but are equally useful–depending on your needs. Partnering with a quality third-party team will help you make the choice.

Contact Our Full-Service Market Research Company

Whether you want to conduct qualitative or quantitative research, Drive Research can help.

We are a full-service market research company that partners with a variety of brands across the country. Our team of skilled research pros has the in-depth knowledge and industry experience to develop a strong study, crafted to your specific needs. 

Interested in our market research services? Talk to us via any of the ways below.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

Author Bio George Kuhn

George Kuhn

George is the Owner & President of Drive Research. He has consulted for hundreds of regional, national, and global organizations over the past 15 years. He is a CX-certified VoC professional with a focus on innovation and new product management.

Learn more about George, here.

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