Difference Between Qualitative and Quantitative Market Research

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Market research comes in many shapes and sizes.

With most organizations having limited resources to approach research, it is more important than ever to make sure that you make the correct decision when it comes to the type of research you conduct. 

Before you dive into responses and analysis you have to answer one simple question before everything else: qualitative or quantitative?

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 of research 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.

What is Qualitative Market Research?

Qualitative market research aims to explore. It is an exploratory method that gathers non-numerical insights and understanding about consumer behaviors, motivations, and attitudes

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

Qualitative methods 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 focus 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.

Recommended Reading: Qualitative Battle - Focus Groups vs. In-Depth Interviews 

Advantages to Qualitative Market Research


Qualitative research can be a jack of all trades, as it suits any industry or subject matter that is required of it. The personalization of the research unlocks interesting insights and can bring up unexplored topics that can give your organization a greater knowledge of the topic at hand. 

Deep Insights 

Using qualitative research allows you to gain a greater understanding of consumer feelings that other research methods might not be able to provide you with. Instead of narrowing down feelings into a number, you’ll see exactly what consumers are thinking with every word providing you in-depth insights. 

Humanizing Your Data

Qualitative research allows you to place a human story behind each of your responses. Each response that’s received is a unique individual with their own story they are looking to be heard. This makes the data more relatable to stakeholders and adds an additional layer of data that cannot be found in all forms of research.

What is Quantitative Market Research?

Quantitative market research aims to measure. It is a systematic method that collects and analyzes numerical data to identify patterns, measure market phenomena, and make statistical inferences about consumer behaviors and market trends.

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.

Common Types of Quantitative Research

Online Surveys

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.

Conjoint Analysis

Conjoint analysis is a statistical technique used to measure consumer preferences for different product attributes.

Respondents are presented with sets of product profiles and asked to choose their preferred option, allowing researchers to estimate the relative importance of various product features.

Recommended Reading: Common Forms of Quantitative Market Research

Advantages to Quantitative Research


Quantitative research is usually completed in a large-scale effort. Having the possibility of multiple respondents completing your survey simultaneously provides both an advantage in terms of speed of fieldwork and cost-effectiveness of the project as a whole

Recreating the General Population

By utilizing large sample sizes, it is possible to recreate a sample that is representative of the overall target population. This allows researchers to create broad generalizations about topics like consumer behavior or general awareness of your business

Measurable Analysis

Certain variables such as brand awareness, usage, and market share can be quantified which can allow for deeper and objective analysis of your company’s interests. 

qualitative vs quantitative data

Choosing the Right Methodology

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

Ask yourself: 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.

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! 

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

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

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.

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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