Qualitative vs. Quantitative market research: Which is best?

In this video we’ll explain and compare the two main types of market research: quantitative and qualitative research, the benefits of each, and when you should be using them.

What is quantitative research in a nutshell?

Quantitative research – sometimes called quant – involves surveying large numbers of people, usually hundreds or thousands, resulting in lots of responses to the same set of questions. 

This research is usually conducted online, and sometimes over the phone or in people’s homes. 

Why should you do quantitative research?

The numerical nature of quantitative research can make results clearer and easier to interpret. 

You can get representative results from a much larger group of people, and you can dissect the data far more easily to show trends among different consumer profile types

Data can usually be collected very quickly, because you’re mostly asking closed questions.

Quant research can help you answer questions like ‘how many’ and ‘how often’. It’s super useful when you need to quantify attitudes, behaviours and needs to be able to see the bigger picture.  

How does qualitative research compare?

Qualitative research – this is sometimes called qual – is where you get more in-depth, freeform answers from respondents. 

It’s often conducted as more of a discussion, with an interviewer asking questions to a much smaller pool of people, usually in the form of focus groups or one-on-one interviews.

Why should you use qualitative research?

While the data you get from quant research allows you to measure behaviours – the what – qual research can add context by giving you reasons behind those behaviours – the why

In qualitative research you’ll use a lot of open questions, such as ‘what is important to you…’ or ‘why do you feel this way?’

Quant research can provide some answers to the ‘why’ questions, but Qual allows you to capture the language and imagery customers use in their own words to describe and relate to products and services.

So which is best?

Both qual and quant research are really valuable for businesses. It’s ideal for you to do both to get a full understanding of what your customers want. 

Good qual research can bolster quant research by providing a more in-depth understanding of your customers’ psyches and behaviours; and quant research can assure you that insights from smaller groups still hold true at scale.

For example, you can use qualitative research for developing concepts and theories, and quantitative for testing pre-existing ones. 

Sometimes qual research can highlight a new problem, and quant can be used to solve it. 

Or quant research showcases your future direction, and qual can be used to sense check this.

Ultimately, both quantitative and qualitative research complement each other and can be used to paint a comprehensive picture of your market and brand. 

Get the full lowdown on qual vs. quant

Read our complete guide to qualitative vs. quantitative research and how to use each for better business outcomes

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Marcus Evans

Senior Content Marketing Manager 

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