What Is Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research?
When a client asks for our help with a challenge or an opportunity, we need to determine what approach to take. What are our options? How do we know which to use? The short answer is, we use a range of options but most fall within the broader methodologies of Qualitative and Quantitative research, and determining which to use depends on the objectives of the study and what we are trying to learn.
A Qualitative study is used when we want a deeper exploration into consumers’ mindsets. Some typical uses include the need to test a new messaging strategy, or explore a new product or concept while it is still in its developmental stages to ensure the target market will respond well to it before it is implemented. Other times clients have a wide range of ideas and want to narrow down the options before choosing which to launch. Another use would be to understand the relevant differences in audience segments. Qualitative techniques allow us to understand the target markets’ attitudes about a category, drivers of decision-making and reactions to specific concepts and ideas, and the reasoning behind their thinking.
Two qualitative techniques often used by Plan-it are Focus Groups of varying sizes and In-Depth Interviews. Both allow us to obtain a real world response to what our customers’ clients and prospects are thinking in an exploratory way. In a case where participants are reacting to concepts, they can also provide feedback on any improvements that would increase interest in the idea being tested. Understanding the viability of a messaging strategy or a new product/concept is extremely important to ensure a successful launch.
A Quantitative study helps confirm our learning in a statistically reliable way. Quantitative techniques allow us to use statistical techniques to support a decision, including optimal choices in product/service/messaging or target audiences. These techniques can also help us identify the approximate size of and evaluate mindset differences between specific market segments and other subgroups. To obtain this information, we often use surveys to create reliable data that can be used as supporting evidence to make more informed decisions in the future. Surveys are often online but can also be conducted by telephone or mail.
Many of the studies we conduct require a combination of Qualitative and Quantitative techniques to make the most informed and strategic recommendations possible. Qualitative helps understand mindsets and attitudes with no preconceived ideas while the Quantitative helps confirm the learning. We also sometimes use Quasi- Qualitative/Quantitative studies when a total audience size is smaller and we can do a larger number of in-depth interviews using exploratory probing in combination with some survey type measures. Ultimately, Qualitative and Quantitative approaches are both essential practices in successful market research studies.
Contact us today to learn more about how our Quantitative vs Qualitative experience and approach can help your business succeed.