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Market Research: Qualitative vs Quantitative

April 29, 2011

As we continue our discussion regarding market research, the preference for qualitative or quantitative becomes a concern for many public relations and advertising firms. While at Quaintise we feel it’s critical to employ both market research techniques, let’s just take a moment to quickly define what qualitative and quantitative methods entail.


Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is based on human behavior and the reasons behind an individual’s choices and feelings. Simplistically, qualitative research is harder to classify and catalog into perfect charts and graphs, however it in imperative to an overall understanding of how the target audience understands your brand message. Qualitative research is based on non-numerical data, so while it’s important to understanding how an audience receives your brand message, it is difficult for many researchers to pigeonhole.

For example, qualitative research would be sentiment analysis. In sentiment analysis, the moods and feelings of your brand are analyzed, and then classified with color charts or mood graphs and maps.


The issue with qualitative analysis becomes bias, as we talked about earlier. “This is because in qualitative research the possibility of the researcher taking a 'neutral' or transcendental position is seen as more problematic in practical and/or philosophical terms. Hence qualitative researchers are often exhorted to reflect on their role in the research process and make this clear in the analysis.”


Quantitative Research

Quantitative research is more systematic, empirical, and categorical. Numbers people, who more often than not tend to be market researchers, prefer quantitative research and quantitative research alone. While quantitative research is a fundamental step to market research, without qualitative research you are missing an enormous opportunity to truly understand your audience.


The objective of quantitative research is to gather enough information to employ mathematical models, strategic market graphs, and hypotheses regarding future marketing plans. It’s based on statistics, an array of numbers gathered from points on surveys or percentages on polls that can be seamlessly applied to graphs and charts.


When considering qualitative vs quantitative market research, consider the benefits from both. While quantitative research is a mathematician’s ideal strategy, qualitative research allows for more flexibility, opportunity, and understanding of the target audience.