Qualitative Research x Quantitative Research. What is the difference?

When the need for a market or opinion research is perceived, whatever the goal for […]

When the need for a market or opinion research is perceived, whatever the goal for the research is, the first question that needs to be made is: which type of research will be used to obtain the desired information? To answer this question, though, you need to know what kind of data will be collected. Is it simple, objective, measurable data? Or is it more specific, deeper information, like consumer opinion and feedback?

With these questions answered, it is possible to say which type of research better suits the client’s demands and goals.

Two types of research used when making market research, both offered as services by Smart, are quantitative research and qualitative research. With qualitative research the goal is to provide more specific, deepened data, which makes it a little bit more difficult to obtain and analyze it. On the other hand, quantitative research gives you numbers, or data that will become statistics for later analysis.

One of the main techniques for quantitative data collection is the making of short interviews, with clear and concise questions. In these interviews multiple choice questions are used, and they should not give the respondent any space for confusion or misinterpretation. If this happens, the respondent might give an inaccurate answer and the integrity of the research can be compromised. Another quantitative data collection technique is using questionnaires, and as every quantitative method it is quite simple: all the participants have to do is to answer it. When collected this data is transformed into numbers and statistics, which will serve as a foundation for the client to make their decision.

Because information obtained through qualitative research is more specific and will not turn into numbers, the collecting process is a little different. One of the ways to obtain this kind of information, for example, is through in-depth interviews. This sort of interview takes longer to make, because the goal is to collect information like the respondent’s opinion about a certain topic, and this can be classified as non-measurable data. The questions asked in this type of interview are open-ended, which in some way gives more freedom for the participant to express their point of view while answering.

What many people do, though, is to mix the two types of research. It is possible, for example, to collect both quantitative and qualitative data on a questionnaire. You can do it by asking multiple choice questions for the data that will later become statistics, and open-ended questions to get any comment of feedback about a product or service. You can also simply use the most adequate technique for the different phases of the research process, and change it along the way.

Each method has its pros and cons, and choosing one over the other depends on what you want to reach. This is why it is important to make strong partnerships, and to choose experienced and qualified professionals, like the Smart team. This kind of professional helps and coordinates the whole research process, with the assurance that a precise and well done job will be delivered in the end.