Market research is commonly split into two categories: qualitative and quantitative. The aim of
qualitative market research is to understand opinions, motivations, nuances in behavior, and
factors that influence purchasing decisions. Qualitative research is more granular and is often
carried out in small focus groups of thoughtfully recruited participants; comprehensive,
individual interviews; and mobile ethnographies. Quantitative research, on the other hand,
provides researchers an aerial view of patterns and trends and is managed through surveys and
other inputs that can detect patterns from a lot of data. Put simply, quantitative research measures
“how many” and qualitative research measures “how”. Both are valuable to businesses for
marketing and strategic planning, but they are not interchangeable.
Before selecting a market research company, you’ll want to ensure that it is experienced with
carrying out qualitative AND quantitative research, and can explain what can be discovered from
each of the methodologies. Let’s take a look at some of the insights you can expect from each of
Characteristics of Qualitative Market Research
Some of the main components of qualitative research include:
Qualitative research focuses on the individual and is subjective. Discoveries such as
motivations and opinions are analyzed and if patterns emerge within a population, these
are highlighted in the research.
Smaller sample sizes. Often the researcher will focus on a subset that is critical to the
core business question, or representative of the population as a whole.
Generally, a more relaxed interaction between the market researcher and research
participants exists. Questions are asked in a conversational format and are open-ended,
prompting impromptu and imaginative responses. This more relaxed style also gives the
researcher more latitude to follow unexpected leads or discoveries.
A variety of methodologies are used in qualitative research. These may include focus
groups, in-depth interviews, and ethnographic research.
One of the objectives of qualitative research is to better grasp participants’ emotional and
intuitive impressions by going deeper than “top-of-mind” responses. Focus groups and
individual interviews are great ways to discover these impressions.
Conducting qualitative research takes a significant amount of time to properly analyze
and synthesize. Data is distilled by codifying transcripts into key insights and themes that
help facilitate finding market solutions and understanding key issues.
Characteristics of quantitative market research
Some of the defining characteristics of quantitative research include:
Quantitative research deals with large sample sizes. To make manageable, these large
data sets are divided into such subgroups as age, geography, and job type.
Pre-developed questionnaires are commonly used to gather data. Respondents within a
subgroup are asked the same questions.
Questionnaire responses are aggregated so that individual responses are collated for use,
and participants are not privy to others’ answers.
Large sample sizes are required to detect patterns within a population and calculate
Using statistics and other numerical measurements, the collected data is then analyzed.
Quantitative results are used to benchmark against findings within the subgroup or
Both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies require careful selection of participants.
Recruiting for market research is a crucial part of the process and it’s important to work with a
company familiar and experienced in managing this important part of the research.
To learn more about how Focus Insite can help with your market research
recruiting needs, request a proposal here.