Qualitative and Quantitative Research - Concept
As the names suggest quantitative research produces numerical data whereas qualitative research generates non numerical data. However, this is only a superficial understanding of the terms. In the first chapter, while exploring the types of research, we had hinted that when there is uncertainty or when the problem is not clearly defined, we deploy exploratory research and use qualitative studies for it. When there is little or no ambiguity and the business problem is structured, we implement descriptive or casual research and use quantitative techniques for it. Let us take the discussion further from here.
In a nutshell, qualitative research gives us vital insights in comprehending why do consumers feel or behave in a manner they do. It helps in identifying and perceiving the underlying opinions, behaviour patterns and motivations. Qualitative research aids the formulation of hypothesis to be used for deeper exploration or quantification. In a way, it adds richness to the information gathered by quantitative research by understanding instead of measuring. To sum up, the qualitative approach helps decipher the less rational and more emotional perspective of the consumers decision making nature, i.e. how would I feel if I were in the consumers shoes?
Qualitative studies assist in the following business situations:
Qualitative research can be carried out by:
Another term associated with qualitative research and worth mentioning here are projective techniques. These are ways of extracting information from respondents that capture the emotions in consumer behaviour. Often direct questions do not bring out the hidden motivations as consumers are themselves not fully aware of their reasons and naturally are not able to express themselves fully. Direct questions may give sensible answers, but they may not necessarily be real answers. For this reason, projective techniques such as the below ones are used:
The aim of this method is to consume numerical data and present facts or uncover patterns in the study. The aftermath of quantitative research is results that are projectable because they are drawn statistically. Basically, while qualitative research is subjective, the quantitative method is more objective. Another characteristic of quantitative research is that it is drawn from a reasonably sized and carefully selected sample which is representative of the target population. The methods of choosing a proper sample are discussed in the previous chapter. Typically, a terminology of 95% confidence interval is considered good while deciding the sample sizes. This actually means that if the survey is reoccurred 100 times, 95 times the same response would be obtained.
Quantitative research is most widely used for determining cause effect relations. For example, if the marketing budget is increased by 15%, how much is the revenue expected to increase. If the strength between the dependent (revenue) and independent (marketing budget) variable is strong, the test hypothesis holds true and the company should invest more in its marketing. Thus a decisive stance can be taken from the facts presented in this research.
Data collection for quantitative studies is done by various kinds of surveys using questionnaires. The survey can be done through various mediums such as face-to-face, email, telephonic, online, etc. Designing questionnaires for a survey is a detailed topic which will be covered in the next chapter. For now, we will explore the methods for conducting a survey.
The choice of the above mediums depends on the budget, time and complexity. If budget is a constraint, mail surveys can be used. Online surveys are instant and hence should be deployed when there is a time crunch. When interaction is required, personal or telephonic surveys must be utilized.
We have seen in the sections above that in which situations the usage of quantitative research is preferable over qualitative research and vice versa. Ideally, if there are less budget constraints, we can use both types as they give variant perspectives and complement one another. Sometimes both have to be used in tandem as in case of Usage and Attitude Studies that we will see in the later chapters. Finally, a qualitative research will generate a more narrative report with a contingent account and direct quotations from the respondents. On the contrary, a quantitative research will produce a statistical report with correlations, significance, means, etc and hard facts.
- Marketing Research - Introduction
- Limitations of Marketing Research
- Focus Groups
- Depth Interview
- Case Study
Authorship/Referencing - About the Author(s)
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