There are many ways that you could define “quantitative research.” One way to define it is that quantitative research is research that makes use of large data sets in which the data is in the form of numbers. Quantitative research involves examining these numbers to help a researcher better understand a given phenomenon. Let us look at an example of quantitative research in the area of business to illustrate this proposition.

Let us imagine that your business is doing market research. You want to find out whether you are would like to locate a new store in a given town. You might want to obtain large data sets such as census data for all the people within a given radius of your proposed store. These data would be in numerical form in that they would give you numbers for things like the total population, the population of various ethnic groups, the age distribution, and the income distribution. You would already know what sorts of demographic characteristics your customers typically have and so you would use the data set to try to understand whether there are enough likely customers to warrant putting a store in the proposed place.

This is quantitative research because it involves asking questions like “how many” and it involves using numerical data to answer those questions.