In Market Research, what is the similarity between qualitative and quantitative research?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is the similarity between qualitative and quantitative research?

These are market research terms and refer to the two main strands of market research: qualitative and quantitative.

In that respect then, these two types of research are similar in that they are both used to gather information from the general public, or target groups in the general public, such as mothers, students, professionals, women, men etc.

It is easier to ask how they differ rather than how they are similar. They are both important types of market research, but differ in their nature.

Whereas quantitative research collects hard facts which either consist of numbers or yes/no/don't know responses or strength of agreement (say on a scale of 1 to 10), qualitative research tries to gain access to 'looser' personal opinions and gather information that might not occur to the researcher or the company or organisation they work for. So quantitative research asks very specific well-planned questions which don't allow for any extra input from the individuals approached, whereas qualitative research asks more general questions (eg why do you like this product?) that do allow for unpredictable and unplanned input from the individuals approached.

For example, a toilet paper retailer might ask market researchers to carry out a survey of a quantitative nature. This might involve asking a number of individual households how many rolls they buy a month on average (the answer is a number, which is a quantity) and whether they always buy the same brand (this is a yes/no response, which can be quantified as a 1 for yes and a 0 for no).

However, they could commission a survey of a qualitative nature where they might ask some broader questions. For example, they could ask what the favored color of paper is for the household and why, and the favored type and why to which the person responding to the questionnaire might say, 'I like to buy paper whose color matches my bathroom' or 'I like to buy white paper because it looks the most clean', and 'I like padded paper with aloe vera because I have sensitive skin' or 'I buy recycled paper to be kind to the planet'. These types of responses, that access answers about views on the quality/nature of the product being bought, are more useful from a certain point of view because they provide much more 'human' information, that is like a picture ("pictures paint a thousand words"). However, all those responses need to be read by somebody, and a lot of it might be nonsensical or difficult to summarise when collected over hundreds of households. Specific, quantifiable questions however are much easier to collect and analyse (a computer can do most of it). The thinking aspect is done beforehand, by the market researcher or person designing the study. With

You may be considering a customer satisfaction survey for the first time. While you may have an idea of what is important to your customers, they may have a different view. An initial piece of qualitative research could identify their needs and priorities [I like soft toilet roll because I have sensitive skin] a subsequent quantitative survey could measure how satisfied your customers are that you are meeting those needs [How satisfied are you with the softness of the toilet paper? 1 -  Very satisfied, it's very soft , 2 -  It's ok, 3 - It doesn't feel like high quality paper].  

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Quantitative Research

 Quantitative research does the following:

  • Attempts to describe phenomena numerically and answer specific hypotheses
  • Remains outside of system and keep biases to minimum
  • Test hypotheses
  • Looks at cause and effect relationships
  • Makes predictions
  • Formulates hypotheses before conducting study
  • Predicts outcome before the study begins
  • Derives hypotheses from theory and aims at providing evidence that supports, expands, or contradicts aspects of theory

Additionally, quantitative research often relies on numbers, scores, and ratings to describe and compare groups. This type of research collects data from samples of participants and uses numerical, statistical approaches to analyze data.

 Qualitative Research

 Qualitative research does the following:

  • Uses words, pictures, texts, and / or interviews to understand an individual or group
  • Develops a theoretical model
  • Fosters change through case study, action research, narrative, or ethnography
  • Provides rich narrative descriptions
  • Explores contextual factors
  • Collects data from small number participants
  • Analyzes data inductively
  • Spends time with participants in face to face interaction.

Essentially, qualitative research is often less formal and more personal research.The interpretations made are based on researcher’s own experience and background. Instead of testing hypotheses and making predictions, the researchers formulate research questions to understand and interpret social interactions.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

While the data collected through these two types of research are quite different, the data need to be handled in the same way once collected.  This is the major similarity between the two types of research.

Once data is collected using either method, the researcher must analyze it so as to draw conclusions about the research questions being asked.  In both cases, researchers must take care to analyze the data objectively.  They must not approach the data with biases already in mind.  If they do, they might misinterpret the data so as to support their preconceptions. 

These types of research are very different in many ways, but they are similar in that both need the researcher to be objective when analyzing and interpreting data.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial