Quantitative Results vs. Qualitative Results? Why You Need Both

Written by Nourah Mumeen.

Before you even start with market research it’s important to understand the difference between quantitative and qualitative results.

Definitions

Quantitative - This type of research is used to gather numerical data and statistics so that you can put a number with the attitudes, opinions, behaviors and other variables that you define from your sample population. This data is measurable and can be used to find patterns and formulate facts. 

To gather this type of information you’ll use surveys, face-to-face and telephonic interviews, long-term studies, polls and more.

Qualitative - This type of research is used to get an understanding of the reasons something is as it is. Not only that, you’ll want to understand your audience’s opinions and motivations for feeling how they feel, and qualitative results will do that for you. The insights you get with qualitative research will show you how your audience is thinking and feeling and what they need and want. 

To gather this type of information you may use focus groups, individual interviews as well as observation methods with small groups.

Strengths and Weaknesses 

Both types of results have strengths and weaknesses. 

Quantitative - Providing a lot of information in numerical form can sometimes provide correlations that really have no real meaning. You may end up coming to a conclusion that isn’t really accurate.

Qualitative - This type of data can identify trends that you might not see otherwise, but it's hard to place a good value on it to determine accuracy. Without being able to put numbers to this information, it can be hard to determine its true importance. 

Why You Need Both

By combining both types of data, you can fill in the blanks and prove or disprove correlation. So much matters in research results - from who conducted the research to what types of information the researcher was trying to prove or disprove. It’s clear that using both types of data will help you get more accurate results.

Each type of research data is also important in its own regard. To really know how to serve your audience, you’ll need facts and figures as well as opinions and insight to help you make the best choice. That will need to consist of both types of research results. When you combine methods you’ll get far better and more accurate results.

It’s preferable to collect both types of data and then combine them within your reports to get the best answers. A really good example is the company Coke and their push out of their product New Coke. This is known as one of the bigger marketing mistakes a company has made. They probably made this mistake because they looked at one taste test against Pepsi where more people chose Pepsi. But they forgot their target audience - those who prefer Coke. By changing the flavor based on one type of research, they missed the mark in a big way and made Coke lovers across the world mad. Don’t do that; use both types of data for the very best results.

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