Qualitative and Quantitative Research: Differences and Similarities
Market Researchers can use qualitative research to identify factors that affect areas which require analysis. Researchers can apply that information to conduct quantitative research that determines how these factors could change user preferences. Qualitative and quantitative research has differences and similarities that market researchers must be aware of to gain a deeper understanding of their customer base.
The quantitative market research relies on facts and statistical data rather than the feelings of consumers. This analysis provides numerical data used in statistical testing. Surveys are a popular method of collecting data and must be standardized to obtain a statistical comparison. This type of research can prove useful both regarding primary market research and secondary market research. “Additional examples of quantitative analysis include questionnaires, on-site fieldwork, existing financial reports or research papers. This type of research comes out with a wide range of statistics and helps to find out the size of the market as well” (Anastasia, 2015).
Qualitative research is a type of research method that focuses on the opinions and feelings of a customer. “Qualitative research studies can provide you with details about human behavior, emotion, and personality characteristics that quantitative studies cannot match” (Madrigal, 2012). To gain more information about a user’s life and behaviors, “researchers can use qualitative data about user behaviors, needs, desires, routines, use cases, and a variety of other information” (Madrigal, 2012). The data typically derived from this research describes the material in text form such as notes or questions and answers. To accomplish this, researchers can conduct focus groups as a way to explore the user’s behaviors and lifestyle. Conducting qualitative research requires flexibility to respond to user data as it emerges during a focus group session. “A researcher must observe and document behaviors, opinions, patterns, needs, pain points, and other types of information without yet fully understanding what data will be meaningful” (Madrigal, 2012).
Quantitative analysis tests for theories, but it can also come up with hypotheses for research areas. While qualitative research can test assumptions, it is primarily used for coming up with theories. Both of these roles are integral to analyzing data and share similarities.
Qualitative and quantitative research in business is action-oriented, meaning that the research should lead to new business policies, procedures or other actions designed to boost productivity, reduce costs or increase profits (Hall, n.d.). Qualitative data can include quantifications such as ‘more’ or ‘less’ designations whereas quantitative data such as a survey can provide qualitative data from open-ended questions.
Both research methods also involve a researcher in a qualitative manner. The researcher may be heavily involved in a qualitative method such as a focus group or minimally involved via analyzing data from an online survey. In order to tell a complete story of market demographics a good researcher will use numerical data and individual notes or opinions.
Quantitative and Qualitative Research: Importance to IMC Specialists
Quantitative and qualitative data is essential to IMC specialists’ due to the role both play in market research. “The main role of the concept of market research is to provide a company or a business organization with an in-depth view of the customers or consumers to be able to satisfy their needs better. The process of market research is integral to be able to compete with other players in the same industry and helps to analyze things like market size, competition and market needs” (Anastasia, 2015).
Understanding the consumer based on the analysis of qualitative and quantitative research aids the researchers to make informed business decisions. “Data from quantitative research—such as market size, demographics, and user preferences—provides important information for business decisions. Qualitative research provides valuable data for use in the design of a product—including data about user needs, behavior patterns, and use cases” (Madrigal, 2012).
Proctor and Gamble (P) conducted a study to determine why Febreze was not performing well. The company spent thousands of dollars to create a product to mask odors however market researchers learned that people did not detect the odors in their own homes. Hence, the term ‘nose-blind.’ “Because an unpleasant aroma was absent, there was no trigger propelling consumers to purchase the product. A new cue (or trigger) had to be introduced that would necessitate the use of Febreze” (DeVault, 2017).
To determine what this “trigger” could be, P market researchers presented their consumer insights to the advertising department. P released new ads with the idea that consumers would add a new habit, spraying Febreze, after completing their established cleaning habit. “The decision was made to alter the Febreze formula to include perfume. Once that was done, Febreze was re-positioned in the marketplace as an air freshener, signaling the end of the cleaning ritual” (DeVault, 2017).
Consumer insights and observations conducted via qualitative research was the most effective market research technique that P used in an effort to improve sales for Febreze. The website Infoscout has consumer research for Febreze from 2015. Their data provide a glimpse of what the consumer demographics for Febreze looks like which could help researchers market to this group.