The major objective of any type of research, be it customer, product, pricing or market research, is to obtain a deep understanding of something which is very critical to the business. It is equally important to choose the right research methodology to convert this systematic observation to an understanding of a topic. The research methodology influences the questions to be asked, the analysis used, the inferences made, and the goal of the research. Thus, generally the design of any market research starts with finalizing the research methodology along with the research objective. In this edition of the blog series, we will examine when to use a qualitative approach and when to use a quantitative approach to solve your business challenges.
Both these research methodologies provide valuable insight for brands who want to better understand their customers and markets. Understanding the difference between the two types and the types of insight they potentially offer can help in organizing the research better.
- The Qualitative Research methodology “Explores”
Keith Punch, an Australian Social Research expert define Qualitative research as “empirical research where the data are not in the form of numbers”.
Brands want to understand what customers or prospects think & feel about their product or service, how the branding, design & packaging are impacting the customers’ buying intention, etc. Customers have various reasons for decision making and qualitative research is about exploring the “why” of the thinking process. This research methodology is about getting customers to expand on their answers so that brands can get more insight into their attitudes and behaviour. It focuses on getting underneath people’s responses to find out what is driving their decisions.
The qualitative market research does not follow a predetermined set of questions. Yet, instead, are conducted using discussion guides. This helps the researcher go in detail to understand the “whys” of customer thinking without having the constraints of a pre-defined questionnaire. Ultimately, it helps the marketer to understand why a consumer has acted and purchased in a certain way.
Let us imagine that a company wants to introduce a new blood pressure monitoring device. This concept is new to the market and the market has no previous experience with anything similar. Before launching the product in the market, it is important to go deeper into understanding insights into customer motivation, reactions, and emotions about this device. The ideal way to go about this case is a qualitative research which helps the researcher to get inside the customer’s mind to explore different views, attitudes, customers’ interests, needs, and habits.
Some of the ways to conduct qualitative market research to discover the target market’s opinion on the business idea, product or service are the following;
- Focus Group Discussion with 6-8 participants (FGDs)
- One on One in-depth interviews (IDIs)
- Mini focus group discussions with 4-5 participants
- Triads (3 respondents) and paired (2 respondents) discussions.
- The Quantitative Research methodology “Confirms”
According to Earl R Babble, a social research expert, Quantitative research focuses on gathering numerical data and generalizing it across groups of people or to explain a phenomenon.
Quantitative research helps brands answer business-critical questions like the market potential for a product or service, brand & product awareness, purchase intention, buying habits, etc. It involves asking people for their opinion in a very structured way so that researchers can use statistical models to interpret the data better. Quantitative research is a more structured market research process using a predefined questionnaire and can, therefore, involve a larger number of respondents to participate in the research. And it is equally important to have a larger sample size for the surveys to have a better representation of the target market to obtain more accurate results.
In other words, quantitative market research techniques allow brands to quantify a research problem. The research problem could come from various business pain points: product satisfaction among the customer base, brand & media awareness, purchase intention, etc. Quantitative market research focuses on the “how many” and/or “how often”? It also helps brands to profile a target audience by determining what proportion of the audience has certain behaviours, behavioural intentions, attitudes, and knowledge related to a particular product or service offering.
There are several different types of data collection in quantitative market research including Face to Face surveys, Telephonic surveys, Online surveys, etc.
Comparison of the Two Market Research Methodologies
|Main Objective||Understanding the “Why”Understanding the underlying reasons and motivationsUncover prevalent trends in thought and opinion||Understanding the “how many” and/or “how often”Quantify data and generalise the results from a sample to the larger population. Hypothesis testing|
|Sample Size||Larger number of cases representing the population of interest||Small number of non-representative cases|
|Survey Tool||Fixed response options||Unstructured or semi-structured response options|
|Data Analysis||Statistical & Number based||Non-statistical text-based|
|Survey Results||More generalizable||Less generalizable|
The differences between two methodologies can be explained using the analogy of a water ‘Well’ and the water ‘Pond’.
Qualitative Research Compared to a Water Well. A well, on the outside, is small in size indicating the small sample size that are considered for Qualitative Research. Yet, a water well is deep indicating the depth of insight that are discovered during a Qualitative Research exercise.
Quantitative Research, on the other hand, can be compared to a Water Pond. On the outside, a pond is wide or larger in size in comparison with a well, indicating the larger sample size used in a Quantitative Research. The depth of a Pond is generally lesser compared to a well, indicating the limits of Quantitative Research in finding deep insights like in the case of a Qualitative Research.
Choosing the Right Research Methodology for your business
As a rule of thumb, qualitative research is conducted ahead of the quantitative research if the concept under consideration has not previously been researched. The qualitative phase will enable the researchers to understand the consumer’s initial reaction and opinion on the new concept without any previous experience bias. Further, this stage helps businesses identify the areas of improvement and expectations and deriving at a final concept that could be validated through quantitative research. Quantitative research can be conducted directly if there is some information available on the project concept from previous researches or if the target market is already aware of the concept. The hypothesis on feasibility, general customer understanding, customer usage and attitude, etc., can be validated statistically.
The entire research must be carefully designed to ensure that maximum insights are extracted. We at Adam Consulting have deep expertise in various Market Research methodologies and have guided our clients head down the correct research path for optimal business advantage. Engage us to assist you to find the right methodologies, and the right sample size for your market research efforts in the process of solving complex business problems.
Get in touch with us for more information on how we can assist you with Market Research as a tool to grow your business. We can run a diagnostic on your firm to establish what type of research you would need.