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Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods

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Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods

Qualitative and quantitative research methods are the two broad elements which make up market research. In short, quantitative research methods are often based on more numerical forms of data and qualitative research methods tend to be more discussion based. That said, the above rule is not hard and fast – qualitative focus groups can certainly involve filling in a brief questionnaire, whilst quantitative telephone interviews might have lengthy sections where respondents are encouraged to give their views in an open ended format.

Put another way, quantitative and qualitative research methods generally seek to discover different things. Quantitative research is most often aimed at finding out how many people hold a certain opinion, buy a certain product, or use a certain service for instance. Qualitative research is more focused around why they do this – seeking to discover emotional and subconscious drivers of behaviour.

The methods used to collect each type of data also differ – quantitative data is generally collated from more structured means, such as questionnaires with a defined routing system and utilising a mix of open and closed questions, whilst qualitative data is generally gathered through more semi-structured or unstructured means such as focus groups or depth interviews.

Quantitative data is often used to make general assumptions about a larger population from a representative sample size, whilst qualitative research methods are useful for providing a case study of a group to illustrate a key issue. At DJS Research, we often describe qualitative and quantitative research methods as being the flesh and the bones respectively – quantitative research provides a robust skeleton on which to make decisions whilst qualitative research adds a detailed skin of insights. Qualitative and quantitative research methods are regularly used in tandem – often with qualitative research being carried out first to provide a selection of topics or hypotheses which can then be researched with or tested on a wider population.

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