Choosing Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research?

Qualitative Research asks “How Come?”

Focus groups, interviews and other qualitative techniques are used for exploration of ideas, perceptions and motivations.

Discussion topics and exercises set participants at ease, stimulate thoughtful commentary and draw out candid opinions. They are best to gauge immediate reaction to concepts, elicit creative idea generation, simulate real-life decision-making scenarios, and uncover factors that motivate participants’ behaviour.

Focus groups may be best when research objectives benefit from respondents interacting with each other, expressing feelings, preparing group exercises or having physical contact with any items. They can be done in-person or on-line. Observers can witness discussions in real time and learnings can be actioned immediately.

Individual Depth Interviews may be best when it is difficult to get a group of qualified respondents together due to geography or scheduling challenges, or when issues of sensitivity or confidentiality are involved. The research may be conducted in-person, by phone or online, and interviews can be customized to gain the best understanding of each individual’s unique experience and perceptions.

Bulletin Boards, conducted online, allow group participants to work from their own location and complete exercises, report back and discuss daily research topics over several days.

Quantitative Research asks “How Many?”

Quantitative Survey approaches generate statistically precise measurements to represent entire target populations.  Most questions offer little chance for respondents to add explanation or extra commentary.

Use Quantitative research for rankings or ratings, and when you want to find out what percentage of people are, have, do or want something.

“Quali-Quant”: The Power Combo

Business decisions may call for data from multiple perspectives.

  • Qualitative exploration to inform quantitative research design – be certain you’re measuring exactly the right things.
  • Qualitive Follow-up to delve more deeply into quantitative findings – what do they really mean and how can they best be actioned?
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