Marketing Research Company

 |  Main |  Site Map |  Marketing Research Methods |  Market Research FAQ |  Success Stories |  Marketing Strategy Consulting  | 
 |  Marketing Strategy Blog |  Engagements |  Branding Research |  Resources |  Tutorials |  News  | 


CTA-box-whitepapers-avail
Questions & Answers about Market Research | FAQ Table of Contents |

Qualitative Marketing Research versus Quantitiative Methods and Tools

QuestionAnswer
What are the various methods of qualitative and quantitative market research? Which is best?

whitepaper-download-selecting-market-re
Whether a focus market research group study or online survey or other method, all market research survey methods are either qualitative or quantitative market surveys. Market research survey methods are of two types. Understanding their distinction is vital to planning a successful marketing research study. Online surveys, phone surveys, focus groups, survey panels, depth interviews, and ethnographic studies all fall within one of these two types.
Type 1: Qualitative Market Research 

Qualitative market research means "quality."  Conversely, and importantly, it does not mean "quantity."  Qualitative research methods are designed to talk to a relatively few people in the target audience of interest.  The purpose of qualitative research is to plumb the depths and range of buyer attitudes and beliefs, not to measure incidence, project, or forecast quantity.

Popular qualitative market research methods include focus group studies, depth interviews triads (one interviewer, two respondents, and dyads (one interviewer, one respondent,) and observational techniques such as ethnography and, popular in marketing research, photo ethnography. See a more detailed discussion on focus groups in this FAQ.

We include qualitative market research methods as a "market survey" method because they offer a way to measure the market, again, in terms of depth and range of buyer perceptions and needs rather than quantity.  Often market researchers and clients succumb to the temptation to inappropriately impute quantitative implications and projections based on this type of market survey.

The level of professional quality and validity of results in Type 1 market surveys is driven by the design, interviewing experience of the moderator or principal interviewer, and the interpretation of results by the market research consultant or marketing analyst.

Type 2: Quantitative Market Research 

Quantitative market research methods attempt to gauge quantity.  Using a range of sampling strategies, quantitative market research methods seek to project results of a quantitative market survey to the entire marketplace.  Popular quantitative market survey methods include online surveys, personal quantitative interviews, mail surveys, and telephone surveys. Combinations of these marketing research survey tools are referred to as "hybrid" research methods At Power Decisions Group, we recommend the data collection technique -- phone, face to face interviews, web interviews, traditional mail surveys-- according to the marketing research objective, time requirements, and quality control issues at play.

Market Survey Types
Type 
Description
Strengths
Weaknesses
Type 1: Qualitative Market Survey Types
Focus Groups

Groups of 6 to 12 people

Traditionally, in live group setting with moderator

Online groups conducted via internet

Phone conference w/ web or video 

Moderator must know how to engage in non-directive questioning. (If moderator is merely to pepper people with structured questions, do a quant survey instead.)

Group interaction can stimulate unplanned reactions.

New ideas spawned

Group-think can occur.

Individuals have little time to speak individually; participants may hide or be passive.

Often an artificial  "performance mentality" as clients view behind one-way mirror.

 

Depth Interviews
(with or without projective techniques)

Long, in-depth interviews using open-ended questioning.

Usually one-on-one, however dyads and triads may be used.

A non-directive approach often useful to explore how respondent thinks about category. 

Traditionally, in live group setting with moderator

Online groups conducted via internet

Phone conference w/ web or video 

Group interaction can stimulate unplanned reactions.

New ideas spawned

Group-think can occur.

Individuals have little time to speak individually; participants may hide or be passive.

Often an artificial  "performance mentality" as clients view behind one-way mirror.

 

Photo-ethnography

Observational method; "watching" rather than "asking"

Participants interact with product or solutions to need

Participant take video of relevant situations under study, e.g. their pet, their car, etc.

Diary kept, & report behavior and attitudes to interviewer

 

Watching user behavior can reveal good insights about their attitudes.

Participants get highly involved in study.

Unforeseen relationships may be discovered

Somewhat forced environment as people may modify behavior

 

Type 2: Quantitative Market Survey Types
Telephone Surveys

Random probability samples can be generated from firms such as Survey Sampling, Inc. (SSI)

Best for mostly close-end questioning, when dimensions and ranges of issues are known.

Success depends highly on filtering sample to those consumer or business users who find topic or category relevant.

10-12 average interview length is maximum target unless highly specialized population or incentives paid.


Optimum use is for top-of-mind awareness, branding and brand comparisons, and perception studies.

Response rate is critical, especially with growing privacy issues and phone screening among consumers and business executives alike.

Low relative cost 

Generally, fast implementation.

Skilled interviewer can extract more information than a self-administered method (mail, online)

Critical to monitor response rate to ensure sample is representative of target sampling frame.

Personal Interviews
and
Central Location Interviews

 

Random probability sample -OR- convenience sample, depending upon design.  (Central location usually use a convenience sample, i.e. mall traffic)

Used where a face-to-face environment is desired.

In B2B research, personal interviews may be done by appointment where interviewer goes to respondent's office.

Some special consumer studies may be done in-home by appointment.

Often respondents are recruited to come to a central location, or recruited from mall traffic to a nearby office to conduct interview.

Used for complicated or sensitive issues, B2B environments, or where extensive physical or visual display requirements exist along with need for specialized interviewing skills (depth probing, time for evaluation and reaction.)

High cost. 

Can provide good hybrid method combining features of qualitative and quantitative research by asking quant-type questions first, followed by in-depth probing questions and projective techniques.

Skilled interviewer can extract more information than a self-administered method (mail, online)

Online survey
(Web Survey)

Can employ true random probability sampling

Complicated survey questionnaire formats can be used. For example, piping, rating, rankings, constant sum questions, etc.

Easy to display visual information previously available only in a face-to-face interview format. (advertising copy, concept statements, projective stimuli, etc.)

Allows deployment of complicated respondent tasks. (card sorts, conjoint ratings, etc.)


Low relative cost 

Generally, fast implementation.

Sampling control is critical.

Large pre-recruited panels allow quick access to willing respondents, although sampling validity must be carefully assessed.

 

Hybrid Survey Methods
 

Hybrid methods combine two or more techniques to optimize response or measurement validity. 

Examples:

>Mail or phone invitation to an online survey.

>Online survey with phone follow-up to permit depth probing of key market research questions by expert interviewer.

>Quantitative survey from which participants are selected based on their answers for a follow-up qualitative phase (focus group, depth)

>Panel recruited from a one-time quantitative survey. (see Panel Research FAQ)

Higher cost  

More time required for implementation.

Enhances quality through higher response rates, and better response quality or validity.

 


Please contact us with your questions about the methods, use, and application of marketing research to strategy and marketing decisions.

�Copyright 2016. Power Decisions Group *

 

Tools & Techniques
focus groups |  market research panels |  executive surveys |  qualitative methods |  ethnography |  data mining
market surveys |  online surveys |  motivational research |  competitive intelligence |  idea generation
Situations, Applications & Uses
branding  |  pricing  |  product research |  customer satisfaction  |  web site evaluation  |  market segmentation
 | Print this page. |