What Differences Are There Between Quantitative And Qualitative Studies?

The task of understanding people through their purchasing decisions is very complex. Human beings possess a complexity that both fascinates and challenges researchers who dare to delve into our behavior. Within Market Research there are two major approaches to fulfill this mission: the quantitative and qualitative ones.

In other entries in this blog we have expanded some data and information on this topic. Now we want to point out some differences between both approaches. We do not want them to be taken as irreconcilable oppositions between one point of view and another. Moreover, both methodologies can be applied in the same project, but taking into account and objectively the scope of each one. For this reason we list four distinctive aspects of the execution of quantitative and qualitative studies.

  • Sample size. To develop qualitative research, a large number of participants must be considered, since the aim is to interview a portion of the population that is representative of it. For this reason, it is common to work with samples of hundreds of participants in this type of project. In contrast, qualitative studies pursue much smaller samples that are on the order of a few participants. The latter is done in order to collect contrasting information between members of the same universe.
  • Duration of questionnaires. When carrying out a qualitative study, the time for conducting an interview should be short. The participants who answer our questions are usually approached on public roads, at their homes or by means of a phone call, so they have a few minutes to collaborate. On the other hand, when talking about qualitative projects we can have more time since the sessions of this focus seek more depth and therefore are developed in more comfortable places; Let’s think of focus groups and in-depth interviews as an example.
  • Analyst specialty. Although there are no limitations to this, marketers will usually focus on only one type of study. It is common to see that quantitative researchers focus more on sample design, statistical calculations, and supervision to achieve their objectives. Qualitative type analysts are more prone to close and direct contact with participants, to have medium or deep knowledge of the topics to be studied and to analyze messages from non-verbal codes.
  • Purpose. On many occasions, quantitative studies have the goal of feeding databases to interpret a phenomenon among consumers. Open questions are not usually widely used in this type of research since the quantitative phase tends to seek to confirm or refute some previously observed assumptions. The qualitative approach, in turn, pursues information, perceptions, emotions and experiences of consumers that are difficult or impossible to address by other means, either because in other contexts people do not express this or it is difficult for them to verbalize it without the help of a moderator.

Given the objectives of a study, one approach or another will be used. As we anticipated, there will be more than one occasion where a mixture of both is implemented as long as their own characteristics are respected. A hammer is useful for hammering and not so much for sawing. For this reason, the collaboration of experts in the field will always be welcome to help us determine which of the two paths is most suitable for each project.

At Acertiva we have almost twenty years of experience developing market studies in Latin America. Do you have a project on the horizon? Write us today so that you can tell us about your needs and we can tell you how we can be your potential allies in our region.

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