Qualitative and quantitative market research approaches are designed to give you very different perspectives, even if you are using them with the same audience. Qualitative research gives you rich, detailed, and often emotionally driven insights based on the personal views of those you interview – for example, what do people feel about your product? In contrast, quantitative surveys give you a broader, full view, based on hard statistics – i.e. what % of people like or dislike your product?
Advantages of using both qualitative and quantitative research methods
Given that both qualitative and quantitative market research provides vital ingredients of the understanding you are looking for (the Why and the What), combining them should deliver significant benefits, enabling you to compare and contrast results and gain much deeper insights.
However, traditionally this hasn’t been achievable due to deeply rooted industry perceptions of the different purposes of each methodology. Firstly, qualitative and quantitative methods are often seen as providing opposing viewpoints, with the former a more open style, based on the power of human interaction, and the latter more closed and metrics-driven. This meant they were seen as requiring different skill sets and to meet different needs, leading to specialism in one or the other. This, in turn, meant gaining a combined and universal view proved to be complex and costly.
Thanks to recent advances in market research technology, in many cases these challenges can now be overcome. Here are five ways that using qualitative and quantitative research together delivers real benefits:
1. The power of online research
Previously all qualitative research had to be carried out face-to-face through focus groups. The growth of digital channels provides new and more accessible ways of gauging qualitative insights, such as through online communities or online focus groups where you can share and show information, stimulus, and materials with your audience. Well-designed online communities allow you to collect quantitative data through quick polls and surveys, from the same audience, in a unified way.
2. How to gain a holistic picture
Bringing qualitative and quantitative market research together through one, unified online platform enables you to gain a holistic picture. It means you can have a multi-stage discussion where you can validate a hypothesis, gain an understanding of it (through qualitative research) then widen your scope to get statistical data (quantitative), before testing a solution through further qualitative exploration. This creates a virtuous circle – all in the same system, and with the same audience.
3. The benefits of combining the Why and the What
You don’t need to run a multi-stage process to gain value from combining qualitative and quantitative market research. You can simply use the two methodologies together to gain deeper insight into particular questions. For example, recent research found that 83% of e-commerce shoppers add products to their online carts, but don’t then finalize the transaction, costing businesses millions in lost revenue. Rather than merely quantifying the challenge, retailers could add a qualitative dimension to find out the precise reasons as to why a shopper didn’t buy, giving a much richer, and more directly actionable, insight into consumer behavior.
4. How automation drives agility
Previously a large part of the complexity of bringing qualitative and quantitative research together was that they used different systems to collect, analyze and report results. Put very simply, budgets didn’t stretch to both so you had to choose. Technology can now provide a single platform that handles both, lowering time to results through automation and reducing cost, complexity, and resources. Qualitative research was previously very time-consuming and labor-intensive – online qualitative projects are considerably faster.
5. Connect more deeply with your audience
At a time of growing competition, brands realize that they need to build strong connections to their customers if they are to retain their loyalty. This means creating a deeper understanding based on empathy, and combining qualitative and quantitative market research enables you to build a more human, emotional connection to your audience, but also take direct action to address their needs.
When is qualitative/quantitative research used?
In the past combining qualitative and quantitative market research approaches was both difficult and costly. And while there are still some areas where face-to-face qualitative research is the only answer, more and more business challenges can benefit from bringing the two methodologies together through online platforms that deliver the What and the Why together in one place. Through this, you can uncover the full story, provide deeper insights, build a narrative around customer needs, ultimately driving better, more informed decision making.
Want to learn how you can gain the benefits of combining qualitative and quantitative market research? Find out more on our market research page.
- By Alex Osbaldeston