What is the difference between ‘Quantitative’ and ‘Qualitative’ research?

Paul Stallard - Thursday April 25th 2019

We work with a variety of PR and communications professionals and pride ourselves on trying to share knowledge rather than just confuse with science. As a result we have compiled a list of all the questions we have been asked by clients relating to market research and PR surveys and will be providing clear and simple explanations of them over the coming months. If you have any specific questions please feel free to fire them over to us at [email protected] and mark the subject line ‘blog question’.

To get us started, we are looking at the difference between quantitative and qualitative research.

Quantitative and Qualitative research are both forms of market analysis that help an organisation find out information that they need, but at different depths. Quantitative research focuses more on statistics and will tend to include less detailed answers in substitution for large volumes of responses. Qualitative research takes the form of a detailed and more in-depth survey, in order to maximise the information from a smaller or niche audience.

If for example you are a tech provider looking to interview IT CEO’s around the UK about their thoughts on a topic, you will have a limited number of participants and therefore will want to ask deeper questions into the topic as they have a wide understanding of the topic… this is qualitative research.

If however, you simply want to find out the general public’s thoughts on Brexit, you have a large sample and therefore can ask simple questions. This research can help gain key insight without an interview process and will carry strength when communicating results with journalists, industry professionals or decision makers. This is quantitative research.

Both methods can be equally effective depending on your needs, so classifying what your objectives are and what you would like to get out of the research is crucial before making any decision.

“Quantitative research focuses more on statistics and will tend to include less detailed answers in substitution for large volumes of responses. Qualitative research takes the form of a detailed and more in-depth survey.”

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