Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research: Everything You Need to Know

Anna Raventós

Quantitative Market Research: What is it?

Choosing the most appropriate market research methodology is essential to obtaining the insights needed for decision-making. One of the first questions to consider after determining the study objective is whether it is better to opt for quantitative vs. qualitative research. Depending on the objectives we want to cover in the study, it will be better to opt for a quantitative market study, a qualitative study, or even a combination of both methodologies. 

usage and attitude research guide

Quantitative research focuses on data collection and analysis. After defining the research objective, hypotheses are formulated about the topic, and a methodology is developed to test those hypotheses. Typically, surveys are used and shared with a representative sample of the population under study, or behavioral data are collected. The information captured is measurable and results in statistical data that allow the quantification of behaviors and attitudes of target audiences.

The benefits of quantitative research

  • Efficiency
  • The ability to test hypotheses
  • Generalize results to broader population groups
  • Anticipate possible future trends

When to choose quantitative market research?

Quantitative research is an excellent method when you want to make decisions based on objective figures. An example of a quantitative study could be a concept test to select, among several options, which would be better accepted by the public. Using a quantitative methodology, the concepts could be ranked according to their expected success to help the brand identify the winner. Another example would be an advertising pre-test to find out if a certain ad will be effective in meeting the objectives of the campaign. In this case, the results could be compared with other similar studies conducted in the past. If the metrics are similar to other successful campaigns, the brand could launch the creative with a high degree of confidence.

quantitative market research

There are many other applications of quantitative research. Some examples would be measuring customer satisfaction, quantifying market opportunities, or determining the size of potential segments, among many other applications. 

In opting for quantitative research, the main criterion to consider is whether we need numerical data to make an informed decision. If the answer is yes, it would be interesting to consider this option to meet the research objectives.

Qualitative Market Research: What is it?

Qualitative research collects non-numerical information. In a recent study published, the methodology is described as “Qualitative research at its core, ask open-ended questions whose answers are not easily put into numbers such as ‘how’ and ‘why’.”

In the field of market research, the most commonly used qualitative research techniques are in-depth interviews and focus groups, in which a group of people with specific characteristics are gathered to find out their opinion on certain products and services. On other occasions, ethnographic studies are used to facilitate the understanding of reality through direct observation of the object of study in its natural and everyday context. 

A fundamental characteristic of qualitative research is that the information collected is not in the form of data, and requires interpretation by experts who finally make an evaluation and reach conclusions.

When to choose a qualitative market methodology?

Qualitative research is an optimal methodology to understand reality in depth. In many cases, companies need a baseline knowledge of a market or the habits or motivations of a population group before starting to formulate hypotheses. Qualitative research allows the development of individual or group conversations in order to obtain this basic knowledge.

Examples of qualitative market research might be habit and attitude studies (U&A surveys) to understand in rich detail how consumers interact with a particular category of products and services and why. Other qualitative market research may focus on the analysis of brand perceptions to learn how consumers choose brands in a category, at what times, and why. Qualitative research is also a great option for uncovering emerging market trends.

qualitative market research

Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research: Which is better?

Both market research methodologies are suitable for obtaining valuable information for decision-making. Quantitative research will describe a situation with verifiable figures, while qualitative research will explain the reasons behind that situation in great detail. The choice of one or the other — or even a combination of both — depends on the needs to be met at any given time.

Quantitative research is widely used in a majority of market research studies, as demonstrated in the sector studies published by ESOMAR. However, in many cases, qualitative research is combined with quantitative research to obtain even better results:

  • Exploratory research: When some brands do not know a market well, they often conduct qualitative research to better understand it and formulate initial hypotheses. In the second phase, quantitative research provides the data needed to validate or reject these hypotheses. Read some success stories about this research method.
  • Complementary or “deep dive” research: On other occasions, a brand has been able to identify behaviors or attitudes through a quantitative questionnaire that it does not fully understand and decides to conduct a qualitative study to learn more about them before making decisions.

How to collect qualitative information through a questionnaire?

In addition to all the power of quantitative surveys, the Zinklar platform allows you to collect qualitative information through questions specifically designed to provide an in-depth understanding of consumers.

  • Open-ended questions: Consumers do not choose among several pre-defined options but type text freely to answer the question. Zinklar incorporates artificial intelligence mechanisms to create word clouds that allow you to quickly see which topics receive the most attention in consumer responses. Manual analysis can also be interesting to get an even deeper understanding.
  • Video responses: Sometimes, it can be interesting to ask for video responses, in which consumers themselves explain their views or demonstrate how they use certain products in their own environment. Video responses have the advantage of gathering more contextual information to understand the consumer even better.
  • Heat maps: The newest addition to the battery of questions available on the Zinklar platform allows you to understand which points in an image receive the most attention or interest from consumers. This is ideal for evaluating packs or graphic campaigns.


Explore all the options Zinklar offers you to collect quantitative and qualitative information with our survey platform.

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