The process of conducting primary market research and collecting market research data and information can be broken down into two methods; quantitative and qualitative research. Each method involves a different process, and reveals different information. However, it has been noted by business professionals and academic experts that in order to gain a full understanding of a business environment, the market place and the consumers within it, it is wise to conduct both quantitative and qualitative market research.

Quantitative Market Research

Quantitative market research is the collection of numerical data often resulting in statistical analysis to understand trends in the data. The main characteristic of quantitative market research is that it allows for comparisons and trends in the data to be easily found and understood. It should also be noted that as a result of the standardised questions, quantitative market research is a more structured market research process and can therefore involve a larger number of respondents to participate in the research.

There are several different types of data collection in quantitative market research;

  • Mail
  • Face-to-face
  • Telephone
  • Email
  • Online / web

It is important to carry out quantitative research before starting a new business, launching a new product, or service as it gives factual figures and data that highlights target market interest and can help secure investors, as the risk of their investment is reduced as future demand is shown. It also enables managers to compile sales forecasts and revenue. These can be done through the use of target market response rates and any pricing information or preferences that are revealed by respondents during the research.

Qualitative Market Research

Qualitative market research provides reasoning for consumer actions, opinions, wants and needs; it helps the marketer to understand why a consumer has acted and purchased in a certain way. This type of market research differs from quantitative market research as it does not follow a predetermined set of questions. Instead the research sets out topic, or discussion guides, to ensure that the research aims are still met and the appropriate questions are asked to the participant. During the research, the researcher is able to explore the discussion guide in great detail allowing for long discussions to develop; revealing a vast amount of information. Further to this, qualitative market research can be difficult for researchers to obtain all information discussed during the interview. As a result of this, qualitative market research is usually recorded to ensure all information is collected for analysis.

Qualitative market research, as with quantitative market research, has several different methods;

  • Focus groups containing (6 – 8 participants)
  • Mini group discussion (4 – 5 participants)
  • Triad (3 respondents)
  • Paired (2 respondents)
  • ‘One on one’ depth interview (1 respondent)

It is important to carry out qualitative market research as it highlights target market opinion on the business idea, product or service. By understanding these views it can allow a manager to alter and adapt their idea to ensure consumer satisfaction and competitiveness within the market; the product or service is needs the customer needs and wants which will allow them to be competitive.

Which one to do first

Both quantitative and qualitative market research can be conducted first. The method to choose first is dependent on the following;

Qualitative market research should be conducted before quantitative market research if the project concept has not previously been researched. In this situation qualitative market research will enable the researcher to understand the consumer’s initial and unbiased reaction and opinions to the new concept with no external influencers such as past experience with similar products. It is important with a new concept to first understand areas of improvement, modification before moving forward towards validating the final concept through quantitative market research.

Quantitative market research should be conducted before qualitative market research if the project concept has been previously researched to some extent and some initial information from previous research has been absorbed. By conducting quantitative market research first, it allows a start-up or entrepreneur to understand the current feasibility of a project before understanding why the results read as they do. Quantitative market research highlights areas of further investigation before exploring the reasons through qualitative market research.  Further to this quantitative market research allows the researcher to gauge a general understanding of the market before taking the time to adapt their research into a more specific and customised survey as part of qualitative market research.