Study Notes

Marketing Research - Quantitative and Qualitative

A-Level, IB, BTEC National
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 7 Aug 2019

A useful way of categorising market research is to make a distinction between research that is based on hard data, and research that is based on views and opinions. This is what we mean by quantitative & qualitative research.


What is quantitative research?

  • Concerned with and based on data
  • Addresses research questions such as “how many?” “how often”, “who?”, “when?” and “where?”
  • Based on larger samples and is, therefore, more statistically valid
  • Main methods of obtaining quantitative data are the various forms of survey – i.e. telephone, postal, face-to-face and online

Advantages of quantitative research

  • Data relatively easy to analyse
  • Numerical data provides insights into relevant trends
  • Can be compared with data from other sources (e.g. competitors, history)

Drawbacks of quantitative research

  • Focuses on data rather than explaining why things happen
  • Doesn’t explain the reasons behind numerical trends
  • May lack reliability if sample size and method is not valid


What is qualitative research?

  • Based on opinions, attitudes, beliefs and intentions
  • Answers research questions such as “Why”? “Would? or “How?”
  • Aims to understand why customers behave in a certain way or how they may respond to a new product or service
  • Focus groups and interviews are common methods used to collect qualitative data

Advantages of qualitative research

  • Essential for important new product development and launches
  • Focused on understanding customer needs, wants, expectations = very useful insights for a business
  • Can highlight issues that need addressing – e.g. why customers don’t buy
  • Effective way of testing elements of the marketing mix – e.g. new branding, promotional campaigns

Drawbacks of qualitative research

  • Expensive to collect and analyse – requires specialist research skills
  • Based around opinions – always a risk that sample is not representative

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