Market research and market reports

Difference between quantitative and qualitative research

Field research (also known as primary research) can be quantitative or qualitative:

  • quantitative research provides statistical information - for example, how many potential customers there are and what their average incomes are
  • qualitative research examines people's feelings and attitudes towards your product or service, and what motivates them

You'll probably need to carry out some of your own quantitative and qualitative field research - talking, observing or carrying out product tests with customers and potential customers. This can help you to:

  • test customers' reactions to a new product, and adapt it if necessary
  • investigate attitudes of customers and potential customers
  • find information specific to your business or a local market, rather than the market as a whole
  • find information specific to your business or a local market, rather than the market as a whole

What qualitative research?

    The research normally involves recording and transcribing the interviews or focus groups. The transcriptions can then be analysed. The researchers will look for themes that reveal the participants’ underlying views, behaviour triggers and barriers.  

    Qualitative research can be used to discover consumers’ motivations, needs, reactions to message and new products and to come up with new concepts.

    Examples of qualitative research for gathering marketing information include:

    • focus groups
    • in-depth interviews

    What is quantitative research?

      Quantitative research is statistical in nature so it is important to use a large enough sample size so your results are meaningful. The larger you sample, the more reliable your data will be.

      This type of research is useful for discovering trends relating to consumer preferences, feelings of importance and satisfaction, and patterns in behaviour and demographics. 

      Examples of quantitative field research may include:

      • questionnaires with closed questions
      • online surveys
      • telephone, on-street or postal surveys