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A beginner’s guide to quantitative and qualitative research

Market research serves as a compass for businesses navigating the ever-changing landscape of consumer preferences and market dynamics.  

By understanding the types of market research methods available, and the subsequent insights they provide, leaders can create effective strategies and make informed decisions across their business.  

In this blog, we delve into two primary methods of market research: quantitative and qualitative, and how businesses can utilise the valuable data they provide.  

Understanding quantitative research 

Let’s start with quantitative research, a method that focuses on numerical data and statistical analysis to identify trends, patterns, and relationships within a target market. It involves structured data collection techniques, such as surveys and polls, to gather information from a large sample size.  

Quantitative research aims to provide statistically significant findings that can be generalised to the broader population, such as 56% of the businesses in the UK are sole proprietorships, just one statistic pulled from this fascinating report by 

It offers insights into consumer behaviours, preferences, and market trends with measurable outcomes, helping businesses pivot to changes or areas of development at the right time. 

Exploring qualitative research  

Qualitative research delves deeper, with the aim of understanding the underlying motivations, attitudes, and perceptions of consumers.  

Unlike quantitative research, which focuses on numerical data, qualitative emphasises open-ended questions, observations, focus groups, and in-depth interviews to capture rich, nuanced insights. This method allows researchers to explore complex occurrences, uncover hidden trends, and gain a deeper understanding of consumer experiences. It is particularly valuable in exploring customer perceptions, refining product designs, and assessing brand perception. 

At MMC, we often tell clients that quantitative data will tell them what people think, but the qualitative can dig deeper into why they feel the way they do. 

When to Use Each Method

Quantitative and qualitative research go hand in hand, complimenting each other through the insights they uncover, as you’ll see in the overlapping points below.    

Use quantitative research for: 

  • measuring market trends 
  • assessing customer / employee satisfaction 
  • conducting market segmentation 
  • testing hypotheses with large sample sizes. 

Qualitative research is suitable for: 

  • exploring perceptions 
  • understanding behaviour and the ‘why’  
  • uncovering unmet needs 
  • generating new product ideas 
  • gaining insights into motivations. 

In the world of market research, both quantitative and qualitative methods play critical roles in informing business decisions and driving strategy. Whether seeking to quantify market trends or delve into the nuances of consumer behavioural insights, understanding the strengths and applications of each approach is essential for conducting effective research. By leveraging the complementary nature of quantitative and qualitative methods, businesses can gain deeper insights into their target market and stay ahead in today’s competitive landscape. 


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