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Qualitative and Quantitative Research

Qualitative Research

Qualitative research starts from the premise that to reveal more about , why people feel and act as they do towards products, services and organisations you allow people more time to talk. You might have heard about focus groups, or discussion groups. This is one technique used in qualitative research where the number of people involved is smaller, but the time spent discussing issues is up to an hour and a half. And critically, just as important as what people say is the tone in which they say it and their body language. Here's an example,

Example - a toy retailer is losing market share. It sells most of its toys through a catalogue. Here the researcher, or moderator, might gather groups of mothers (usually the buyers) and groups of young children at locations in the UK and encourage them to discuss favourite toys, their decision-making process, education v fun element, their preferred retailers, etc. We look at the catalogue and discuss the products, features, brands, prices and layout of the pages. Finally we might show some of the toys themselves.

We have worked on a similar piece where the key conclusion was that the products on the page conveyed little of the excitement felt when the toys were seen and played with. So the retailer had a clear brief to re-photograph the pages.

Quantitative Research

Quantitative Research is the more appropriate tool when you have a clear idea of the questions you want to ask people and when those questions are of the ‘what, when, how and where (but not why)' variety. Here's the fictional toy retailer again,

Example - (300 UK interviews with mothers who have children under the age of 5)

  • How often do you buy soft toys for your children?
  • And on average how much do you spend each time?
  • When was the last time you bought soft toys for your children?
  • Did you purchase it from a store or on-line and where was it bought from?

Quantitative research involves interviewing a relatively large number of people but for a short time – as short as 5 minutes and probably no longer than 15 minutes. The questionnaire can be asked outside shops, in-home, over the phone, in halls or on-line depending on the work.

Different has bags of experience of qualitative and quantitative research and will recommend the appropriate methodology in its proposal to you.

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