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Market Research Methods

Qualitative research

Qualitative research is an in-depth exploration of what people think, feel or do and, crucially, why. It’s about getting people to talk about their opinions. So, if you really want to know what your customers (or prospective ones) think, why they behave as they do and what barriers there may be to changing that behaviour, you would use qualitative research to explore those issues.

How does qualitative research work?

Qualitative research follows a semi-structured discussion guide to ensure that all topics under consideration are covered and that the discussion stays relevant. However, our moderators use open questioning and participants are encouraged to explore the reasons for their responses. The discussion process can reveal underlying views and motivations, behavioural triggers and barriers. It can explore reactions to messages, printed material, design features and new products, test understanding of terminology, help generate new concepts and much more.

As qualitative research does not give statistically robust findings, it is often used prior to quantitative research to refine or rule out any ideas or concepts and to minimise the risk of misunderstanding e.g. of language - especially important for subsequent online surveys or postal surveys

The most commonly used qualitative approaches are focus groups and depth interviews.

The moderator will usually record the discussions and transcripts can be provided if required. Reports produced are supported by verbatim comments from the respondents.

If you have a qualitative research project, you would like to discuss then please call us on 01392 211056.

Quantitative research

Quantitative research provides a measure of how many people think, feel or behave in a certain way and uses statistical analysis to determine the results. If you want to know how many of your customers support a change in a product or service - and how strongly they support it — so that you can determine whether you have a business case for making that change, you would use quantitative research.

While these are often used as standalone methodologies they can also be valuably combined into mixed-methodology research. For example, you may be considering a customer satisfaction survey for the first time. While you may have an idea of what is important to your customers, they may have a different view. An initial piece of qualitative research could identify their needs and priorities; a subsequent quantitative survey could measure how satisfied your customers are that you are meeting those needs.

How does quantitative research work?

Quantitative research uses a structured questionnaire with mostly closed questions, ie the respondents select their answers from given lists of possible responses. A range of question types may be used. For example, rating questions can measure strength of feeling such as importance or satisfaction, ranking questions can determine preferences, and so on.

Quantitative research may be conducted on the telephone or face to face by an interviewer in a street survey or can be designed for self-completion such as a postal or online survey. We will advise you which of these methods are most suitable for the audience you are trying to reach and the budget that you have.

Because of its statistical nature, sample size is important for quantitative research. We can recommend a suitable sample size based on the size of the population that you wish to survey. 

Using a statistical analysis package to analyse and interrogate the data, we produce a report of the findings supported by tables and graphs.


To discuss this or any research requirements, please call us on 01392 211056.

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