Quantitative v. Qualitative Research

Thérèse Mulvey

Research, Surveys, Quantitative v. Qualitative

April 29, 2024

Quantitative v. Qualitative Research

Causeway Solutions is a leader in a wide range of public opinion research techniques from focus groups to web and phone surveys. We develop innovative solutions to measure name recognition, brand affinity and support levels for political candidates and causes. We analyze potential behavior in order to drive our clients’ marketing and business goals. Causeway Solutions employs a data-first approach to sampling and stratification, ensuring the individuals included in our studies are representative of the clients’ target audiences.

Surveys provide researchers with reliable, usable, primary data to inform business decisions. They are an important tool because the data comes directly from individuals clients have identified in their initial goals. Surveys also allow for a variety of intuitive and creative ways that data can be viewed and analyzed.

We support clients with both quantitative and qualitative research. Quantitative research focuses on the collection and analysis of numerical data, while qualitative research involves non-numerical data.

In this article, we review the differences between the research outcomes and methodologies.

Quantitative Research

Quantitative research is used to find patterns and averages and make predictions. Two ways we offer quantitative research are online and telephone surveys.

1. Online surveys can measure brand awareness, customer satisfaction, as well as deliver predictive modeling. We help clients fine-tune audience targeting through our proprietary sampling and stratification processes.

Online surveys can be programmed and fielded quickly and reach a broad audience or a variety of valuable subsets, such as a particular demographic or lifestyle group. Three examples when online surveys are an ideal solution, include:

  • You want to collect data from people who have been to a particular store but do not shop there regularly. We can prescreen survey participants to see if they are familiar with a store location or brand but do not currently shop there. You can also survey people who are regular store shoppers and then compare their responses to those who are not to determine how the groups differ.
  • You want to measure the perception and importance of crime and law enforcement by people who are middle income and live in the suburbs. We can use online surveys, screening this subset of the population, in order to understand what people’s perceptions are about crime and in turn test messaging that may elicit a call to action for a political campaign.
  • You have a client with a brand name that is extremely popular among users of a particular social media platform, but they want to expand awareness and drive brand engagement on other media platforms. We can use online surveys to determine if there are characteristics unique to their brand fanatics and how many similar people they could reach on other media platforms.

2. Telephone surveys measure the same type of information and provide similar results as an online survey, but the process includes phoning survey participants. Telephone surveys are dependent on reaching people via phone, which is getting more and more difficult and time-consuming. Three challenges for telephone surveys, include:

  • You need to survey a population who do not have internet access.
  • You need to conduct a survey of people who are not comfortable doing surveys online.
  • You need to supplement an online survey with the populations that do not have access or comfort.

Qualitative Research

Qualitative research measures opinions, attributes and views, rather than data and statistics that would be presented in a graph or a chart. While quantitative research identifies target audiences and who you need to talk to, qualitative data tells you how to talk to them, what to say, and why it will work.

Two methods for qualitative research are in-person or online focus groups. Focus groups provide an opportunity to ask questions that cannot be easily put into numbers in order to understand consumer behavior and attitudes.

1. For in-person focus groups, Causeway Solutions works with a recruitment firm to get 12-15 people of a defined demographic or behavior to attend an in-person research session in a particular geography where we interview them about a particular topic.

2. Online focus groups have become more popular because they are easier and faster to organize, and usually more affordable for clients. While online focus groups don’t produce the same level of interaction you might get from sitting in the same room with a small group of people, this approach delivers some benefits that are impossible to achieve in a traditional focus group.

Causeway Solutions partners with QualBoard™, a robust platform that offers several different research configurations. We use a three-day, asynchronous discussion board that allows us to dive into the opinions of our targeted audiences. The platform allows us to ask open-ended questions, show various types of media, and probe for more details when warranted.

How do you decide if you need qualitative data, quantitative data, or both?

When research goals are more exploratory and issues are less defined (e.g., the use of blockchain technology or the use of scan-and-go technology in a retail setting), a qualitative approach helps dive deeper into the questions and helps provide information that can inform further research.

When an issue or question is more well-defined (e.g., political topics such as taxes, abortion, or school choice), a quantitative approach can provide insights about messaging, opinions, and reactions.

To learn more about quantitative and qualitative research, please reach out and request a complimentary discovery session.

Thérèse Mulvey is Vice President of Strategy & Insight at Causeway Solutions, a leading provider of Acquisition Analytics and innovative data services. Thérèse has worked in media, including television, newspaper, direct mail and digital, where she successfully translated consumer data into insights that address key business issues. She has over two decades of success driving profit, growth and market expansion through the strategic optimization of marketing analytics, research and business development. Causeway Solutions empowers clients to make smart, timely, data-driven decisions through real-time consumer insights to better reach target audiences. Learn more at CausewaySolutions.com.