Callosum A marketing research agency
May 29, 2018

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Marketing Research

At the outset of a marketing research project, one of the most common questions that clients have is whether they should employ a qualitative or quantitative approach. In many cases, this translates to whether focus groups or an online survey should be instituted, and more often than not, the available budget limits the decision to one or the other rather than both. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each can help make this decision.

Qualitative approaches


  • Provide long, drawn out conversations (60-120 minutes)
  • Provide the most in-depth understanding of perceptions, habits, or phenomena
  • Enable the researcher to use projective techniques and understand the “story”
  • Allow the discussion to be modified on the fly


  • Base findings on small sample sizes (8 to 9 people per group)
  • Obtain findings that are not necessarily representative of the general population

Quantitative approaches


  • Provide large sample sizes and quantifiable data that can be generalized to the population
  • Generate results that can easily be compared across subgroups (gender, age, etc)
  • Enable the researcher to obtain findings via advanced statistical analyses


  • Duration of the surveys are limited (15-20 minutes per survey at the most)
  • Questions are set once data collection begins, with little ability for adaptation
  • Individual questions are not probed in-depth

If you are trying to decide between these two approaches, please contact Christine Melançon (, an expert in both areas of marketing research.