September 2nd, 2019

Quantitative Vs. Qualitative Research

At the outset of a market 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 amounts 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. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each approach can help make this decision.


Qualitative approaches


-Provide long, detailed conversations (60-120 minutes)

-Provide the most in-depth understanding of perceptions, habits, or needs

-Enable the researcher to use projective techniques and understand the “story”

-Allow the discussion to be modified on-the-go



-Findings are based on small sample sizes (8 to 9 people per group)

-Findings are not necessarily representative of the general population


Quantitative approaches


-Provide large sample sizes and 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



-Limited duration of surveys (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 market research.

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