Just like in sports, it never hurts to review the fundamentals of market research. We toss around the terms quantitative and qualitative like our younger brothers after watching an episode of WWE, but what exactly is the difference?
The industry’s leading provider of customer research for community-owned utilities, GreatBlue Research is sharing insights into the world of market research. Below, the GreatBlue team explains the differences between quantitative and qualitative research and why the best strategy is to base your utility’s business decisions on a combination of the two.
Do you like numbers? We hope so because quantitative research is full of them. You can think of quantitative research like an old school executive, with a suit and tie. Tried, true, and will get you where you need to go.
Quantitative research is measured numerically (think percentages), highly structured, and typically conclusive. There’s less room for subjective interpretation in quantitative research. What it can do is confirm a hypothesis or assumption, but what it doesn’t typically do is define a research problem or challenge. For that, you’re better off using qualitative research.
Qualitative research functions with the same mindset as the average two year old: asking why over and over until an explanation is given. Well, kind of.
Qualitative research helps find the “why” behind cause and effect relationships. To accomplish this, respondents are able to physically interact with the subject matter like, say, a new product and provide subjective feedback based on their experiences with said product. This can, and often does, allow researchers to uncover new areas of investigation which are often then explored and validated during quantitative research.
Quantitative and Qualitative: BFFs
The nice thing about quantitative and qualitative research is, despite their differences, they work really well together like Peanut Butter & Jelly, Simon & Garfunkel, and Liver & Onions (ew).
Qualitative research provides a method to determine and explore the “why” of your customers’ actions and opinions, while quantitative research is a strong method to confirm your hypothesis or assumptions. Quantitative and qualitative research, when used together, form a more complete picture of your audience’s feedback and helps to drive strategic action moving forward.
The market research partner of Hometown Connections, Inc. and the leading customer opinion firm serving community-owned utilities, GreatBlue Research Inc. is a full-service, in-house market and public policy research company utilizing a variety of methodologies, including telephone, email, web-based surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one interviews.