The Difference Between Quantitative And Qualitative Research (And How To Use Them Both Effectively)

Whether you’re starting a new job launching a startup, it’s important to get to know your customers. You need to know what they’re thinking when they go to buy your product. You need to know how to measure whether or not your product works for them.

That’s why you need to understand the difference between quantitative and qualitative research. Let’s look at the differences between qualitative and quantitative research and how to use them both effectively. 

What is Qualitative Market Research?

Qualitative market research is “a systematic, subjective approach used to describe life experiences and give them meaning.” Essentially, it gives you a deeper understanding of the psychology behind your customers’ behaviors and motivations. While it doesn’t provide the data-driven information quantitative methods do, it allows you to uncover new insights — giving you a richer understanding of your customer.

Types of Qualitative Market Research Methods

Customer interviews: Using open-ended interview questions, capture qualitative feedback directly from current or past customers. Market researchers conduct these interviews in person, via email, or over video/phone call.

Focus groups: A moderated discussion with a small group (commonly 6–10 people) that relates to a specific topic or marketing campaign idea.

Ethnography: The process of observing and studying the behavior of consumers within their natural environment; most commonly focusing on how they interact with products the company offers. For example, if you were selling outdoor camping equipment, you would want to observe how people camp on an ongoing basis without any interference from yourself.

Usability testing: A form of ethnographic research where user experience researchers ask users to perform tasks using your product or service under close observation in order to identify flaws in the design process that may limit usability for future users.

How to Use Qualitative Research

With qualitative research, you can dig deep into your target market’s thought process and uncover motivations behind their behaviors.

For example, say you want to explore the reasons why your customers are choosing a competitor’s product over yours. The best way to do this is to talk to them directly and find out what they like (or don’t like) about your offer. You can conduct these conversations in person or online—just remember to ask open-ended questions so that you get an in-depth answer.

Qualitative research also helps you uncover new opportunities for growth. For instance, if you have a new product idea but aren’t sure how your market will like it, use qualitative research methods such as interviews and focus groups to get feedback on it before rolling it out. This way, you won’t waste time developing something that isn’t going to sell!

In summary, qualitative research helps you make decisions about what to keep or change about your offer, as well as to find opportunities for your startup’s growth in the future.

What is Quantitative Market Research?

Quantitative market research is a field of applied statistics that seeks to understand how an organization’s offer fit into the larger market and how they can be made more appealing. Quantitative researchers begin by gathering information in the form of quantitative data — that is, data that can be measured and expressed numerically. Then they analyze this data use it to draw conclusions about the market and about consumers’ needs and desires.

In order for quantitative market research to work, the research questions need to be clearly defined from the outset. The questions should guide not only what kind of data needs to be collected, but also how it should be collected. For example, if you want to know in what age range a product is most popular, you should collect data on respondent’s ages instead of their genders or income levels.

The main purpose of quantitative market research is to discover what makes customers buy your product. Beyond this, you might want to know whether your marketing efforts are effective or if they need improvement; this type of research can help you decide if you should spend money on new advertising campaigns.

What To Ask In Quantitative Research

For market research, you’ll want to gather survey information from lots of people so that you can identify patterns and trends. Your questions should focus on gathering numerical data about what respondents do and think, rather than their reasons for doing or thinking. For example, ask “How often do you eat ice cream?” instead of “What makes ice cream appealing?” 

When designing your survey, consider creating question grids with multiple response options—the more choices respondents have, the less likely they are to leave a question blank.

How to Use Quantitative Research

Quantitative market research is a great way to see if you have a viable business idea. You can also use it to test products and services, find out what your customers think of you and your competitors, and gather data about the general marketplace.

Here are some ways you might use quantitative market research:

  • Gather information about your customers. Do you know who’s buying from you? What are their demographics? Why are they buying from you? Quantitative market research could help answer those questions.
  • Test your ideas. If you’re thinking of launching a new product or service, or changing an existing one, quantitative market research can ensure that customers want it before you put money and effort into developing it.
  • See how you’re doing. How satisfied are your customers with your product or service? How do they feel about your price? What’s the likelihood they’ll recommend you to someone else? Quantitative market research can give you the answers to these questions and more.


Here at Peoplefish, we conduct market research for startup companies! We know how hard it can be to conduct market research if it’s not your specialty. Ensuring that you ask the right questions to get valuable data is a time-stressful process if you do it yourself. 

We created Peoplefish as an affordable option for startups who want to conduct accurate market research. We do our best to ensure you have all the information you need to make the right decisions. Check out which plan is right for you and let Peoplefish help your startup succeed!