What Quant Can Teach Qual - And Vice Versa

Over at CVent, Greg Timpany wonders why there is such a divide between quantitative and qualitative research. Sure, each takes an entirely different skill set to do well, but when you think about the end result (in his example, spot-on customer insights), it does seem a little strange that most researchers are either one or the other.

As Greg explains, “Qualitative research, be it focus groups, in-depth interviews or observation, is useful for guiding the development of more effective surveys,” explains Greg. “The depth and color of the data that qualitative provides is often the creative goo that award-winning, not to mention effective, advertising campaigns are created from. On the backside, qualitative is an efficient tool for expanding on key points raised during a survey,” he says.

Meanwhile, “quantitative research provides the backbone for measuring the topics that arise from intense qualitative sessions,” he adds. “Its ability to generalize to the broader market and test for significant differences makes it useful for informing strategic marketing decisions. As we know with online survey platforms we can probe to a limited degree by asking participants follow up questions based upon their response to trigger questions. Yet, this is limited compared to what can be done with follow-up in-depth interviews or focus groups.”

Maybe it is because the skill set is so different, but as clients demand more from your research and as hybrid studies become easier to do thanks to online qualitative research tools, it’s probably a good idea to have both in your toolbox.

Do you have both quant and qual capabilities? If not, what do you do when a project needs both? We’d love to hear how you’re tackling this in your business — please add your thoughts in the comments below.

  1. I’m happy to read this! For many years I did both but some market research companies are becoming more (instead of less) conservative and insisting you pick! If you want to pick fine, if not, let your talented researchers enrich their client work with a hybrid skill set: the insight from doing both makes for better quantitative questionnaires and better qual discussion guides and overall richer analyses!

  2. I also did quant for years and found that it helped me to better understand the research process and how to focus on objectives for qual as well as quant. Quant begins with the analysis in mind and often qual does not. That is a problem. I have also developed qual techniques that incorporate quant techniques

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