Market Research Tutorial: Quantitative Market Research

At its most basic, quantitative market research is designed to measure: behavior (how many times a day, week, month do you brush your teeth), perceptions (I believe my city needs a railway as part of its public transportation system; agree strongly, agree somewhat, neither agree nor disagree, disagree somewhat, disagree strongly), attitudes (All liberals/conservatives should be shot, yes/no), and customer satisfaction (On a scale of 1 to 5 where a 1 is completely dissatisfied and a 5 is completely satisfied, what is your level of satisfaction with [X]).

Of course, the market research tutorial observes that it can do much more than simply measure. It also reveals useful links between consumers and products and services. (Such as, 70% of consumers who have purchased a hardcover book in the past month also purchased a book on CD--warning, we made that up as an illustration.....) More on getting more information out of your data later in this guide.

Quantitative market research is solidly based on the mathematics of statistics. At least it's supposed to be. That said, we've encountered numerous studies where the number of respondents who completed the survey are insufficient to draw any statistically-valid conclusions about the underlying population.

The most critical aspect of producing valid quantitative market research is the size and representativeness of the personssampled in the study in comparison to the population that the study purports to represent. Regardless of whatever anyone tells you, if you have not collected a sufficient number of surveys, your results cannot be said to represent the population you are studying. Sorry if we're sounding a little preachy, but after years of looking at studies that have received considerable press and the findings discussed as fact and then learning that this basic dictum has been violated, we have reason to ringthe bell on this issue. Moreover, we've seen businesses skimp on this aspect of market research, usually in the name of saving money, only to find that the research conclusions were faulty. So, don't save money here; don't let anyone give you anyfancy sounding explanations why it's okay to violate this rule in your case. It NEVER is okay. Period. See the section in this guide on Sampling to learn how to determine how many surveys you need to completed to have confidence in your results.

Whew! Enough of that.

On, to a discussion of specific research methodologies............

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