Market Research Tutorial: Types of Market Research

Broadly speaking, the market research tutorial sees two types of market research: qualitative and quantitative.

We will look in more depth at each of these in the following sections. Here we will look at the main difference between the two types.

The main difference between qualitative and quantitative market research is that qualitative market research is not statistically reliable and quantitative market research (done correctly!)is.

Hey, stifle that yawn! We're not headed into a boring statistics lesson (that comes later--just kidding!). And, truth be told, you do need to understand at least the fundamentals of statistics to effectively use and interpret market research, even if you have market research professionals handle the majority of project execution for you. Otherwise, how would you know if what you're getting is accurate?

Let's look deeper at the types of market research.

First, definitions.

Qualitative research is exploratory, open-ended and often Socratic in execution. It is most often used to uncover the emotional backdrop used by consumers in considering and using products andservices. Qualitative market research techniques are most often focus groups and in-depth interviews.

Quantitative market research is concerned with measurement so that consumer actions and perceptions can be precisely articulated. Among U.S. households, 17% own at least one digital video recorder, for example. (MediaDailyNews, April 26, 2007 citing a Nielsen Digital Media study) Quantitative market research techniques are most often telephone and web-based surveys.

Business often need and want both types of information. In a perfect market research world, organizations would opt to do qualitative market research to understand both the depth and breadth of consumer perceptions and use of products and services and their emotional power and then use quantitative market research to specifically measure the resulting perceptions and use.

Even the big dogs miss important aspects of product marketing if they fail to use both qualitative and quantitative market research. Some of you may remember that some twenty years ago, a major beverage company loudly introduced a "New" product, a variant of their flagship drink whose formula had not changed in many years. This company had clearly done its quantitative research; taste tests proved conclusively that consumers preferred the "new" product to this firm's fiercest competitor's product by a significant margin.

However, what the quantitative research did not reveal was the powerful emotional ties that consumers had with this company's flagship product. As the "new" product was unveiled, consumers reacted quite negatively because the company appeared to be pushing aside the "classic" product which symbolized good memories, good times, family, America and all sorts of other positive emotional triggers and experiences. The company quickly retreated, chagrined by their failure to understand the "unmeasurable" aspects of consumer loyalty.

In the next two sections, the market research tutorial will look more deeply at the specifics of qualitative and quantitative research.

Forward to Qualitative Market Research

Back to Setting Objectives

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