Qualitative Vs Quantitative Research – My First Marketing Survey Experience

What makes a good marketeer? Is it just about STP and the 4 Ps? Well, these concepts indeed form the crux of marketing, but one can’t do it without understanding customers. What sets apart a good marketeer from others is her or his ability to understand customers, their behaviour, attitude, fears, lifestyle, life stage, etc that influences their preferences.

It all started with my first marketing project. Having one of the best marketing faculties in our campus, this project was certainly not going to be a comfortable ride. Initially, we were asked to pick up a product category and two brands of our choice and to analyze their target segments and positioning strategies. I chose the television market with Samsung & Mi TV as brands to compare. We were handed over the task to survey at least 50 consumers and gather information in our best possible way. The best (or worst) part of this was we were not given any framework/format beforehand to design our survey. So a challenge here for me was to decide upon how I wanted my survey to be – how many questions to include, type of questions to add, should it be more descriptive or just MCQs & rating on a few parameters and so on.

This dilemma of quantitative vs. qualitative research was sorted only once I got some exposure to the ground level reality. I spoke to around 50 random strangers in Shillong and got to know their feedback on the current television brands. I realized that not all of my questions or rather the options provided for answers to those questions made sense. The consumers had numerous experiences to share, however not all of that was captured through my survey. For example, there was a question on what do you most often watch on TV, and the options were – movies, sports, general entertainment, etc. After speaking to few consumers (especially some teenagers), I got to know that they primarily used television for gaming, i.e. integrating their TV screens with PS or Xbox and enhancing their gaming experience. Their choice of brands depended more on the refresh rates of TVs which lowers the input lag while playing. It made me realize that I could include this option for the question and gauge the percentage of consumers interested in buying television just for gaming purpose.

So something that I took back from this experience when it comes to qualitative vs. quantitative research was this – Quantitative research helps one to see the bigger picture, to quantify all the data so that one can use it for further statistics and other data analysis models while Qualitative data is more descriptive, it helps to gain an understanding of underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations, it provides insights into the problem or helps to develop ideas or hypotheses for potential quantitative research.

Thus the methodology that a marketer can take is to start his investigation by including subjective inquiries, making note of every last detail caught in it and then planning quantitative research in light of that. This would guarantee that the marketer is estimating pertinent information which can add to the insights into customers’ perspective.

Kaustubh Jagasia