Qual… Quant… Quant… Qual…, if you are looking to “get to know your users” you are probably sick of hearing these descriptors.
Let’s talk about their differences, their strengths and why I will always advise you to use both.
Qualitative and Quantitative research are both extremely valuable methodologies, but there is a distinct time in your research process for each. First, you need to ask yourself, “What do I want to know?” Think of the actual question you want answered. Really think about it. Right now…
Quantitative research is the answer if your question starts with “What”, “Where”, “When” or “How many.” Quantitative research will give you statistically significant answers to these questions that you can apply to your entire population of customers.
Qualitative research is the answer if your question starts with “Why” or “How.” Qualitative research will give you the answer to reasoning questions. You only need to interview a small subset of the population to get these answers because you are not determining what the entire population is doing, only why they are doing it.
Here are some examples:
What percentage of my customers are using LinkedIn? – Quantitative
Why are so many of my customers using LinkedIn? – Qualitative
When do my customers reach out to a vendor? – Quantitative
Why are my customers waiting so long to reach out to a vendor? – Qualitative
It’s probably becoming obvious, but let’s talk about why researchers like me are always pushing to run a study that includes both Quant and Qual.
First, we want to run a Quantitative study to find out what is happening in your user group on a statistically significant level. We are looking for interesting things like:
87% of this audience visits a brick and mortar store every day for business purposes.
78% of this audience chooses not to purchase large quantities online.
82% of this audience reports they learn about new products at trade shows.
Then we want to run a Qualitative study. We do this because we know that the very next question you or our client is going to ask us is “Why?”
Unless you planned a Qualitative portion of your project, you won’t know “why” and that will force you to guess. If a Qualitative component was planned, your team will be ready to provide that additional layer of behavioral information when the research comes through. This helps better understand our customers and makes researchers and clients both very happy.