The Difference Between Qualitative and Quantitative Data

If you’re interested in market research for your business or brand, you will likely already know the importance of collecting and analysing data.

At its very core, data can be segmented into two different broad categories: quantitative and qualitative. But how do you gather this data? What’s the difference between the two of them? And crucially, which one should you choose for your next research project?

The experts at Spark have put their heads together in order to demystify these two types of data. Each is crucial to the success of your business – depending on what it is you want to focus on. As leaders in the market research industry, we are well equipped to help you find the answers and ultimately grow your business so it can be the best it can be. Get in touch today to find out more.


What is quantitative research and what is qualitative research?

Many data collection methods include a combination of qualitative and quantitative data, but there are crucial differences between the two that should drive your choice.

Qualitative research methods: focus on exploring ideas through words and open-ended questioning from ethnography and interview and group based methods.

Quantitative research methods: focus on testing theories and hypotheses through numbers with surveys often being used to collect data.


We can help you find out more about your customers, your market and how to take your brand to the next level. Our experts would love to help you get the most out of your research and we can help you every step of the way. Get in touch here.


The differences between quantitative and qualitative research





Qualitative research requires a lesser number of participants as they give more in depth information. vs Quantitative data requires many respondents in order to get an accurate amount of data.
This type of research uses open ended questions to encourage participants to describe things in their own words. The data is descriptive which can be examined for patterns or meaning. vs Quantitative research uses multiple question types where respondents answer according to pre-set answer formats or sometimes in open-ended formats.
The data collected is more descriptive: it is the experience of each person from their point of view – delving deeply into their world and experience vs The data collected can be communicated through robust statistical analysis
Qualitative data cannot be quantified, it is data that describes qualities or characteristics. It can help us understand the ‘why’ or the ‘how’ behind certain behaviours, or learn more about customer motives and values. vs In a nutshell, quantitative data refers to data that can be counted, measured and given a numerical value. It tells us things like ‘how much’, ‘how often’ or ‘how many’.
Once the data has been collected, it is analysed through thematic analysis or via a number of bespoke methods to make sense of the data vs Once the data has been collected, it is analysed by interpreting, categorising and summarising


Not sure what type of data you need, or even where to start? Let us help you unscramble when to use each. We would love to help you grow your business – find out how.



When to use qualitative or quantitative research

As a general rule, you can decide which type of research depends on a number of factors. Use qualitative research if your goal is to understand something, such as thoughts, feelings or emotions about a certain topic. Use quantitative research if you want to confirm or test something, such as a hypothesis.


Qualitative research

Qualitative research can help you identify customer needs, find out how to improve your products or services and further understand how consumers react to your marketing or brand. Situations where qualitative research is used include:

  • New product development
  • Understanding customer purchasing decisions
  • Exploring market segments such as demographics
  • Studying emotions or attitudes


Quantitative research

The aim of quantitative research within the market research industry is to reduce any uncertainty or risk around big marketing decisions. Situations where quantitative research is used include:

  • To provide analysis of sales trends
  • Assess potential for new products or services
  • Predict market trends


Mixed methods research

For some projects, it can be beneficial to use a mixed methods approach, where you combine a best of both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Enlisting the help of an expert market research agency such as Spark can give you confidence going forward in your business. Tools such as our Spark Clan product use a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods in order to segment your audience into meaningful groups and subgroups. Find out more about it.


Hopefully now you understand more about how you can use qual and quant to empower your brand. Enlist the help of an expert agency such as Spark and we can do all the hard work for you. Find out how we can help by getting in touch with our friendly team.


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