Qual vs Quant Research – What’s the deal?

28 April 2023 Martin Cheetham

Qualitative research and quantitative research are two different research methods that have distinct advantages and disadvantages. Let’s break them down…

Quantitative research

Quantitative (“quant”) research is used to quantify the problem by way of generating numerical data that can be transformed into useable statistics. It is used to quantify attitudes, opinions, behaviors, and other defined variables, and generalize results from a larger sample population.

Qualitative research

Qualitative (“qual”) research is often used for exploring. It helps us gain an understanding of underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations. It provides insights into the problems we are solving and the people we are researching with and also allows us to create or validate personas.

When used in conjunction, these are extremely powerful tools. However, the trap that a lot of businesses fall into, is only using quant research to understand their audience.

Surveys are not the answer. Surveys can help us understand sentiment, but it is impossible to truly dig deep and build empathy with a form. Don’t get me wrong – there is certainly value in data from surveys, but research shouldn’t end there. We cannot develop empathy from a few answers on a form.

Here are some of the advantages of qual compared to quant research:
  1. In-depth exploration: Qualitative research allows for a more in-depth exploration of the topic being studied. It enables researchers to gain a better understanding of the experiences, attitudes, and beliefs of the people they are studying.
  2. Flexibility: Qualitative research is flexible, which means that researchers can change the direction of their research as they gather data. They can also adjust their approach and research methods based on the insights they gain from the data.
  3. Contextual understanding: Qualitative research provides a deeper understanding of the context in which the research is being conducted. It allows researchers to gather rich data on the cultural, social, and environmental factors that may influence the research outcomes.
  4. Rich data: Qualitative research produces rich, descriptive data that is often presented in the form of quotes, narratives, or case studies. This type of data is useful for generating insights and developing theories.
  5. Personal interactions: Qualitative research involves personal interactions with participants, which can help to establish a rapport and build trust. This can lead to more honest and open responses from participants.

Overall, qualitative research is particularly useful for exploring complex and nuanced phenomena and gaining a deeper understanding of people’s experiences and perspectives. It is essential in building empathy with your customers or employees. It is the only way to truly connect with them.

And by connecting, you’re able to design better products, services and experiences for them.