Organizations of any size and in any industry can benefit from better understanding their customers, employees and competitors. One way organizations use this information is to generate actionable insights that inform business decisions.
What is Quantitative Marketing Research?
Perhaps the simplest definition of quantitative research is that it is numbers-based. Quantitative data allows the researcher to quantify results through some form of objective measurement followed by statistical, mathematical or numerical analysis of data. This type of research enables researchers and business leaders to draw general conclusions and is structured and rooted in statistics; it is a measure.
Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research
Although quantitative research is very different from qualitative research, the two can be complementary, offering both breadth (quantitative) and depth (qualitative). If quantitative marketing research provides you the numbers to measure something, then qualitative gives you the words and details to describe it. For example, using quantitative research, a business leader may learn that just 50% of customers are satisfied with delivery times. Using qualitative research, she may discover that customers are infuriated by the way delayed deliveries are handled.
Reasons to Conduct Qualitative Research
Qualitative research is often a solid launchpad because it helps the researcher start to gather specific, detailed information on a topic and better understand how people are thinking about the topic. This insight often informs the way any subsequent quantitative research is designed.
Qualitative research can also add color in final findings, helping to give a human voice to many of the facts and figures shown in a report.
Reasons to Conduct Quantitative Research
Quantitative research can validate a hypothesis generated from initial qualitative research. It helps business leaders and researchers understand if a sentiment (like customers are unhappy with the approach when delivery is delayed) is widespread, or just one person’s beliefs. Quantitative research introduces objectivity into the observations.
Quantitative research can also help business leaders understand answers to questions in a broader context. For example, a market research analyst might use quantitative research to answer questions like: Which company do consumers prefer most for their coffee? Which ad should we run for the Super Bowl? What features are most important to consumers buying a new computer?
Quantitative Market Research Techniques
Quantitative market research must be very scientific, allowing conclusive and actionable insights to be produced from the resulting data. Here are some techniques:
Surveys: Surveys used to be paper-based, but today they are typically digital. Survey questions are usually closed-ended (respondents select from a list of answer options). Surveys enable researchers to generalize an entire population with relative accuracy. Healthcare marketers, for example, are beginning to pay more attention to patient satisfaction surveys to improve services.
Cross-Sectional Research Survey: This type of market research analyzes the data from multiple variables collected at a single point in time across a sample population. Participants may be similar in every demographic except the one that is being reviewed. For example, a marketing team might focus on variables like age and location and use the data as a target to sell a product or service.
One-on-One Interviews: Technology has also evolved this technique from face-to-face to the telephone or online. Quantitative interviews are highly structured, and they allow for highly detailed data to be collected.
5 Steps to Creating a Quantitative Survey
To launch a successful quantitative survey, follow these five steps:
- Establish the goal. An understanding of what the outcome should be is essential to informing the research design. For example, an objective might be how to win back customer loyalty. Establishing the desired outcome also involves understanding which audiences are going to be targeted.
- Create a plan. Determine what tools will be necessary, such as an online programming platform for your questionnaire, define the audience who should participate, and draft the survey.
- Collect the data. Determine whether data is collected online or from a phone or web interview.
- Analyze the data. Analyze the data as planned in the planning phase.
- Create reports. In most instances, stakeholders aren’t interested in sifting through complex datasets and analyses. Instead, you’ll want to create charts, tables and reports that tell the data’s story clearly and concisely.
Quantitative Research Questions and Examples
Quantitative research questions should be closed-ended, which means they ask respondents to choose from a pre-populated list. Because much of the work is done for the participant, quantitative research can typically include more questions. Some common questions include:
Net promoter score. This methodology allows businesses to segment their customer base into promoters, detractors, and passives as an indication of company performance. For participants, it’s a very simple question: How likely are you to recommend this brand to a friend or colleague, where 0 is not at all likely and 10 is very likely?
Likert Scale. This scale helps to evaluate options using a scale of opposites. For example, a market researcher may ask participants: How satisfied were you with the technician’s support today?
Answer options would be:
- Extremely Dissatisfied
- Extremely Satisfied
In some cases, questions are asked as a matrix or grid to help respondents compare items or make it easier for them to answer.
Quantitative market research plays a crucial role in making business decisions. When quantitative market researchers plan thoughtful research, they can generate insights that can inform impactful business decisions and actions.