What Is Qualitative vs. Quantitative Marketing Research?

Male marketing manager presenting on types of research

When you enroll in a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Marketing program, you must develop research skills to complete your assignments and, most importantly, your dissertation. You will learn how to find studies and determine whether to conduct qualitative vs. quantitative marketing research. You will also interpret and analyze existing studies to promote new ideas in the marketing field.

Research requires critical thinking skills and the ability to investigate historical and current trends within the field. The more reading and research you do during your DBA in Marketing program, the more comfortable you will become with the different types of research and applying them to make a difference in your field.

Marketing research is the process of gathering information related to marketing. This can include studying the market, advertising effectiveness, the draw of a product or service as well as past and potential future customers for that product or service. Professionals then analyze and interpret that information to assess the viability of a product in a certain target market and uncover the spending habits, locations, characteristics and needs of target consumers.

What Is Qualitative Marketing Research?

Qualitative marketing research is particularly important as it allows the researcher to understand consumers’ beliefs, experiences and points of view. During market research, a consumer may share the things that influence their behavior and buying habits. 

Types of Qualitative Marketing Research

Researchers use several methods to gain insight into consumer habits through qualitative marketing research: 

  • Focus groups 
  • Interviews 
  • Observation 
  • Ethnography 
  • Community forums

Advantages and Disadvantages of Qualitative Marketing Research

There are many advantages of qualitative marketing research. When you are conducting your research for your DBA in Marketing degree program, using qualitative market research methods will allow you to interact with consumers in a way that is natural and informative. Some other major advantages of qualitative marketing research are that it: 

  • Leads to collecting detailed information 
  • Is adaptive and allows for flexibility in questioning 
  • Uses open-ended questions to allow transparency from respondents 
  • Helps consumers communicate with a brand and vice versa 
  • Allows products to remain relevant and meet customer needs

The disadvantages of qualitative marketing research mostly concern time, cost and outcome. Qualitative marketing research can take days or months to complete—and when it comes to research, time really is money. Furthermore, the outcomes of qualitative marketing research are subjective; what one consumer believes may be very different from another, which means there is no standardization, and it may be difficult to use the data to make accurate assumptions or predictions.

What Is Quantitative Marketing Research?

Quantitative marketing research includes gathering statistical and quantifiable data to investigate market-related phenomena. Quantitative research is objective and often investigational. Quantitative marketing research can often be extrapolated from smaller sample sizes to represent entire populations. 

Types of Quantitative Marketing Research

There are two types of quantitative marketing research: primary and secondary. In primary quantitative marketing research—which is the most common type—the researcher collects data directly from consumers. They may do so using one of the following techniques: 

  • Surveys 
  • Correlational research 
  • Experimentation

Advantages and Disadvantages of Quantitative Marketing Research

The advantages of quantitative marketing research derive from the reliability of the data that are gathered. Quantitative marketing research is trusted by researchers because it is: 

  • Accurate 
  • Quick 
  • Wide in scope 
  • Unbiased

Marketing researchers rely on quantitative marketing research for reliable statistical data. However, there are some drawbacks to this type of research. Quantitative marketing research does not explain the reasons behind the numbers. A data analyst can help in this respect by making interpretations, but the data itself is not explained by consumers. Quantitative research may also lack reliability, depending on sample size and how the information was collected.

How To Decide on Qualitative vs. Quantitative Marketing Research

The decision to use qualitative vs. quantitative marketing research depends most importantly on the research question to be addressed. For example, if the research is focused on describing a user experience, then qualitative research may be appropriate. On the other hand, if the research is focused on providing specific data relative to a population or to compare populations, then quantitative research may be best.

Qualitative marketing research helps businesses understand consumers and their reactions, and may be used in the following situations: 

  • Branding: Research can help companies understand how consumers perceive their brand and how it compares to competitors. 
  • Consumer behavior insight: Research can collect demographic information, such as gender, age and income, and use interviews to understand the people who buy certain types of products. 
  • Marketing reach: Research into marketing efforts lets companies know how well their marketing efforts are performing in the field and helps marketing departments build budgets and pivot to new practices if necessary. 
  • Product insight: This type of research helps companies understand what features are desired or acceptable among the consumers who use their products or services.

On the other hand, the researcher who is looking for more scientific and objective results will lean heavily on quantitative marketing research. They choose quantitative research over qualitative marketing research because it is: 

  • More scientific and unbiased 
  • Easier to control the data 
  • More focused because it is often used to test a theory 
  • Conducive to larger sample sizes 
  • Repeatable 
  • Generalizable 
  • More widely accepted by stakeholders

How Much Research Do You Do in a DBA in Marketing Degree Program?

Marketing is a popular field and can be lucrative for people with research experience.1 Earning your DBA in Marketing will help you build those research skills through applied projects and a final dissertation. Your DBA in Marketing program will likely include at least one research methods class. Other courses will ask you to apply and analyze research skills. Eventually you will come to conduct both quantitative and qualitative research to add your own insights to the field of marketing.

If you are ready to dive into the world of quantitative and qualitative marketing research and develop your research skills, earn your DBA in Marketing at Grand Canyon University. Click Request Info at the top of your screen to begin your journey in marketing today.


1Retrieved from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2020 Marketing Managers in December 2021

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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