The Research & Planning Group has conducted hundreds of surveys for clients all over the world. If you are interested in conducting survey research, you should contact us - we can help you decide if they're the right methodology for your informational needs!

Qualitative vs. Quantitative

Believe it or not, survey research does not have to be quantitative in nature to provide good information. There are plenty of reasons to use a quantitative methodology, of course, but there are many situations where qualitative surveys are more appropriate for research.

Qualitative studies are generally most appropriate for:

Quantitative studies are generally most appropriate for:

Of course, survey design relies heavily upon the information that is needed. One of the advantages of working with a firm that designs surveys individually for each study is that you can ensure that the questions that are being asked get to the root of what you want to know, rather than simply telling you something that's nice to know, but not able to answer your research questions.

Qualitative Studies

Qualitative survey research is often used as a means of collecting verbatim statements from respondents. Written open-ended surveys allow respondents to offer a responses within their own unique context, and the value of the information provided can be extremely high.

Because open-ended responses are often problematic to deal with in large numbers, qualitative studies tend to be small in scale. Fortunately, modern data mining software allows for larger-scale qualitative studies to be conducted in a reasonable amount of time. It is most common, however, for some qualitative questions to be included within a quantitative survey.

Quantitative Studies

One of the most common reasons for conducting marketing research is to generate statistics that can be used to discuss a target population. A well-designed quantitative study will provide those numbers… but that’s just the beginning of what quantitative research can do.

As analytical techniques become more and more powerful, marketing researchers are finding new and better ways to find powerful insights in the data that they collect. Over the last decade, marketing research techniques for multivariate analysis have become much more common, resulting in the ability of marketing researchers to provide predictive models, cluster and factor analyses, and perceptual maps as centerpieces of marketing research reports.

Quantitative studies come in all sorts of varieties, and they are easy to customize and adapt to meet unique informational needs. We also recommend pairing quantitative studies with a qualitative phase of research to provide the maximum amount of context for the numbers that will be generated.

Administered Survey

One of the biggest problems in conducting a quantitative survey is the low response rate. One of the best ways to ensure an adequate response rate in a quantitative survey is to have a member of the research team administer the survey, either in person, via the telephone or via the Web. This will help to ensure that minimum quotas for completed numbers of surveys are held.

A chief advantage of administration is that respondents have the ability to ask questions if they reach a question that they do not understand. Another advantage is that respondents see that their surveys are being handled by a third party (rather than the sponsor of the study) and thus are more likely to share their honest opinions.

Surveys can be administered in two ways. The first is to simply hand a survey to the respondents and allow them to complete it at their own pace, asking clarifying questions if they arise. This method is more appropriate in a situation where respondents are concerned about the confidentiality of their responses and do not want to be overheard expressing their opinions.

The second is to walk the respondents through the guide question by question. This method is most appropriate for telephone surveys, mall intercept surveys, or surveys where strict confidentiality is not a large concern among respondents.

Mail Surveys

Mail surveys have been a traditional favorite because of their relative low cost. Because mailing addresses are indexed, it is possible to conduct a mail study that offers a truly random sample. Unfortunately, the chief drawback of mail surveys is the low response rate, which means that the quality of the data is suspect until it is validated by other research. Mail surveys are the best inexpensive way to reach older populations. 

Telephone Surveys

Telephone surveys offer all of the advantages of an administered survey while eliminating the problem of geography. One of the reason telephone surveys have traditionally been preferred by national polling organizations is because they allow for a true random sample through a process known as “random digit dialing.” (Modern telephone surveys include a proportionate number of cellular phones as well.) Telephone surveys are generally the best way to ensure a high quality of data. (More about telephone surveys)

Online Surveys

Online surveys have become a popular alternative over the last decade because of their inexpensive nature and their instantaneous results. One of the chief problems with online surveys is that it is difficult to conduct them with a truly random sample. The response rate for online surveys also tends to be very low (particularly in consumer studies), and since respondents are more easily distracted while taking online surveys, it’s more likely that responses that are gathered will not be complete, especially if the survey is longer than 10 questions.

Fortunately, online surveys do have their advantages. Online surveys are wonderful for sharing rich media (graphics, video, audio) and are also a wonderful way to obtain a quick response from respondents when no data exists. When carefully designed and controlled, online surveys can effectively fill the need for quick data – most responses arrive within 72 hours of the initial invitation. (Click here for more information about online studies)

Of course, that’s not all we do at the Research & Planning Group. If you’d like to view a complete catalog of our services, we have one available! You can read the online version here, or you can download a printable PDF version here.