Defining Quantitative and Qualitative

The terms �quantitative� and �qualitative� are, quite possibly, two of the most misused and debated terms in the marketing research arena.�While the definition of quantitative data is fairly standard (data that appears in numeric form), the definition of qualitative data is ambiguous (non-numeric data).�Further confusion exists because both terms are adjectives that have been used as modifiers for multiple terms, some of which encompass each other, such as data, method, methodology, research, study, technique and analysis.

  • Quantitative

    • Quantitative data is data that appears in numerical format

    • Quantitative methods are those that rely principally on the use of quantitative data.�Quantitative studies often can and do, however, make use of qualitative data, such as a phone survey that contains primarily rating scale questions, but has an occasional open-ended question in which the respondents� verbatim responses are typed or recorded.

  • Qualitative

    • Qualitative data is data in which the variables are not in numeric form, but are in the form of text, photographs, sound bytes, and so on.

    • Qualitative methods are those that probe to explore feeling, motivations, opinions, behavior, drivers and inhibitors, patterns of thought, opinions, attitudes, assessments or behaviors. Qualitative studies often can and do, however, make use of quantitative data, such as an in-depth interview in which the respondent is asked to provide demographic data, rank a set of criteria, or answer a couple of rating scale questions.

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