Understanding the core differences between quantitative and qualitative research can help determine which methodology will provide you with the best solutions.
Quantitative research produces precise measurements. It measures specific variables and yields results that are reported with numbers and statistics. Objectivity, clarity and consistency are important so the research is done under controlled conditions eliminating bias and causal effects. Therefore, the research is done with a carefully scripted questionnaire consisting of mostly close-ended questions so that the interview is identical from respondent to respondent. Those in the group being studied are randomly selected and representative of the population.
In contrast, qualitative research produces interpretations. Its nature is exploratory and subjective. Questions are open ended, and the data collected is descriptive and directional. Research is done with a guide that has an open structure, allowing the interviewer to follow where the answers lead. The respondents are targeted, and the group being researched is usually smaller than the size of a quantitative study.
Quantitative research results can be projected onto a larger population from the study group, and therefore can be used when you want to identify market segments and their relevant characteristics. Qualitative research, on the other hand, is used when you want to explore an issue, problem or situation. It can be used first in order to design a quantitative study, and it can be used to explain the results of a quantitative study.