Quantitative Research

Quantitative research is a type of non-experimental market research that provides numerical measurement and reliable statistical predictability of the results to the total target population. Like qualitative research, this is original company research ("primary") on a subject in the normal course of company business ("non-experimental").

Quantitative research is distinguished from qualitative research primarily by the large numbers of people who are questioned ("sampled respondents") and the type of questions asked. Generally, sample sizes of 100 are adequate for simple "yes/no" questions to get results that are 95 percent reliable as being accurate for the entire market of buyers. To increase the accuracy to 97 percent to 99 percent, the sample sizes would have to increase to 400 to 2,000 or more, depending upon the subject matter and complexity of questioning.

For example, a company might design a prototype product that it evaluates using qualitative research through focus groups made up from a target consumer group. Once the features and benefits of the prototype have been refined to consumers' satisfaction, and communication of the product's brand positioning in the marketplace has been discussed and modified, quantitative testing may be done.

At this point, larger companies continue to refine the prototypes and may conduct a series of blind tests, in-home usage studies, and even market forecast simulations costing up to $100,000. For smaller companies, it may be less expensive, faster, and just as accurate to do a small field-study test in the real market, despite the risks that the results of the test may not translate to other markets.

To do good quantitative research, you need the following three elements: