Step 3: What kind of information do you need?

I have a research partner who does qualitative research. I do quantiative. There are people who have their preferences, but a mix of both methods is a good thing….

Oh – wait: you’re asking…. what’s qualitative and quantitative data? Ok – let’s start there.

Qualitative data tells us “how.” Quantitative data tells us alot of other things – if something happened, how much of it, etc. So if I’m doing an analysis about your customers, the quantiative statistics would tell us how many you have, how long they’ve been with you, how large of customers they are for you, the profiling mix of your customer base, etc.

Qualitative is more “touchy-feely” at times: how do you feel when you come to XYZ company?” “What made you leave the firm?” Qualitative is geared to get at the heart of why people make decisions they make.

I once had a boss – let’s call him Tom. Tom was great. He was really, really into customers. While he might have been a VP of marketing, I swear the guy still wanted to be back in sales.  The problem was, Tom was a people guy. He wasn’t a numbers guy. So giving Tom data in numerical form was like reading the phone book to him: it meant nothing.

So we always coupled our research reports with both: the quantiative data that we knew we needed, but supported with the customer profiles and experiences that Tom would relate to and really be able to internalize just exactly how the customers were feeling. It was a one-two punch he could totally relate to.

So what is your take-away from this posting? Yes, you need to choose the type of data based on what you want to know. But never forget WHO the study is for as well: data isn’t important if it doesn’t have meaning for the person it’s being given to.

As a continuation of Step 3, we’ll expand on these thoughts and talk abou data and data gathering in the next posting.

Category: Market Research

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