Anyone who has conducted market research will agree that quantitative and qualitative studies are vital tools of the trade. Both are essential to the understanding you hope to gain - the What and the Why. While combining qualitative and quantitative research sounds simple, historically, this has proved difficult.
The sharp distinction between both types of research usually discourages much interaction between them. They are frequently perceived as providing opposing viewpoints, requiring different skill sets. As a result, obtaining a unified viewpoint proved complex and expensive.
However, these challenges can now be easily overcome thanks to recent advances in market research technology. This article will examine why (and how) quantitative and qualitative research should work together to deliver real results. But first, let’s begin with the basics.
What is Mixed Methods Research?
As the name suggests, mixed methods research refers to using multiple data collection methods, i.e., quantitative and qualitative research, to derive a comprehensive view of research insights. Let’s better understand what mixed methods research entails, its merits and reasons why you should be conducting it.
Understanding Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research
Quantitative research employs structured methods to numerically describe a situation. It works on the premise that reality can and should be measured. Qualitative studies are used to confirm or test something, usually a theory or a hypothesis.
Qualitative research, on the other hand, depicts a situation through language (text) by examining perceptions, emotions, and behaviors. It focuses more on what influences people's subjective perceptions of reality than it is to ascertain what is "actual."
Qualitative studies are often used to understand concepts, thoughts, and experiences. While qualitative methods consider the human aspect of capturing data, they are often prone to research subjectivity and bias, and the process tends to be time-consuming.
On the other hand, quantitative data can be statistically analyzed to assess how much of the observations are due to chance. However, the methods for measuring such observations might not be accurate, and sometimes it is impossible to measure all important variables.
Fortunately, quantitative and qualitative research contain flaws that can be made up for by the advantages of the other.
Check out our blog for a comprehensive understanding of quantitative and qualitative research, their differences, benefits, and when to use each.
The Merits of Mixed Methods Research
Analyzing qualitative and quantitative data, together, has a number of benefits:
Establishing the basis for a quantitative study
To determine testing variables for a quantitative study, a researcher may begin by investigating a problem or situation. By conducting qualitative methods like observation, FGDs, and IDIs, the researcher can understand the situation or behavior, and discover the variables on which the quantitative study can be based.
For instance, an interview may reveal that participants are unhappy with the product packaging. Post this, a quantitative study can measure the parameters on which the product packaging can be improved.
Validating research results
Qualitative research can follow quantitative research to validate the results of the quantitative study. For example, to find populations with low vaccination rates, it’s essential to quantify the existence of people who haven’t been vaccinated by choice. Further, figuring out why they are against vaccination (qualitative research) is necessary to figure out a solution to the problem.
Strengthening the overall validity of results
Merging quantitative and qualitative research can enhance the validity of results. However, this time, rather than utilizing one method to validate the result of the other, both quantitative and qualitative approaches are used for their combined strength. A multimethods approach, for instance, would improve overall validity in situations where analyzing people's response and acceptance rate of a health drink is relevant in addition to measuring the drink's efficacy.
Reasons to Conduct Mixed Methods Research
Although there is a clear distinction between both types of research, there are compelling reasons to combine them:
Leverage the benefits of online research
Gone are the days when face-to-face interaction was necessary to gather qualitative data. The expansion of digital platforms offers fresh and easier ways to evaluate qualitative insights via online forums, bulletins, focus group discussions (FGD) or in-depth interviews (IDI), mobile diaries, etc. You can easily share any information or stimuli with your participants. Moreover, quick polls or surveys from the same audience can also be used to collect quantitative data efficiently.
Obtain comprehensive data
Combining qualitative and quantitative research on one platform can enable comprehensive data analysis. You can formulate a hypothesis, understand it with qualitative data, broaden your scope, and validate the hypothesis with quantitative data before evaluating a solution with further qualitative investigation. This multi-stage research process establishes a positive feedback loop with the same system and audience, establishing consistency across insights.
Drive agility through technology
The fact that qualitative and quantitative research previously employed different tools for data collection, analysis, and reporting contributed significantly to the difficulty of combining the two types of studies. Having both was not financially feasible, so you had to pick one.
Today’s technology makes it possible to handle both on a single platform, speeding up outcomes through automation while minimizing cost, complexity, and resources. Online qualitative projects are far faster than traditional ones, which used to take a lot of time and manual effort. Now, driving agility with automated processes is the name of the game.
Derive deeper insights
It is crucial for brands to create strong relationships with their customers should they want to stay relevant in the market today. This implies developing a deeper understanding based on empathy, and what better way to do this than with consumer research?
Integrating qualitative and quantitative studies enables you to take immediate action to meet customer requirements, forging a more personal, emotional connection with your audience.
Conduct qualitative and quantitative research on a single platform for richer consumer insights
Qualitative and quantitative research are complementary techniques that can produce broad and profound insights. Fortunately, there are many options for market research technology that churn faster, better-quality insights, regardless of your research goals.
Integrated market research tools are the go-to technology for mixed-methods research. And they pose several benefits:
They can be accessed anywhere, anytime, as they are hosted online. They allow all tools required to be integrated onto a single platform, ensuring cohesiveness in research and seamless collaboration with your team. They also remove the skills gap required to use them, and include handy features like customer panels, survey templates, benchmarking scores, sentiment analysis, and more, increasing the likelihood of boosting your research ROI.
You can learn more about integrated market research tools and how your organization can benefit from them here.