Understanding Qualitative Vs. Quantitative Data

If you’re doing research, you might know that there are two types of data. They are divided into broad categories, i.e., qualitative and quantitative. The biggest question most people ask is which option is better for my project. Are these terms the same, or is there a difference between them?

Because if you choose the wrong method, all your research can fail. You might not get the expected results from the campaign.

This information sets the foundation for your projects. Not only this, but it also helps in collecting feedback from your customers and analyzing it. Lastly, you can create a strategy that effectively resolves the issues.

But the question remains the same. What are these terms? Which approach should you implement to achieve your business goals?

In this blog, you’ll learn about it in detail. Not only this, you’ll also learn the key differences to figure out the best approach for your business.

So keep reading.

What is Qualitative Data?

Qualitative data is non-numerical data that describes qualities, characteristics, or attributes. It is typically used to gain a deep understanding of human experiences, behaviors, and complex social phenomena.

It seeks to explore the “why” and “how” behind behaviors and experiences. It is valuable for studying complex phenomena, generating hypotheses, and providing context-rich insights.

Suppose a retail company wants to understand why customers consistently choose their competitors over them. Is it their pricing? Packaging? Quality or something else?

In this case, they can use qualitative research methods. It’ll help them know all the answers to their “whys.” There are different information collection methods, such as in-depth interviews, focus groups, observations, and open-ended survey questions. But in this example, we will do in-depth interviews.

Ask your target audience these open-ended questions for qualitative study.

  • Could you describe your recent shopping experiences with our competitors?
  • What aspects of their products or services do you find more appealing than ours?
  • Can you recall a specific instance when you preferred their products over ours?

It will tell you a lot about your competitors and customers. Maybe customers prefer a personalized approach, or maybe they like sales and discounts. You’ve all the key points. Now, you can implement these actionable findings in your company.


  • Provides rich, detailed, actionable insights into complex issues.
  • Reveals context and nuances behind behaviors.
  • Adaptable to various research questions.
  • Sparks hypotheses for quantitative testing.
  • Values participant voices and experiences.


  • Limited ability to generalize findings.
  • Lacks quantitative statistical methods.

What is Quantitative Data?

Quantitative data is numerical information that can be measured and counted. It deals with quantities, amounts, and objective measurements. It is used for statistical analysis, hypothesis testing, and making data-driven decisions.

It is expressed in numbers, such as measurements, percentages, or ratings. Some common examples of this information are an individual’s height, age, weight, or salary. It aims to answer questions related to “how much,” “how many,” or “to what extent.”

There are many methods for quantitative information collection.

Common approaches include surveys with closed-ended questions, controlled experiments, secondary data analysis of existing datasets, structured interviews, and standardized tests.

With these methods, you can get precise and quantifiable data. Let’s understand it with this example.

Suppose you’re running an agency and you started a marketing campaign. Now, you want to analyze the campaign. You can collect quantitative data to measure the campaign’s success.

You collect numerical information from various sources, including point-of-sale systems, website analytics, and customer surveys. But getting clarity on metrics to measure is so important. What metrics do you want to check?

Let’s suppose you want to check only three metrics which are:

  1. Conversion rate
  2. Sales revenue
  3. Website Traffic

You analyze this information. According to the data, total sales revenue increased by 15% during the campaign period compared to the previous month. Website traffic saw a 25% increase during the campaign. Notably a corresponding 20% increase in the conversion rate.

If we look at these metrics, it shows that performance has significantly increased. Thus, the campaign is a huge success. That’s how you implement quantitative research methods for measuring your business success.


  • It is objective, reducing the impact of researcher bias.
  • It often involves large samples, leading to more robust results.
  • Data collection and analysis methods are usually efficient and less time-consuming.
  • It offers numerical values, facilitating quantitative comparisons.
  • It’s well-suited for data visualization and graphical representation.


  • Over-reliance on quantitative data can oversimplify complex issues.
  • Without qualitative data, there may be gaps in understanding human experiences.

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Data

Now, here comes the most important part, which is what are the differences between these data? Aren’t they the same?

No. Not at all.

From the method of collection to the purpose, everything is different. Here are some of the key differences you should know.

 Qualitative DataQuantitative Data
Natura of dataDescriptive, non-numerical information.Numerical terms, measurable data.
PurposeExplore, understand, and provide context.Measure, quantify, and test hypotheses.
Research questionsAddresses “why” and “how” questions.Addresses “what,” “how much,” and “how many” questions.
Methods of data collectionInterviews, focus groups, observations, content analysis, etc.Surveys, experiments, observations, etc.
Data analysisSubjective, based on interpretation and coding.Objective approach and involves statistical analysis.
Representation of informationTextual, visual, audio recording, narrative, or thematic.Numerical values, charts, graphs, and statistical summaries.
Research exampleCommon in disciplines like anthropology, sociology, psychology, or qualitative market research.Frequently used in fields like economics, epidemiology, physics, or quantitative market research.

 Which Type Is Better for Your Business?

Now, this is the most important question. Which strategy is most important for you?

Figuring it can be extremely difficult. You can get confused and might end up using the wrong strategy. The choice between qualitative and quantitative methods in business depends on your:

  • Specific goals
  • Type of information you want to extract.

However, here’s a quick guide on finding a suitable option for your business.

You Should Use Qualitative Data When:

Qualitative data is ideal for deeply understanding human experiences, preferences, and emotions. You can implement it to explore complex issues. Understand the “why” behind user behaviors and find valuable insights.

The qualitative approach is particularly useful in early-stage product development, customer experience analysis, and exploring new markets. Let’s understand it with an example.

Suppose you’re a product manager of a software company. The company has launched a beta version of an app. But they want you to gather user responses and feedback. With it, you can get in-depth insights. Most importantly, how you can make them love the app. These comments might be like this.

  • What you’re doing right: I love the user-friendly interface.
  • What needs improvement: I find it challenging to navigate the settings menu.

Now you have rich, in-depth insights. Guide your team and appreciate them for what they are doing right. Tell them what needs to be improved, i.e., user experience.

You Should Use Quantitative Data When:

Quantitative data is different from qualitative data. It gives you precise numerical information. So, you are setting the basis for objective comparisons, statistical analysis, and data-driven decision-making.

So, if you want to conduct market research, A/B testing, or statistical analysis, this is best for you. So what they do is.

Gather structured feedback → Large audience is involved → Make predictions about future outcomes and trends.

But understanding it with this example will help you learn this concept better. Suppose you’re running an e-commerce store. You want to increase sales, so you implement two marketing strategies.

  • Facebook ads
  • YouTube ads

Both of them have the same purpose.

Increasing the conversion rates.

So, you start running the ads and try these strategies for a month. After a month, you record quantitative information on various metrics, including click-through rates, conversion rates, and average order values for each group.

You do the analysis, and the results show that Facebook ads are more effective for your business growth. YouTube ads have a 20% less conversion rate than Facebook ads. Thus, by using the quantitative method, you conclude the best strategy for your business.

Can You Use Both Qualitative and Quantitative Data?

There is no doubt that both strategies are incredibly different. But these strategies together can double the results you’re getting. It offers a more holistic understanding of the subject.

It’s simple.

The quantitative method tells you whether your metrics are high or low.

Meanwhile qualitative method, you analyze the reason those metrics are high or low.

You’re doing customer feedback analysis, combining these, and getting a complete view of your users. Doing feedback analysis?

Get deeper insights by mixing these strategies, see what’s working, and how to improve it.

Remember, numbers on a dashboard show how things are changing. But understanding why is crucial for informed decisions. Using a mixed methods approach helps gain valuable context, an in-depth understanding of your customers, and much more.


Many people just read the differences between qualitative and quantitative data and then jump into implementing it. It is not the best way to start your research. You should know the benefits, disadvantages, examples, and other necessary things to decide.

By choosing the qualitative method, you get a depth of context and understand much deeper concepts. However, with quantitative, you can find insights, trends, predictions, etc.

Remember the results should be accurate and reliable. So, if you’re working on a project and analyzing material, use these approaches wisely. Don’t get confused between these terms.

Focus on jotting down all the information. You can refine it later. It will help you get all the information in a rough form, which can be optimized later. So whether you’re exploring issues in customer feedback, conducting scientific experiments, or assessing business performance, choosing the right information will be a game-changer. 

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