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Qualitative, Quantitative and Desk Research  

We know that your business needs to move fast to outrun competitors and capture market opportunities. You will find us a responsive partner. We believe that market research is most valuable when it’s conducted quickly and efficiently and when its results inspire action.

Our mission is to create the right market research solution for your business need. That’s why, before we do anything else, we make sure that we understand your business and the specific questions you’re looking to answer. Then, we recommend the most efficient research path that best serves your unique business needs. It’s important to us that, throughout our work together, you not only find answers to your business questions but you feel that you work with a trusted partner who understands your business and wants you to succeed.

Market research breaks down into three main types, qualitative, quantitative and desk (or secondary). There is no, one 'best' method as they each have advantages and drawbacks and are appropriate to use in different situations. 

Below is a quick illustration of the different types. If you are considering research, speak to us and we will be happy to give guidance on the best approach for your specific needs and budget.

In simple terms, qualitative techniques are used to help answer 'why?' objectives and quantitative techniques for 'how many?'.  

Research techniques can be used stand-alone or in conjunction with others. 


Costs (and time needed) vary depending on the technique used, how easy/difficult it will be to find the required people and their willingness to take part.  



Qualitative techniques are more exploratory in nature, designed to understand issues in detail and to understand 'why' people respond how they do. 


The main approaches include: focus groups, 1-1 interviews and observation. 


The techniques are open or semi-structured to allow participants to freely express themselves and for the researcher to react and probe emerging areas in more detail.  

Being exploratory, it can work well at the beginning of a project to give an initial understanding and identify key issues. For example, it is great for informing creative work and the design of questionnaires.  

Equally, it can work very well at the end of a project, for example to probe any surprising results in more detail or to explain why people gave the ratings they did.

In summary:

  • Open and exploratory

  • Tells you Why?

  • Small number of participants

  • Indicative rather than robust findings

Methods used



Quantitative involves larger numbers of people to give more robust results. 


The main technique is a questionnaire completed online, by telephone or in person. 

The majority of questions will be tick box types (yes/no, rating on a scale of 1-5 etc.) to help deliver best return on the investment.  

This approach works very well when greater certainty is needed or where differences between different sub-groups are important.   


The number of participants will vary for each client depending on their needs. After a point, larger samples are simply not worth the added investment required.  

In summary:

  • Closed and consistent

  • Tells you How many?

  • Large number of participants

  • Robust findings


Methods used


Desk / Secondary

Desk research involves finding and analysis existing information such as published reports.  

This approach can be considerably cheaper than qualitative & quantitative research and is works very well for market studies, competitor information etc.


However, it is reliant on finding published information which may or may not be available, up to date or from credible sources. Information availability and quality varies considerably by market and especially by country


Good desk research involves:

  • Going beyond Google

  • Searching and using a variety of information sources. 

  • Carefully considering the timeliness and credibility of information 

  • Using a solid analysis framework. 

  • Validating findings by talking to relevant experts. 

Further information about our desk research service is given here. 

If you would like to know more or have a project in mind, please get in contact. We will be happy to help. 
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