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Market research is the process of surveying customers and potential customers using controlled and specific processes. Quantitative data is data that can be measured objectively. Quantitative marketing research, then, is the process of collecting measurable data from customers, prospective customers, or the general public. This data can then be used to predict buying patterns and future demand, and to identify target markets.
Quantitative marketing research refers specifically to the collection of factual, measurable data. This includes personal data, such as the sex, age, annual income, or number of children, of the person being surveyed. It also includes data such as the number of times the interviewee visits a particular store or restaurant, the amount of money she spends on groceries every month, and the number of hours she spends watching television or listening to the radio.
Such data can be drilled down even further. For example, a company whose target market is women between the ages of 30 and 40 will want to know which radio or television stations an interviewee in that age range watches or listens to. It will further want to know the times during which those stations are being tuned in. This allows the company to purchase advertising time on those specific stations at the most-watched times.
The counterpart to quantitative marketing research is qualitative marketing research, which deals with unmeasurable data. This includes interviewee opinions, such as whether an individual likes a certain actress or enjoys a certain leisure activity. It also includes relational data, such as which of two food options is the interviewee's favorite.
It is possible to quantify opinions by using a rating scale. For example, asking an interviewee to identify her favorite restaurant out of a list of several is an example of qualitative research. If, however, the interviewee is given the same list of restaurants and asked to rate each on a scale of one to 10, the resultant data is an example of quantitative marketing research because the results can be measured.
Research studies often incorporate both types of data in order to gain a well-rounded view of consumer opinions. Quantitative marketing research can uncover specific facts that can then be explained by qualitative research. For example, the quantitative portion of the survey may uncover that an interviewee shops at store A three times each month and store B only once per month. The qualitative portion may reveal the reason for the disparity.
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