Primary research involves gathering data for a specific research task. It is based on data that has not been gathered beforehand. Primary research can be either qualitative or quantitative.
Primary research can be used to explore a market and can help to develop the hypotheses or research questions that must be answered by further research. Generally, qualitative data is gathered at this stage. For example, online research communities can be used to identify consumer needs that are not being met and to brainstorm possible solutions. Further quantitative research can investigate what proportion of consumers share these problems and which potential solutions best meet those needs.
Data can be classified as qualitative or quantitative. Qualitative research is exploratory and seeks to find out what potential consumers think and feel about a given subject. Qualitative research aids in identifying potential hypotheses, whereas quantitative research puts hard numbers behind these hypotheses. Quantitative research relies on numerical data to demonstrate statistically significant outcomes.
The internet can be used to gather both qualitative and quantitative data. In fact, the communities on the web can be viewed as large focus groups, regularly and willingly sharing their opinions on products, markets, and companies.
When both qualitative and quantitative research are used, qualitative research usually takes place first to get an idea of the issues to be aware of, and then quantitative research tests the theories put forward.
The main differences between quantitative and qualitative research are represented in the following table.
|Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research|
|Data gathered||Numbers, figures, statistics, objective data||Opinions, feelings, motivations, subjective data|
|Data sources||Surveys, web analytics data||Focus groups, social media|
|Purpose||· Tests known issues or hypotheses|
· Seeks consensus
· Generalises data
|· Generates ideas and concepts; leads to issues or hypotheses to be tested|
· Seeks complexity
· Puts data in context
|Advantages||Statistically reliable results to determine if one option is better than the alternatives.||Looks at the context of issues and aims to|
|Challenges||Issues can be measured only if they are known prior to starting. Sample size must be sufficient for predicting the population||Shouldn’t be used to evaluate pre-existing ideas. Results are not predictors of the population.|
Both quantitative and qualitative research can be conducted online.
Web analytics packages are a prime source of data. Using data such as search terms, referral URLs, and internal search data can lead to qualitative information about the consumers visiting a website. However, data that is measurable and specific, such as impressions and click rates, lead to quantitative research.