Qualitative versus Quantitative Research in Marketing
It is ironic that at a time when we have more quantitative data about consumers than ever before – so-called “big data,” scanner data, loyalty program purchase histories, trails of Internet searches and social media activity, and much more – that businesses nevertheless increasingly desire qualitative information. The two sets of methods also differ in their underlying assumptions about the nature of reality, the nature of evidence, causality, and factors that shape behavior. Unfortunately these differences often evoke an “either/or” approach on the part of researchers and audiences for their research. In both academic and applied research it is usually far more beneficial to adopt a “both/and” perspective and to select the best tool for the problem at hand. Otherwise, with a tool kit comprised of only a single tool, the “law of the hammer” tends to apply. If you only have a hammer in your tool kit, everything starts to look like a nail and we keep pounding away, regardless of the nature of the problem at hand.