Santosh took over as manager of a breakfast cereal brand at a large corporation. He soon found that sales were weak compared to their competitors despite their large market penetration. He commissioned detailed research into why the product wasn’t doing well, including a survey of customer preferences. Soon, he discovered consumers weren’t enjoying the flavor, finding it too sweet.

 A survey is a kind of quantitative research frequently used to collect data.

What is quantitative research? It involves gathering information through interviews, observation and experiments. The results are often available as charts, tables or numerical values. Collecting large amounts of information allows for the statistical analysis of data. 

Quantitative research is used to discover patterns in or differences between populations or objects of interest. It can be collected in many ways. Let’s dive in to understand the meaning of quantitative research and its place in the world of research.

  1. What Is Quantitative Research?

  2. Quantitative Research Vs. Qualitative Research

  3. Quantitative Methods In Business

  4. Quantitative Analysis For Strategic Planning


What Is Quantitative Research?

Quantitative research is one of two primary methods of understanding the world through research, the other being qualitative research. As the names suggest, quantitative methods look at matters through a numerical lens, while qualitative research is more subjective in scope.

 When trying to define quantitative research, there are four types we discuss most frequently:


  1. Survey

    A survey collects data through the interrogation of individuals. For example, a door-to-door census is an example of a survey. An interviewer would ask pre-defined questions through a questionnaire to respondents. When a survey is used to collect information, it is often seen in examples of quantitative research. But, like many research methods, a survey can be used in both quantitative and qualitative studies.

  2. Experiment

    Another of several quantitative research methods, an experiment is a means of conducting research by manipulating the variables involved in an activity or process to see what happens. Scientific experiments reveal the nature of biological or chemical materials, social experiments show us how humans think and interact with one another.

  3. Observation

    This is an observation of a situation over a time period. For example, researchers can study traffic patterns on a particular road on different days of the week, or how customers move in and out of parts of a store from one season to the next. This is usually done without actively altering the situation being observed.

  4. Secondary Research

    This is research done on a topic based on what has already been written or recorded through other means. It’s a good way to get a more accurate idea of what is known about a subject.


The term quantitative research covers a lot of ground. Which data collection methods researchers finally choose will depend on the subject and scope. For instance, if an organization wants to study the use of various detergents in a city, they could opt for a survey. On the other hand, if a start-up is developing a new kind of bio-fuel, they would have to conduct detailed experiments to gather data.


Quantitative Research Vs. Qualitative Research

 Now that we’ve been able to define quantitative research, we can dig a little deeper into its characteristics.

 When presented with a question, researchers must first decide whether a qualitative approach is needed or a quantitative one. Sometimes the answer is one or the other, or it could even be a combination of both. Research design is a subject that requires thought. Here are some features of both:


  • Quantitative research uses numbers and statistical analysis
  • Quantitative methods collect data based on variables such as age, gender, occupation, marital status, ethnicity and religious affiliation
  • Quantitative methods are not appropriate for subjects that can’t be assigned a numerical value. They can be used for more subjective matters, but it takes careful research design
  • Qualitative research involves interviews, observations, or experiments to provide a detailed picture of a topic


There are some advantages and disadvantages of both methods that apply to most research situations. Some strengths of each method include:


  • Qualitative research may not produce statistics. Quantitative research can generate numbers from the data being gathered
  • Quantitative research methods can be used comparatively quickly, and the results generated can be interpreted with certainty. This is compared to qualitative research, which can take much longer and requires more resources to complete
  • A quantitative study can be extremely accurate because the numbers tell researchers when certain conditions are met. In qualitative research, there are no numbers associated with it and it uses qualities such as observation, interviews and participant feedback in determining what is happening
  • Quantitative research can be used in a variety of applications and forms. We can use it for marketing, policy making, sociology and psychology
  • Quantitative studies can involve many variables and experiments at one time compared to qualitative researchers who must limit their focus to get usable data


Choosing the right approach could mean the difference between failure and success in learning about the subject. With a clear understanding of quantitative research meaning, these decisions become easier.


Quantitative Methods In Business

 Studying some examples of quantitative research can help businesses achieve goals and objectives. Quantitative methods allow us a better understanding of customers and markets, improving sales and profitability.

 There are several types of quantitative analyses in marketing. Let’s take a closer look.

  1. Market Segmentation

    Market segmentation is the process of dividing the entire market into several distinct groups or segments so that each can be analyzed separately. The segments can be based on any characteristic, including gender, age, race, income level or place of residence. Once the customer has been identified, the brand can decide what products or services to offer them and how to deliver them. Market segmentation can also be used to determine what price to charge for products or services in a particular segment. 

  2. Market Analysis

    Market analysis entails collecting data about a market or industry, then interpreting the data. We often use the results of market analysis when deciding what products or services to offer consumers in the future, where to locate facilities, whether to merge with another company, whether there are problems in competing against other businesses and which customers are most profitable. Market analysis can be qualitative or quantitative depending on the type of information collected.

  3. Market Forecasting

    Market forecasting is the process of predicting future market trends. The information collected by market researchers is often difficult to interpret, which prompts organizations to hire quantitative researchers for this purpose.

  4. Market Research

    Quantitative research can be used for market research to see how consumers react to different advertising techniques. Quantitative research is used in marketing management when creating sales promotions or product pricing or when deciding if a new product should be introduced in the market. Quantitative research also finds application in internet marketing to see if there are any trends among customers or what types of marketing strategies are finding success.

  5. Operational Analysis

    Quantitative methods can be used in operations and production management. Some examples of quantitative research can be seen in analyzing cash flow, purchasing, sales, distribution and scheduling of jobs, among others.

  6.  Data Analysis

    Quantitative research is used in data mining, or data gathering. Data mining involves researching large amounts of data, using algorithms to identify patterns and trends. This information can then be used to help improve operations and production management by first identifying areas that should be improved and then implementing changes that would optimize the operation.


Quantitative analysis has far-ranging applications for business and management.


Quantitative Analysis For Strategic Planning

Quantitative research in business can be used in decision-making. It helps analyze large amounts of data, such as:

  • Changes in income, sales, inventory and capital spending
  • Profitability through cost of goods, labor costs or operating expenses
  • Competitive advantages through pricing or production costs
  • Limits of market access due to cost constraints
  • Trends in market share by analyzing sales over time
  • Product acceptance by analysis of satisfaction scores achieved by customers


Managers might commission a quantitative study to gather data on the current situation and then use this information to plan measures to course-correct where needed.

 Before embarking on a quantitative study, first identify your desired goals. There are many statistical measures to determine the success or failure of any study. The data can also be used to formulate a hypothesis that best explains the results.

For managers to achieve mastery over analytical tools, it can take significant amounts of hard work and experience. Harappa’s Thinking Critically course provides professionals with transformative information and insight into how to make the best decisions under pressure. It helps them on the way to the mature thinking needed to process information, arrive at proper conclusions and structure persuasive arguments. These traits are an asset in every workplace and as professionals grow through the stages of their careers. Strengthen your teams today with Harappa.


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