What is a quantitative method, and how does it differ from qualitative methods?
Quantitative research services focus on statistics and numbers, and 'quantity'. This style of data collection concentrates on objective measurements and numerical analysis of data, often used when answering questions such as 'How many…?', 'Which?', 'Where?', 'Who?', and 'How?'
In this way, quantifiable numerical data can be used to predict trends, explain causal relationships, or contribute towards an understanding of why particular phenomena are occurring. For example, you may ask "Which of these toothpaste brands do you use regularly?" or "Where do you shop for exercise equipment?", and when put to a large sample, the non-textual data will show clear differences. A quantitative survey of any size among customers, employees or stakeholders can be achieved using methods such as online questionnaires, telephone surveys, and panels with closed questions.
Quantitative research services accommodate broad studies that involve a large number of respondents – this is usually a minimum of several hundred, up to thousands. This allows for increased objectivity and, in theory, reliable or representative data. If conducting 'pulse-taking' research on a regular basis, well-designed quantitative research can be replicated with relative ease. Results can be directly compared to those from previous projects to provide insight into changes over time. Quantitative research is particularly valuable when testing propositions, for example, "Retirees are time-rich and are more likely to spend multiple hours with their pets." You can also gather data about elements such as price points that consumers would be willing to pay, or product or service features that they particularly value.
Quantitative questions should have a fixed answer. This could be as simple as a dichotomy ("yes" or "no"), or presenting the respondent with a variety of options from a list. Another method is to ask respondents to rank their answers, for example, "On a scale of 1 to 10, rate how important you find these factors when selecting a washing powder brand." This could alternatively be structured on a rating scale by order of preference, such as "highly satisfied" to "highly dissatisfied".
The options that are offered to respondents as part of quantitative research services need to be inclusive and consider as many plausible answers as possible. This is because the results need to be straightforward to measure, and therefore reducing the number of respondents who select "Other", or "Don’t Know". However, you must ensure that this option is included if the participant genuinely is not sure, or has a response that the survey does not account for.
In addition, it is important to avoid questions that make assumptions. This could take the form of a question such as "When you go to a physiotherapist, is their logo important to you?" with a dichotomous answer of "yes/no". It is likely that not all the respondents in the survey have ever visited a physiotherapist. Therefore they would be forced to select an untrue answer. This could either decrease the reliability it of the survey results, or possibly lead to respondents leaving the survey out of frustration that their opinion is unable to be registered. It is also worth noting that the lack of personal researcher contact combined with the distance of the respondent can lead to 'false' responses, where the respondent will answer with deliberately incorrect or nonsensical answers in an effort to complete the survey quickly.
At Mackman Research, we use a number of quantitative research services as standard which can be used as 'stand alone' methods or in conjunction with other methods.
Panel surveys are a great way to litmus test service and marketing propositions on mass audiences.
Panel surveys are a quantitative means of data collection and work by employing a minimum panel of 500 respondents who have agreed to take part in either general or specific market research. The maximum number of responses is in theory unlimited, but will be subject to limitations according to topic specification and geographical reach. Typically panel surveys require participants to answer early fielding questions to ensure that surveys target those who are most likely to use a particular product or service.
Unlike many forms of qualitative research, panel surveys often offer an incentive or reward to take part hence their reliability can be questionable. At Mackman Research we frequently recommend either very simple questionnaires to reduce increases in human error or behaviours such a click patterns, and once panel survey findings are delivered 'drilling down' with qualitative methods is a perfect way to ensure that all of your data is robust and will stand up to scrutiny.
Panel surveys can be completed via a bespoke online portal or with a postal survey. Online methods obtain greater response rates due to their ease of completion and are increasingly used as more and more people embrace the digital age. Yet postal panels can also be advantageous as they may be able to reach audiences who do not have access to online technologies.
As with all of our research, we aim to ensure that you get the very best quality data. We can advise you on the right panel method to use depending on your target survey audience, speak to a member of our research team and we’ll be happy to discuss your research needs.
Postal surveys are a direct way of gaining insight from potentially hard to reach residential groups.
Postal surveys can be a straightforward method of gathering feedback relating to services and often appeal to older audiences because they allow time to mull over responses.
Whilst the use of postal surveys has declined over the last decade, there remains an important role for this type of data collection and research method. A postal survey has the ability to reach a targeted audience and is a particularly effective method of surveying communities or precise social geographies. Crucially, unlike other methods such as online panel surveys, the postal survey can be highly inclusive and flexible. For this reason many housing associations, County Councils and central government services survey residents, tenants, and service users via postal surveys.
A postal survey can reach households and potential respondents who may not be able to complete surveys online or face-to-face. The general rule when constructing a postal survey questionnaire is to keep questions concise and very easy to follow. Short and simple questioning further improves the chances of completion and makes the survey even more accessible to a diverse sample or population. The postal survey in paper format can be produced in large print or in multiple languages and self-completion allows for the respondent to reply in their own time. Importantly, the postal survey offers a level of anonymity that is often preferred when giving feedback on services such as care or housing provision.
The postal survey has a reduced statistical reliability due to the fact that it is impossible to tell who completed or influenced the completion of the survey, hence a growing preference to conduct surveys using the telephone survey or online survey methods where individuals can be specifically targeted. Here telephone and online methods have an advantage over postal surveys because they seek a response from a named person or representative, in addition these methodologies are generally more cost effective having shorter timescales with less reliance on waiting for self-completion and postal returns. Finally, the postal survey must contain short and simple questions and because of this it is an inappropriate method of data collection if requiring in-depth or qualitative data relating to complex issues.
A postal survey will involve a pre-survey invitation to be mailed out to the respondent or household prior to the questionnaire being mailed out. All postal communication typically includes a pre-paid return system or envelope and early invitation also enables the respondent to request large print or language variations if required. Incentives in the form of a prize draw or charitable donation can be a good way to encourage participation in postal surveys. Once we have established the appropriate format for the postal questionnaire, we mail out the physical survey. A time frame is set during which data collection is kept open and once the deadline has passed, and depending upon the response rate, we close the survey and begin to collate findings.
Mackman Research can design, manage, collate and analyse a postal survey project on your behalf. Mackman Research has good knowledge and experience of delivering postal surveys and achieving high response rates, especially when a postal survey combines an online survey link as an alternative way to respond to the questionnaire. When conducting a postal survey we ensure questionnaires consist of a user-friendly design and are professionally printed.
If you are considering a postal survey and are uncertain as to the appropriateness of postal methodology for your project, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your project and the options available to you.
For an initial informal discussion with a senior member of our team either complete the contact form or call us on 01787 388 038. We would be interested to discuss your requirements in more depth and how best to move forward.
Online surveys are a highly cost effective method of data collection.
Online surveys are similar to panel surveys in that they require a questionnaire to be completed via digital means.
Our online surveys offer respondents the opportunity to complete the questionnaire in their own time. Often offered as a bolt-on method of data collection, the online survey can be an effective way to scoop up non-responders. Quantitative results from online surveys can be gathered and measured in a format that is straightforward to administer and can be accessed on mobile devices or email. Because they are conducted remotely, online surveys are not dependent on geographic constraints and can collect and store data from large numbers of respondents. They can be used for both quantitative and qualitative methodological frameworks and as such cab gather detailed responses if need be.
As one of the more cost effective methods among quantitative research services, online surveys are easy to administer. Many clients prefer this option as it affords them the opportunity to reach more people. Our online surveys are assembled according to your needs and benefit from being addressed or emailed to named contacts. When conducting B2B research, this method really works as it is personal, confidential and, again, convenient. As with all of our quantitative research services, we take our position as third party researchers seriously. That is why we have developed online survey plans that take into account the needs of those attempting to respond. This means that we are sensitive in our approach and, whilst this is predominantly a quantitative method, we like to apply a ‘human’ and personal element to our online process.
Contact a member of our research team if you would like to explore the benefits of conducting an online survey.
Street polls offer snapshots of opinion with the added benefits of face-to-face product engagement.
Street polls are short interviews that ask just 3 or 4 questions to gauge a quick view of opinion. These short interviews take place in public locations, such as towns and cities, to gain top-of-mind feedback from participants who are visiting or passing through a specific location. This can be particularly useful if you are looking to gain insight about that location, for example a customer satisfaction survey or customer perception survey conducted in a shopping centre. Alternatively, they are effective when used to interview participants from a specific geographical area, such as a street survey in a town that is considering proposed regeneration.
Street polls are also effective quantitative research services when gathering data relating to products. Here food and drink is sometimes tested, where consumers are asked to taste the item and asked for instant feedback. Street polls are a great way to connect with respondents on a face-to-face basis. At Mackman Research, we do more than just gather data during street polls. Whilst we are experts at engaging with the public, we also consider our presence to be raising awareness about a brand, product or service.
We frequently recommend a small incentive to take part in a street poll. Much like the focus group, it is important to acknowledge that people have taken a few minutes out of their day to answer our questions. Incentives can be small, yet they should be appealing to the public and represent your brand ethic favourably.
As research specialists, we design street polls to be concise, yet insightful. If you need a snapshot of opinion, street polls may be the perfect method for you to use. Contact us to talk through your research options.
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