23 Quantitative & Qualitative Research

There are two main types of formal research: quantitative research and qualitative research. Quantitative research usually focuses on measuring quantities of some kind. It focuses on numbers, statistics and percentages. Qualitative research focuses on generating in-depth insights to understand how a person or a group of people feel about a question or issue of interest.

Let’s go back to our cookie example. To understand what is needed to revitalize the Scrumpties brand, you may have decided to do some research. You want to understand who is purchasing Scrumpties most often, and why. Quantitative research, such as a survey, will likely help you understand who is purchasing Scrumpties.  A survey is a quantitative research technique based on a standard series of questions which yields statistical results and conclusions (Smith, 2021, p. 587). A survey will allow you to gather their demographic characteristics, such as age and gender, information about how often they purchase Scrumpties, and general details about why they choose Scrumpties, such as taste, price, or quality. Your survey results may show that men over 60 are the most frequent purchasers of Scrumpties, that 60 percent of survey respondents purchase Scrumpties weekly, and that 80 percent of your survey respondents choose Scrumpties because of their taste. This is valuable information!

Even though you’ve collected some great numerical information with your survey, you may decide you want to understand more about why men over 60 in particular seem drawn to Scrumpties. Qualitative research, such as a focus group, may be your next step. A focus group is a “qualitative research technique involving conversation among several participants, guided by a monitor and recorded for later analysis” (Smith, 2021, p. 573). To conduct your focus group, you may invite 6-10 Scrumpties’ purchasers who are male and over 60, and ask them to share why they choose to purchase Scrumpties. Through a group discussion, you may learn that this demographic of purchasers chooses Scrumpties because the taste reminds them of the cookies they enjoyed in elementary school. With this in-depth information about why they choose Scrumpties, you can make better decisions about how to revitalize the brand. For example, you might consider a strategy that focuses on nostalgic elements. A campaign that asks purchasers to share their #scrumptiesmemory, for example, may be a way to connect nostalgic sentiment with the Scrumpties brand.

By conducting quantitative research (a survey) and qualitative research (a focus group), you have important numerical evidence to help guide your decision-making, and useful in-depth information to further inform your choices. Both types of research help you develop a strategy for revitalizing the Scrumpties brand.



Smith, R. (2021). Strategic Planning for Public Relations (6th ed). Routledge.



Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Foundations of Public Relations: Canadian Edition Copyright © by Department of Communication Studies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book