Quantitative research is the type that most people have experienced. A market researcher poses a specific group of structured questions to a relatively large sample of respondents.
A variety of methods is used to gather information, including telephone and mail surveys. Researchers view these kinds of studies as statistically valid because they use large numbers of respondents.
Qualitative research typically looks at smaller samples of respondents, usually in focus groups or one-on-one interviews. The facilitators who conduct the groups or individual interviews are skilled in probing participants for information that the client organization is seeking, like name recognition or product, service or organizational image.
Qualitative research is often employed to generate hypotheses and ideas that can be tested in a quantitative survey. For instance, through a quantitative study you find that a large number of people dislike your product’s packaging. You might then use a focus group or personal interviews to gather more in-depth information that explains what they don’t like about it or what would be more appealing.