Saros Research SupportSaros Research SupportFAQ Default chapterWhat is Qualitative Research and how is it different from Quantative research?

What is Qualitative Research and how is it different from Quantative research?

It is surprising how little is known about qualitative research for those who have had no direct contact with it. Saros aims to change all that, by opening up participation opportunities as widely as possible.

For many people, typical experience of market research involves answering questions, either online or with a telephone or face to face interviewer. Usually these questions are 'closed', with a yes/no or multiple choice response option, and tend to be used to find out quickly what a lot of people think or do, so that generalisations can be made to the rest of the population - eg '50% of the public have seen this ad' or '20% of female customers under 30 like the new packaging' etc. Because it's all about numbers, this kind of research is known as quantitative research ('quantative' across the pond or often just 'quant').

Qualitative research on the other hand looks at smaller samples of the public, and is designed to answer specific questions about WHY people think or behave like they do. This kind of research tends to be far more in-depth, thought-provoking, and - based on the feedback we receive daily - a lot more interesting for the participants!


It's not about finding people who 'represent' a whole population, but about examining specific issues - for example, a researcher may want to talk only to people who used to use their product but have now gone off it, or another time they may need to investigate decision making amongst loyal recommenders of their brand, or they might only need people who use a certain service infrequently. That's why we have to ask you so many questions in screening...

Highly trained researchers use a number of skills and techniques to draw out impressions and opinions that you may not even be consciously aware of - from word association or sorting exercises to creative tasks such as collaging or blogging. Respondents often say they learn a great deal from the process, and not just about the product or ideas being discussed. They also tell us that, whatever their expectations about the subject matter (which might be quite dry-sounding, for example research about household products), they find the time flies by far more quickly than they expected.

Of course it does all take far more time than ticking a few boxes, and often means travelling to a central research facility. You will usually be required to THINK quite a bit as well, to use your imagination and draw on memories and associations and perform other feats of the mind which are fun, challenging and thought provoking - this is of course why qualitative research participants are paid for their time. To register with Saros Research, complete your details on our short sign up form.