Qual and Quant are Like Peanut Butter and Bananas, Not Oil and Water

Published On: February 10, 2016By

The following article is based on an article written for the Insights Association in 2014. Yesterday, a prospective client asked me, “Are you a qual person or a quant person?” He was shocked (and delighted, I think) when I told him I was both.

My academic training is in survey methodology, and people often assume that I’m purely a quantitative researcher who runs away in horror at the thought of doing a qualitative project. Nothing could be further from the truth! I think of myself as an equal-opportunity researcher who will happily employ a quant, qual, or hybrid methodology depending on the client’s needs. I view quant and qual as allies in the goal that we as market researchers are always pursuing: conducting the best research possible.

Some researchers see qual and quant as two distinct (and sometimes warring) camps; I’ve heard colleagues complain that “qual is too squishy” or that “quant is too dry.” Sometimes this even devolves into personal attacks: “Qual people are scared of numbers!” “Quant researchers think respondents are just rows in their data sets!”

I’d like to call for an end to the segregation of qual and quant, and encourage you to start thinking of the two as peanut butter and bananas: Each is viable on their own, but the two can be even better in combination!

Often the smartest research involves a combination of qual and quant methodologies to address clients’ objectives, read more about the recommended approaches click here