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Qualitative and quantitative are descriptive words, both are adjectives, that describe measurements of two different types. To the point, quantitative refers to a volume of measurement, measuring by sheer numbers, whereas qualitative refers to a measurement of quality, or of merit. It basically comes down to quantity or volume versus quality or merit, when using these two terms. Where these two terms are most often used, though are in regards to research, data, or marketing data. Do you want to find out who likes product A (qualitative), for example, versus how many people use product A (quantitative), would be qualitative research versus quantitative research.
The best way to show the difference between the two is to break down the difference between what defines qualitative research or data and what defines qualitative research or data.
Quantitative data doesn’t care about opinion or thought, but it is simply data that revolves around sheer numbers, or research that revolves around sheer numbers. It is a measurement of something that has numeric value, number of people, height, distance, and so forth. It is a study of or collection of numbers related to any particular topic or research. Simply put quantitative is equal to quantity of whatever you are defining.
Let us take a quantitative look at a pizza restaurant. Pizza Joe’s serves 500 people a week, they sell 250 pizzas a week and they make $5000 a week in volume. The pizzas they sell are 12” in size, 14” in size, and 16” in size. A pepperoni pizza has 45-50 slices of pepperoni per pie on average and takes 7 minutes to make, and can should be delivered to the table 10 minutes after it is ordered.
Qualitative data or qualitative research collects descriptive data, or data that is not concerned with numbers but with opinions, feelings and observations. It wants to find out the desirability or lack thereof of whatever is being researched. It seeks reactions, opinions and ideas, or data that cannot be measured. It wants to know how you like something, how you feel about it, and what you think about it. Qualitative is equal to quality of whatever is being defined or observed.
Let us now take a qualitative look at Pizza Joe’s. Pizza Joes serves excellent pizza’s, with a robust aroma. Their pizzas are considered delectable and fairly priced. They use a good amount of fresh ingredients, and have many happy, return customers. Their service is quick, courteous and effective and the restaurant is clean and inviting.
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