Data Collection in Marketing Research

Data Collection in Marketing Research

Data collection in marketing research is the process of compiling related data and then delivering of refined information from the compilation. The output data is thoroughly researched, processed, and extracted by the expert from the relevant data compilation.

There are two types of data collection methods. They are:

Primary Data

Secondary data

Types of Data:

1. Primary Data:

The process of collecting the primary data is very specific to the study’s purpose. The data which is collected freshly to meet the desired purpose of the study is the primary data. The primary data collection source will be fresh and original which is designed by the researcher to address the existing problem.

2. Secondary data:

Secondary data is the utilization of existing data that is readily available. Since these data are already existing, it is economical and can be obtained quickly. The Secondary data will be utilized when there is a constraint in obtaining the primary data.

Data Collection Methods:

There are two types of data collection methods. They are:

 A. Qualitative Research

B. Quantitative Research

A. Qualitative Research:

Qualitative research is performed to comprehend the preliminary problem. It has no statistical significance It is an inductive method for gathering, organizing, and categorizing data relevant to specific topics. The data is self-explanatory and it is not statistically significant. It is used in the design of exploratory and descriptive research. Qualitative data such as Interview transcripts, documents, diaries, and notes taken while observing are classic examples of qualitative data. 

There are two main approaches to gathering qualitative data. They are:

      Direct Collection Method
Indirect Collection-Method

 1. Direct Collection Method:

The direct collection method involves collecting the data directly in a disguised way to not reveal the data collection purpose toa. the respondents. This method makes use of the following:

      a. Focus Groups

      b. Depth Interview

      c. Case Study

2.Indirect Collection-Method

Projective Techniques

B. Quantitative Research 

It is the process of quantifying the data and generalizing the results from the sample to the population. In Quantitative Research, data can be collected through two methods and they are:

A. Survey Method

B. Observation Method

Qualitative and Quantitative Research 

The approach of qualitative and quantitative research is often misunderstood by the name that quantitative investigation produces numerical information whereas qualitative investigation produces non-numerical information. When there is uncertainty or the problem is not clearly defined, exploratory research and qualitative studies are deployed in the study. When there is little or no ambiguity and the business problem is structured then casual research and quantitative techniques are carried out.

Qualitative Research

In short, qualitative research helps in perceiving and establishing the underlying opinions, behavior patterns, and motivations. Qualitative research is used for deeper exploration based on formulated hypothesis by understanding rather than measuring thereby enriching the information collected. Thus the qualitative approach is focussed on the emotional perspective instead of the rational approach of the respondent’s decision-making nature. It gives us a sense of feeling how a customer feels. 

Qualitative studies assist in the following business situations:

  • Market Study: Analyzing consumer interest in the company’s new idea in a particular demographic.
  • New Product Development: Understanding the actual need of the end user.
  • Creative Development Research: Pertaining to branding; what should be said and how should it be said.
  • Diagnostic Studies: Understanding how is the company’s category or brand doing as compared to the competitor’s offerings and image respectively.


Qualitative research can be carried out by:

1. Focus Group Discussions: 

This is the most effective and preferred method for conducting qualitative research. Respondents are made to feel at ease and are asked general questions first in a group of 5-8 people. The conversation gradually shifts to our desired research subject and aids in obtaining early reactions to marketing programmes or understanding consumers’ perceptions of a new product concept.

2. In Depth Interviews: 

Personal interviews are conducted instead of focus groups in the following cases:

  1. Discussing sensitive, confidential or embarrassing topics (Example: Women’s hygiene issues)
  2. Requirement of detailed probing (Example: Purchase psychology for an automobile is best done
    with the respondent one on one)
  3. Situations where the respondent may get influenced by the group response (Example: Opinion on TV censorship where social norms prevail)
  4. Interviews with highly professional people with busy schedules (Example: Understanding required from doctors on a new medical topic)

In par with the qualitative research, the projective technique is used extensively in extracting information from respondents that capture the emotions in consumer behaviour. At times, the desired results may not be yield from the direct questions even if it looks that the respondents answers are sensible but may not be necessarily true. This is due to the fact that the consumers themselves often find it difficult to express their hidden motivations as they are themselves not fully aware of their reasons. To resolve this, projective techniques such as the below ones are used:

  • Brand Personalities: The strength of advertising can be tested by imagining brands as persons or objects. For example, asking that if Sunsilk was a person, what would he be like?
  • Collages: Asking respondents to draw collages of a brand to help understand what consumers think about symbols used for advertising the brand.
  • Word Association: First word that comes to mind upon mentioning a particular word. For example if the word Coke brings out the first mentioned word as happiness, Coke is maintaining its strong brand image.

Quantitative Research

This method uncover the patterns and present factual informations from the numerical data. This is more objective whereas the qualitative method is more subjective. Quantitative method is approached through carefully selected sample with a reasonable size representing the target population which actually means that the 95% confidence interval is a good sign for deciding the sample size i.e the survey response obtained are same 95 times out of 100 times.


Quantitative research is most commonly used to determine cause and effect relationships. For example, how much revenue is expected to increase if the marketing budget is increased by 15%? If the relationship between the dependent (revenue) and independent (marketing budget) variables is strong, the test hypothesis holds true, and the company should increase its marketing spending. As a result of the facts presented in this study, a firm stance can be taken.


Data for quantitative studies is collected through various types of surveys that use questionnaires. The questionnaire survey can also be conducted in a variety of ways, including face-to-face, email, telephone, online, and so on. 

  • Mail survey: Even though mail surveys are convenient, relatively inexpensive and maintain anonymity of the respondent, the feedback cannot be obtained from them which is a major drawback.
  • Telephonic & Face-to-face survey: There’s little margin for errors in these types of check as the interviewer is available for assistance. In the mean time, the interviewer may occasionally impact the respondent leading to prejudiced answers.
  • Online: Online checks and surveys carried out over the internet are gaining popularity these days as they can reach a wide range of audience. The responder may not be interested in taking up the survey fully or answering all questions seriously without any incentive is the downside of this method. Hybrid: A fusion of techniques can be used to record better responses. A commonly used hybrid method is Telephone-Mail-Telephone (TMT) wherein respondents are instructed over the phone and then sent the survey over mail to be filled at their convenience.

The selection of the above means depends on budget, time and complexity. If budget is a constraint, you can use mail surveys. Online surveys are instantaneous and should therefore be launched when time is short. When interaction is required, personal or telephone surveys should be used.

Concluding Remarks

As detailed in the aforementioned topics, the use of quantitative research is preferred to qualitative research and vice versa. Ideally, if there are less budget constraints, we can use both because they offer different and complementary perspectives. Sometimes the two need to be used in tandem. To conclude, qualitative research will produce a more narrative report with random narration and direct quotes from respondents. In contrast, a quantitative study will produce a statistical report with correlations, significance, means, etc. and the harsh truth.

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