What is Research?

Picture via the NASA Earth Observatory!

Picture via the NASA Earth Observatory!

A seemingly basic question, defining the term “research” can also be tricky. Merriam Webster itself has three definitions.

1.       Careful or diligent search

2.       Studious inquiry or examination

3.       Collection of information about a particular subject

Obviously, research as a concept includes different methods and intensities, not to mention also encompasses all work that includes the process.  Further, each of these definitions includes some other important facets. Searches, inquiries, and examination all require different approaches, after all. They also all encompass a cohesive study, particularly if the focus is a new topic or area that researchers are still looking to define.

Like all niches, the above definitions also include market research. Qualitative and quantitative research both searches for target markets, as well examines and investigates them. How this happens is quite different, however.

  • Qualitative Research: examines how individuals or focus groups feel about products. It requires a more interpersonal approach, and answers are typically more in-depth and hard to categorize.  Such research can occur in the field, controlled environments, or anywhere between.

  • Quantitative Research: uses numbers to study and examine large market sectors, customer bases, and other factors. Quantitative research is good for analyzing anything from survey responses to return frequencies. However, findings are typically broad and may lack the insight crucial for finding the most productive target market.

Hybrid studies are also becoming quite popular. A combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches, quant/qual hybrid research research typically asks specific questions to a larger subject pool. Upwards of 60 participants are common, allowing researchers to gather more responsive answers while also including larger segments.

Of course, efficacy is also important. As devs are well aware, research is only good as its impact on content or products. Quantitative research is always popular, but the methodology really catapulted to prominence with ecommerce. Qualitative research, however, was lagging behind due to lack serviceable technology. Platforms like are changing that each and everyday, making this crucial research method more affordable, far faster, and easier to manage. Find out more by checking out our Q&A section or scheduling a demo.

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