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Marketing Research Methodology in 2023: Why a Large Sample Is Not the Main Factor

Digital Marketing
October 24, 2023
15 mins

How can you assess the relevance of your company's products or services and how well they meet the needs of your audience? By asking your customers about it. What is the best tool to use for this? Ordering a marketing research of the audience. Usually, two main types are used: qualitative and quantitative research.

When and which of these approaches to marketing research is more appropriate? Quantitative with all of its numbers, or qualitative with focus groups and in-depth interviews? 

Whenever possible, choose a combined marketing research methods, as it will give you the best insights and statistically significant results. This way, you will get more of your questions answered and will make more business decisions based on real data rather than intuition.

Any of these types of research is needed to better understand customer needs, customer behavior, and seller selection criteria. However, many people hesitate to conduct surveys because they need a lot of respondents. How do you know if 100 or 500 people will be enough? And when even 20 will provide the required result?

How important is sampling in qualitative and quantitative research? What exactly do you need to pay attention to? We analyzed these questions together with Kateryna Gusachenko, Lead Strategist at Promodo.

Qualitative Research vs Quantitative Research Marketing: Methodologies in the Nutshell 

As we noted earlier, qualitative and quantitative research methods solve different problems and are often most effective when used in tandem. . First, qualitative research, then quantitative research.

types of qualitative research

Qualitative research helps to find out what people think and, most importantly, why they think like this. When is this methodology used? When developing new products/services or if you intend to review existing ones and check the reaction of the target audience.

Qualitative research is not about numbers, but about meanings. It all starts with collecting information about consumer actions in relation to a brand, product, niche, etc. Why does a person behave this way, how do they make a choice, what can influence it, what can stop it, what problems does it solve, when did a person first think about using this product or service, what does he or she feel while using it, and so on.

Kateryna Husachenko
Lead Strategist

The main advantage of qualitative research is flexibility and insights. This methodology also helps to improve communication between the brand and customers, obtain valuable information about consumers, and increase customer retention and loyalty.

Quantitative research is a survey. What are the benefits of quantitative research for business? Speed and volume. They allow you to quickly collect and analyze a large amount of data and get a complete picture of your target audience, not limited to survey participants.

types of qualitative research

Speaking of qualitative and quantitative methods of marketing research, we cannot single out more or less effective ones. They solve different problems.

Let's say you need to study the shopping habits of Gen X. To obtain data through a quantitative approach, you'll need to conduct a survey with closed-ended questions like "Have you ever shopped in a mall?" and give three possible answers: "yes", "no", "sometimes". If the answers are overwhelmingly "no," then you will come to a certain result. 

The answer "no" in qualitative research is only part of a person's story. Often, black-and-white quantitative answers hide a lot of insights from the "gray zone". And they become the points of development of relationships with customers.

Make the quantitative questionnaire anonymous - this will give respondents the confidence to discuss any topic frankly.

To get a complete picture of your target audience, plan to collect both quantitative and qualitative information.

Everything that cannot be found out through a questionnaire survey with closed-ended questions, we get through qualitative methods and open-ended questions. Only by communicating with a person in a trusting and comfortable environment during an in-depth interview can we get unique answers.

Kateryna Husachenko
Lead Strategist 

In fact, all qualitative methods are aimed at this result, but there are nuances: it is important to understand when to use a group interview and when to use a 1-to-1 interview. For example, for some products, the focus group format is not suitable, as people may give socially acceptable answers when they are in a group.

Example #1. "Dodam" Case Study

Probably, one of the most striking experiences in conducting research was with the fintech product Dodam. The first stage of qualitative research was conducted in the format of in-depth interviews (30 interviews). We asked people the usual open-ended questions from the series: "In what cases do you use loans?", "Why?", "And if not loans, what?". We were trying to find a substitute product to understand who we were competing against in people's minds. At first, we thought it was one of the big market players, perhaps a bank or another MFI (Shvydkogroshi), but in reality it was not so. In fact, we were competing with "borrow from a friend" and "pawn something".

Kateryna Husachenko
Lead Strategist

It is the qualitative stage of research that helps to understand the internal motivation and adjust the vision of how the audience really behaves and thinks, without the admixture of personal experience of interviewers who may never have encountered such products themselves.

Read more about the creation and launch of a new MFI brand in the highly competitive fintech market in the Dodam case study.

The Dodam project involved a comprehensive brand creation effort: from analyzing trends and consumer markets to developing positioning and creative messages. The client's goal was to become one of the Top 10 MFIs in Ukraine in the first year of operation. To understand how realistic this was and what needed to be done, we needed to understand not only the meanings, motives, barriers, etc. We also needed to understand the real market capacity and the position of players in the perception of the target audience. After qualitative in-depth research methods, we moved on to quantitative ones.

We collected information through an online survey, segmented the audience, and in the process understood the capacity of each of the resulting segments in terms of people and money. Most importantly, we understood who we were competing with in creating a consumer, what knowledge we needed to achieve to reach the Top 10.

Kateryna Husachenko
Lead Strategist

While in the case of the MFI, qualitative and quantitative interviews were conducted as part of an overall strategy to create a new brand and successfully launch it in a new market, the second example is the case of an automotive retailer that used qualitative and quantitative research methodologies to change its positioning, thereby reaching a new audience online.

Example #2. Rooler Case

Rooler is a distributor of automotive products and spare parts. The company has been on the market for more than 20 years and has extensive experience in offline operations. Evaluating online platforms as promising for expansion, the company realized that its own experience in online brand development was not enough.

A common situation - the company understands that the audience is different online and offline, but they cannot answer what this difference is. They turn to specialists to conduct research - to talk to consumers and find out whether they need to adjust their positioning. 

In the case of Rooler, it was necessary. It's been 3 years since they created their website and developed their positioning. During this time, a lot has changed, in particular in connection with the military actions. People's attitude to cars in general and the cost of their maintenance has changed. If a car used to be a means of transportation and a luxury item, since the beginning of the war it has become a symbol of safety and mobility.

We conducted a series of interviews to understand the motivations and barriers of drivers and car enthusiasts, for example: What does a car mean to them? How do they feel when it breaks down? Where do they turn first in such a situation? How do they use the Internet and where does their search begin? What can make them stay on the site, etc. Even before the research began, we abandoned the idea of dividing drivers by gender. But in doing so, we discovered a very interesting insight that does not depend on gender - such a category as novice drivers. It can be both men and women who are very much afraid to go and buy something offline - at the car market or at points of sale. Why? The barriers were as follows: "I'm worried about how people will look at me," "I don't know what questions to ask," "What if they cheat me, and I don't know and can't check.

Kateryna Husachenko
Lead Strategist

Another interesting insight for the brand is the different motivation and level of willingness to spend more money. Along with experienced motorists, there is a segment that likes to work on cars, but they have already passed the stage of a novice driver. Their motivation is that I will choose the best, but the best price.

After that, we moved on to quantitative research methodologies. We checked the entire array of qualitative information, portraits, and meanings for capacity: how large each segment is, what the actual selection criteria are, how they differ, and what they pay attention to first. After that, we assessed how easy it would be for us to "switch" them through communications, taking into account the features of our product.

Kateryna Husachenko
Lead Strategist

It turned out that in 7 out of 10 cases, respondents choose by price. Going into price competition is not an option, as the client has a threshold below which he cannot go. What are the points of recovery in this case? One option is service. It's impossible to "touch" it, you can only feel it, but everyone puts something different into this concept. However, the aftertaste of interaction with the brand remains precisely from communication with the company/brand.

But in the end, is it correct to say that an effective approach depends on the amount of information and data obtained from a larger audience? Or is it still enough to get information from a group of 10-15 people and a large sample is not the most important thing?

It Is Not a Large Sample That Is Important, But the Correct Screening of the Audience

In-depth interviews are not so much about quantity as about proper audience screening and gathering representatives of the segments that interest the brand.

What does it look like? We usually conduct screening based on the results of market analysis, so we already have a rough idea of the audience. For example, we look at competitor sites through SimilarWeb for a portrait. Let's say they are men aged 25-44. Then we look at the regions, and we realize that we need 70% men and 30% women of this age. 

The optimal number of interviews in the context of qualitative methodologies is up to 20. Why? We learned this from our own experience after conducting several large studies.

We have developed a formula for optimal sufficiency. You can talk to 100 people, but it won't change anything in the context of quality data.

Some people look at the price, some look at the speed of delivery, and some look at a beautiful box. You can interview 200-300 respondents, but they will still end up dividing into these three "baskets". The task of qualitative interviews is to collect these hypotheses and understand the ways in which we see that there are several similar scenarios.

Kateryna Husachenko
Lead Strategist

When It Comes to Quantitative Interviews, a Representative Sample Is Important

What does this mean? There is a concept of the general population - all the people who can use the product. For example, if we're talking about an automotive brand, here's how the description of the general population sounds for it: all car owners in Ukraine who have bought automotive products or spare parts at least once in the last year.

We go from top to bottom - we study the number of such people and generally look at the number of car owners. For example, it can be databases, additional open research. And we see that there are 9 million car owners in Ukraine as of 2023. I wonder how many of these people buy automotive products online? For example, it is 40%. That is, it is no longer 9 million people, but 4.5 million. Of course, we won't be able to conduct a survey of these 4.5 million people. What do we do in this case? We take a formula with a confidence interval and a margin of error.

The total population is 4.5 million people. We need truthful data, for example, by 90%. That is, the error of the data we receive will be 10% in one direction or another. It could be 5% or 1%, depending on the sample size. Are we satisfied with a 10% margin of error? Then we can survey 700 people across the country. Do we want a 1% margin of error? We'll get a sample of 950 people.

The main goal is to show that these data can be translated into the opinions of all 4.5 million people. The percentage will remain the same, but the number will increase.

This data is then used in quantitative research.

How does this work in practice? For example, the conditional segment "N" in the automotive market accounts for 10%. We turn to the general population, which is only 4.5 million people who buy automotive products online. We multiply this by 10% and realize that the capacity of this segment is 450 thousand people. Another important thing is to understand how much they spend on cars per month and how often they make purchases. For example, a car owner buys auto goods 4 times a year and spends at least UAH 1000 each time. Multiplying these figures, we get the monetary capacity of this segment. So, if you focus all your efforts on this segment, the maximum you can expect is this X amount. But we also need to take into account the presence of competition in the market.

Kateryna Husachenko
Lead Strategist


When it comes to choosing a research method that is right for your business, you should consider both. But the choice depends on the task that needs to be solved using the research data.

If you need to estimate the capacity, calculate the quantity, and make a decision based on the numbers, this is quantitative research. If the issue to be addressed is in the realm of motives, drivers, barriers - very subjective concepts - you need to turn to qualitative research.

A combination of methodologies provides the most complete picture. Having numbers in front of you, you can clearly understand which audience segments you need to work with more actively, where and on what (it is easy to prioritize), and understanding behavioral factors and peculiarities of perception makes it easier to plan communications (what to say).

Each of the methods is aimed at helping businesses improve their products and services by making informed decisions based on facts, not intuition.

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Written by
Maria Kashina

Content Marketing Manager at Promodo

Written by
Kateryna Husachenko

Marketing Strategist at Promodo

Expertise: agricultural market, fintech, SAAS, automotive products, children's products. 10+ years of experience in strategic marketingIn the area of ​​my competences:conducting qualitative and quantitative research of consumersdetermination of brand growth pointsformation of UTP of the brandpositioning development.

October 24, 2023
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