Excelling in Survey Research with the Quantitative Survey

Excelling in Survey Research with the Quantitative Survey

A quantitative survey provides researchers with data that is quantifiable in nature, making this type of survey an important component of any research project. In a quantitative survey, numeric values are assigned to the answers so researchers can objectively measure and compare survey data.

A quantitative survey produces the type of data that many of us associate with surveys. This type of data is easily converted into objective, numerical results that can be viewed in tables and charts to provide a clearer picture. 

In “The Complete Guide to Quantitative Market Research,” we covered the types of quantitative research methods that are used to drive market research. In this article, we will focus specifically on how you can use a quantitative survey to gather numerical data to drive your research project.

Defining the Quantitative Survey

In a quantitative survey, data is obtained by asking respondents objective, close-ended questions. Each question has a predefined list of answers. The responses are then used to compile numerical data that you can analyze via tables, charts, and graphs. 

Quantitative survey questions are used to gain insights about ratings, pricing, frequency, and likelihood. They are often used to understand the relationship between attitudes and consumer behavior. The responses for quantitative survey questions include binary, multiple-choice, and scaled responses. 

One of the main ways that a quantitative survey differs from a qualitative survey in that it asks “who” and “what,” while qualitative questions ask “why,” in order to understand the motivation behind actions, thoughts, or feelings. Qualitative questions are commonly used to gain context or gather information about attitudes, lifestyle choices, and issues. The responses for qualitative questions involve both open-ended and multiple-choice questions. 

The Pros and Cons of Quantitative Surveys

In order to understand when to use quantitative surveys, you must first understand the pros and cons of this type of survey.

The Pros:

  1. The data from quantitative surveys is usually easy to collect and analyze.
  2. The simple format of quantitative surveys allows researchers to distribute them more broadly and reach a larger audience.
  3. Without open-ended questions, quantitative surveys are usually faster to complete, which can improve the response rate
  4. Quantitative surveys are useful when researching sensitive subjects because they can allow the respondent to remain completely anonymous, without the need to contribute any personal or identifiable information.
  5. Quantitative surveys are more mobile-friendly than qualitative survey questions because the respondent does not need to type out lengthy answers. 

The Cons:

  1. Quantitative surveys do not allow researchers to probe for deeper or unique answers to survey questions. 
  2. The results of quantitative surveys can be misleading. Despite the seemingly objective nature of quantitative surveys, researchers can interpret the data based on their own views and then state conclusions in a way that sounds factual since they are based on numbers. 
  3. Since quantitative survey questions have predefined responses, there is no opportunity for a respondent to volunteer unexpected information. 
  4. It can take longer to plan a good quantitative survey that will collect the data needed to understand relationships or behavior. 
  5. Survey responses must be carefully considered so that respondents are able to select an answer they can relate to.   

Creating a Survey with Quantitative Questions

Quantitative survey questions will yield data that you can use to better understand your target market. The results can be compiled into a research report to provide statistical information and detailed insights. This information is typically used to understand prevalence and quantify phenomena, along with then being used to broaden research efforts and better understand the market as a whole.

In order to formulate the right type of questions, you first need to understand the goals of your research project. In quantitative research, researchers often start by stating the objective as a question and then designing survey questions to find the answer. 

For example, a researcher might ask: “How do the study habits of college freshmen compare to the study habits of college seniors?” In order to answer this, the researcher would need to gather information about both college freshmen and college seniors in order to draw conclusions. 

Remember: you need to create quantitative survey questions in a way that allows them to be translated into numerical data. This means that you will need specific, numerical answers to each question. 

Quantitative questions frequently ask “how” or “what.” For example:

  • What is/are…?
  • How many…?
  • How often...?
  • What percentage…?

Below we provide some example questions that a researcher might ask in order to understand how study habits change throughout the course of a college education. For the purpose of this exercise, assume that the researcher has used pre-screening questions to sort the respondents into two groups - college freshman and college seniors who are attending a 4-year university for the first time. 

Establish Demographics

In order to understand how demographic factors influence responses, you will need to gather some basic demographic information:

  • What is your age? [Dropdown]
  • What is your gender? [Multiple choice]
  • How many years have you attended this college? [Dropdown]
  • How many people in your immediate family (parents and siblings) have attended college? [Multiple choice]
  • What is the highest level of education attained by either of your parents? [Multiple choice]

Understand Study Habits

The next part of your survey will focus on gathering data that you can use to describe the study habits of these two groups.

  • How many hours per day do you study? [Multiple choice answer]
  • How often do you attend a study group? [Multiple choice answer]
  • How likely are you to join a study group for a class that you struggle with? [Multiple choice]
  • How many study groups are you currently a member of? [Multiple choice]
  • Which of the following study tools do you use and how often? [Matrix]
  • How do you rate the following study tools? [Matrix]

Deeper Questions

Despite their objective nature, quantitative survey questions can help you understand how your respondents feel about their experiences, that is, it helps you quantify their feelings Here are some ways you can use quantitative questions to gain deeper insights:

  • Please select how much you agree or disagree with the following statement: My current study habits are effective. [Likert scale]
  • Please select how much you agree or disagree with the following statement: I know which study tools and methods are appropriate for each of the courses I’m taking [Likert scale]
  • Please select how much you agree or disagree with the following statement: I think that I study more than other students in my year. [Likert scale]

Once you have your survey responses, you can begin to analyze the data. After this, you should have a general idea of the landscape of freshman and senior habits. This data can help you create a research report or lead to further surveys to further explore or better understand your findings.

Power Your Quantitative Survey with the Right Questions

Quantitative survey questions can power your research project by helping you gather and analyze large amounts of data with relative ease. This data can help you establish a good understanding of your subject matter and establish objectives for future research efforts. For this reason, most researchers include a large percentage of quantitative survey questions in their surveys. 

Many surveys contain a mix of quantitative and qualitative questions, with quantitative questions forming the bulk of the survey. This is helpful because quantitative questions allow researchers to easily analyze and define findings, while qualitative questions can reveal deeper insights, contextual information, and unexpected findings.

Gain further insights by pairing some of your quantitative survey questions with a few, carefully chosen qualitative questions. By pairing questions in this way, you get the best of both worlds — numerical data that is ready for analysis and the potential for new discoveries by way of personalized responses. 

Frequently asked questions

What is a quantitative survey?

A quantitative survey is one that asks close-ended questions that can be assigned a numerical value in order to allow for analysis via tables and graphs.

How does a quantitative survey differ from a qualitative survey?

Quantitative surveys seek to answer questions about “who” and “what,” why qualitative surveys are concerned with understanding “why.” Quantitative surveys do not have open-ended responses, while qualitative surveys can have a mix of multiple-choice and open-ended.

What are some of the benefits of quantitative surveys?

Quantitative surveys are easier to distribute to a large audience, allow for easier data collection and analysis, and tend to have a higher response rate since they are faster to complete.

What are some of the drawbacks of quantitative surveys?

Some of the limitations of quantitative surveys include the potential to misinterpret results and that they provide little opportunity to receive unexpected answers. It can also be challenging to design a good quantitative survey since the answers are defined rather than open-ended.

What is the benefit of including a mix of quantitative and qualitative questions?

Many surveys contain a mix of quantitative and qualitative questions because it provides researchers with plenty of numerical data to analyze, while also providing the potential to dig deeper and get some unexpected responses.

Survey Research Methods: A Deep Dive

Survey Research Methods: A Deep Dive

Although survey research methods are just one tactic under the enveloping market research field of study, they too are administered in a number of ways. 

That is because much like market research, there is no single or universal technique when it comes to survey research. Instead, there are various survey research methods, those that only pertain to the survey aspect of market research.

Survey research methods include different sets of classifications, from types of surveys, to data organization and more. It is key to become familiar with all of them to determine which is most suitable for your market research needs. 

This article will navigate all the nuances that pertain to survey research methods.

Surveys for Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research

Market research relies on both primary and secondary research; surveys fall under the former and have several classifications. The first major one conveys the duality within survey research methods: that of quantitative and qualitative research.

Quantitative research surveys: 

Quantitative research involves gathering quantitative, or numerical data. Surveys amass this data by asking questions that quantify attitudes, opinions, feelings and behaviors. The point of this kind of survey research method is to form generalizations. 

Quantitative research surveys therefore use a larger sample size in order to crunch numbers on different issues and variables. This survey research method is highly dependent on using and creating mathematical and statistical data. 

These surveys use this data to identify patterns in a target market, find averages, make predictions and test relationships.

Essentially, this survey research method uses respondents to understand the “what” and “how much” of a studied subject.

Qualitative research surveys:

Qualitative research zeroes in on experiences, ideas and opinions, instead of focusing on statistical or quantitative results. Instead, this survey research method seeks to holistically interpret an issue, occurrence or phenomenon.

As such, qualitative research seeks to perceive an issue in more depth, find the cause of an occurrence, create inferences, find solutions to problems and uncover trends.

This research method is centered around the “what” and even more so, the “why” of a research subject. 

Unlike quantitative research, qualitative research uses a smaller sample size for a deeper understanding of causes, motivations and sentiment. 

This kind of survey research method uses open-ended and exploratory questions in natural environments, in which respondents freely discuss their opinions to help researchers identify the “why” behind an issue.

Understanding the “why” is then used to make decisions on how to resolve the issue or how to improve on an existing productive situation.

Survey Panels Vs Random Sampling

The second main classification of survey research methods is categorized via the sampling pool. There are two main types of sampling pools, i.e., the type of respondents that take part in a survey. 

Market Research Panel: 

A market research panel is a pre-recruited group of survey respondents who have agreed to take part in online surveys. This method is most commonly employed by market research panel companies, which require the panelists to share personal information about themselves. 

This includes the information you’d find at the screener section of a survey tool such as demographics, but can also include behavioral data. The panel can be used for more than one survey; this way is convenient for market researchers who require long-term survey campaigns such as longitudinal surveys

Random Sampling Pool:

A random sampling pool is a group of survey respondents who have not been recruited to take part in a survey. Instead, this method involves, as the name suggests, a random group of participants. They take a survey once they reach a publisher’s website or app, which is triggered by an online survey tool. As such, they take a survey due to their being real-time users on a site or app in which the survey has been launched.

Any business can take this automated approach, which does not require seeking out participants manually, as a market research panel would. Although the pool of respondents has been gathered randomly, the qualifying participants are not random.

This is because the survey software used to launch this survey includes screening questions and demographic requirements that respondents must meet to take the survey. As such, researchers still get the exact kind of participants they seek to survey. This survey research method includes probability and non-probability sampling.

Survey Research Methods Based on Campaign Type & Macro Applications

Survey research methods can be further divided based on the type of macro application (or discipline) you need the data for. They can also be categorized into different campaign types, which can fall under the macro applications, or exist as their own application.  

You should understand these purposes before you choose the proper survey type for your research needs. Here are the major campaigns and applications to base your survey method on:

  • Marketing: A broad term that includes a wide variety of processes to raise awareness and demand in your company, promote it and understand your target market.
  • Advertising: One of the key practices in marketing, advertising refers to communication using overtly sponsored messages to promote or sell a product or service. 
  • Branding: The development of a brand’s reputation and image, along with increasing the recognition of your company. 
  • Market Segmentation: Facilitates targeting those most likely to be satisfied customers of your company or content. It involves splitting your target market up into smaller groups of people with similar characteristics. 
  • Competitor Analysis: It is the process of identifying and assessing your competitors based on their strategies to unearth their strengths and weaknesses relative to your brand.
  • Employee Satisfaction: The degree to which employees are content and fulfilled with their jobs, including their schedule, work environment and banter with fellow employees.
  • Customer Satisfaction: The measurement of how happy customers are with a company's products, services, experiences and interactions.

Types of Surveys

Finally, we arrive at the types of surveys, the most granular aspect of survey market research methods, that is, unless you delve further by looking into survey questions. 

These surveys are classified as belonging to either quantitative or qualitative methods, along with their best application type. As for the latter classification, you ought to know that these surveys are not necessarily limited to these applications. 

Rather, they are most apt for the named applications and campaigns, but due to the versatile nature of surveys, the following can be used in other applications, including those not mentioned in this article.

  1. Cross-sectional surveys: Gather data to make inferences about a population at some point in time. 
    1. Used to provide snapshots of the populations they survey.
    2. Drawn from a few specific variables to narrow down a unique and smaller population.
    3. Method: Quantitative surveys
    4. Best used for: advertising, market segmentation, employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, branding
  1. Longitudinal Surveys: Study variables over longer periods of time. (Weeks to decades)
    1. Require more dedication from respondents and researchers, including time and money. In this regard, a larger pool of participants is used and studied for much longer.
    2. Like cross-sectional surveys, these are also observational and study the exact sample pool for the length of the study.
    3. Method: Primarily qualitative, but can be quantitative
    4. Best used for: marketing, competitor analysis, market segmentation
  2. Retrospective Surveys: Merge aspects of both cross-sectional and longitudinal survey methods. 
    1. Observe changes that occur over a longer period of time, but are facilitated just once. 
    2. Thus, responders discuss occurrences, attitudes and feelings from the past. 
    3. Method: Qualitative and quantitative surveys
    4. Best used for: Marketing, branding, competitor analysis

Going Beyond Survey Research Methods

Understanding the various survey research methods are crucial to forming the most fitting market research campaign for your brand. However, it doesn’t end here. With innovations in the market research field, other survey methods and sub-methods are going to emerge.

Moreover, after you’ve found the best survey research method(s) for your company, you’ll need to conduct the proper survey data analysis

As such, you’ll need to analyze your surveys, and this can be done in a number of formats. Some are going to be more visual than others. 

After all, conducting surveys is one thing, but understanding the surveys is the centerpiece of any research campaign.

Frequently asked questions

What is a quantitative research survey?

A quantitative research survey is one in which all responses can be assigned a numerical value so that results can be easily analyzed. They are used to quantify thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in order to make generalizations about the target market.

What is a qualitative research survey?

A qualitative research survey is used to gain a deeper understanding of the ideas, opinions, or experiences of a group of people. This type of survey uses open-ended questions that allow respondents to discuss their opinions freely.

What is a market research panel?

A market research panel is a group of individuals who have been selected to participate in a series of surveys over a specific period of time.

What is a random sampling pool?

A random sampling pool is a group of individuals who have been selected at random to participate in a survey. In an online survey tool, a sample pool is derived via automation.

What is a longitudinal survey?

A longitudinal survey is one that studies a group of individuals over a period of time, which can range from weeks to decades.

The Complete Guide to Quantitative Market Research

The Complete Guide to Quantitative Market Research

Quantitative research is a chief category in the research sphere, along with qualitative research. An encompassing aspect of market research, it can include both primary and secondary methods of extracting data. 

Although used interchangeably with qualitative research, quantitative research is a distinct process that should not be confused with its counterpart. In fact, it is the opposite of qualitative research.

Let’s navigate through the waters of quantitative research in this complete guide.

What Defines & Makes Up Quantitative Research?

As its name suggests, quantitative research is the process of aggregating quantitative, or numerical data for research purposes. This data is used for a number of applications. These include:

  • Quantifying opinions, behaviors, attitudes and problems
  • Making generalizations
  • Forming predictions
  • Discovering patterns
  • Determining averages
  • Testing relationships

Quantitative research generally relies on a larger sample size in order to quantify any issue or variable. In order to achieve this, this research method involves using mathematical and statistical means. 

This type of research answers the “what” and the “how much” of a subject within a research endeavor. As it forms generalizations, this type of method involves surveying a larger population, using measurable data and processing all the data first and then analyzing it from a statistical standpoint.

The Four Main Types of Quantitative Research

There are four main ways to perform quantitative research. Aside from their methodology, these sub-categories also seek different types of answers and conclusions.

1. Descriptive Research

This is used to determine the state of variables. It describes the situation and environment surrounding a variable or topic. As such, it is used for arranging comparisons, outlining sample characteristics, overlooking emerging trends and confirming existing phenomena.

The data is collected by way of observation. Descriptive Research is used to form a hypothesis, but only after having aggregated all the necessary data.

2. Correlational Research

This research method is used to examine the relationships between different subjects and variables. Analyzing relationships is necessary to either test a hypothesis or a prediction. Because this research focuses on relationships between fixed variables, other outlying variables are not part of the investigation.

Correlational research is in direct opposition to experimental research, as none of the studied variables are manipulated. Correlations can be either positive or negative, with different degrees of the relationship’s strength.

3. Experimental Research

This method is used for finding whether there is a cause and effect relationship among variables. This kind of research relies on the scientific method. Unlike correlational research, experimental research involves manipulating variables.

Researchers would manipulate a variable to uncover its effect on another one. This method is frequently referred to as true experimentation, as no experimental undertaking leaves all variables unchanged; at least one must be influenced in some way. 

This includes manipulating, randomizing or reverting back a variable. The variables are then measured, calculated and compared.

4. Survey Research

The final research method is crucial to understanding behavior. In market research, it is often used to acclimate a brand with its target market’s desires, needs, points of contention and behaviors.

Surveys allow researchers to ask pointed questions to either discover their target audience or get a granular sense of their opinions. As such, they can be conducted within one group or many, for the sake of comparison.

Instead of turning to survey panels, which are likely to have skewed or biased results, researchers should use a random sample of people. A non-panel-based survey will garner more respondents that aren’t motivated by professional compensation.

Surveys can be administered by mail,  in-person, on the phone, or digitally. The latter has even more options: online surveys, third-party surveys, emails and in-app.

Examples of Questions for Quantitative Research

Survey research has a far larger scope of questions than do the other three types, as researchers can ask practically anything to conduct their studies. However, there are some best practices in survey questionnaires, such as focusing on your industry, your product and the desires of customers.

Learn more about asking insightful market research questions. Here are a few examples of quantitative research questions in the three other categories.

  1. Is working from home the best option to improve productivity for employees with long commutes?Variable: Working from home and in-office
    Demographic: Employees with long commutes
    Quantitative Research Type: Experimental
  2. How has the coronavirus changed employment for white-collar workers?
    Variable: Employment types and statuses
    Demographic: White-collar workers
    Quantitative Research Type: Experimental
  3. How often do working people travel for a holiday?
    Variable: Amount of times respondents travel during a holiday
    Demographic: working people
    Quantitative Research Type: Descriptive
  4. How much would you pay for a subscription to an entertainment magazine?
    Variable: payments for a magazine subscription
    Demographic: women aged 14-44, those interested in celebrities
    Quantitative Research Type: Descriptive
  5. What is the difference in smartphone usage between Millennials and senior citizens?
    Variable: Time spent on using a smartphone
    Demographic: Millennials and seniors
    Quantitative Research Type: Correlational
  6. Does the leadership style of car shop owners predict the job satisfaction of car salespeople?
    Variable: Leadership style and job satisfaction
    Demographic: Car shop employers and salespeople
    Quantitative Research Type: Correlational 

When to Use Quantitative Research and How to Analyze It

The quantitative research method has specific use cases. You ought to consider which is best for your particular business, which includes your strategy, your marketing and other facets.

The core of quantitative research is to quantify a phenomenon (a problem, an inadequacy, and a slew of other occurrences) and understand its prevalence. Researchers do this by observing large portions of a population.

You should use this form of research whenever you need to be presented with the state of things at a higher level, or from a bird’s eye view. This Is because this type of research can identify links between various factors, look for correlations and discover cause and effect relationships.

Researchers can then use the results of their findings to form predictions. This is useful in market research when launching a new product, brainstorming product ideas or innovations or growing a customer base.

To analyze this research, it should first be made quantifiable and objective. Researchers should pin down the scales and units of measurements in their various studies. Then, they should organize them into easily interpretable formats.

For example, once you gather the numerical data, you can enter it into a spreadsheet. Thereafter, you can organize it by desegregating it into graphs, charts and tables. Finally, you should draw data-based conclusions from your study. You can also do further sleuthing via advanced analytics.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Quantitative Research

Quantitative research has a bevy of benefits; it also has some hindrances. You should peruse both the positive and negative qualities of this research type before setting out on any major research project. The following may help you choose one form of research over the other, or use aspects of both.


  1. Larger sample pools: the larger the group of respondents, the more accurate are the results.
  2. Highly structured: Surveys, questionnaires, and other tools for recording numerical data
  3. Focused: The design of the study is determined before it begins
  4. Theory-based: Research tests a theory to provide support/proof
  5. Designed to Be Analyzed: Numbers/statistics exist as tables, charts, figures and other non-textual forms for easy analysis.
  6. Objective: Steering clear of bias as the research is separated from the data & only objective responses are sought.
  7. Direct comparisons of results: The study can be set in different cultural environments, times or different groups of participants with a statistical comparison of results.


  1. Focuses solely on numbers: This can be limiting as researchers may overlook other data and larger themes.
  2. Superficial Representations: It cannot adequately describe complex concepts (ex: feelings, opinions) it only shows the numbers behind them. 
  3. Several factors can invalidate results: A hypothesis and a model for collecting/ analyzing data.is required; any mistake can lead to bias and inaccurate illustrations.
  4. Erred Structure: If any data is missing or if measurements are not clear, biases easily take precedence.

The Final Word on Quantitative Research

Market research is far too encompassing to fully complete, especially in a limited amount of time. To tackle market research, begin with a research method. Quantitative research is often a good starting point, as it shows you the existence of a problem by way of quantifying it.

Aside from confirming the existence, it can help confirm a hypothesis, find correlations and prove cause and effect relationships. A hard set of data can also help you make educated predictions.

While the three types of quantitative research methods are useful, they do have several disadvantages. The fourth one, ie, survey research helps fill in the gaps and inadequacies of numerical limitations. Interestingly enough, they too can be a source of hard data and numbers. 

Either way, market research is sure to benefit from incorporating surveys as part of the processes.

Frequently asked questions

What is quantitative market research?

Quantitative market research utilizes the techniques of quantitative research in order to better understand the target market. In quantitative research, the information gathered from surveys and questionnaires is converted into numerical values so it can be easily analyzed.

What types of questions do quantitative research answer?

Quantitative research seeks to define “what” and “how much.” It is used for identifying patterns, making predictions, establishing averages, and quantifying opinions, attitudes or behaviors.

What are the four main types of quantitative research?

The four main types of quantitative research are survey research, correlational research, descriptive research, and experimental research.

What type of surveys are used for quantitative research?

Quantitative surveys are best suited for quantitative research. In this type of survey, there are no open-ended questions, and all responses can be assigned a numerical value. In most cases, a quantitative survey is distributed to a large and random sample of individuals.

Why are large sample sizes important when conducting quantitative research?

A small sample size can lead to inaccurate results. The larger the sample size (i.e. the group of individuals who receive the survey), the more likely it is that the results will be statistically significant and accurate.