A Beginner’s Guide to Quantitative Market Research

A Beginner’s Guide to Quantitative Market Research | IDR Medical

Today’s competitive medical device market requires manufacturers to tap into the psyche of key stakeholders in order to understand their ever-evolving needs.

Most manufacturers recognise this, and that they must understand customers behaviours, perspectives, needs and attitudes to succeed in effectively positioning a new product in the market.  

There are several types of methods used to gain this necessary insight. Broadly speaking, they can be split up into qualitative and quantitative methods.

The debate of qualitative vs. quantitative market research and which is superior is complicated, and the real challenge in market research is in blending the two methods to achieve actionable insights.

What is quantitative market research?


The goal of quantitative market research is to collect numerical data from a targeted sample of people. The data is then analysed using mathematical methods to find patterns, make predictions, test causal relationships, and generalise results to the wider population.

It is considered the opposite of qualitative research, an umbrella term that encompasses a range of methods such as interviews, ethnographic research, and cases studies, but essentially involves collecting and analysing text, videos and images.

However, quantitative research is not limited to closed questions such as “How many patients do you see each week?”. Data that does not appear in a quantitative form, such as attitudes and perceptions, can also be collected quantitatively using specifically designed research instruments.

For example, by using the Likert scale (rating scale), you can rank customers responses to questions.

When to use quantitative research methods  

There are four main types of research questions that warrant the use of quantitative methods:

  1. A research question that clearly demands a quantitative answer

    For example: “How many smart hospital beds exist in Europe?” or “How many allergy tests are processed in laboratories in the US each week?”. It is clear that it does not make sense to use qualitative methods for these questions.

  2. A question that investigates numerical change

    Likewise, numerical change can only be accurately studied using quantitative methods. For example: “Are the number of patients being diagnosed with COPD rising or falling?”

  3. Using a quantitative metric as an anchor for commenting on trends or providing additional quantitative data

    For example, “20% of COPD patients are in stage 2, of this proportion, how many have an inhaler?”

  4. Testing a hypothesis among a larger sample

    The last objective that quantitative research is nicely suited to is testing a hypothesis among a much larger sample. This is something that could have been developed in the qualitative phase of the research project.

Whilst quantitative market research methods are appropriate for measuring the above, there are other types of research questions that are not well suited to these methods and instead need a qualitative approach:

  1. When we need to explore a problem in depth

    Quantitative research can provide a breadth of information from a large sample, but when we want to explore a problem more deeply, these methods can be too shallow. Qualitative research methods would be more appropriate here.

  2. When a hypothesis needs developing

    Whilst quantitative methods are good at testing a hypothesis that has already been researched and developed, they are not good at developing those hypotheses or theories.

  3. When the topic of research is particularly complex

    If the research question/topic is very complex, an in-depth qualitative study would be better than quantitative methods, as it can pick up nuances and specific detail that may be missed using quantitative methods.

    In quantitative research, the study design defines variables to be investigated upfront, whereas in qualitative research, unexpected variables may come to light.

  4. When in search of meaning

    Finally, quantitative methods are best for investigating cause and effect, whereas qualitative methods are more suited to looking at the meaning behind circumstances or behaviours.


Quantitative market research methods

Below you will find a list of some of the commonly used quantitative market research methods:

  1. Online surveys:

    These can be defined as objective questions used to gather detailed insights from respondents about a specific research topic. Most questions asked in an online survey will be closed with multiple choice answers.

    The expectation is that there may be 1-2 open ended questions, where the respondent is required to write a more detailed response.


  1. Conjoint Analysis Research:

    This is a powerful market research technique that evaluates and measures the value customers place on features of a product or service based on trade-offs. Conjoint analysis research is typically carried out online.


  1. CATIs (Computer Assisted Telephone Interview):

    A CATI is fairly self-explanatory. Instead of the respondent answering the questions on their own, the moderator will take them through the quantitative survey and prompt them to answer the questions.

    The benefit of a CATI is that the moderator is there to answer any questions the respondent may have about what they are being asked.


Quantitative research methods can effectively be used in research projects that demand a clear numerical answer, investigate the relationship between two variables, or that require the validation of a pre-defined hypothesis.

When used as an adjunct to qualitative market research, it can be highly effective in complex research projects.

Although it does not work well in every case, particularly when used in isolation, it is therefore important to investigate different market research methods and consider which would be the most appropriate for your next pricing project.

IDR Medical has over a decade in conducting market research tailored to healthcare markets.

As a renowned market research industry leader, we have conducted projects in over 30 countries to drive success of brands, products, and services of our clients.

If you are interested in conducting quantitative research project do not hesitate to contact us. We would be delighted to offer an initial telephone discussion, or an online meeting to understand how we can assist you.




Back to Blog

Related Articles

Healthcare Qualitative Market Research: A New Beginning?

Want to make better business decisions? Download IDR Medical’s free guide to online qualitative...

The Reimbursement Environment for Medical Devices in Italy

Background Italy has a population of 60.6 million citizens (2017) that reside in 20 regions. ...

Using Ethnography In Healthcare Research

Ethnography has become an invaluable tool in healthcare market research. By observing behaviors...