Quantitative and Qualitative Marketing Research

In recent years, there is a growing interest in qualitative research by scientists within different fields of study. Qualitative research methods begin at the margins of acceptable science. Qualitative research attempts to capture what people say and do, that is, the products of how people interpret the world. Most of these things are impossible to describe and interpret using a quantitative study only. Both qualitative and quantitative research methods have limitations and advantages. Marketing companies like T. G. Maxx use both quantitative and qualitative methods to analyse their competitive position and customers’ demands.

Qualitative research values context sensitivity. It means the understanding of phenomena in all their complexity and within a particular situation and environment. Quantitative research works to eliminate all of the unique aspects of the environment in order to apply the results to the largest possible number of subjects and experiments. Finally, one would expect different contributions to a body of knowledge given the intricate connection between and among the postulates. The positivist position on research has never been able to adequately explain how new knowledge is discovered.

As a unique solution to its problems, T. J. Maxx uses grounded theory. The theory emerges from the data and is thus grounded in the data rather than being abstract or tentative. Compared to the hypothesis-testing method, grounded theory is instead developed by entering the fieldwork phase without a hypothesis, describing what happens. The theory’s place in qualitative methods is quite different from that in quantitative methods. Inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning are both subsumed under scientific inquiry, yet they characterise a distinction between purely qualitative and purely quantitative methods. These procedures are deductive in nature, contributing to the scientific knowledge base by theory testing. This is the nature of the quantitative methodology. Because true experimental designs require tightly controlled conditions, the richness and depth of meaning for participants may be sacrificed. Quantitative research begins with theory. From theory, prior research is reviewed; and from the theoretical frameworks, hypotheses are generated. These hypotheses lead to data collection and the strategy needed to test them. The data are analysed according to the hypotheses, and conclusions are drawn. These conclusions confirm or conflict with the theory, thereby completing the cycle.

T. G. Maxx uses grounded theory and historical method of analysis (qualitative research methods). T. G. Maxx applies quantitative research to four P’s analysis and evaluation of demands and price sensitivity. One may enter the qualitative-quantitative continuum from either a qualitative or a quantitative perspective. Some proponents write of the process of doing qualitative and quantitative research, while others write of the underlying assumptions of qualitative and quantitative methods. The disagreement comes from the differences in conceptual levels (i.e., procedures vs underlying philosophical assumptions). Our schematic illustration shows the underlying philosophy of the methods and demonstrates its nature as a continuum. In evaluating research studies, the researcher can apply the continuum as an assessment scheme. In planning a research study, the researcher can utilise the continuum to assess his or her plans. And, because research is conceptualised as an unbroken continuum, one may enter the continuum and make inquiries for assessment and critiquing purposes at any point.

The unique feature of quantitative research is that it allows scientists to interpret social life as text. Taking into account the nature of qualitative research, it is important to mention the role of discourse and development conversation. Words are the way that most people come to understand their situations. The main advantage of qualitative research is that people create their world with words and explain themselves with words. Qualitative researchers defend themselves with words. Again, these processes are impossible to discover and analyse using quantitative methods and techniques. Using these approaches, researchers analyse unconscious cultural formations and subjective meaning, seeing the world as a text. Where no real differentiation exists, the business is operating as a commodity, and the customer will choose on price and availability. A low-cost competitive strategy will be required to support the lowest (or equal) price whilst still retaining average industry profitability. The differentiation matrixes should be used to map the business offerings and the relative position of competitors. Based on this analysis, alternative market strategies should be examined and a choice made.

For T. J. Maxx, options appraisal is not a straightforward process of running the numbers.’ A series of quantitative and qualitative factors are concerned. One of the essential foundations of effective Option Appraisal is to deal with facts and reality. Too often, the emotional desire to pursue an attractive’ strategy outweighs logic. This is not to say that vision, entrepreneurial drive and risk taking are wrong. These vital factors are necessary qualities in any successful organisation, but they need to be supported by rational analysis. This requires evaluation of the vision, quantification of the risks and the identification of actions that can be taken to reduce the seriousness/impact of these risks. The final decision as to which scheme(s) will be implemented will reflect the advantages and disadvantages of each option. These advantages and disadvantages will be quantified wherever possible, but in practice, there will also be many qualitative factors that may bear heavily on the final decision. A range of financial and non-financial information needs to be available for a balanced decision to be made on the implementation of significant initiatives. These initiatives will often tie up large sums of money and set the future direction, so it is important that costly mistakes are avoided.

T. J. Maxx uses quantitative and qualitative research methods to analyse competition and market changes. When using the matrix, care needs to be taken to ensure that the stated competitive positions reflect reality rather than management perception. In some markets, several competitors will see themselves as being differentiated and therefore positioned in the system’ box. If these individual forms of perceived differentiation are not valued highly by the customer, no real competitive advantage has been attained. The competitors are therefore truly positioned in the commodity’ box. The acid test of achieved differentiation is superior market position, volume and/or price advantage. Differentiation and price are linked. Normally achieving differentiation enables a price premium to be charged. However, this additional price potential may be sacrificed to enable increased volume/market share to be achieved. This in itself may provide a further competitive advantage as high volume drives down unit costs.

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