Social Marketing
Nutrition and Physical Activity


Step 3: Choose Data Collection Method(s)

How to Choose a Method

Should you use quantitative or qualitative methods?
The decision about who should answer is also tied to the decision about how it should be answered. Your first determination should be whether to use qualitative or quantitative methods. Qualitative methods provide rich descriptive information and insights into characteristics and choices. Quantitative methods provide numbers, frequencies, percentages, and rates. Both are important and can complement each other.

A Comparison of Qualitative and Quantitative Methods*
Qualitative Quantitative
  • Provides depth of understanding
  • Asks "Why?"
  • Studies motivations
  • Is subjective
  • Enables discovery
  • Is exploratory
  • Allows insights into behavior, trends, and so on
  • Interprets
  • Measures level of occurrence
  • Asks "How many?" or "How often?"
  • Studies action
  • Is objective
  • Provides proof
  • Is definitive
  • Measures level of actions, trends, and so on
  • Describes

*From A Handbook for Excellence in Focus Group Research.

What other factors should you consider?
Consider what methods you or your group has the skills to do, what skills could be accessed by hiring someone, how much time you have available, and how much money you have to spend on this.