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What does ‘qualitative’ mean as a stand-alone term?

The word qualitative itself refers to how the quality or characteristic of something is perceived, rather than a measurement. But the stand-alone term qualitative which you’re referring to is typically used in a marketing context to refer to qualitative research.

Qualitative research is a type of investigation into the ‘why’ consumers choose to act the way they do in a certain instance. It provides valuable consumer insight. Through the use of unstructured information such as focus groups, observational research, interviews and neuro-science, qualitative research seeks to gain understanding into a potential customer’s motivation to behave in particular ways when faced with a certain situation.

Qualitative research is different from quantitative research which deals with hard facts and figures.

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Coping with Complexity