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Qualitative Data vs Quantitative Data

 , updated on January 30, 2018
Qualitative data is data that is expressed in a natural language such as English. This can be factual or based on human judgement, analysis and perception.
Quantitative data is information that can be measured or represented as numbers. As with qualitative data, this can be factual or based on human judgement, analysis and perception.

The Difference

Qualitative data includes facts such a person's name and eye color. It can also include complex information such as analysis, knowledge, judgements, opinion, emotions and abstraction.
Quantitative data includes observations that are directly measured with devices such as information technology, sensors or a tape measure. It can also include human judgements such as the result of a survey.


A coffee product isn't selling well and a company wants to know why. The firm looks at quantitative data such as sales revenue by region but it doesn't tell them much about why the product is failing. They develop a customer survey that asks customers to rate things such as taste on a scale of 1-4. The survey also doesn't indicate any problems.
As the quantitative data doesn't indicate the source of the problem the company begins to develop qualitative data by interviewing customers to understand their reactions to the product. This immediately identifies the problem. The customers in the interview seem confused by the packaging and are surprised when told it is a coffee product. One customer sums up the problem with the comment "it just doesn't look like coffee to me, I thought it was tea or dog food or something."
Qualitative Data vs Quantitative Data
Qualitative Data
Quantitative Data
Definition (1)
Data represented in a natural language.
Data represented as numbers.
Definition (2)
Information about qualities.
Information that can be measured directly as numbers.
Expert judgement
Customer complaints
Sensor data
Customer satisfaction


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