Market research is the process of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data. The data (or the information) can be about competitors, consumers, the target audience, and the industry in general.
Market research is the base of any successful company. Having an optimistic vision of things, being a dreamer, or a believer are good. However, without data covering your back, it can get tough to survive.
Companies conduct market research for different purposes. They might want to enter a new market or launch a new business. Here is a little list of Whys:
Entering a new market
Market research will answer the questions – Are there any new market opportunities for us? How can we develop those opportunities?
Starting a new business
Is there any demand for the product or service I might want to launch? What are the chances of succeeding?
Staying ahead of marketing trends
How to adapt to changing market conditions? How to develop a marketing strategy based on the changes in the market?
Ensuring the timeliness of a product or service launch
In what circumstance should a product or service enter the market? Define how, when, and were.
Ensuring the quality of services and products
What issues do we have regarding the products or services we are offering? How to tackle them?
Getting higher chances of nailing a marketing campaign
How effective will this campaign be? How to use customer insights to understand customers’ reactions to a campaign?
Whatever the reason, market research helps entrepreneurs make wiser decisions and take the guesswork away.
Two types of market research
Let’s now move to the types of market research. There are two types of it: primary research and secondary research.
Primary market research involves looking at the information you collect yourself (or that you pay others to collect for you). It involves competitor benchmarking, taking into account the efficiency of current practices, as well as analyzing current metrics and customer behavior.
Secondary market research involves looking at the information that has been published by others. Those could include studies and research papers by companies, government organizations, or others.
What are the most commonly used market research methods?
Usually, market research methods vary depending on what type of information you want to collect. Let’s quickly go over the most commonly used ones.
Primary market research methods
Two types of primary research exist so far: Qualitative and Quantitative. Qualitative research is mostly about understanding consumer behavior and actions, while quantitative research focuses on the collection of numerical data for the purpose of mathematical analysis.
Focus groups, in-depth interviews, and observations are qualitative research methods. Surveys, questionnaires, phone/one-to-one interviews are quantitative research methods.
Here is a quick summary of some:
Focus groups are comprised of intentionally selected individuals so that they can interact and maybe even impact each other’s opinions. A typical focus group consists of around 5-12 people. Usually, it’s better to have participants from diverse backgrounds so that you can get varied opinions.
Interviews usually involve one-on-one discussions. They can be carried out either face-to-face or through video conferencing or through telephone calls. A typical interview will last for 10-30 minutes, and the number of respondents can range between 25 and 75.
Brands or companies carry out surveys to measure brand awareness, to understand market segmentation, or evaluate their pricing strategies and for a number of other reasons too. Surveys allow testing a large sample size. There are a ton of online survey tools out there which you can use to create the survey and send out to potential respondents. However, paid survey data can sometimes suck. Here is why.
User groups are nearer to focus groups in nature rather than any other research method discussed above. Market researchers usually conduct the method of user groups for product/feature testing or to gather UX design feedback. User groups can meet regularly to provide their feedback regarding a product while the researchers capture that feedback for later analysis.
There are some other primary research methods out there too. You can explore them further and see which one meets your market research needs. Meanwhile, let’s take a close look at the secondary research methods.
Secondary market research methods
Since secondary market research can provide more of a starting point before diving into more detailed research, it usually happens first chronologically. There is quite a lot of data on the Internet, which you can find and analyze for your business. Another thing you can do is purchase the data from a data provider for a more niche analysis.
Some of the secondary research methods include:
Competitor benchmarking is maybe the most widely-used secondary research method. Benchmarks help measure metrics and KPIs directly related to business growth. In this kind of research, market researchers look at businesses within the same industry to carry out the comparison and analysis.
Government reports and statistics
If you want to look at general demographics or larger trends, then don’t go far, Government publications and reports are the places to look for such kind of data. The U.S. Census Bureau is a resource where you can find interesting national demographic data. Some other places to look for data can be Data.gov and the Pew Research Center.
Market Research Tools
There are several market research tools to use. Some of them are paid, and some are totally free of charge. Let’s go over a few now:
Qualtrics has access to hundreds of thousands of opt-in survey respondents. They are both B2B and B2C. These people are qualified panelists or the so-called “professional survey takers.” Qualtrics makes sure to handle all the responses and provide you with survey data.
SurveyMonkey is a comprehensive solution for building questionnaires and analyzing the metrics. Anyone can sign up for free and create a survey. It is easy and can take just a few minutes. However, you cannot access the data collected in formats like CSV or Excel XLS until you are using the paid version.
TruePublic is an anonymous polling platform. It’s available on Android and iOS devices at this moment and will be available on the web soon. Unlike other survey tools, TruePublic does not pay its users to answer questions. The users answer them organically to satisfy their inner curiosity. Once the user answers a question, they instantly see a detailed demographic breakdown of the statistics. Brands can get quality consumer insights (mostly Gen Z and Millennial-related) through accessing an easy plug-and-play dashboard.
Social Mention is a real-time search platform. It lets you know what’s trending in the world of social media through aggregating user-generated content from across the globe into a single feed. The platform also analyzes the likelihood of a brand to be discussed online.
Market research can be an equally daunting task for brands and marketing agencies. However, with the right approach and the toolset, it is going to be easy to find quality consumer insights and turn them into an actionable strategy for growing a business. We will be writing about more market research and analytics tools in the future.
Stay tuned for more.