How to Conduct Market Research, Including Types of Market Research

Prepare to be schooled. Market research is essential for understanding your target market, competitors, and the broader industry. It validates business ideas, identifies customer needs, and spots competitive advantages (and disadvantages). Effective market research blends quantitative methods like surveys and polls with qualitative approaches like interviews and focus groups. Don’t worry; we’ll explain how to do market research and all of this in more detail.

A graphic used for an article that discusses how to conduct market research.

What is Market Research?

Identifying a business opportunity is just the beginning. The next step is in-depth market research. This involves analyzing consumer behavior to refine your business strategy. Whether conducted internally or by specialized firms, this research is often necessary for assessing if a product or service can be profitable.

Types of Market Research

Market research is generally divided into primary and secondary types. Primary market research collects data directly and includes methods like surveys and interviews. It is adaptable and can explore a wide range of questions. Secondary market research involves analyzing existing data from sources like census reports and industry studies, providing structured insights.

Primary Market Research Examples

Primary market research involves collecting new, original data directly from sources. This method can be tailored to address specific questions about consumer behavior, preferences, and experiences. Techniques include:

  • Surveys: Custom surveys can probe specific topics and capture data on consumer attitudes, preferences, and behaviors. They can be delivered via digital platforms, mail, or in person. Google Forms offers a free platform for creating and analyzing surveys.
  • Interviews: One-on-one interviews may provide a more intimate learnings into a consumers’ thoughts and feelings, offering a better understanding of their decision-making processes.
  • Observational Research: Observing consumers in natural settings can reveal unspoken preferences and behaviors that structured interviews or surveys might not capture. For Example: A coffee shop may use observational research to track where customers choose to sit and how long they stay. This data may inform seating arrangements and ambiance adjustments to enhance customer comfort and increase visit duration.
  • Focus Groups: By gathering a select group of consumers, focus groups provide detailed feedback on a product or service, helping businesses understand multiple facets and make informed decisions.

Secondary Market Research Examples

Secondary market research analyzes data that already exists. This method is cost-effective and provides a broad context for primary research findings. Common sources include:

  • Industry Reports: Industry reports provide deep-dive insights into market trends, key players, and forecasts. IBISWorld and MarketResearch.com provide extensive industry reports covering market trends, forecasts, and competitive analysis.
  • Government Publications: Reliable statistics from government databases help understand demographic and economic patterns. The U.S. Census Bureau offers a wealth of data on demographics, economic indicators, and population statistics. Similarly, the Bureau of Economic Analysis provides economic conditions and performance data.
  • Academic Studies: Research published in academic journals can offer in-depth analyses and discussions on market behaviors and theories. Google Scholar and JSTOR are platforms where you can find peer-reviewed academic papers covering various aspects of market behavior and theories.
  • Prestigious Publications: The Economist, Harvard Business Review, and the Financial Times offer in-depth analysis and commentary on global market trends, economic policies, and business strategies. You may need to subscribe to access many of these premium solutions.

Note: We do NOT receive commissions from any entities listed above.

How To Do Market Research

To conduct effective market research, follow these steps:

  1. Define the Objective: Clearly outline what you want to learn from the research. This should address a specific business question or problem.
  2. Identify the Audience: Determine which consumer segments to include to gather the most relevant insights.
  3. Collect and Analyze Data: Gather the data systematically and evaluate it to draw meaningful conclusions.
  4. Report Findings: Compile and present the findings to your company’s decision-makers to inform strategy.

Now, It’s Your Turn

Effective market research provides a solid foundation for making informed business decisions. It helps companies understand their market, anticipate trends, and effectively meet consumer needs. By following these structured steps and employing the right methods, businesses can develop strategies responsive to current market conditions and anticipate future changes.

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