Table of Contents

Introduction

In this post, we’ll provide an all-encompassing rundown of market research, including an explanation of why it is important, how to conduct it and all the tips you need to know to do it successfully.

What is market research and why does it matter?

For a business to succeed, they need to identify and fulfil a ‘gap in the market’. However, to correctly identify that gap, a business can’t just rely on instincts and assumptions but objective research that proves their value. This is where Market Research comes into play.  Market research is the process of gathering and analyzing data that relates to a market and/or your product/service. Market research doesn’t just verify your business plan for investors but it also helps a company to better understand its customers. This creates an opportunity to improve their products and services, better their marketing and identify new gaps in the market. Learn more about the benefits of market research here.

Terms to Know

In this section, we’ll explain the basics of the common techniques in market research.  

Consumer panels

By definition, a consumer panel is a group of individuals selected by a business or organisation to provide input on products and services for research purposes. The activities of consumer panels can range from focus groups to answering surveys and questionnaires. It is fundamentally a standard data collection technique for a business’s market research. The consumers in a panel can represent a cross-section of the population, but more likely, they reflect your target audience. It all depends on a company’s target customer and the purpose of the research. 

What makes consumer panels different from posting a survey on our business’s social media or sending it out to your mailing list is research quality and avoiding confirmation bias. If you want to learn more about avoiding confirmation bias, check out our in-depth article on consumer panels here.

Projective techniques

Projective techniques, also known as enabling techniques, are methods that can be used by skilled researchers to tap into participants’ deep motivations and attitudes. Qualitative market research has always used projective and enabling techniques for in-depth work. The rationale is to help people surface and discuss things that lie beyond their immediate conscious awareness, yet influence their behaviour. Understanding and identifying these emotional drivers is a difficult and inexact science. However, it can be aided by using a variety of projective techniques. If you want to learn more about different types of projective techniques, read our article on them.

How to conduct market research

There are many steps to conducting market research but the following list are the most important steps involved:

  1. Set clear objectives
  2. Conduct secondary research
  3. Identify your target audience
  4. Choose a sample size
  5. Create your research questions
  6. Conduct your survey
  7. Analysis the results

Each of these steps can be broken down into smaller steps and there are many nuances when it comes to them. To learn about the best practices for navigating these steps, read more here.

How to build effective surveys

As seen above, one of the core steps in conducting market research is conducting your survey. While in the past, surveys would have been conducted through knocking on doors with a pen and paper, to phone calls and transcribing results. Recently companies have moved to survey delivered through email but the world had already moved on. The average person in Ireland spends between over 4 hours on their smartphone every day, and just like that, online has moved to mobile, completely changing the survey experience for the user.

The first difference that must be factored into an online survey compared to a traditional survey is that respondents have drastically lower attention spans. Mobile phones often have constant push notifications distracting the respondent and you cannot expect them to stick around and complete a survey longer than 10 minutes. Therefore, when creating your survey, you need to make sure each one counts and is relevant to your final goal. Ideally, your survey should be between 4 – 8 minutes long and have 20 – 30 questions depending on the complexity of the questions. 

Another aspect you should focus on when building an effective online survey is the logical flow. The survey should have straightforward questions that help each respondent understand their reason for being part of this research. Spike their interest, and group similar topics together, making the survey conversational and enjoyable to go through. A golden rule for the survey builder is to keep it simple and place yourself in the shoes of the respondent. There are many more tips and aspects of online surveys that you can learn about here.

Improving survey quality

There’s nothing more deterring in research than finding out the data you’ve gathered is inaccurate or not what you expected. High quality data is not only accurate or trustworthy, but also relevant i.e. data can be reliable but still not mean anything to a business. Improving data quality increases the reliability of insights, reduces the cost of re-fielding and saves on potential time lost in an industry already plagued by slow, expensive research processes. Luckily for market researchers, when it comes to survey data there are many simple tactics we can incorporate into the process to avoid poor data quality. Read about our five tips to improve survey quality for researchers here.

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