Market Research Methods

There are two forms of market research: primary research and secondary research. Primary research is conducting and analyzing your own research first hand. In comparison, secondary research is simply seeking out existing research and data which can come from a number of different places such as the US Census Bureau, online social media, journals, and case studies. It is clear that conducting your own research and studying it is the most credible way to find new data. However, it can sometimes not be the most effective. This is why secondary market research can be very helpful. At the same time, while researching you might find that there isn’t any known data concerning your specific project. This will naturally call for primary market research to be conducted in order to provide evidence and proof.

Under these two branches of primary and secondary market research, it is primary research that comes in a variety of forms, some of which include: surveys, focus groups, interviews, observation, experiments, and field trials.

Surveys

Surveys are very well known method of research. They are typically used in order to measure something objectively. They can also be used to measure something specific rather than exploratory. In addition, surveys are normally employed when a researcher has a large sample size and has the resources to conduct a survey. Surveys are not a good research tool if you are still exploring a topic or if your sample size is too small (less than 30 people, for example). Surveys are best used for customers and employees because it’s objective and quick to understand. In addition, surveys are great for understanding basic facts and how customers interact with a product. They are administered in a variety of ways including mail, web forms, face-to-face, email, phone, and via text message.

Focus Groups

Focus groups are highly valuable because you bring together a group of individuals into a room and are able to ask them questions face-to-face. It is more in-depth. To put it in perspective, it’s like zooming in on a specific problem, while surveys are zooming out to see the bigger picture. Focus groups are great for exploratory, qualitative research. For example, one could conduct a focus group to better understand how customers feel about a certain product or if a company would like to know about employee satisfaction. This gives a detailed description of how a number of individuals feel about the topic being researched. In addition, it is normally mandatory to offer some type of incentive, whether it’s money or coupons, etc. in order to achieve a high enough percentage of individuals willing to do the focus group.

Interviews

Individual interviews are very similar to focus groups because they are both qualitative research. These can be highly valuable because you get an in-depth view on what the subject matter at hand is. Typically, an interviewee will be more honest and up front when it is just one-on-one rather than in a focus group where there may be varying perspectives. A one-on-one interview can help to establish honesty thus making it seem more like a conversation rather than formal research. This type of research is normally used for exploratory reasons. It’s for digging into an issue deeply, rather than objectively.

Experiments and Field Trials

Experiments and field trials are very valuable to scientific research. It’s the best way to prove a hypothesis. It involves variables that can be tested and thus proven or disproven. Typically they are conducted in controlled environments and they are always quantitative in nature. An example of an experiment is A/B Testing which can be used online. It’s the best way to find out if one form of an advertising campaign is more successful than another. And if so, then marketers know which one to employ more often. This type of primary research is very specific, highly credible, but also takes a large amount of time to be conducted.

Observation

There are two different types of observational research: strict observation with no interaction and observation with some level of interaction with the subject and researcher. This is a great way to measure actual behavior rather than just user-reported behavior. This is important because many people report what they think they do or what they think they should be doing, rather than reporting what they actually are doing. Researchers can dive into ‘real life’ circumstances and see how users actually behave and interact. This can be very useful for marketers who want to better understand how customers interact with their products.

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