We conduct more research than we are aware of. On many occasions we consult with posters, social media or ask friends and family before we purchase or recommend a product or a service.
Research at its root is all about seeking out facts and opinions to facilitate sustainable decision-making and to reverberate knowledge acquisition. When we scroll through reviews, comparing laptop capacity and prices online, we are interrogating and triangulating facts and opinions. In the article, I introduce you to the basics of market research.
Market research is driven by curiosity, risks, uncertainty, and continuous improvements. The primary objective of any market research is to capture and understand the perspectives and behaviours of a desired target group. For instance; Have you ever been presented a questionnaire about the product or service in your regular grocery store?
Market research is the process of gathering and interpreting data about customers and competitors within an organisation’s operations grid. It aids organisation’s to understand (potential) audience behaviours and perceptions, as well as, the positioning and the impact of value proposition. Market research is carried out for one or more of the following;
(1) Market penetration
(2) Risk management
(3) Product development
(4) Market development
The end deliverable of any market research takes the form of reporting for the attention of the directorate and stakeholders, and often for or as part of the decision-making process.
Types of research and research data
The prerequisite of any research involves establishing the groups and methods of investigations. Upon planning, there are two types of data that an investigator can gather during market research – primary and secondary data.
Data is reusable, and can be gathered for different, yet, related purpose. There are two types of data collection scenarios, (1) Primary and (2) Secondary data.
Primary research requires the collection and analysis of new data and information.
Secondary research requires retrieving and working with existing data.
Data is raw facts collected for reference or analysis
— My Little Oxford Dictionary 2003
This process of gathering first-hand information is called primary data collection. Primary data can be collected using the techniques below.
- Focus groups
|Relevant to business||Time consuming|
|Findings closed to competition||Results may not be open|
This process of gathering existing information for research is called secondary data collection. Secondary data can be collected using the techniques below.
- Market/Research reports
- Trade journals
- Government statistics
- Sales and customer records
- Academic and scholarly publications
- Press releases
|Swift to conduct||Data may be out-of-date, not relevant|
|Competition may not have access to the findings||Requires interpretation and analysis|
|Easy to collect||Pseudo-science and persuasive data|
Primary and secondary data collection can be conducted online and offline or both. Depending on the research method, they can be employed simultaneously during investigations.
Quantitative market research is associated with numerical data and often collected from large groups. This type of data is often collected online and offline through questionnaires.
Qualitative research associates with opinions and behaviours, trend and perceptions. In my experience, the qualitative approach is fun and much more useful than the quantitative approach. It is also flexible, allowing room for in-depth investigations and triangulation.
Once data types and methods have been established, a sampling method facilitates the investigation. Sampling methods reduce the effects of the iron triangle on a research project. It is condensing the representative group into manageable chunks for eased processing.
Cluster sampling: Cluster sampling: The use of random sampling from a specific area or segment.
Convenience sampling: When the researcher relies on a group of willing volunteers. This method often results in bias.
Systematic sampling: Every nth person from the respondent group is selected. This technique can be costly if the samples are widespread and diverse.
Random sampling: Everyone in the population has an equal chance of being chosen to be in the sample.
Quota sampling: People in the sample are chosen to reflect the proportions of different groups in the target market.
Stratified sampling: Firstly, the appropriate market segment identified and recruited, following, the final sample is randomly recruited from the selection.
Research is an important arena of human evolution. Market research is collecting data about customers, competitors and market trends for internal use. Today, we can conduct research offline and online, and there are more channels for data collection.
Market research is the first step for any business or product development. Market research assists an organisation with risks and uncertainty.