What Is Market Research?

Updated on 7 December 2022

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In today's ultra-competitive world, data is one of the keys to gaining ground. Tapping into white-space opportunities and information about emerging trends bubbling below the surface of business is encouraging.

From understanding consumers' needs and wants to find new audiences for offerings, market research plays an instrumental role in the business ecosystem. It is a systematic process wherein organizations collect valuable data to know more about their focus groups and market their products/services effectively. The underlying idea of market research is to help businesses determine who their target audience is, how the marketplace operates, and how prospects will respond to their offerings. These gathered insights set the tone and messaging for enterprises' marketing efforts both now and over the years ahead.

market research is a pivotal element of any enterprise strategy, whether that company is a start-up or incumbent. It eliminates the guesswork from innovation and channelizes resources into projects and ideas carrying the most potential.

Market Research and Its Implications for Businesses

The only constant in business is that market conditions evolve rapidly, customer patterns shift, and trends start and end in no time. While actionable market intelligence answers several questions about the state of an industry, it is not a water-proof way that businesses can bank on for insights on their buyers.

Market researchers look into multiple areas of the industry. The process can take weeks or even months to paint a clear picture of the market landscape. However, investigating only a few areas can make business owners more foresighted to who their customers are and how to make their portfolio shine in the crowd.

Decision-makers can make well-informed judgment calls based on their experience in the industry and their existing customer base. However, while researching, they must consider the following things:

Companies cannot determine the behaviors of an entire market based on customers. Instead, those customers represent the behavior of the particular market, which companies already engage with.

Market rivals also have a consumer base and an arsenal of skilled individuals. There are higher odds that the immediate assets of one firm – in several ways – match those of their competitors. Hence, creating a larger test-bed for answers will offer an upper edge.

Market Research: Key Types

market research is an umbrella concept, and comprises two fundamental research techniques – primary research and secondary research. Both these research methods offer businesses a different lens through which they can understand their audience better and develop targeted marketing campaigns based on their findings.

Primary Research

Under primary research (field research), analysts obtain first-hand information on their own from a particular demographic or customer cohort. They have total control over the entire procedure and research quality. Moreover, they can decide whether they want to share the data or not. While insights collected via primary research are tremendously valuable, the method is significantly time- and money-consuming.

Sources of primary market research include:

  • Comprehensive Interviews: Conducting in-depth interviews with members of the target cohort is immensely critical to gaining qualitative insights into their experience as a consumer. It enables a smooth, one-to-one interaction of analysts with the interviewee. Organizations can pick some of their existing consumers or non-consumers in their target audience.

Often, interviewers prompt the conversation by asking various open-ended questions. Moreover, they can follow up with a respondent to gather adequate answers whenever necessary.

  • Consumer Surveys: Surveys conducted in person, on paper, or via any web-browsing device are considerably insightful. They are a set of questions with which analysts can extract the best possible data regarding customers' reactions to companies, their deliverables, and the experience they provide. Surveys can be as specific as required or broad, enabling consumers to give distinct (eye-opening) inputs. Product feature desirability, user feedback, and opinions about recent changes are some tried-and-true use cases of online surveys.

Given the broad array of formats, surveys are significantly versatile and easily manageable. That said, having a clear and concise questionnaire is linearly associated with the quality of customer inputs. Else, analysts can receive mixed outcomes or random answers.

  • Focus Groups: Focus groups involve a small group of participants sharing common characteristics (location, age, and purchasing habits) to test a product or service. Analysts then conduct a discussion where they ask the participants questions about their company's offering. From the conversation, businesses can tease out insights forming a broader view of the society – or at least of the sections of society interested in their brand.
  • Observation: This research approach includes observing how customers interact with companies' services/products. Researchers can then note how customers' behavior evolves with time. In fact, going online complements this intel further. For instance, tracking social media activity reveals the purchase barriers/triggers within minutes. The best part about observation-based research is that the audience is less likely to get influenced, and research analysts can observe them in a neutral and natural environment.

Secondary Research

Under secondary research (or desk research), analysts gather information about the target audience that has already been compiled by other companies or organizations and is available at scale. Thus, conducting secondary research is effective in terms of time and cost. However, businesses must be diligent while extracting data from secondary sources as it might fulfill a different purpose or depict another section of the industry.

Sources of secondary market research include:

  • Industry Statistics: Data collected on the entire industry instead of a particular company.
  • Company Reports: Reports developed by organizations about their respective business. Researchers can find these reports on investor relations websites or company websites.
  • White Papers: Authentic market evaluations complied by third parties on a select topic about a specific sector. Analysts can access such analyses from trade magazines and other market research firms.
  • Government Agency Data: Data accumulated by the government and open to access for the general public, for instance, Census data, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

How to Conduct Market Research?

Here is a guide to conduct straightforward and effective market research.

Defining Research Purposes

Before gathering data, businesses must first establish the reasons behind conducting market research. Are they focused on obtaining feedback from existing consumers? Are they testing a new market to determine the sustainability of their business ideas? Do they see a market opportunity worth exploring?

Based on their initial questions or observations, companies can start unlocking what people browse online to know their preferences, emotions, and pain points. That way, they can help narrow their focus and pick suitable market research techniques and tools.

Developing Buyer Personas

Not everyone will need a company's product or service. Organizations must create buyers' personas using various crucial factors, including age, gender, income, and location. Knowing this information will help them establish their target cohort and identify their needs and interests. Consequently, they satiate the potential consumers and the market more effectively.

Having said that, business owners must readjust their focus group periodically to keep up with the ever-evolving preferences and trends.

Evaluating the Competition

Assessing market rivals and witnessing how they rack up is a vital aspect of market research. Companies must implement their benchmarking efforts to their competition and immediately compare the quality, pricing, sales volume, and sustainability practices. That way, they can learn from their rivals' strengths and weaknesses.

In weaknesses can lie opportunities, particularly when it comes to their customers. Does a company provide something that its rivals do not? Does it need another value proposition to be a customer magnet? Competitive analysis helps businesses answer these questions, and thus, expand their brand awareness – and their consumer base.

Selecting the Research Method

To take full advantage of the study, enterprises must pick a suitable research approach that offers them the desired data. If a firm, for instance, opts for primary research, they can ask people to participate in market surveys or invite the current customers for interviews. On the flip side, if the firm is conducting secondary research, it must decide the sources to investigate. Having the best of both primary and secondary research would be the wisest option.

Collecting Relevant Insights

Analysts must ensure that the data gained from the above step should be unbiased, relevant, and factual. In addition, they need to ascertain they are making decisions backed by these credible information sources.

Reviewing the Findings

At this stage, organizations should have all their insights documented and are ready for review. They can begin by organizing the insights into various sections – purpose, focus group, chosen research method, and competitors' assessment. Moreover, they can summarize their findings, industry outlook, projected market share percentage, and purchasing trends.

Why Choose Beroe for Market Research Services

Beroe is a global SaaS-based market intelligence firm that equips businesses with the most reliable and accurate view of industry challenges rooted in shareholder understanding, consumer research, and financial analysis. The company is a staple data source for every 4 out of 5 Fortune companies globally. At Beroe, our passionately curious researchers deliver in-depth assessments of market dynamics, supplier profiles, and performance benchmarks. For doing this, they combine the best of tech, science, and know-how and apply the laws of simplicity, speed, and substance to everything they do.

Our experts have rich experience in multiple sectors, particularly banking, energy and utilities, mining, and packaging. By using carefully gathered intelligence, Beroe helps its clients act faster, smarter, and bolder.

For more info, check out Beroe LiVE.Ai™

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