Research

9 Highly Successful Market Research Examples

9 Highly Successful Market Research Examples

In the battle of instinct vs insight, there’s  clear evidence that data-driven decision-making pays off. 

A  McKinsey study into the impact of market research found that organizations using data to make decisions are more likely to be profitable, and can more effectively retain and acquire customers vs those who fail to use this approach.

I’ve curated nine of the best market research examples to help you find innovative ways to fuel growth , adapt, and impact change when and where it’s most needed. This post guides you through the problems faced along with the processes and tools used so you can replicate actions and outcomes in your business.

market research quote

Market Research Example #1 – Understand the competitive landscape

In any business of any size, having in-depth insights into competitors’ audiences, campaigns, keywords, ( and more ) allows you to shape or refine your own plans for success. You can cut through the noise, see what’s working, and uncover opportunities for growth.

Wonderbly market research example

Since 2013, Wonderbly’s business has grown exponentially and now sells personalized books to over six million customers worldwide. In order to validate its go-to-market strategy, it needed granular insights into competitors and market trends.

Here’s how it played out.

1. Competitive insights

Challenge: Low visibility into a key competitor’s activity

Action: By analyzing competitor audience demographics that showed both gender and age distribution of its rival’s audience, Wonderbly saw its competition was better at attracting a younger audience.

Impact: Through the development of a new audience profile and key changes to future campaign strategies, it was able to grow the business and attract new customers.

Website demographics

This snapshot shows competitors’ website demographics side-by-side. While it was attracting a larger female audience of 62% vs. 56%, they saw their rivals were better at appealing to a male audience, with a respective split of 43% vs. 37%. In age distribution, its share in the 18-24 bracket was just 12% vs. 19%. Showing a clear opportunity to do more to reach that younger audience.

2. Keyword seasonality

Challenge: Lack of data to enter new markets

Action: Using seasonal trends keywords that showed where competitors were winning traffic from paid ad channels, Wonderbly discovered an emerging category (weddings and anniversaries) that was not addressed with its own offering.

Impact: By demonstrating competitors’ success and subsequent consumer interest, a new product line was developed. It went on to achieve a 69% revenue increase in books purchased by a more mature audience.

Keyword seasonality

Keyword seasonality screenshot shows traffic leaders for specific keyword sets, their seasonality, traffic share , volume, and CPC data. This shows where competitors are using paid ads to win traffic share.

3. Audience data

Challenge: Limited view of audience browsing behavior

Action: By looking into audience data that showed which sites its visitors were cross-browsing, Wonderbly was able to determine audience loyalty vs. that of its rivals.

Impact: The information was used to forge new content-focused partnerships in the UK, US, and Canada with several organizations and drove more traffic to its own site as a result.

Audience overlap

Audience overlap screenshot shows which sites its customers are browsing, how loyal they are, and presented new information about a referral partnership.

See the full story behind Wonderly’s success here.

69% Revenue increase in books bought for grown-ups by tapping into new audiences in 2021

Market Research Example #2 – Market intelligence

Most business leaders and marketers have a solid understanding of their market. But if you want to stay ahead of the game, you need to reach deep inside a market, and often. Dynamic market intel enables you to do this and achieve sustainable growth by spotting emerging opportunities as they happen.

Redarbour market research example

Red Arbor is the third-largest job board website in the world . Market intelligence is an integral part of its business; with granular data across multiple markets, it knows the how and why behind individual brands’ performance.

Challenge: Difficult to see what’s happening across websites, apps, and digital entities in relevant markets.

Action: By using competitive and market intelligence tools, Red Arbor could see market movements and shifts in rival traffic share in all relevant markets as they occurred.

Impact: Key data can be constantly monitored to provide intel around emerging competitors and enables Red Arbor brands to quickly close the gap on respective market leaders. Based on these insights, it helps brands become the ultimate competitor and retain their positions as market leaders.

Read the full article about Red Arbur’s successful market research example here.

Red Arbur's successful market research example

Market Research Example #3 – Entering new markets

Diversification is key to survival. For both product and service-based businesses, entering a new market can, without question, yield huge rewards. But before investing time and effort, the crucial work of fleshing out the opportunity in its entirety is key.

Airbnb market research example

Airbnb is a household name, and a huge part of its success has been breaking into new markets. Each market has unique factors, risks, and opportunities. When this global powerhouse wanted to enter the Israeli market, it needed to get a clear handle on both local and international leaders, along with emerging players; all of whom had deployed aggressive marketing efforts.

Let’s look at how it went on to achieve success in a bustling new market.

Challenge: Analyze a new, highly competitive market and get clear insights into its rivals’ traffic sources to enable them to build an effective marketing strategy.

Action: Airbnb already knew who the leaders and most active local competitors were, but to enter with confidence, it wanted to see its respective rivals’ growth strategies. Using detailed website analytics, it was able to see its top competitors were all focussed on four core marketing activities.

  • Building partnerships with niche sites
  • AdWords, display, and search campaigns
  • Local social network ads via organic and paid campaigns
  • Running local digital news publisher’s ads

Top industry players

The snapshot shows at a glance who the top industry players are, with booking.com attracting 1.4 million unique visitors in the period with a yearly change of 57% vs. Airbnb’s unique visitors of 249k and a traffic increase of 42%. Two key players are losing traffic, with a 42%+ reduction in traffic share. It also identifies five emerging players in the market with significant growth of over 3000%.

Airbnb chose to focus its resources on social marketing, display and search ads, and partnerships. Its findings revealed specific keywords, social sites, and referrals that enabled it to enter a new market in a position of strength.

Impact: It entered a new market with a 360-degree view of what marketing channels and tactics to use.

Stop Guessing, Start Analyzing

Get actionable insights for market research here

Market Research Example #4 – Business benchmarking & competitive landscaping

Benchmarking in business is a great way to see how well you’re doing. But it’s so much more than just this – it lets you discover, understand, improve, grow, and set goals. If there’s one crucial thing I want you to know about successful market research examples, it’s the importance of doing benchmarking­ – often and well.

Croud market research example

Croud is a global digital marketing partner to some of the world’s greatest brands. It develops and iterates marketing strategies on a daily basis..

Want to find out how it consistently shapes successful growth strategies? Read on.

Challenge: Brand and category-level traffic analysis across different markets are limited.

Action: Using detailed site-level traffic data and competitor app engagement metrics , Cloud could quickly understand what sites people visit, traffic share, growth of a sector over time, and how a client’s own growth compares with its rivals.

Impact: The impact of market research intelligence on Croud’s business is multifaceted. It can serve clients’ fresh data insights that shape marketing channels and revenue opportunities. This, in turn, builds trust, loyalty, and revenue:

  • A global lingerie client was able to fine-tune localized marketing strategies and adjust media mixes to reflect category benchmarks. Ad copy was ‘tweaked,’ and new audiences were uncovered.
  • A video-on-demand client was alerted to emerging players entering the market, as well as what tactics were being used to obtain traffic.
  • A homecare retail client has been able to see the successful ad channels of its clients and adjust the marketing mix accordingly.

Read the full market research success story from Croud here.

Market research success story from Croud

Market Research Example #5 – New product development

When organizations develop plans for a new product or service, it requires insight, investment, and often a little intuition. Dynamic market intel can help you reveal shifts in consumer trends or behaviors before your rivals.

Staysure market research example

As a business in the travel sector, the pandemic hit Staysure harder than most – in fact the travel sector experienced losses of around 70% year on year. Market demands became an anomaly, and many rivals were forced to close their doors. To survive one of the toughest periods a business could ever face, Staysure needed to pivot, adapt, and go in a new direction.

Here’s how it turned things around.

Challenge: Survive the global pandemic and pivot its digital marketing strategy to meet the demand for new products in a shifting industry.

Action: Using Similarweb Digital Research Intelligence , Staysure analyzed competitors’ marketing tactics in real-time. This continuous monitoring enabled it to know when post-lockdown recoveries were occurring in real-time and allowed it to spot emerging trends , one of which was identified as an opportunity to bring a new product to market to address a shift in consumer demand.

Impact: Armed with this intel, it was able to develop a new insurance product that protected consumers against cancellations, medical expenses, and repatriation.

See more about how Staysure identified a new product opportunity for its business during one of the most challenging of times.

Staysure identified a new product opportunity for its business

Market Research Example #6 – Shape stronger strategies

Making key business decisions about the future is tough at the best of times. Add in a global pandemic, the possible end of globalization as we know it, and who knows what other variables – business leaders have never (likely) known a time like it. Creating future-proof strategies is a must for any organization, and with the current climate, it’s harder than ever. A data-informed approach is the only logical route to take at any time, but none more so than now.

eToro market research example

eToro is a market-leading social investing platform with a presence in over 100 countries and more than 27 million registered users. Each region operates within a different set of regulations and caters to unique market demands. To support eToro’s international expansion, the most up-to-date and accurate intel is needed to spearhead successful customer acquisition efforts across the globe.

Challenge: Finding reliable, competitive intelligence across international markets in a timely fashion

Action: The dedicated media buying at eToro used Similarweb Digital Research Intelligence to monitor competitor campaigns and evaluate potential media outlets, partnerships, and ad networks. Using deeper insights into website traffic , trends, and competitors’ campaigns, it could evaluate trends periodically, at both a regional and national level, to discover new traffic sources, evaluate and optimize existing media partnerships, and conduct keyword research each month.

Impact: The improved access to granular data insights has helped eToro negotiate with its publishers. As a result of being able to clearly see ad placement and creative campaign performance, it has improved ROI and increased its ability to out-trade rivals and gain market share .

Read more about how the team at eToro used digital insights to save time and make smarter decisions.

eToro used digital insights to save time

Market Research Example #7 – Identify the target audience

Every successful market research example I’ve ever seen starts and ends with the customer. Buyer personas shape product, price, and placement – and the development of these personas are relevant to all organizations. Being able to clearly identify a target audience in any market is crucial. Market dynamics mean a target audience is susceptible to change, so even established businesses need to keep watch.

Simplr market research example

Simplr is a customer support solution for growing brands, delivering staffing solutions via remote specialists and AI. As with any service-based business, being able to find and attract the right audience is crucial for growth and sustainability. It used market research to find and qualify high-caliber prospects and secure a more effective sales process.

Challenge: Targeting the right customers at the right time

Action: Simplr was able to get a detailed view of which new brands were growing the fastest by using digital performance data. This gave its sales team the ability to identify, qualify and prioritize potential companies based on solution fit and increasing need. Using a range of reports that show monthly traffic changes and traffic spikes in a custom sector, it saw high-growth sites with an expanding customer base and with this, an increased need for support services like Simplr.

Impact: Market sizing is now more dynamic and well-informed than ever before. Sales efficiency has increased, lead quality has improved, and sales performance is more effective as outreach is done in a more timely manner. Now, Simplr can identify and reach out to prospects during peak growth periods, and it’s seeing better conversions as a result.

Read more about how Simplr used successful market research to close more deals and improve pipeline efficiency here.

how Simplr used successful market research

Market Research Example #8 – Find out what marketing channels deliver ROI

In good times and bad, it’s important to optmize marketing spend to ensure you invest time, efforts, and money in channels that deliver. A great example of market research in action is to apply research efforts and take the time to know which channels work, and where rival’s are winning and losing in your space.

Anything is Possible (AIP)  is a data-driven, communications strategy, media planning & buying company that covers all digital and offline media. Needless to say, it’s a business that depends on reliable, insightful, timely data to impact its clients and their goals.

Challenge: During COVID, a key client (the Institute of Cancer Research) faced declining donations. To survive, it needed to find new ways to find and convert audiences to donate.

Action: AIP utilized Similarweb’s Digital Research Intelligence to do a basic competitive analysis on key rivals of its client. This identified which channels were optimal, and where the most referrals on rival sites were originating from. It shows that premium publisher sites, such as The Guardian were sending significant traffic to competitor sites. With this information, it was able to develop a paid-ads campaign that displayed advertising on targetted guardian.com pages.

Quote from Anything is Possible

Impact: The campaign was a huge success, exceeding previous campaign conversion rates by 817%. Read more about how AIP used Similarweb to understand the right marketing channels to use.

Market Research Example #9 – Trendspotting to find growth opportunities

During the pandemic, many companies in the hospitality sector were forced to close their doors. It was a case of fight or flight, and there were clear winners and losers. Having the ability to spot industry trends and adapt fast was key to the survival of many firms. In this market research example, we explore how one consulting firm was able to help its customers pivot and thrive during turbulent times.

Wiideman Consulting Group provides multi-location brands with SEO research, audits, and strategy services.

Challenge: During the pandemic, food chains had to pivot from offering dining-in services to takeout and delivery services. With IHOP and Applebee’s as key clients of its firm, it needed to develop robust strategies quickly to help its clients survive. With consumers performing non-banded searches to find food delivery and take-out services, these traditional dine-in venues have no visibility online and were at risk of not being found by people looking to order alternative dining solutions while dine-in restaurants were closed.

  Action: Using Similarweb, it identified the right keyword opportunities, industry trends, and delivery service provider insights. This enabled it to develop a strategy that focused on increasing visibility in the locations where the business could provide takeaway and delivery services. With this data, it was able to help reposition brands within the search engine results pages, and optimize content to generate leads and sales.

Doing this market research enabled it to make three key changes.

  • Optimize the Google My business profile to emphasize new service options for lunch, evening, and family meals.
  • Design and deploy optimized content with new delivery and takeout subpages for each location.
  • Addition of the ‘start order’ button as a floating call-to-action across all localized pages.

Impact: Driven by Similarweb insights, these tactics delivered favourable results for both of its clients in the hospitality sector.

  • Organic traffic for both brands improved by 63% & 37%
  • Revenues increased by 167% & 70% yoy

Market research example Wiiderman consulting

Ultimately, this market research enabled its clients to adapt to a changing market, and thrive when many others were forced to cease trading.

You can view the full write-up here to hear more about this success story.

Market research isn’t a one-and-done activity – rather, it’s a highly-habitual process and a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. Due to fast-changing market dynamics, business leaders and strategists need market insights on the fly to respond and react to shifts in consumer behavior while staying focused on growth.

I’ve shared with you nine market research examples demonstrating how companies around the globe have successfully used market analysis to strategize, adapt, and grow. Similarweb Digital Research Intelligence impacted each of these examples, helping take the guesswork out of market research; so you can confidently make informed strategic decisions to grow your business.

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example of a market research strategy

Market Research: A How-To Guide and Template

Discover the different types of market research, how to conduct your own market research, and use a free template to help you along the way.

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MARKET RESEARCH KIT

5 Research and Planning Templates + a Free Guide on How to Use Them in Your Market Research

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Updated: 02/21/24

Published: 02/21/24

Today's consumers have a lot of power. As a business, you must have a deep understanding of who your buyers are and what influences their purchase decisions.

Enter: Market Research.

→ Download Now: Market Research Templates [Free Kit]

Whether you're new to market research or not, I created this guide to help you conduct a thorough study of your market, target audience, competition, and more. Let’s dive in.

Table of Contents

What is market research?

Primary vs. secondary research, types of market research, how to do market research, market research report template, market research examples.

Market research is the process of gathering information about your target market and customers to verify the success of a new product, help your team iterate on an existing product, or understand brand perception to ensure your team is effectively communicating your company's value effectively.

Market research can answer various questions about the state of an industry. But if you ask me, it's hardly a crystal ball that marketers can rely on for insights on their customers.

Market researchers investigate several areas of the market, and it can take weeks or even months to paint an accurate picture of the business landscape.

However, researching just one of those areas can make you more intuitive to who your buyers are and how to deliver value that no other business is offering them right now.

How? Consider these two things:

  • Your competitors also have experienced individuals in the industry and a customer base. It‘s very possible that your immediate resources are, in many ways, equal to those of your competition’s immediate resources. Seeking a larger sample size for answers can provide a better edge.
  • Your customers don't represent the attitudes of an entire market. They represent the attitudes of the part of the market that is already drawn to your brand.

The market research services market is growing rapidly, which signifies a strong interest in market research as we enter 2024. The market is expected to grow from roughly $75 billion in 2021 to $90.79 billion in 2025 .

example of a market research strategy

Free Market Research Kit

  • SWOT Analysis Template
  • Survey Template
  • Focus Group Template

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Why do market research?

Market research allows you to meet your buyer where they are.

As our world becomes louder and demands more of our attention, this proves invaluable.

By understanding your buyer's problems, pain points, and desired solutions, you can aptly craft your product or service to naturally appeal to them.

Market research also provides insight into the following:

  • Where your target audience and current customers conduct their product or service research
  • Which of your competitors your target audience looks to for information, options, or purchases
  • What's trending in your industry and in the eyes of your buyer
  • Who makes up your market and what their challenges are
  • What influences purchases and conversions among your target audience
  • Consumer attitudes about a particular topic, pain, product, or brand
  • Whether there‘s demand for the business initiatives you’re investing in
  • Unaddressed or underserved customer needs that can be flipped into selling opportunity
  • Attitudes about pricing for a particular product or service

Ultimately, market research allows you to get information from a larger sample size of your target audience, eliminating bias and assumptions so that you can get to the heart of consumer attitudes.

As a result, you can make better business decisions.

To give you an idea of how extensive market research can get , consider that it can either be qualitative or quantitative in nature — depending on the studies you conduct and what you're trying to learn about your industry.

Qualitative research is concerned with public opinion, and explores how the market feels about the products currently available in that market.

Quantitative research is concerned with data, and looks for relevant trends in the information that's gathered from public records.

That said, there are two main types of market research that your business can conduct to collect actionable information on your products: primary research and secondary research.

Primary Research

Primary research is the pursuit of first-hand information about your market and the customers within your market.

It's useful when segmenting your market and establishing your buyer personas.

Primary market research tends to fall into one of two buckets:

  • Exploratory Primary Research: This kind of primary market research normally takes place as a first step — before any specific research has been performed — and may involve open-ended interviews or surveys with small numbers of people.
  • Specific Primary Research: This type of research often follows exploratory research. In specific research, you take a smaller or more precise segment of your audience and ask questions aimed at solving a suspected problem.

Secondary Research

Secondary research is all the data and public records you have at your disposal to draw conclusions from (e.g. trend reports, market statistics, industry content, and sales data you already have on your business).

Secondary research is particularly useful for analyzing your competitors . The main buckets your secondary market research will fall into include:

  • Public Sources: These sources are your first and most-accessible layer of material when conducting secondary market research. They're often free to find and review — like government statistics (e.g., from the U.S. Census Bureau ).
  • Commercial Sources: These sources often come in the form of pay-to-access market reports, consisting of industry insight compiled by a research agency like Pew , Gartner , or Forrester .
  • Internal Sources: This is the market data your organization already has like average revenue per sale, customer retention rates, and other historical data that can help you draw conclusions on buyer needs.
  • Focus Groups
  • Product/ Service Use Research
  • Observation-Based Research
  • Buyer Persona Research
  • Market Segmentation Research
  • Pricing Research
  • Competitive Analysis Research
  • Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty Research
  • Brand Awareness Research
  • Campaign Research

1. Interviews

Interviews allow for face-to-face discussions so you can allow for a natural flow of conversation. Your interviewees can answer questions about themselves to help you design your buyer personas and shape your entire marketing strategy.

2. Focus Groups

Focus groups provide you with a handful of carefully-selected people that can test out your product and provide feedback. This type of market research can give you ideas for product differentiation.

3. Product/Service Use Research

Product or service use research offers insight into how and why your audience uses your product or service. This type of market research also gives you an idea of the product or service's usability for your target audience.

4. Observation-Based Research

Observation-based research allows you to sit back and watch the ways in which your target audience members go about using your product or service, what works well in terms of UX , and which aspects of it could be improved.

5. Buyer Persona Research

Buyer persona research gives you a realistic look at who makes up your target audience, what their challenges are, why they want your product or service, and what they need from your business or brand.

6. Market Segmentation Research

Market segmentation research allows you to categorize your target audience into different groups (or segments) based on specific and defining characteristics. This way, you can determine effective ways to meet their needs.

7. Pricing Research

Pricing research helps you define your pricing strategy . It gives you an idea of what similar products or services in your market sell for and what your target audience is willing to pay.

8. Competitive Analysis

Competitive analyses give you a deep understanding of the competition in your market and industry. You can learn about what's doing well in your industry and how you can separate yourself from the competition .

9. Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty Research

Customer satisfaction and loyalty research gives you a look into how you can get current customers to return for more business and what will motivate them to do so (e.g., loyalty programs , rewards, remarkable customer service).

10. Brand Awareness Research

Brand awareness research tells you what your target audience knows about and recognizes from your brand. It tells you about the associations people make when they think about your business.

11. Campaign Research

Campaign research entails looking into your past campaigns and analyzing their success among your target audience and current customers. The goal is to use these learnings to inform future campaigns.

  • Define your buyer persona.
  • Identify a persona group to engage.
  • Prepare research questions for your market research participants.
  • List your primary competitors.
  • Summarize your findings.

1. Define your buyer persona.

You have to understand who your customers are and how customers in your industry make buying decisions.

This is where your buyer personas come in handy. Buyer personas — sometimes referred to as marketing personas — are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers.

Use a free tool to create a buyer persona that your entire company can use to market, sell, and serve better.

example of a market research strategy

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How to do market research in 4 steps: a lean approach to marketing research

From pinpointing your target audience and assessing your competitive advantage, to ongoing product development and customer satisfaction efforts, market research is a practice your business can only benefit from.

Learn how to conduct quick and effective market research using a lean approach in this article full of strategies and practical examples. 

example of a market research strategy

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example of a market research strategy

A comprehensive (and successful) business strategy is not complete without some form of market research—you can’t make informed and profitable business decisions without truly understanding your customer base and the current market trends that drive your business.

In this article, you’ll learn how to conduct quick, effective market research  using an approach called 'lean market research'. It’s easier than you might think, and it can be done at any stage in a product’s lifecycle.

How to conduct lean market research in 4 steps

What is market research, why is market research so valuable, advantages of lean market research, 4 common market research methods, 5 common market research questions, market research faqs.

We’ll jump right into our 4-step approach to lean market research. To show you how it’s done in the real world, each step includes a practical example from Smallpdf , a Swiss company that used lean market research to reduce their tool’s error rate by 75% and boost their Net Promoter Score® (NPS) by 1%.

Research your market the lean way...

From on-page surveys to user interviews, Hotjar has the tools to help you scope out your market and get to know your customers—without breaking the bank.

The following four steps and practical examples will give you a solid market research plan for understanding who your users are and what they want from a company like yours.

1. Create simple user personas

A user persona is a semi-fictional character based on psychographic and demographic data from people who use websites and products similar to your own. Start by defining broad user categories, then elaborate on them later to further segment your customer base and determine your ideal customer profile .

How to get the data: use on-page or emailed surveys and interviews to understand your users and what drives them to your business.

How to do it right: whatever survey or interview questions you ask, they should answer the following questions about the customer:

Who are they?

What is their main goal?

What is their main barrier to achieving this goal?

Pitfalls to avoid:

Don’t ask too many questions! Keep it to five or less, otherwise you’ll inundate them and they’ll stop answering thoughtfully.

Don’t worry too much about typical demographic questions like age or background. Instead, focus on the role these people play (as it relates to your product) and their goals.

How Smallpdf did it: Smallpdf ran an on-page survey for a couple of weeks and received 1,000 replies. They learned that many of their users were administrative assistants, students, and teachers.

#One of the five survey questions Smallpdf asked their users

Next, they used the survey results to create simple user personas like this one for admins:

Who are they? Administrative Assistants.

What is their main goal? Creating Word documents from a scanned, hard-copy document or a PDF where the source file was lost.

What is their main barrier to achieving it? Converting a scanned PDF doc to a Word file.

💡Pro tip: Smallpdf used Hotjar Surveys to run their user persona survey. Our survey tool helped them avoid the pitfalls of guesswork and find out who their users really are, in their own words. 

You can design a survey and start running it in minutes with our easy-to-use drag and drop builder. Customize your survey to fit your needs, from a sleek one-question pop-up survey to a fully branded questionnaire sent via email. 

We've also created 40+ free survey templates that you can start collecting data with, including a user persona survey like the one Smallpdf used.

2. Conduct observational research

Observational research involves taking notes while watching someone use your product (or a similar product).

Overt vs. covert observation

Overt observation involves asking customers if they’ll let you watch them use your product. This method is often used for user testing and it provides a great opportunity for collecting live product or customer feedback .

Covert observation means studying users ‘in the wild’ without them knowing. This method works well if you sell a type of product that people use regularly, and it offers the purest observational data because people often behave differently when they know they’re being watched. 

Tips to do it right:

Record an entry in your field notes, along with a timestamp, each time an action or event occurs.

Make note of the users' workflow, capturing the ‘what,’ ‘why,’ and ‘for whom’ of each action.

#Sample of field notes taken by Smallpdf

Don’t record identifiable video or audio data without consent. If recording people using your product is helpful for achieving your research goal, make sure all participants are informed and agree to the terms.

Don’t forget to explain why you’d like to observe them (for overt observation). People are more likely to cooperate if you tell them you want to improve the product.

💡Pro tip: while conducting field research out in the wild can wield rewarding results, you can also conduct observational research remotely. Hotjar Recordings is a tool that lets you capture anonymized user sessions of real people interacting with your website. 

Observe how customers navigate your pages and products to gain an inside look into their user behavior . This method is great for conducting exploratory research with the purpose of identifying more specific issues to investigate further, like pain points along the customer journey and opportunities for optimizing conversion .

With Hotjar Recordings you can observe real people using your site without capturing their sensitive information

How Smallpdf did it: here’s how Smallpdf observed two different user personas both covertly and overtly.

Observing students (covert): Kristina Wagner, Principle Product Manager at Smallpdf, went to cafes and libraries at two local universities and waited until she saw students doing PDF-related activities. Then she watched and took notes from a distance. One thing that struck her was the difference between how students self-reported their activities vs. how they behaved (i.e, the self-reporting bias). Students, she found, spent hours talking, listening to music, or simply staring at a blank screen rather than working. When she did find students who were working, she recorded the task they were performing and the software they were using (if she recognized it).

Observing administrative assistants (overt): Kristina sent emails to admins explaining that she’d like to observe them at work, and she asked those who agreed to try to batch their PDF work for her observation day. While watching admins work, she learned that they frequently needed to scan documents into PDF-format and then convert those PDFs into Word docs. By observing the challenges admins faced, Smallpdf knew which products to target for improvement.

“Data is really good for discovery and validation, but there is a bit in the middle where you have to go and find the human.”

3. Conduct individual interviews

Interviews are one-on-one conversations with members of your target market. They allow you to dig deep and explore their concerns, which can lead to all sorts of revelations.

Listen more, talk less. Be curious.

Act like a journalist, not a salesperson. Rather than trying to talk your company up, ask people about their lives, their needs, their frustrations, and how a product like yours could help.

Ask "why?" so you can dig deeper. Get into the specifics and learn about their past behavior.

Record the conversation. Focus on the conversation and avoid relying solely on notes by recording the interview. There are plenty of services that will transcribe recorded conversations for a good price (including Hotjar!).

Avoid asking leading questions , which reveal bias on your part and pushes respondents to answer in a certain direction (e.g. “Have you taken advantage of the amazing new features we just released?).

Don't ask loaded questions , which sneak in an assumption which, if untrue, would make it impossible to answer honestly. For example, we can’t ask you, “What did you find most useful about this article?” without asking whether you found the article useful in the first place.

Be cautious when asking opinions about the future (or predictions of future behavior). Studies suggest that people aren’t very good at predicting their future behavior. This is due to several cognitive biases, from the misguided exceptionalism bias (we’re good at guessing what others will do, but we somehow think we’re different), to the optimism bias (which makes us see things with rose-colored glasses), to the ‘illusion of control’ (which makes us forget the role of randomness in future events).

How Smallpdf did it: Kristina explored her teacher user persona by speaking with university professors at a local graduate school. She learned that the school was mostly paperless and rarely used PDFs, so for the sake of time, she moved on to the admins.

A bit of a letdown? Sure. But this story highlights an important lesson: sometimes you follow a lead and come up short, so you have to make adjustments on the fly. Lean market research is about getting solid, actionable insights quickly so you can tweak things and see what works.

💡Pro tip: to save even more time, conduct remote interviews using an online user research service like Hotjar Engage , which automates the entire interview process, from recruitment and scheduling to hosting and recording.

You can interview your own customers or connect with people from our diverse pool of 200,000+ participants from 130+ countries and 25 industries. And no need to fret about taking meticulous notes—Engage will automatically transcribe the interview for you.

4. Analyze the data (without drowning in it)

The following techniques will help you wrap your head around the market data you collect without losing yourself in it. Remember, the point of lean market research is to find quick, actionable insights.

A flow model is a diagram that tracks the flow of information within a system. By creating a simple visual representation of how users interact with your product and each other, you can better assess their needs.

#Example of a flow model designed by Smallpdf

You’ll notice that admins are at the center of Smallpdf’s flow model, which represents the flow of PDF-related documents throughout a school. This flow model shows the challenges that admins face as they work to satisfy their own internal and external customers.

Affinity diagram

An affinity diagram is a way of sorting large amounts of data into groups to better understand the big picture. For example, if you ask your users about their profession, you’ll notice some general themes start to form, even though the individual responses differ. Depending on your needs, you could group them by profession, or more generally by industry.

<

We wrote a guide about how to analyze open-ended questions to help you sort through and categorize large volumes of response data. You can also do this by hand by clipping up survey responses or interview notes and grouping them (which is what Kristina does).

“For an interview, you will have somewhere between 30 and 60 notes, and those notes are usually direct phrases. And when you literally cut them up into separate pieces of paper and group them, they should make sense by themselves.”

Pro tip: if you’re conducting an online survey with Hotjar, keep your team in the loop by sharing survey responses automatically via our Slack and Microsoft Team integrations. Reading answers as they come in lets you digest the data in pieces and can help prepare you for identifying common themes when it comes time for analysis.

Hotjar lets you easily share survey responses with your team

Customer journey map

A customer journey map is a diagram that shows the way a typical prospect becomes a paying customer. It outlines their first interaction with your brand and every step in the sales cycle, from awareness to repurchase (and hopefully advocacy).

#A customer journey map example

The above  customer journey map , created by our team at Hotjar, shows many ways a customer might engage with our tool. Your map will be based on your own data and business model.

📚 Read more: if you’re new to customer journey maps, we wrote this step-by-step guide to creating your first customer journey map in 2 and 1/2 days with free templates you can download and start using immediately.

Next steps: from research to results

So, how do you turn market research insights into tangible business results? Let’s look at the actions Smallpdf took after conducting their lean market research: first they implemented changes, then measured the impact.

#Smallpdf used lean market research to dig below the surface, understand their clients, and build a better product and user experience

Implement changes

Based on what Smallpdf learned about the challenges that one key user segment (admins) face when trying to convert PDFs into Word files, they improved their ‘PDF to Word’ conversion tool.

We won’t go into the details here because it involves a lot of technical jargon, but they made the entire process simpler and more straightforward for users. Plus, they made it so that their system recognized when you drop a PDF file into their ‘Word to PDF’ converter instead of the ‘PDF to Word’ converter, so users wouldn’t have to redo the task when they made that mistake. 

In other words: simple market segmentation for admins showed a business need that had to be accounted for, and customers are happier overall after Smallpdf implemented an informed change to their product.

Measure results

According to the Lean UX model, product and UX changes aren’t retained unless they achieve results.

Smallpdf’s changes produced:

A 75% reduction in error rate for the ‘PDF to Word’ converter

A 1% increase in NPS

Greater confidence in the team’s marketing efforts

"With all the changes said and done, we've cut our original error rate in four, which is huge. We increased our NPS by +1%, which isn't huge, but it means that of the users who received a file, they were still slightly happier than before, even if they didn't notice that anything special happened at all.”

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Market research (or marketing research) is any set of techniques used to gather information and better understand a company’s target market. This might include primary research on brand awareness and customer satisfaction or secondary market research on market size and competitive analysis. Businesses use this information to design better products, improve user experience, and craft a marketing strategy that attracts quality leads and improves conversion rates.

David Darmanin, one of Hotjar’s founders, launched two startups before Hotjar took off—but both companies crashed and burned. Each time, he and his team spent months trying to design an amazing new product and user experience, but they failed because they didn’t have a clear understanding of what the market demanded.

With Hotjar, they did things differently . Long story short, they conducted market research in the early stages to figure out what consumers really wanted, and the team made (and continues to make) constant improvements based on market and user research.

Without market research, it’s impossible to understand your users. Sure, you might have a general idea of who they are and what they need, but you have to dig deep if you want to win their loyalty.

Here’s why research matters:

Obsessing over your users is the only way to win. If you don’t care deeply about them, you’ll lose potential customers to someone who does.

Analytics gives you the ‘what’, while research gives you the ‘why’. Big data, user analytics , and dashboards can tell you what people do at scale, but only research can tell you what they’re thinking and why they do what they do. For example, analytics can tell you that customers leave when they reach your pricing page, but only research can explain why.

Research beats assumptions, trends, and so-called best practices. Have you ever watched your colleagues rally behind a terrible decision? Bad ideas are often the result of guesswork, emotional reasoning, death by best practices , and defaulting to the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion (HiPPO). By listening to your users and focusing on their customer experience , you’re less likely to get pulled in the wrong direction.

Research keeps you from planning in a vacuum. Your team might be amazing, but you and your colleagues simply can’t experience your product the way your customers do. Customers might use your product in a way that surprises you, and product features that seem obvious to you might confuse them. Over-planning and refusing to test your assumptions is a waste of time, money, and effort because you’ll likely need to make changes once your untested business plan gets put into practice.

Lean User Experience (UX) design is a model for continuous improvement that relies on quick, efficient research to understand customer needs and test new product features.

Lean market research can help you become more...

Efficient: it gets you closer to your customers, faster.

Cost-effective: no need to hire an expensive marketing firm to get things started.

Competitive: quick, powerful insights can place your products on the cutting edge.

As a small business or sole proprietor, conducting lean market research is an attractive option when investing in a full-blown research project might seem out of scope or budget.

There are lots of different ways you could conduct market research and collect customer data, but you don’t have to limit yourself to just one research method. Four common types of market research techniques include surveys, interviews, focus groups, and customer observation.

Which method you use may vary based on your business type: ecommerce business owners have different goals from SaaS businesses, so it’s typically prudent to mix and match these methods based on your particular goals and what you need to know.

1. Surveys: the most commonly used

Surveys are a form of qualitative research that ask respondents a short series of open- or closed-ended questions, which can be delivered as an on-screen questionnaire or via email. When we asked 2,000 Customer Experience (CX) professionals about their company’s approach to research , surveys proved to be the most commonly used market research technique.

What makes online surveys so popular?  

They’re easy and inexpensive to conduct, and you can do a lot of data collection quickly. Plus, the data is pretty straightforward to analyze, even when you have to analyze open-ended questions whose answers might initially appear difficult to categorize.

We've built a number of survey templates ready and waiting for you. Grab a template and share with your customers in just a few clicks.

💡 Pro tip: you can also get started with Hotjar AI for Surveys to create a survey in mere seconds . Just enter your market research goal and watch as the AI generates a survey and populates it with relevant questions. 

Once you’re ready for data analysis, the AI will prepare an automated research report that succinctly summarizes key findings, quotes, and suggested next steps.

example of a market research strategy

An example research report generated by Hotjar AI for Surveys

2. Interviews: the most insightful

Interviews are one-on-one conversations with members of your target market. Nothing beats a face-to-face interview for diving deep (and reading non-verbal cues), but if an in-person meeting isn’t possible, video conferencing is a solid second choice.

Regardless of how you conduct it, any type of in-depth interview will produce big benefits in understanding your target customers.

What makes interviews so insightful?

By speaking directly with an ideal customer, you’ll gain greater empathy for their experience , and you can follow insightful threads that can produce plenty of 'Aha!' moments.

3. Focus groups: the most unreliable

Focus groups bring together a carefully selected group of people who fit a company’s target market. A trained moderator leads a conversation surrounding the product, user experience, or marketing message to gain deeper insights.

What makes focus groups so unreliable?

If you’re new to market research, we wouldn’t recommend starting with focus groups. Doing it right is expensive , and if you cut corners, your research could fall victim to all kinds of errors. Dominance bias (when a forceful participant influences the group) and moderator style bias (when different moderator personalities bring about different results in the same study) are two of the many ways your focus group data could get skewed.

4. Observation: the most powerful

During a customer observation session, someone from the company takes notes while they watch an ideal user engage with their product (or a similar product from a competitor).

What makes observation so clever and powerful?

‘Fly-on-the-wall’ observation is a great alternative to focus groups. It’s not only less expensive, but you’ll see people interact with your product in a natural setting without influencing each other. The only downside is that you can’t get inside their heads, so observation still isn't a recommended replacement for customer surveys and interviews.

The following questions will help you get to know your users on a deeper level when you interview them. They’re general questions, of course, so don’t be afraid to make them your own.

1. Who are you and what do you do?

How you ask this question, and what you want to know, will vary depending on your business model (e.g. business-to-business marketing is usually more focused on someone’s profession than business-to-consumer marketing).

It’s a great question to start with, and it’ll help you understand what’s relevant about your user demographics (age, race, gender, profession, education, etc.), but it’s not the be-all-end-all of market research. The more specific questions come later.

2. What does your day look like?

This question helps you understand your users’ day-to-day life and the challenges they face. It will help you gain empathy for them, and you may stumble across something relevant to their buying habits.

3. Do you ever purchase [product/service type]?

This is a ‘yes or no’ question. A ‘yes’ will lead you to the next question.

4. What problem were you trying to solve or what goal were you trying to achieve?

This question strikes to the core of what someone’s trying to accomplish and why they might be willing to pay for your solution.

5. Take me back to the day when you first decided you needed to solve this kind of problem or achieve this goal.

This is the golden question, and it comes from Adele Revella, Founder and CEO of Buyer Persona Institute . It helps you get in the heads of your users and figure out what they were thinking the day they decided to spend money to solve a problem.

If you take your time with this question, digging deeper where it makes sense, you should be able to answer all the relevant information you need to understand their perspective.

“The only scripted question I want you to ask them is this one: take me back to the day when you first decided that you needed to solve this kind of problem or achieve this kind of a goal. Not to buy my product, that’s not the day. We want to go back to the day that when you thought it was urgent and compelling to go spend money to solve a particular problem or achieve a goal. Just tell me what happened.”

— Adele Revella , Founder/CEO at Buyer Persona Institute

Bonus question: is there anything else you’d like to tell me?

This question isn’t just a nice way to wrap it up—it might just give participants the opportunity they need to tell you something you really need to know.

That’s why Sarah Doody, author of UX Notebook , adds it to the end of her written surveys.

“I always have a last question, which is just open-ended: “Is there anything else you would like to tell me?” And sometimes, that’s where you get four paragraphs of amazing content that you would never have gotten if it was just a Net Promoter Score [survey] or something like that.”

What is the difference between qualitative and quantitative research?

Qualitative research asks questions that can’t be reduced to a number, such as, “What is your job title?” or “What did you like most about your customer service experience?” 

Quantitative research asks questions that can be answered with a numeric value, such as, “What is your annual salary?” or “How was your customer service experience on a scale of 1-5?”

 → Read more about the differences between qualitative and quantitative user research .

How do I do my own market research?

You can do your own quick and effective market research by 

Surveying your customers

Building user personas

Studying your users through interviews and observation

Wrapping your head around your data with tools like flow models, affinity diagrams, and customer journey maps

What is the difference between market research and user research?

Market research takes a broad look at potential customers—what problems they’re trying to solve, their buying experience, and overall demand. User research, on the other hand, is more narrowly focused on the use (and usability ) of specific products.

What are the main criticisms of market research?

Many marketing professionals are critical of market research because it can be expensive and time-consuming. It’s often easier to convince your CEO or CMO to let you do lean market research rather than something more extensive because you can do it yourself. It also gives you quick answers so you can stay ahead of the competition.

Do I need a market research firm to get reliable data?

Absolutely not! In fact, we recommend that you start small and do it yourself in the beginning. By following a lean market research strategy, you can uncover some solid insights about your clients. Then you can make changes, test them out, and see whether the results are positive. This is an excellent strategy for making quick changes and remaining competitive.

Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS, and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld, and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.

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Geoff Whiting

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What Is Market Research?

  • How It Works
  • Primary vs. Secondary
  • How to Conduct Research

The Bottom Line

  • Marketing Essentials

How to Do Market Research, Types, and Example

example of a market research strategy

Joules Garcia / Investopedia

Market research examines consumer behavior and trends in the economy to help a business develop and fine-tune its business idea and strategy. It helps a business understand its target market by gathering and analyzing data.

Market research is the process of evaluating the viability of a new service or product through research conducted directly with potential customers. It allows a company to define its target market and get opinions and other feedback from consumers about their interest in a product or service.

Research may be conducted in-house or by a third party that specializes in market research. It can be done through surveys and focus groups, among other ways. Test subjects are usually compensated with product samples or a small stipend for their time.

Key Takeaways

  • Companies conduct market research before introducing new products to determine their appeal to potential customers.
  • Tools include focus groups, telephone interviews, and questionnaires.
  • The results of market research inform the final design of the product and determine how it will be positioned in the marketplace.
  • Market research usually combines primary information, gathered directly from consumers, and secondary information, which is data available from external sources.

Market Research

How market research works.

Market research is used to determine the viability of a new product or service. The results may be used to revise the product design and fine-tune the strategy for introducing it to the public. This can include information gathered for the purpose of determining market segmentation . It also informs product differentiation , which is used to tailor advertising.

A business engages in various tasks to complete the market research process. It gathers information based on the market sector being targeted by the product. This information is then analyzed and relevant data points are interpreted to draw conclusions about how the product may be optimally designed and marketed to the market segment for which it is intended.

It is a critical component in the research and development (R&D) phase of a new product or service introduction. Market research can be conducted in many different ways, including surveys, product testing, interviews, and focus groups.

Market research is a critical tool that companies use to understand what consumers want, develop products that those consumers will use, and maintain a competitive advantage over other companies in their industry.

Primary Market Research vs. Secondary Market Research

Market research usually consists of a combination of:

  • Primary research, gathered by the company or by an outside company that it hires
  • Secondary research, which draws on external sources of data

Primary Market Research

Primary research generally falls into two categories: exploratory and specific research.

  • Exploratory research is less structured and functions via open-ended questions. The questions may be posed in a focus group setting, telephone interviews, or questionnaires. It results in questions or issues that the company needs to address about a product that it has under development.
  • Specific research delves more deeply into the problems or issues identified in exploratory research.

Secondary Market Research

All market research is informed by the findings of other researchers about the needs and wants of consumers. Today, much of this research can be found online.

Secondary research can include population information from government census data , trade association research reports , polling results, and research from other businesses operating in the same market sector.

History of Market Research

Formal market research began in Germany during the 1920s. In the United States, it soon took off with the advent of the Golden Age of Radio.

Companies that created advertisements for this new entertainment medium began to look at the demographics of the audiences who listened to each of the radio plays, music programs, and comedy skits that were presented.

They had once tried to reach the widest possible audience by placing their messages on billboards or in the most popular magazines. With radio programming, they had the chance to target rural or urban consumers, teenagers or families, and judge the results by the sales numbers that followed.

Types of Market Research

Face-to-face interviews.

From their earliest days, market research companies would interview people on the street about the newspapers and magazines that they read regularly and ask whether they recalled any of the ads or brands that were published in them. Data collected from these interviews were compared to the circulation of the publication to determine the effectiveness of those ads.

Market research and surveys were adapted from these early techniques.

To get a strong understanding of your market, it’s essential to understand demand, market size, economic indicators, location, market saturation, and pricing.

Focus Groups

A focus group is a small number of representative consumers chosen to try a product or watch an advertisement.

Afterward, the group is asked for feedback on their perceptions of the product, the company’s brand, or competing products. The company then takes that information and makes decisions about what to do with the product or service, whether that's releasing it, making changes, or abandoning it altogether.

Phone Research

The man-on-the-street interview technique soon gave way to the telephone interview. A telephone interviewer could collect information in a more efficient and cost-effective fashion.

Telephone research was a preferred tactic of market researchers for many years. It has become much more difficult in recent years as landline phone service dwindles and is replaced by less accessible mobile phones.

Survey Research

As an alternative to focus groups, surveys represent a cost-effective way to determine consumer attitudes without having to interview anyone in person. Consumers are sent surveys in the mail, usually with a coupon or voucher to incentivize participation. These surveys help determine how consumers feel about the product, brand, and price point.

Online Market Research

With people spending more time online, market research activities have shifted online as well. Data collection still uses a survey-style form. But instead of companies actively seeking participants by finding them on the street or cold calling them on the phone, people can choose to sign up, take surveys, and offer opinions when they have time.

This makes the process far less intrusive and less rushed, since people can participate on their own time and of their own volition.

How to Conduct Market Research

The first step to effective market research is to determine the goals of the study. Each study should seek to answer a clear, well-defined problem. For example, a company might seek to identify consumer preferences, brand recognition, or the comparative effectiveness of different types of ad campaigns.

After that, the next step is to determine who will be included in the research. Market research is an expensive process, and a company cannot waste resources collecting unnecessary data. The firm should decide in advance which types of consumers will be included in the research, and how the data will be collected. They should also account for the probability of statistical errors or sampling bias .

The next step is to collect the data and analyze the results. If the two previous steps have been completed accurately, this should be straightforward. The researchers will collect the results of their study, keeping track of the ages, gender, and other relevant data of each respondent. This is then analyzed in a marketing report that explains the results of their research.

The last step is for company executives to use their market research to make business decisions. Depending on the results of their research, they may choose to target a different group of consumers, or they may change their price point or some product features.

The results of these changes may eventually be measured in further market research, and the process will begin all over again.

Benefits of Market Research

Market research is essential for developing brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. Since it is unlikely for a product to appeal equally to every consumer, a strong market research program can help identify the key demographics and market segments that are most likely to use a given product.

Market research is also important for developing a company’s advertising efforts. For example, if a company’s market research determines that its consumers are more likely to use Facebook than X (formerly Twitter), it can then target its advertisements to one platform instead of another. Or, if they determine that their target market is value-sensitive rather than price-sensitive, they can work on improving the product rather than reducing their prices.

Market research only works when subjects are honest and open to participating.

Example of Market Research

Many companies use market research to test new products or get information from consumers about what kinds of products or services they need and don’t currently have.

For example, a company that’s considering starting a business might conduct market research to test the viability of its product or service. If the market research confirms consumer interest, the business can proceed confidently with its business plan . If not, the company can use the results of the market research to make adjustments to the product to bring it in line with customer desires.

What Are the Main Types of Market Research?

The main types of market research are primary research and secondary research. Primary research includes focus groups, polls, and surveys. Secondary research includes academic articles, infographics, and white papers.

Qualitative research gives insights into how customers feel and think. Quantitative research uses data and statistics such as website views, social media engagement, and subscriber numbers.

What Is Online Market Research?

Online market research uses the same strategies and techniques as traditional primary and secondary market research, but it is conducted on the Internet. Potential customers may be asked to participate in a survey or give feedback on a product. The responses may help the researchers create a profile of the likely customer for a new product.

What Are Paid Market Research Surveys?

Paid market research involves rewarding individuals who agree to participate in a study. They may be offered a small payment for their time or a discount coupon in return for filling out a questionnaire or participating in a focus group.

What Is a Market Study?

A market study is an analysis of consumer demand for a product or service. It looks at all of the factors that influence demand for a product or service. These include the product’s price, location, competition, and substitutes as well as general economic factors that could influence the new product’s adoption, for better or worse.

Market research is a key component of a company’s research and development (R&D) stage. It helps companies understand in advance the viability of a new product that they have in development and to see how it might perform in the real world.

Britannica Money. “ Market Research .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Market Research and Competitive Analysis .”

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What are your customers’ needs? How does your product compare to the competition? What are the emerging trends and opportunities in your industry? If these questions keep you up at night, it’s time to conduct market research.

Market research plays a pivotal role in your ability to stay competitive and relevant, helping you anticipate shifts in consumer behavior and industry dynamics. It involves gathering these insights using a wide range of techniques, from surveys and interviews to data analysis and observational studies.

In this guide, we’ll explore why market research is crucial, the various types of market research, the methods used in data collection, and how to effectively conduct market research to drive informed decision-making and success.

What is market research?

Market research is the systematic process of gathering, analyzing and interpreting information about a specific market or industry. The purpose of market research is to offer valuable insight into the preferences and behaviors of your target audience, and anticipate shifts in market trends and the competitive landscape. This information helps you make data-driven decisions, develop effective strategies for your business, and maximize your chances of long-term growth.

Business intelligence insight graphic with hand showing a lightbulb with $ sign in it

Why is market research important? 

By understanding the significance of market research, you can make sure you’re asking the right questions and using the process to your advantage. Some of the benefits of market research include:

  • Informed decision-making: Market research provides you with the data and insights you need to make smart decisions for your business. It helps you identify opportunities, assess risks and tailor your strategies to meet the demands of the market. Without market research, decisions are often based on assumptions or guesswork, leading to costly mistakes.
  • Customer-centric approach: A cornerstone of market research involves developing a deep understanding of customer needs and preferences. This gives you valuable insights into your target audience, helping you develop products, services and marketing campaigns that resonate with your customers.
  • Competitive advantage: By conducting market research, you’ll gain a competitive edge. You’ll be able to identify gaps in the market, analyze competitor strengths and weaknesses, and position your business strategically. This enables you to create unique value propositions, differentiate yourself from competitors, and seize opportunities that others may overlook.
  • Risk mitigation: Market research helps you anticipate market shifts and potential challenges. By identifying threats early, you can proactively adjust their strategies to mitigate risks and respond effectively to changing circumstances. This proactive approach is particularly valuable in volatile industries.
  • Resource optimization: Conducting market research allows organizations to allocate their time, money and resources more efficiently. It ensures that investments are made in areas with the highest potential return on investment, reducing wasted resources and improving overall business performance.
  • Adaptation to market trends: Markets evolve rapidly, driven by technological advancements, cultural shifts and changing consumer attitudes. Market research ensures that you stay ahead of these trends and adapt your offerings accordingly so you can avoid becoming obsolete. 

As you can see, market research empowers businesses to make data-driven decisions, cater to customer needs, outperform competitors, mitigate risks, optimize resources and stay agile in a dynamic marketplace. These benefits make it a huge industry; the global market research services market is expected to grow from $76.37 billion in 2021 to $108.57 billion in 2026 . Now, let’s dig into the different types of market research that can help you achieve these benefits.

Types of market research 

  • Qualitative research
  • Quantitative research
  • Exploratory research
  • Descriptive research
  • Causal research
  • Cross-sectional research
  • Longitudinal research

Despite its advantages, 23% of organizations don’t have a clear market research strategy. Part of developing a strategy involves choosing the right type of market research for your business goals. The most commonly used approaches include:

1. Qualitative research

Qualitative research focuses on understanding the underlying motivations, attitudes and perceptions of individuals or groups. It is typically conducted through techniques like in-depth interviews, focus groups and content analysis — methods we’ll discuss further in the sections below. Qualitative research provides rich, nuanced insights that can inform product development, marketing strategies and brand positioning.

2. Quantitative research

Quantitative research, in contrast to qualitative research, involves the collection and analysis of numerical data, often through surveys, experiments and structured questionnaires. This approach allows for statistical analysis and the measurement of trends, making it suitable for large-scale market studies and hypothesis testing. While it’s worthwhile using a mix of qualitative and quantitative research, most businesses prioritize the latter because it is scientific, measurable and easily replicated across different experiments.

3. Exploratory research

Whether you’re conducting qualitative or quantitative research or a mix of both, exploratory research is often the first step. Its primary goal is to help you understand a market or problem so you can gain insights and identify potential issues or opportunities. This type of market research is less structured and is typically conducted through open-ended interviews, focus groups or secondary data analysis. Exploratory research is valuable when entering new markets or exploring new product ideas.

4. Descriptive research

As its name implies, descriptive research seeks to describe a market, population or phenomenon in detail. It involves collecting and summarizing data to answer questions about audience demographics and behaviors, market size, and current trends. Surveys, observational studies and content analysis are common methods used in descriptive research. 

5. Causal research

Causal research aims to establish cause-and-effect relationships between variables. It investigates whether changes in one variable result in changes in another. Experimental designs, A/B testing and regression analysis are common causal research methods. This sheds light on how specific marketing strategies or product changes impact consumer behavior.

6. Cross-sectional research

Cross-sectional market research involves collecting data from a sample of the population at a single point in time. It is used to analyze differences, relationships or trends among various groups within a population. Cross-sectional studies are helpful for market segmentation, identifying target audiences and assessing market trends at a specific moment.

7. Longitudinal research

Longitudinal research, in contrast to cross-sectional research, collects data from the same subjects over an extended period. This allows for the analysis of trends, changes and developments over time. Longitudinal studies are useful for tracking long-term developments in consumer preferences, brand loyalty and market dynamics.

Each type of market research has its strengths and weaknesses, and the method you choose depends on your specific research goals and the depth of understanding you’re aiming to achieve. In the following sections, we’ll delve into primary and secondary research approaches and specific research methods.

Primary vs. secondary market research

Market research of all types can be broadly categorized into two main approaches: primary research and secondary research. By understanding the differences between these approaches, you can better determine the most appropriate research method for your specific goals.

Primary market research 

Primary research involves the collection of original data straight from the source. Typically, this involves communicating directly with your target audience — through surveys, interviews, focus groups and more — to gather information. Here are some key attributes of primary market research:

  • Customized data: Primary research provides data that is tailored to your research needs. You design a custom research study and gather information specific to your goals.
  • Up-to-date insights: Because primary research involves communicating with customers, the data you collect reflects the most current market conditions and consumer behaviors.
  • Time-consuming and resource-intensive: Despite its advantages, primary research can be labor-intensive and costly, especially when dealing with large sample sizes or complex study designs. Whether you hire a market research consultant, agency or use an in-house team, primary research studies consume a large amount of resources and time.

Secondary market research 

Secondary research, on the other hand, involves analyzing data that has already been compiled by third-party sources, such as online research tools, databases, news sites, industry reports and academic studies.

Build your project graphic

Here are the main characteristics of secondary market research:

  • Cost-effective: Secondary research is generally more cost-effective than primary research since it doesn’t require building a research plan from scratch. You and your team can look at databases, websites and publications on an ongoing basis, without needing to design a custom experiment or hire a consultant. 
  • Leverages multiple sources: Data tools and software extract data from multiple places across the web, and then consolidate that information within a single platform. This means you’ll get a greater amount of data and a wider scope from secondary research.
  • Quick to access: You can access a wide range of information rapidly — often in seconds — if you’re using online research tools and databases. Because of this, you can act on insights sooner, rather than taking the time to develop an experiment. 

So, when should you use primary vs. secondary research? In practice, many market research projects incorporate both primary and secondary research to take advantage of the strengths of each approach.

One rule of thumb is to focus on secondary research to obtain background information, market trends or industry benchmarks. It is especially valuable for conducting preliminary research, competitor analysis, or when time and budget constraints are tight. Then, if you still have knowledge gaps or need to answer specific questions unique to your business model, use primary research to create a custom experiment. 

Market research methods

  • Surveys and questionnaires
  • Focus groups
  • Observational research
  • Online research tools
  • Experiments
  • Content analysis
  • Ethnographic research

How do primary and secondary research approaches translate into specific research methods? Let’s take a look at the different ways you can gather data: 

1. Surveys and questionnaires

Surveys and questionnaires are popular methods for collecting structured data from a large number of respondents. They involve a set of predetermined questions that participants answer. Surveys can be conducted through various channels, including online tools, telephone interviews and in-person or online questionnaires. They are useful for gathering quantitative data and assessing customer demographics, opinions, preferences and needs. On average, customer surveys have a 33% response rate , so keep that in mind as you consider your sample size.

2. Interviews

Interviews are in-depth conversations with individuals or groups to gather qualitative insights. They can be structured (with predefined questions) or unstructured (with open-ended discussions). Interviews are valuable for exploring complex topics, uncovering motivations and obtaining detailed feedback. 

3. Focus groups

The most common primary research methods are in-depth webcam interviews and focus groups. Focus groups are a small gathering of participants who discuss a specific topic or product under the guidance of a moderator. These discussions are valuable for primary market research because they reveal insights into consumer attitudes, perceptions and emotions. Focus groups are especially useful for idea generation, concept testing and understanding group dynamics within your target audience.

4. Observational research

Observational research involves observing and recording participant behavior in a natural setting. This method is particularly valuable when studying consumer behavior in physical spaces, such as retail stores or public places. In some types of observational research, participants are aware you’re watching them; in other cases, you discreetly watch consumers without their knowledge, as they use your product. Either way, observational research provides firsthand insights into how people interact with products or environments.

5. Online research tools

You and your team can do your own secondary market research using online tools. These tools include data prospecting platforms and databases, as well as online surveys, social media listening, web analytics and sentiment analysis platforms. They help you gather data from online sources, monitor industry trends, track competitors, understand consumer preferences and keep tabs on online behavior. We’ll talk more about choosing the right market research tools in the sections that follow.

6. Experiments

Market research experiments are controlled tests of variables to determine causal relationships. While experiments are often associated with scientific research, they are also used in market research to assess the impact of specific marketing strategies, product features, or pricing and packaging changes.

7. Content analysis

Content analysis involves the systematic examination of textual, visual or audio content to identify patterns, themes and trends. It’s commonly applied to customer reviews, social media posts and other forms of online content to analyze consumer opinions and sentiments.

8. Ethnographic research

Ethnographic research immerses researchers into the daily lives of consumers to understand their behavior and culture. This method is particularly valuable when studying niche markets or exploring the cultural context of consumer choices.

How to do market research

  • Set clear objectives
  • Identify your target audience
  • Choose your research methods
  • Use the right market research tools
  • Collect data
  • Analyze data 
  • Interpret your findings
  • Identify opportunities and challenges
  • Make informed business decisions
  • Monitor and adapt

Now that you have gained insights into the various market research methods at your disposal, let’s delve into the practical aspects of how to conduct market research effectively. Here’s a quick step-by-step overview, from defining objectives to monitoring market shifts.

1. Set clear objectives

When you set clear and specific goals, you’re essentially creating a compass to guide your research questions and methodology. Start by precisely defining what you want to achieve. Are you launching a new product and want to understand its viability in the market? Are you evaluating customer satisfaction with a product redesign? 

Start by creating SMART goals — objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Not only will this clarify your research focus from the outset, but it will also help you track progress and benchmark your success throughout the process. 

You should also consult with key stakeholders and team members to ensure alignment on your research objectives before diving into data collecting. This will help you gain diverse perspectives and insights that will shape your research approach.

2. Identify your target audience

Next, you’ll need to pinpoint your target audience to determine who should be included in your research. Begin by creating detailed buyer personas or stakeholder profiles. Consider demographic factors like age, gender, income and location, but also delve into psychographics, such as interests, values and pain points.

The more specific your target audience, the more accurate and actionable your research will be. Additionally, segment your audience if your research objectives involve studying different groups, such as current customers and potential leads.

If you already have existing customers, you can also hold conversations with them to better understand your target market. From there, you can refine your buyer personas and tailor your research methods accordingly.

3. Choose your research methods

Selecting the right research methods is crucial for gathering high-quality data. Start by considering the nature of your research objectives. If you’re exploring consumer preferences, surveys and interviews can provide valuable insights. For in-depth understanding, focus groups or observational research might be suitable. Consider using a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods to gain a well-rounded perspective. 

You’ll also need to consider your budget. Think about what you can realistically achieve using the time and resources available to you. If you have a fairly generous budget, you may want to try a mix of primary and secondary research approaches. If you’re doing market research for a startup , on the other hand, chances are your budget is somewhat limited. If that’s the case, try addressing your goals with secondary research tools before investing time and effort in a primary research study. 

4. Use the right market research tools

Whether you’re conducting primary or secondary research, you’ll need to choose the right tools. These can help you do anything from sending surveys to customers to monitoring trends and analyzing data. Here are some examples of popular market research tools:

  • Market research software: Crunchbase is a platform that provides best-in-class company data, making it valuable for market research on growing companies and industries. You can use Crunchbase to access trusted, first-party funding data, revenue data, news and firmographics, enabling you to monitor industry trends and understand customer needs.

Market Research Graphic Crunchbase

  • Survey and questionnaire tools: SurveyMonkey is a widely used online survey platform that allows you to create, distribute and analyze surveys. Google Forms is a free tool that lets you create surveys and collect responses through Google Drive.
  • Data analysis software: Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets are useful for conducting statistical analyses. SPSS is a powerful statistical analysis software used for data processing, analysis and reporting.
  • Social listening tools: Brandwatch is a social listening and analytics platform that helps you monitor social media conversations, track sentiment and analyze trends. Mention is a media monitoring tool that allows you to track mentions of your brand, competitors and keywords across various online sources.
  • Data visualization platforms: Tableau is a data visualization tool that helps you create interactive and shareable dashboards and reports. Power BI by Microsoft is a business analytics tool for creating interactive visualizations and reports.

5. Collect data

There’s an infinite amount of data you could be collecting using these tools, so you’ll need to be intentional about going after the data that aligns with your research goals. Implement your chosen research methods, whether it’s distributing surveys, conducting interviews or pulling from secondary research platforms. Pay close attention to data quality and accuracy, and stick to a standardized process to streamline data capture and reduce errors. 

6. Analyze data

Once data is collected, you’ll need to analyze it systematically. Use statistical software or analysis tools to identify patterns, trends and correlations. For qualitative data, employ thematic analysis to extract common themes and insights. Visualize your findings with charts, graphs and tables to make complex data more understandable.

If you’re not proficient in data analysis, consider outsourcing or collaborating with a data analyst who can assist in processing and interpreting your data accurately.

Enrich your database graphic

7. Interpret your findings

Interpreting your market research findings involves understanding what the data means in the context of your objectives. Are there significant trends that uncover the answers to your initial research questions? Consider the implications of your findings on your business strategy. It’s essential to move beyond raw data and extract actionable insights that inform decision-making.

Hold a cross-functional meeting or workshop with relevant team members to collectively interpret the findings. Different perspectives can lead to more comprehensive insights and innovative solutions.

8. Identify opportunities and challenges

Use your research findings to identify potential growth opportunities and challenges within your market. What segments of your audience are underserved or overlooked? Are there emerging trends you can capitalize on? Conversely, what obstacles or competitors could hinder your progress?

Lay out this information in a clear and organized way by conducting a SWOT analysis, which stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Jot down notes for each of these areas to provide a structured overview of gaps and hurdles in the market.

9. Make informed business decisions

Market research is only valuable if it leads to informed decisions for your company. Based on your insights, devise actionable strategies and initiatives that align with your research objectives. Whether it’s refining your product, targeting new customer segments or adjusting pricing, ensure your decisions are rooted in the data.

At this point, it’s also crucial to keep your team aligned and accountable. Create an action plan that outlines specific steps, responsibilities and timelines for implementing the recommendations derived from your research. 

10. Monitor and adapt

Market research isn’t a one-time activity; it’s an ongoing process. Continuously monitor market conditions, customer behaviors and industry trends. Set up mechanisms to collect real-time data and feedback. As you gather new information, be prepared to adapt your strategies and tactics accordingly. Regularly revisiting your research ensures your business remains agile and reflects changing market dynamics and consumer preferences.

Online market research sources

As you go through the steps above, you’ll want to turn to trusted, reputable sources to gather your data. Here’s a list to get you started:

  • Crunchbase: As mentioned above, Crunchbase is an online platform with an extensive dataset, allowing you to access in-depth insights on market trends, consumer behavior and competitive analysis. You can also customize your search options to tailor your research to specific industries, geographic regions or customer personas.

Product Image Advanced Search CRMConnected

  • Academic databases: Academic databases, such as ProQuest and JSTOR , are treasure troves of scholarly research papers, studies and academic journals. They offer in-depth analyses of various subjects, including market trends, consumer preferences and industry-specific insights. Researchers can access a wealth of peer-reviewed publications to gain a deeper understanding of their research topics.
  • Government and NGO databases: Government agencies, nongovernmental organizations and other institutions frequently maintain databases containing valuable economic, demographic and industry-related data. These sources offer credible statistics and reports on a wide range of topics, making them essential for market researchers. Examples include the U.S. Census Bureau , the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Pew Research Center .
  • Industry reports: Industry reports and market studies are comprehensive documents prepared by research firms, industry associations and consulting companies. They provide in-depth insights into specific markets, including market size, trends, competitive analysis and consumer behavior. You can find this information by looking at relevant industry association databases; examples include the American Marketing Association and the National Retail Federation .
  • Social media and online communities: Social media platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter (X) , forums such as Reddit and Quora , and review platforms such as G2 can provide real-time insights into consumer sentiment, opinions and trends. 

Market research examples

At this point, you have market research tools and data sources — but how do you act on the data you gather? Let’s go over some real-world examples that illustrate the practical application of market research across various industries. These examples showcase how market research can lead to smart decision-making and successful business decisions.

Example 1: Apple’s iPhone launch

Apple ’s iconic iPhone launch in 2007 serves as a prime example of market research driving product innovation in tech. Before the iPhone’s release, Apple conducted extensive market research to understand consumer preferences, pain points and unmet needs in the mobile phone industry. This research led to the development of a touchscreen smartphone with a user-friendly interface, addressing consumer demands for a more intuitive and versatile device. The result was a revolutionary product that disrupted the market and redefined the smartphone industry.

Example 2: McDonald’s global expansion

McDonald’s successful global expansion strategy demonstrates the importance of market research when expanding into new territories. Before entering a new market, McDonald’s conducts thorough research to understand local tastes, preferences and cultural nuances. This research informs menu customization, marketing strategies and store design. For instance, in India, McDonald’s offers a menu tailored to local preferences, including vegetarian options. This market-specific approach has enabled McDonald’s to adapt and thrive in diverse global markets.

Example 3: Organic and sustainable farming

The shift toward organic and sustainable farming practices in the food industry is driven by market research that indicates increased consumer demand for healthier and environmentally friendly food options. As a result, food producers and retailers invest in sustainable sourcing and organic product lines — such as with these sustainable seafood startups — to align with this shift in consumer values. 

The bottom line? Market research has multiple use cases and is a critical practice for any industry. Whether it’s launching groundbreaking products, entering new markets or responding to changing consumer preferences, you can use market research to shape successful strategies and outcomes.

Market research templates

You finally have a strong understanding of how to do market research and apply it in the real world. Before we wrap up, here are some market research templates that you can use as a starting point for your projects:

  • Smartsheet competitive analysis templates : These spreadsheets can serve as a framework for gathering information about the competitive landscape and obtaining valuable lessons to apply to your business strategy.
  • SurveyMonkey product survey template : Customize the questions on this survey based on what you want to learn from your target customers.
  • HubSpot templates : HubSpot offers a wide range of free templates you can use for market research, business planning and more.
  • SCORE templates : SCORE is a nonprofit organization that provides templates for business plans, market analysis and financial projections.
  • SBA.gov : The U.S. Small Business Administration offers templates for every aspect of your business, including market research, and is particularly valuable for new startups. 

Strengthen your business with market research

When conducted effectively, market research is like a guiding star. Equipped with the right tools and techniques, you can uncover valuable insights, stay competitive, foster innovation and navigate the complexities of your industry.

Throughout this guide, we’ve discussed the definition of market research, different research methods, and how to conduct it effectively. We’ve also explored various types of market research and shared practical insights and templates for getting started. 

Now, it’s time to start the research process. Trust in data, listen to the market and make informed decisions that guide your company toward lasting success.

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How to do market research: The complete guide for your brand

Written by by Jacqueline Zote

Published on  April 13, 2023

Reading time  10 minutes

Blindly putting out content or products and hoping for the best is a thing of the past. Not only is it a waste of time and energy, but you’re wasting valuable marketing dollars in the process. Now you have a wealth of tools and data at your disposal, allowing you to develop data-driven marketing strategies . That’s where market research comes in, allowing you to uncover valuable insights to inform your business decisions.

Conducting market research not only helps you better understand how to sell to customers but also stand out from your competition. In this guide, we break down everything you need to know about market research and how doing your homework can help you grow your business.

Table of contents:

What is market research?

Why is market research important, types of market research, where to conduct market research.

  • Steps for conducting market research
  • Tools to use for market research

Market research is the process of gathering information surrounding your business opportunities. It identifies key information to better understand your audience. This includes insights related to customer personas and even trends shaping your industry.

Taking time out of your schedule to conduct research is crucial for your brand health. Here are some of the key benefits of market research:

Understand your customers’ motivations and pain points

Most marketers are out of touch with what their customers want. Moreover, these marketers are missing key information on what products their audience wants to buy.

Simply put, you can’t run a business if you don’t know what motivates your customers.

And spoiler alert: Your customers’ wants and needs change. Your customers’ behaviors today might be night and day from what they were a few years ago.

Market research holds the key to understanding your customers better. It helps you uncover their key pain points and motivations and understand how they shape their interests and behavior.

Figure out how to position your brand

Positioning is becoming increasingly important as more and more brands enter the marketplace. Market research enables you to spot opportunities to define yourself against your competitors.

Maybe you’re able to emphasize a lower price point. Perhaps your product has a feature that’s one of a kind. Finding those opportunities goes hand in hand with researching your market.

Maintain a strong pulse on your industry at large

Today’s marketing world evolves at a rate that’s difficult to keep up with.

Fresh products. Up-and-coming brands. New marketing tools. Consumers get bombarded with sales messages from all angles. This can be confusing and overwhelming.

By monitoring market trends, you can figure out the best tactics for reaching your target audience.

Not everyone conducts market research for the same reason. While some may want to understand their audience better, others may want to see how their competitors are doing. As such, there are different types of market research you can conduct depending on your goal.

Interview-based market research allows for one-on-one interactions. This helps the conversation to flow naturally, making it easier to add context. Whether this takes place in person or virtually, it enables you to gather more in-depth qualitative data.

Buyer persona research

Buyer persona research lets you take a closer look at the people who make up your target audience. You can discover the needs, challenges and pain points of each buyer persona to understand what they need from your business. This will then allow you to craft products or campaigns to resonate better with each persona.

Pricing research

In this type of research, brands compare similar products or services with a particular focus on pricing. They look at how much those products or services typically sell for so they can get more competitive with their pricing strategy.

Competitive analysis research

Competitor analysis gives you a realistic understanding of where you stand in the market and how your competitors are doing. You can use this analysis to find out what’s working in your industry and which competitors to watch out for. It even gives you an idea of how well those competitors are meeting consumer needs.

Depending on the competitor analysis tool you use, you can get as granular as you need with your research. For instance, Sprout Social lets you analyze your competitors’ social strategies. You can see what types of content they’re posting and even benchmark your growth against theirs.

Dashboard showing Facebook competitors report on Sprout Social

Brand awareness research

Conducting brand awareness research allows you to assess your brand’s standing in the market. It tells you how well-known your brand is among your target audience and what they associate with it. This can help you gauge people’s sentiments toward your brand and whether you need to rebrand or reposition.

If you don’t know where to start with your research, you’re in the right place.

There’s no shortage of market research methods out there. In this section, we’ve highlighted research channels for small and big businesses alike.

Considering that Google sees a staggering 8.5 billion searches each day, there’s perhaps no better place to start.

A quick Google search is a potential goldmine for all sorts of questions to kick off your market research. Who’s ranking for keywords related to your industry? Which products and pieces of content are the hottest right now? Who’s running ads related to your business?

For example, Google Product Listing Ads can help highlight all of the above for B2C brands.

row of product listing ads on Google for the search term "baby carrier"

The same applies to B2B brands looking to keep tabs on who’s running industry-related ads and ranking for keyword terms too.

list of sponsored results for the search term "email marketing tool"

There’s no denying that email represents both an aggressive and effective marketing channel for marketers today. Case in point, 44% of online shoppers consider email as the most influential channel in their buying decisions.

Looking through industry and competitor emails is a brilliant way to learn more about your market. For example, what types of offers and deals are your competitors running? How often are they sending emails?

list of promotional emails from different companies including ASOS and Dropbox

Email is also invaluable for gathering information directly from your customers. This survey message from Asana is a great example of how to pick your customers’ brains to figure out how you can improve your quality of service.

email from asana asking users to take a survey

Industry journals, reports and blogs

Don’t neglect the importance of big-picture market research when it comes to tactics and marketing channels to explore. Look to marketing resources such as reports and blogs as well as industry journals

Keeping your ear to the ground on new trends and technologies is a smart move for any business. Sites such as Statista, Marketing Charts, AdWeek and Emarketer are treasure troves of up-to-date data and news for marketers.

And of course, there’s the  Sprout Insights blog . And invaluable resources like The Sprout Social Index™  can keep you updated on the latest social trends.

Social media

If you want to learn more about your target market, look no further than social media. Social offers a place to discover what your customers want to see in future products or which brands are killin’ it. In fact, social media is become more important for businesses than ever with the level of data available.

It represents a massive repository of real-time data and insights that are instantly accessible. Brand monitoring and social listening are effective ways to conduct social media research . You can even be more direct with your approach. Ask questions directly or even poll your audience to understand their needs and preferences.

twitter poll from canva asking people about their color preferences for the brand logo

The 5 steps for how to do market research

Now that we’ve covered the why and where, it’s time to get into the practical aspects of market research. Here are five essential steps on how to do market research effectively.

Step 1: Identify your research topic

First off, what are you researching about? What do you want to find out? Narrow down on a specific research topic so you can start with a clear idea of what to look for.

For example, you may want to learn more about how well your product features are satisfying the needs of existing users. This might potentially lead to feature updates and improvements. Or it might even result in new feature introductions.

Similarly, your research topic may be related to your product or service launch or customer experience. Or you may want to conduct research for an upcoming marketing campaign.

Step 2: Choose a buyer persona to engage

If you’re planning to focus your research on a specific type of audience, decide which buyer persona you want to engage. This persona group will serve as a representative sample of your target audience.

Engaging a specific group of audience lets you streamline your research efforts. As such, it can be a much more effective and organized approach than researching thousands (if not millions) of individuals.

You may be directing your research toward existing users of your product. To get even more granular, you may want to focus on users who have been familiar with the product for at least a year, for example.

Step 3: Start collecting data

The next step is one of the most critical as it involves collecting the data you need for your research. Before you begin, make sure you’ve chosen the right research methods that will uncover the type of data you need. This largely depends on your research topic and goals.

Remember that you don’t necessarily have to stick to one research method. You may use a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches. So for example, you could use interviews to supplement the data from your surveys. Or you may stick to insights from your social listening efforts.

To keep things consistent, let’s look at this in the context of the example from earlier. Perhaps you can send out a survey to your existing users asking them a bunch of questions. This might include questions like which features they use the most and how often they use them. You can get them to choose an answer from one to five and collect quantitative data.

Plus, for qualitative insights, you could even include a few open-ended questions with the option to write their answers. For instance, you might ask them if there’s any improvement they wish to see in your product.

Step 4: Analyze results

Once you have all the data you need, it’s time to analyze it keeping your research topic in mind. This involves trying to interpret the data to look for a wider meaning, particularly in relation to your research goal.

So let’s say a large percentage of responses were four or five in the satisfaction rating. This means your existing users are mostly satisfied with your current product features. On the other hand, if the responses were mostly ones and twos, you may look for opportunities to improve. The responses to your open-ended questions can give you further context as to why people are disappointed.

Step 5: Make decisions for your business

Now it’s time to take your findings and turn them into actionable insights for your business. In this final step, you need to decide how you want to move forward with your new market insight.

What did you find in your research that would require action? How can you put those findings to good use?

The market research tools you should be using

To wrap things up, let’s talk about the various tools available to conduct speedy, in-depth market research. These tools are essential for conducting market research faster and more efficiently.

Social listening and analytics

Social analytics tools like Sprout can help you keep track of engagement across social media. This goes beyond your own engagement data but also includes that of your competitors. Considering how quickly social media moves, using a third-party analytics tool is ideal. It allows you to make sense of your social data at a glance and ensure that you’re never missing out on important trends.

cross channel profile performance on Sprout Social

Email marketing research tools

Keeping track of brand emails is a good idea for any brand looking to stand out in its audience’s inbox.

Tools such as MailCharts ,  Really Good Emails  and  Milled  can show you how different brands run their email campaigns.

Meanwhile, tools like  Owletter  allow you to monitor metrics such as frequency and send-timing. These metrics can help you understand email marketing strategies among competing brands.

Content marketing research

If you’re looking to conduct research on content marketing, tools such as  BuzzSumo  can be of great help. This tool shows you the top-performing industry content based on keywords. Here you can see relevant industry sites and influencers as well as which brands in your industry are scoring the most buzz. It shows you exactly which pieces of content are ranking well in terms of engagements and shares and on which social networks.

content analysis report on buzzsumo

SEO and keyword tracking

Monitoring industry keywords is a great way to uncover competitors. It can also help you discover opportunities to advertise your products via organic search. Tools such as  Ahrefs  provide a comprehensive keyword report to help you see how your search efforts stack up against the competition.

organic traffic and keywords report on ahrefs

Competitor comparison template

For the sake of organizing your market research, consider creating a competitive matrix. The idea is to highlight how you stack up side-by-side against others in your market. Use a  social media competitive analysis template  to track your competitors’ social presence. That way, you can easily compare tactics, messaging and performance. Once you understand your strengths and weaknesses next to your competitors, you’ll find opportunities as well.

Customer persona creator

Finally, customer personas represent a place where all of your market research comes together. You’d need to create a profile of your ideal customer that you can easily refer to. Tools like  Xtensio  can help in outlining your customer motivations and demographics as you zero in on your target market.

user persona example template on xtensio

Build a solid market research strategy

Having a deeper understanding of the market gives you leverage in a sea of competitors. Use the steps and market research tools we shared above to build an effective market research strategy.

But keep in mind that the accuracy of your research findings depends on the quality of data collected. Turn to Sprout’s social media analytics tools to uncover heaps of high-quality data across social networks.

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Effective Market Research: A Step-by-Step Guide

  • Market Research

Effective Market Research: A Step-by-Step Guide

Key Takeaways

  • Informed Decision-Making: Master the art of Effective Market Research for strategic decision-making that aligns with market dynamics and consumer behaviors.
  • Targeted Strategies: Define your audience, analyze competitors, and choose the right methods to tailor strategies that resonate, ensuring relevance and engagement.
  • Continuous Excellence: Elevate your market research journey with ongoing learning. Leverage additional resources, monitor, adapt, and refine strategies for sustained success.

In the ever-evolving landscape of business, one indispensable compass guides decision-makers through the dynamic currents of industry trends, consumer behaviors, and competitive landscapes—Effective Market Research.

As the lifeblood of strategic planning, market research serves as the cornerstone upon which successful enterprises build their foundations.

In this comprehensive Effective Market Research: A Step-by-Step Guide, we embark on a journey of discovery, demystifying the intricacies of market research and equipping you with the tools to navigate the complex realms of your industry.

Why is Market Research Crucial?

Effective Market Research: A Step-by-Step Guide

In a world where change is the only constant, successful businesses are those that embrace adaptability, innovation, and a profound understanding of their market.

Market research isn’t just a buzzword. It’s the linchpin that connects businesses to the pulse of their target audience, enabling them to foresee shifts in demand, identify unmet needs, and tailor their strategies with surgical precision.

The Significance of Strategic Planning

Effective market research transcends the realm of data collection; it is the catalyst for strategic planning that empowers businesses to make informed decisions.

In a landscape where the competition is fierce and consumer preferences are as dynamic as ever, a strategic approach to market research becomes the differentiator between market leaders and followers.

Navigating Our Step-by-Step Guide

Embarking on the journey of effective market research necessitates a structured approach.

Our step-by-step guide is designed to be your compass, steering you through the nuanced process of gaining actionable insights.

From laying the groundwork with a fundamental understanding of market research principles to implementing strategic changes based on findings, each section of this guide is a building block for comprehensive market intelligence.

But Why a Step-by-Step Guide?

Navigating the vast ocean of market research can be overwhelming, especially for those new to the concept or seeking to enhance their existing practices.

This step-by-step guide is crafted to demystify the process, breaking down complex concepts into digestible segments.

Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur, a startup enthusiast, or a marketing maven, this guide provides actionable insights that transcend industry boundaries.

Prepare to embark on a transformative journey—one where the compass is market research, and the destination is unparalleled business insight.

Together, let’s navigate the intricate waters of the business landscape and unveil the power of Effective Market Research—a guide designed not only to inform but to empower, ensuring that your business not only survives but thrives in the ever-evolving marketplace.

Before we venture further, we like to share who we are and our digital experiences.

About AppLabx

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AppLabx is well known for helping companies and startups use market research techniques and tools to drive web traffic to their websites and web apps and optimize their customer experience.

At AppLabx, we understand that no two businesses are alike. That’s why we take a personalized approach to every project, working closely with our clients to understand their unique needs and goals, and developing customized strategies to help them achieve success.

If you need a digital consultation, then send in an inquiry  here .

  • Understanding the Basics of Market Research
  • Defining Your Target Audience
  • Conducting Competitor Analysis
  • Choosing the Right Research Methods
  • Collecting and Analyzing Data
  • Interpreting Research Findings
  • Implementing Changes Based on Research
  • Monitoring and Adapting
  • Tips for Effective Market Research
  • Additional Resources

1. Understanding the Basics of Market Research

In the pulsating realm of business strategy, market research stands as the bedrock upon which successful ventures are built.

Before delving into the intricate steps of effective market research, let’s establish a solid foundation by comprehending the basics.

Definition and Purpose

Market research, at its core, is the systematic gathering, analysis, and interpretation of information to gain insights into a market, enabling informed decision-making.

Its purpose extends beyond mere data collection; it serves as a strategic tool to identify opportunities, mitigate risks, and optimize business performance.

According to the Business Research Company, the global market research industry is projected to reach $95.49 billion in 2027 , underlining its critical role in the business landscape.

Types of Market Research

To navigate the market research landscape effectively, it’s essential to discern between two primary types: primary and secondary research.

Primary Research

This involves the direct collection of data from original sources, such as surveys, interviews, and focus groups.

For instance, a leading smartphone manufacturer conducts primary research by engaging with potential customers through beta testing and gathering firsthand feedback on features, usability, and preferences.

Beta testing

Secondary Research

Secondary research involves the analysis of existing data and sources, including industry reports, competitor publications, and government databases.

According to the Business Research Company, the secondary research market is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 5.3% between 2021 and 2026 , showcasing its increasing importance in the business landscape.

Identifying Research Objectives

Before embarking on a market research endeavour, it’s crucial to clearly define research objectives. These objectives serve as the guiding lights, steering the research process toward valuable outcomes.

For instance, a startup in the health and wellness industry may set research objectives to understand consumer preferences for organic products, identify market gaps, and assess the competitive landscape.

By establishing these fundamental principles, businesses can lay the groundwork for a targeted and purposeful market research strategy, setting the stage for actionable insights and strategic decision-making.

2. Defining Your Target Audience

In the labyrinth of market dynamics, pinpointing and understanding your target audience is akin to discovering the treasure map to business success.

This section delves into the intricacies of defining your target audience, exploring why it’s a paramount step in effective market research.

Importance of Target Audience Definition

The most important part of successful marketing lies in resonance—establishing a profound connection with your audience.

To achieve this, businesses must first define their target audience with meticulous precision.

Importance of Target Audience Definition

Creating Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are archetypal representations of your ideal customers, crafted through in-depth research and analysis.

These personas encapsulate demographic, psychographic, and behavioral traits, offering a comprehensive snapshot of your target audience.

Demographic and Psychographic Data Integration

Demographic data (age, gender, income) and psychographic data (lifestyle, values, interests) are indispensable building blocks for creating robust buyer personas.

For instance, a fitness apparel brand defines its target audience not just by age and gender but also by psychographic data, such as an interest in sustainable living and an active lifestyle. This nuanced approach aids in tailoring products and messaging to resonate with the audience on a deeper level.

Demographic and Psychographic Data Integration

Utilizing Data Analytics for Precision

In the era of big data, leveraging advanced analytics tools becomes crucial for refining and validating target audience definitions.

Data analytics not only validates assumptions but also unveils nuanced patterns and preferences.

By combining demographic and psychographic insights and harnessing the power of data analytics, businesses can finely sculpt buyer personas that serve as the cornerstone for targeted marketing campaigns and product development.

3. Conducting Competitor Analysis

In the ever-evolving landscape of business, understanding your competitors is not just a tactical advantage but a strategic imperative.

This section delves into the intricacies of conducting competitor analysis, providing a roadmap for businesses to glean actionable insights and fortify their market position.

Identifying Competitors: The Starting Line

Before delving into analysis, businesses must first identify their competitors—both direct and indirect.

Direct competitors offer similar products or services, while indirect competitors may serve the same need but through different means.

Analyzing Competitor Strengths and Weaknesses

Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of competitors provides a nuanced view of the competitive landscape. SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) is a powerful tool in this regard.

Example: SWOT Analysis in Action

Let’s consider a scenario in the e-commerce sector. A new entrant conducts a SWOT analysis of a major competitor:

  • Strengths: Established brand, and wide product range.
  • Weaknesses: Slow website loading times, and limited customer engagement.
  • Opportunities: Emerging markets, and untapped customer segments.
  • Threats: Increasing competition, and changing consumer preferences.

Leveraging Technology for Competitive Insights

Technology has become an indispensable ally in the quest for competitive intelligence. AI-driven tools, web scraping, and social media monitoring offer real-time insights into competitor activities and consumer sentiments.

According to a report by Markets and Markets, the business intelligence market is projected to grow from USD 23.1 billion in 2020 to USD 33.3 billion by 2025 .

Benchmarking Strategies for Success

Benchmarking involves comparing your products, services, or processes against the best performers in your industry. This process not only highlights areas for improvement but also unveils opportunities for innovation.

4. Choosing the Right Research Methods

In the multifaceted realm of market research, selecting the appropriate research methods is akin to choosing the right tools for a craftsman.

This section is dedicated to unravelling the intricacies of choosing the right research methods and exploring a spectrum of approaches that cater to diverse business needs.

Surveys and Questionnaires: Tapping into Mass Perspectives

Surveys and questionnaires stand as stalwarts in gathering quantitative data from a large audience.

Whether distributed through traditional means or online platforms, they offer scalable insights.

Interviews and Focus Groups: Unveiling Nuanced Perspectives

When depth and context are paramount, interviews and focus groups step into the spotlight.

These qualitative methods provide nuanced insights, capturing the intricacies of individual experiences and group dynamics.

Example: Focus Groups in Product Development

A technology company considering a new product may conduct focus groups to understand user expectations, pain points, and feature preferences. This qualitative approach offers invaluable insights into the user experience.

Observational Research: Understanding Behavior in the Wild

Observational research involves studying subjects in their natural environment without direct interaction. This method is particularly useful for understanding consumer behaviour in real-world scenarios.

Data Mining and Analytics: Unearthing Patterns in Big Data

In the age of big data, data mining and analytics emerge as transformative tools for market researchers. By sifting through vast datasets, businesses can identify patterns, correlations, and trends.

In a report, businesses leveraging big data analytics witness 15% more sales than companies that fail to do so, as cited by SCORE.

Choosing the Right Mix for Comprehensive Insights

The effectiveness of market research often lies in a judicious mix of research methods.

Combining quantitative approaches like surveys with qualitative methods like interviews ensures a comprehensive understanding of the market landscape.

5. Collecting and Analyzing Data

In the data-driven landscape of market research, the twin pillars of success rest upon the meticulous collection and insightful analysis of data.

This section navigates through the nuances of these critical processes, showcasing how businesses can harness the power of data for informed decision-making.

Data Collection Tools and Techniques: Precision in Practice

Choosing the right tools for data collection is paramount to the accuracy and reliability of research outcomes. Various methods and technologies cater to diverse research needs.

Example: Online Surveys with Google Forms

A global fast-food chain seeking customer feedback may deploy Google Forms for online surveys.

This user-friendly tool not only facilitates large-scale data collection but also offers seamless integration with analytics platforms.

Surveys with Google Forms

Quantitative vs. Qualitative Data: A Balancing Act

The choice between quantitative and qualitative data depends on the research objectives.

Quantitative data provides numerical insights, while qualitative data delves into the context and depth of responses.

Both quantitative and qualitative methods to ensure a comprehensive understanding of public opinion.

Data Analysis Tools and Software: Unleashing the Power of Technology

The rise of big data has catalyzed the development of advanced data analysis tools and software.

From Microsoft Excel to sophisticated AI-driven platforms, businesses have an array of options to extract meaningful insights.

Example: Tableau in Visual Analytics

A multinational retailer may utilize Tableau for visual analytics, transforming raw data into interactive visualizations.

This not only aids in pattern recognition but also enhances data-driven decision-making.

The global data analytics market is expected to reach $132.9 billion by 2026 , as cited by GlobeNewswire.

Ensuring Data Accuracy and Reliability: The Bedrock of Insights

The integrity of market research hinges on the accuracy and reliability of the collected data.

Rigorous validation processes, random sampling techniques, and data cleansing practices contribute to the trustworthiness of findings.

Ethical Considerations in Data Collection: Upholding Integrity

As technology advances, ethical considerations in data collection become increasingly vital.

Businesses must prioritize user privacy, consent, and transparency to build trust with their audience.

A survey reveals that 93% of consumers believe it’s important for companies to ensure their data is used ethically , as cited by Deloitte Digital, Australia.

6. Interpreting Research Findings

Interpreting research findings is the transformative stage where raw data metamorphoses into actionable intelligence.

This section illuminates the intricacies of this crucial phase, offering insights into how businesses can unlock the true potential of their market research endeavours.

Drawing Conclusions: Connecting the Dots

Interpreting research findings involves synthesizing data points to draw meaningful conclusions. It’s the bridge between data collection and strategic decision-making, requiring a keen eye for patterns and trends.

Example: Consumer Behavior Analysis

A global e-commerce giant, armed with data on customer preferences, may conclude that a specific demographic prefers mobile shopping apps over desktop websites. This insight informs targeted marketing strategies and app optimization.

Consumer Behavior Analysis

Making Informed Decisions: Guiding the Way Forward

Informed decision-making is the ultimate goal of market research.

Interpreted findings provide the roadmap, guiding businesses toward strategies that align with market dynamics and consumer expectations.

Addressing Limitations and Biases: Navigating Imperfections

No research is immune to limitations and biases.

Acknowledging and addressing these imperfections is crucial for maintaining the credibility and reliability of research findings.

Leveraging Visualization Tools: Bringing Data to Life

Visualization tools play a pivotal role in simplifying complex data sets, making it easier for stakeholders to grasp insights.

From charts and graphs to interactive dashboards, these tools enhance the communicative power of research findings.

A study shows that 49% of businesses consider visualization critical in effective decision-making .

7. Implementing Changes Based on Research

In the dynamic landscape of business, the true power of market research is unleashed when findings are translated into actionable strategies.

This section explores the intricacies of implementing changes based on research, illustrating how businesses can transform insights into tangible results.

Strategic Planning: Blueprint for Success

Strategic planning is the linchpin between research findings and successful implementation.

It involves crafting a roadmap that aligns business goals with the insights garnered from market research.

Example: E-commerce Expansion Strategy

A retail giant, armed with insights about emerging markets and changing consumer preferences, may decide to implement a strategic plan to expand its e-commerce presence. This decision is rooted in the research-backed understanding of market dynamics.

E-commerce Expansion Strategy

Product or Service Adjustments: Aligning with Market Needs

Market research often reveals opportunities for product or service adjustments. Whether it’s introducing new features, optimizing existing offerings, or addressing unmet needs, these adjustments are vital for staying relevant.

Example: Tech Product Iterations

A technology company, after conducting user feedback surveys and analyzing market trends, might release software updates to address user pain points and enhance overall user experience.

Marketing and Communication Strategies: Targeted Outreach

Market research shapes marketing and communication strategies by providing insights into consumer preferences, effective channels, and messaging that resonates. This ensures that promotional efforts are finely tuned for maximum impact.

Example: Strategic Marketing Campaigns

A beverage company, having identified through market research that its target audience values sustainability, may launch a marketing campaign emphasizing eco-friendly packaging.

Eco-friendly packaging

This not only aligns with consumer values but also differentiates the brand in a crowded market.

Measuring and Adapting: The Continuous Cycle

Implementing changes based on research is an iterative process that requires continuous measurement and adaptation. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and metrics are essential for gauging the success of implemented strategies.

Example: E-commerce Conversion Rates as a KPI

An online retailer, after implementing changes informed by market research, might track e-commerce conversion rates to measure the effectiveness of the adjustments. This data guides further adaptations for optimal performance.

8. Monitoring and Adapting

In the ever-evolving landscape of business, the journey doesn’t end with implementing changes based on research; it extends into the realm of continuous monitoring and adaptation.

This section explores the significance of this iterative process, shedding light on how businesses can stay agile and responsive to dynamic market forces.

Continuous Monitoring: Staying Ahead of the Curve

Continuous monitoring involves the real-time tracking of key performance indicators (KPIs), market trends, and consumer behaviours. It is the compass that guides businesses through the ever-shifting currents of the market.

Example: Real-Time Analytics in E-commerce

An e-commerce platform employing real-time analytics can monitor website traffic, conversion rates, and customer interactions. This allows for the swift identification of emerging trends and the timely adjustment of strategies.

Real-Time Analytics in E-commerce

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Metrics for Success

KPIs serve as benchmarks for evaluating the success of implemented strategies. From sales figures to customer satisfaction scores, businesses must define and track KPIs that align with their goals.

Example: Customer Retention Rate

A subscription-based service may monitor its customer retention rate as a KPI.

If the rate declines, it signals potential issues, prompting a closer examination of the service and possible adjustments.

A study showed that increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can boost profits by 25-95% , as cited by Help Scout.

Adapting to Market Changes: Agility in Action

Market dynamics are in constant flux, necessitating an agile approach to business strategies.

Adapting to changes requires a proactive mindset, informed by ongoing research and a willingness to adjust course.

Example: Responsive Social Media Engagement

A company, monitoring social media sentiment through listening tools, may detect a shift in consumer perceptions.

Swift adaptation, such as altering marketing messaging or addressing concerns, showcases responsiveness.

Benchmarking Against Competitors: Staying Competitive

Benchmarking involves comparing key metrics against industry peers to gauge performance. Regular assessments against competitors provide insights into relative strengths and areas for improvement.

Example: Competitive Pricing Benchmarking

A retail brand may routinely benchmark its pricing against competitors to ensure competitiveness. Adjustments based on this benchmarking can be crucial for maintaining market share.

Customer Feedback Loops: A Continuous Dialogue

Establishing customer feedback loops ensures an ongoing dialogue with the audience. Listening to customer insights provides valuable information for refinement and adaptation.

Example: Feedback Integration in Software Development

A software company incorporating customer feedback loops during beta testing can identify bugs, usability issues, and feature requests. This iterative feedback process leads to a refined, customer-centric product.

In a study, 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience .

9. Tips for Effective Market Research

Embarking on a journey of effective market research requires more than just the right tools—it demands a strategic mindset and a nuanced approach.

This section unveils a compendium of tips to enhance the effectiveness of your market research endeavours, drawing insights from industry best practices and real-world examples.

Stay Updated on Industry Trends: The Pulse of Innovation

Staying abreast of industry trends is not merely a suggestion but a strategic imperative. In a landscape where change is constant, businesses that anticipate and adapt to trends position themselves as industry leaders.

Example: Tech Companies Anticipating Trends

Leading technology companies routinely invest in research and development to anticipate emerging trends. For instance, the integration of artificial intelligence into consumer electronics aligns with the trend towards smart, interconnected devices.

Incorporate Customer Feedback: A Goldmine of Insights

Customers are the heartbeat of any business, and their feedback serves as a treasure trove of insights. Actively seeking and incorporating customer feedback fosters a customer-centric approach and helps in refining products and services.

Example: Iterative Product Development

Companies like Apple regularly solicit customer feedback through surveys and user forums . This iterative feedback loop contributes to the refinement of software updates and the development of new features in their products.

Collaborate with Cross-Functional Teams: Holistic Insights

Effective market research isn’t confined to a single department—it’s a collaborative effort that benefits from the diverse perspectives of cross-functional teams. Collaboration ensures a comprehensive understanding of market dynamics.

Research by McKinsey highlights that companies with diverse executive teams are more likely to outperform their peers in profitability .

Example: Product Launch Strategy

When launching a new product, cross-functional collaboration is vital. Marketing teams bring consumer insights, R&D teams provide technical perspectives, and sales teams contribute market feedback. This synergy ensures a well-rounded product launch strategy.

Utilize Advanced Analytics: From Data to Actionable Insights

In the era of big data, leveraging advanced analytics tools is non-negotiable. These tools transform raw data into actionable insights, unveiling patterns and correlations that might otherwise remain hidden.

Example: Predictive Analytics in Retail

Retailers leverage predictive analytics to forecast demand, optimize inventory, and personalize marketing strategies. For instance, Amazon’s recommendation engine utilizes predictive analytics to suggest products based on customer browsing and purchase history.

Regularly Revisit and Refine Research Objectives: Agile Adaptation

Market dynamics are fluid, and research objectives must evolve in tandem. Regularly revisiting and refining research objectives ensures that the research remains aligned with shifting business priorities and market trends.

Example: Quarterly Objectives Review

A consumer goods company may conduct quarterly reviews of research objectives, considering changes in consumer behaviour, market trends, and competitive landscapes. This iterative approach ensures research remains relevant and impactful.

10. Additional Resources

Navigating the vast landscape of market research requires a diverse toolkit and a wealth of knowledge.

This section unveils a curated selection of additional resources—ranging from industry reports to online courses—designed to empower businesses and individuals in their pursuit of comprehensive market insights.

Industry Reports and Publications: In-Depth Insights at Your Fingertips

  • Statista : Statista provides comprehensive industry reports, infographics, and statistical insights. From global market trends to consumer behaviour, this platform offers a wealth of information. Statista boasts over 1.9 million statistics covering more than 80,000 topics .
  • MarketResearch.com : A comprehensive repository of market research reports spanning various industries. Whether seeking insights on emerging technologies or global market trends, MarketResearch.com provides a rich collection of reports.

Online Courses and Training Programs: Sharpening Research Skills

  • Coursera – Market Research and Consumer Behavior : This online course, offered by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, delves into the fundamentals of market research and consumer behaviour. With video lectures and interactive assignments, it provides a structured learning experience. Coursera, as of 2022, boasts over 100 million learners worldwide .
  • LinkedIn Learning – Market Research Foundations : This course, available on the LinkedIn Learning platform, provides a practical guide to market research essentials. From defining research objectives to analyzing data, it equips learners with actionable skills. LinkedIn, the parent company of LinkedIn Learning, has over 774 million members as of 2022 .

Coursera - Market Research and Consumer Behavior

Professional Organizations: Networking and Insights Exchange

  • American Marketing Association (AMA) : The AMA serves as a hub for marketers and researchers. Membership provides access to research publications, industry events, and a network of professionals, fostering continuous learning. The AMA has over 30,000 marketing professionals and academics globally .
  • Insights Association : The Insights Association offers resources, events, and a community for professionals in the insights and data analytics space.

Blogs and Online Communities: Real-World Insights Sharing

  • GreenBook Blog : GreenBook is a leading market research blog covering industry trends, innovations, and thought leadership. It’s a go-to resource for staying updated on the dynamic landscape of market research. The GreenBook Blog features articles, interviews, and insights from industry experts, creating a repository of valuable content.
  • Quirks.com : Quirks is an online platform offering articles, case studies, and insights on market research and consumer behavior. It provides a space for professionals to share their experiences and learn from one another. Quirks.com hosts webinars, conferences, and forums, fostering engagement and knowledge exchange within the market research community.

Government and Nonprofit Resources: Reliable Data Repositories

  • U.S. Census Bureau – Economic Census : The U.S. Census Bureau provides a wealth of economic data through the Economic Census. It offers insights into industries, businesses, and the overall economic landscape. The Economic Census collects data on the U.S. economy from over 7 million businesses in order to cover nearly all of the nation’s business sector establishments and provides detailed industry-level data.
  • World Bank – Data : The World Bank’s data repository offers a global perspective, providing access to a wide range of economic, social, and environmental data. It’s a valuable resource for understanding global market trends. The World Bank serves 189 member countries , providing a comprehensive view of global economic indicators.

As we conclude this expedition into the realm of effective market research, it’s essential to reflect on the transformative power that meticulous research holds for businesses.

The journey we’ve undertaken, step by step, through the intricate process of market research, unveils a roadmap to informed decision-making, strategic planning, and sustained success.

The Tapestry of Insights Woven

Effective market research is not a mere checklist; it’s a dynamic tapestry woven from diverse threads of data, insights, and strategic acumen.

From understanding the basics of market research to implementing adaptive strategies, each phase is a brushstroke contributing to the masterpiece of market intelligence.

Realizing the Potential of Understanding

The foundational step, understanding the basics of market research, lays the groundwork for all subsequent endeavours. It’s the compass that ensures businesses traverse the right paths, avoiding pitfalls and navigating toward success.

By discerning market trends, consumer behaviour, and competitive landscapes, organizations position themselves to make informed decisions.

Identifying the Audience: Precision in Targeting

Defining the target audience isn’t just a box to check; it’s the key to unlocking resonance.

Through demographic insights, psychographic nuances, and a profound understanding of consumer personas, businesses tailor their offerings and messages. The result? An audience that feels seen, heard, and inclined to engage.

Data-Driven Narratives: The Power of Stories

Conducting competitor analysis adds layers to the narrative, transforming it from a solo performance to a dynamic dialogue.

By deciphering competitor strengths, weaknesses, and strategies, businesses craft their own storylines, positioning themselves as protagonists in the market saga.

Choosing Wisely: The Art of Method Selection

The selection of research methods is akin to choosing the right colours for a painting.

Surveys and questionnaires capture broad strokes, while interviews and focus groups delve into intricate details. Like an artist with a palette, businesses choose their methods judiciously, ensuring a harmonious blend that brings their market picture to life.

Data, the Artist’s Palette: Vibrant and Varied

Collecting and analyzing data is the act of infusing life into the canvas.

Whether through surveys, observational research, or advanced analytics, data is the palette from which businesses draw the hues of insights. It’s the key to uncovering patterns, trends, and the ever-elusive “why” behind consumer behaviours.

Interpreting Insights: The Conductor’s Baton

As the conductor interprets the music, businesses interpret their research findings.

This phase is where raw data transforms into actionable intelligence. Drawing conclusions, making informed decisions, and addressing biases—these are the nuances that define the symphony of success.

Visualizing the Symphony: Tools for Clarity

Visualization tools are the conductor’s baton, transforming complex data into a harmonious performance. Whether through charts, graphs, or interactive dashboards, these tools enhance the clarity and communicative power of research findings.

Strategic Implementation: The Grand Performance

Implementing changes based on research is the grand performance—the culmination of meticulous preparation.

Strategic planning, product adjustments, and targeted marketing campaigns are the acts that resonate with the audience. The stage is set for businesses to shine in the spotlight of success.

Continuous Refinement: The Encore

Yet, the journey doesn’t end with applause; it continues with monitoring and adaptation. Continuous refinement ensures that businesses don’t rest on past laurels but evolve with the changing cadence of the market.

Key performance indicators, customer feedback, and benchmarking become the instruments for an encore performance.

Resources for Ongoing Excellence: The Library of Wisdom

As businesses navigate this dynamic landscape, additional resources emerge as companions in the journey.

Industry reports, online courses, professional organizations, blogs, and government repositories form a library of wisdom. Accessible and diverse, these resources empower businesses to stay informed, agile, and ever-ready for the next chapter.

The Culmination: A Symphony of Success

In conclusion, effective market research is not a one-time event—it’s a continuous symphony.

It requires a conductor’s finesse, an artist’s creativity, and a scholar’s curiosity. From understanding the basics to embracing ongoing learning, businesses that immerse themselves in this journey unlock the gates to sustained success.

In this grand symphony of effective market research, businesses find not just notes but the harmonies that lead to enduring success. As the journey continues, may businesses navigate the dynamic score with finesse, creativity, and an unwavering commitment to excellence.

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People also ask

What are the 4 types of market research.

The four types of market research are:

  • Exploratory Research: Uncover initial insights.
  • Descriptive Research: Analyze and quantify data.
  • Causal Research: Explore cause-and-effect relationships.
  • Predictive Research: Forecast future trends based on data patterns.

What are the 4 pillars of market research?

The 4 pillars of market research are:

  • Defining the Problem: Clearly outline research objectives.
  • Designing the Research: Plan methods and strategies.
  • Data Collection: Gather relevant information.
  • Data Analysis and Interpretation: Transform data into actionable insights for informed decision-making.

What software is used for market research?

Various software tools enhance market research processes, including:

  • SurveyMonkey: For creating and conducting surveys.
  • Google Analytics: Analyzing website traffic.
  • SPSS: Statistical analysis of data.
  • Tableau: Data visualization for insights.
  • HubSpot: Customer relationship management and marketing analytics.

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What Is Market Analysis and How To Do One For Your...

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How To Do Market Research: Definition, Types, Methods

Jan 2, 2024

11 min. read

Market research isn’t just collecting data. It’s a strategic tool that allows businesses to gain a competitive advantage while making the best use of their resources. Research reveals valuable insights into your target audience about their preferences, buying habits, and emerging demands — all of which help you unlock new opportunities to grow your business.

When done correctly, market research can minimize risks and losses, spur growth, and position you as a leader in your industry. 

Let’s explore the basic building blocks of market research and how to collect and use data to move your company forward:

Table of Contents

What Is Market Research?

Why is market research important, market analysis example, 5 types of market research, what are common market research questions, what are the limitations of market research, how to do market research, improving your market research with radarly.

Market Research Definition: The process of gathering, analyzing, and interpreting information about a market or audience.

doing a market research

Market research studies consumer behavior to better understand how they perceive products or services. These insights help businesses identify ways to grow their current offering, create new products or services, and improve brand trust and brand recognition .

You might also hear market research referred to as market analysis or consumer research .

Traditionally, market research has taken the form of focus groups, surveys, interviews, and even competitor analysis . But with modern analytics and research tools, businesses can now capture deeper insights from a wider variety of sources, including social media, online reviews, and customer interactions. These extra layers of intel can help companies gain a more comprehensive understanding of their audience.

With consumer preferences and markets evolving at breakneck speeds, businesses need a way to stay in touch with what people need and want. That’s why the importance of market research cannot be overstated.

Market research offers a proactive way to identify these trends and make adjustments to product development, marketing strategies , and overall operations. This proactive approach can help businesses stay ahead of the curve and remain agile as markets shift.

Market research examples abound — given the number of ways companies can get inside the minds of their customers, simply skimming through your business’s social media comments can be a form of market research.

A restaurant chain might use market research methods to learn more about consumers’ evolving dining habits. These insights might be used to offer new menu items, re-examine their pricing strategies, or even open new locations in different markets, for example.

A consumer electronics company might use market research for similar purposes. For instance, market research may reveal how consumers are using their smart devices so they can develop innovative features.

Market research can be applied to a wide range of use cases, including:

  • Testing new product ideas
  • Improve existing products
  • Entering new markets
  • Right-sizing their physical footprints
  • Improving brand image and awareness
  • Gaining insights into competitors via competitive intelligence

Ultimately, companies can lean on market research techniques to stay ahead of trends and competitors while improving the lives of their customers.

Market research methods take different forms, and you don’t have to limit yourself to just one. Let’s review the most common market research techniques and the insights they deliver.

1. Interviews

3. Focus Groups

4. Observations

5. AI-Driven Market Research

One-on-one interviews are one of the most common market research techniques. Beyond asking direct questions, skilled interviewers can uncover deeper motivations and emotions that drive purchasing decisions. Researchers can elicit more detailed and nuanced responses they might not receive via other methods, such as self-guided surveys.

colleagues discussing a market research

Interviews also create the opportunity to build rapport with customers and prospects. Establishing a connection with interviewees can encourage them to open up and share their candid thoughts, which can enrich your findings. Researchers also have the opportunity to ask clarifying questions and dig deeper based on individual responses.

Market research surveys provide an easy entry into the consumer psyche. They’re cost-effective to produce and allow researchers to reach lots of people in a short time. They’re also user-friendly for consumers, which allows companies to capture more responses from more people.

Big data and data analytics are making traditional surveys more valuable. Researchers can apply these tools to elicit a deeper understanding from responses and uncover hidden patterns and correlations within survey data that were previously undetectable.

The ways in which surveys are conducted are also changing. With the rise of social media and other online channels, brands and consumers alike have more ways to engage with each other, lending to a continuous approach to market research surveys.

3. Focus groups

Focus groups are “group interviews” designed to gain collective insights. This interactive setting allows participants to express their thoughts and feelings openly, giving researchers richer insights beyond yes-or-no responses.

focus group as part of a market research

One of the key benefits of using focus groups is the opportunity for participants to interact with one another. They spark discussions while sharing diverse viewpoints. These sessions can uncover underlying motivations and attitudes that may not be easily expressed through other research methods.

Observing your customers “in the wild” might feel informal, but it can be one of the most revealing market research techniques of all. That’s because you might not always know the right questions to ask. By simply observing, you can surface insights you might not have known to look for otherwise.

This method also delivers raw, authentic, unfiltered data. There’s no room for bias and no potential for participants to accidentally skew the data. Researchers can also pick up on non-verbal cues and gestures that other research methods may fail to capture.

5. AI-driven market research

One of the newer methods of market research is the use of AI-driven market research tools to collect and analyze insights on your behalf. AI customer intelligence tools and consumer insights software like Meltwater Radarly take an always-on approach by going wherever your audience is and continuously predicting behaviors based on current behaviors.

By leveraging advanced algorithms, machine learning, and big data analysis , AI enables companies to uncover deep-seated patterns and correlations within large datasets that would be near impossible for human researchers to identify. This not only leads to more accurate and reliable findings but also allows businesses to make informed decisions with greater confidence.

Tip: Learn how to use Meltwater as a research tool , how Meltwater uses AI , and learn more about consumer insights and about consumer insights in the fashion industry .

No matter the market research methods you use, market research’s effectiveness lies in the questions you ask. These questions should be designed to elicit honest responses that will help you reach your goals.

Examples of common market research questions include:

Demographic market research questions

  • What is your age range?
  • What is your occupation?
  • What is your household income level?
  • What is your educational background?
  • What is your gender?

Product or service usage market research questions

  • How long have you been using [product/service]?
  • How frequently do you use [product/service]?
  • What do you like most about [product/service]?
  • Have you experienced any problems using [product/service]?
  • How could we improve [product/service]?
  • Why did you choose [product/service] over a competitor’s [product/service]?

Brand perception market research questions

  • How familiar are you with our brand?
  • What words do you associate with our brand?
  • How do you feel about our brand?
  • What makes you trust our brand?
  • What sets our brand apart from competitors?
  • What would make you recommend our brand to others?

Buying behavior market research questions

  • What do you look for in a [product/service]?
  • What features in a [product/service] are important to you?
  • How much time do you need to choose a [product/service]?
  • How do you discover new products like [product/service]?
  • Do you prefer to purchase [product/service] online or in-store?
  • How do you research [product/service] before making a purchase?
  • How often do you buy [product/service]?
  • How important is pricing when buying [product/service]?
  • What would make you switch to another brand of [product/service]?

Customer satisfaction market research questions

  • How happy have you been with [product/service]?
  • What would make you more satisfied with [product/service]?
  • How likely are you to continue using [product/service]?

Bonus Tip: Compiling these questions into a market research template can streamline your efforts.

Market research can offer powerful insights, but it also has some limitations. One key limitation is the potential for bias. Researchers may unconsciously skew results based on their own preconceptions or desires, which can make your findings inaccurate.

  • Depending on your market research methods, your findings may be outdated by the time you sit down to analyze and act on them. Some methods struggle to account for rapidly changing consumer preferences and behaviors.
  • There’s also the risk of self-reported data (common in online surveys). Consumers might not always accurately convey their true feelings or intentions. They might provide answers they think researchers are looking for or misunderstand the question altogether.
  • There’s also the potential to miss emerging or untapped markets . Researchers are digging deeper into what (or who) they already know. This means you might be leaving out a key part of the story without realizing it.

Still, the benefits of market research cannot be understated, especially when you supplement traditional market research methods with modern tools and technology.

Let’s put it all together and explore how to do market research step-by-step to help you leverage all its benefits.

Step 1: Define your objectives

You’ll get more from your market research when you hone in on a specific goal : What do you want to know, and how will this knowledge help your business?

This step will also help you define your target audience. You’ll need to ask the right people the right questions to collect the information you want. Understand the characteristics of the audience and what gives them authority to answer your questions.

Step 2: Select your market research methods

Choose one or more of the market research methods (interviews, surveys, focus groups, observations, and/or AI-driven tools) to fuel your research strategy.

Certain methods might work better than others for specific goals . For example, if you want basic feedback from customers about a product, a simple survey might suffice. If you want to hone in on serious pain points to develop a new product, a focus group or interview might work best.

You can also source secondary research , such as industry reports or analyses from large market research firms. These can help you gather preliminary information and inform your approach.

team analyzing the market research results

Step 3: Develop your research tools

Prior to working with participants, you’ll need to craft your survey or interview questions, interview guides, and other tools. These tools will help you capture the right information , weed out non-qualifying participants, and keep your information organized.

You should also have a system for recording responses to ensure data accuracy and privacy. Test your processes before speaking with participants so you can spot and fix inefficiencies or errors.

Step 4: Conduct the market research

With a system in place, you can start looking for candidates to contribute to your market research. This might include distributing surveys to current customers or recruiting participants who fit a specific profile, for example.

Set a time frame for conducting your research. You might collect responses over the course of a few days, weeks, or even months. If you’re using AI tools to gather data, choose a data range for your data to focus on the most relevant information.

Step 5: Analyze and apply your findings

Review your findings while looking for trends and patterns. AI tools can come in handy in this phase by analyzing large amounts of data on your behalf.

Compile your findings into an easy-to-read report and highlight key takeaways and next steps. Reports aren’t useful unless the reader can understand and act on them.

Tip: Learn more about trend forecasting , trend detection , and trendspotting .

Meltwater’s Radarly consumer intelligence suite helps you reap the benefits of market research on an ongoing basis. Using a combination of AI, data science, and market research expertise, Radarly scans multiple global data sources to learn what people are talking about, the actions they’re taking, and how they’re feeling about specific brands.

Meltwater Radarly screenshot for market research

Our tools are created by market research experts and designed to help researchers uncover what they want to know (and what they don’t know they want to know). Get data-driven insights at scale with information that’s always relevant, always accurate, and always tailored to your organization’s needs.

Learn more when you request a demo by filling out the form below:

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What Are Consumer Insights? Meaning, Examples, Strategy

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How Coca-Cola Collects Consumer Insights

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Market Intelligence 101: What It Is & How To Use It

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9 Top Consumer Insights Tools & Companies

example of a market research strategy

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example of a market research strategy

14 Market Research Examples

14 Market Research Examples

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter .

Example #1: National bank’s A/B testing

You can learn what customers want by conducting experiments on real-life customer decisions using A/B testing. When you ensure your tests do not have any validity threats, the information you garner can offer very reliable insights into customer behavior.

Here’s an example from Flint McGlaughlin, CEO of MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute, and the creator of its  online marketing course .

A national bank was working with MECLABS to discover how to increase the number of sign-ups for new checking accounts.

Customers who were interested in checking accounts could click on an “Open in Minutes” link on the bank’s homepage.

Creative Sample #1: Anonymized bank homepage

Creative Sample #1: Anonymized bank homepage

After clicking on the homepage link, visitors were taken to a four-question checking account selector tool.

Creative Sample #2: Original checking account landing page — account recommendation selector tool

Creative Sample #2: Original checking account landing page — account recommendation selector tool

After filling out the selector tool, visitors were taken to a results page that included a suggested package (“Best Choice”) along with a secondary option (“Second Choice”). The results page had several calls to action (CTAs). Website visitors were able to select an account and begin pre-registration (“Open Now”) or find out more information about the account (“Learn More”), go back and change their answers (“Go back and change answers”), or manually browse other checking options (“Other Checking Options”).

Creative Sample #3: Original checking account landing page — account recommendation selector tool results page

Creative Sample #3: Original checking account landing page — account recommendation selector tool results page

After going through the experience, the MECLABS team hypothesized that the selector tool wasn’t really delivering on the expectation the customer had after clicking on the “Open in Minutes” CTA. They created two treatments (new versions) and tested them against the control experience.

In the first treatment, the checking selector tool was removed, and instead, customers were directly presented with three account options in tabs from which customers could select.

Creative Sample #4: Checking account landing page Treatment #1

Creative Sample #4: Checking account landing page Treatment #1

The second treatment’s landing page focused on a single product and had only one CTA. The call-to-action was similar to the CTA customers clicked on the homepage to get to this page — “Open Now.”

Creative Sample #5: Checking account landing page Treatment #2

Creative Sample #5: Checking account landing page Treatment #2

Both treatments increased account applications compared to the control landing page experience, with Treatment #2 generating 65% more applicants at a 98% level of confidence.

Creative Sample #6: Results of bank experiment that used A/B testing

Creative Sample #6: Results of bank experiment that used A/B testing

You’ll note the Level of Confidence in the results. With any research tactic or tool you use to learn about customers, you have to consider whether the information you’re getting really represents most customers, or if you’re just seeing outliers or random chance.

With a high Level of Confidence like this, it is more likely the results actually represent a true difference between the control and treatment landing pages and that the results aren’t just a random event.

The other factor to consider is — testing in and of itself will not produce results. You have to use testing as research to actually learn about the customer and then make changes to better serve the customer.

In the video How to Discover Exactly What the Customer Wants to See on the Next Click: 3 critical skills every marketer must master , McGlaughlin discussed this national bank experiment and explained how to use prioritization, identification and deduction to discover what your customers want.

This example was originally published in Marketing Research: 5 examples of discovering what customers want .

Example #2: Consumer Reports’ market intelligence research from third-party sources

The first example covers A/B testing. But keep in mind, ill-informed A/B testing isn’t market research, it’s just hoping for insights from random guesses.

In other words, A/B testing in a vacuum does not provide valuable information about customers. What you are testing is crucial, and then A/B testing is a means to help better understand whether insights you have about the customer are either validated or refuted by actual customer behavior. So it’s important to start with some research into potential customers and competitors to inform your A/B tests.

For example, when MECLABS and MarketingExperiments (sister publisher to MarketingSherpa) worked with Consumer Reports on a public, crowdsourced A/B test, we provided a market intelligence report to our audience to help inform their test suggestions.

Every successful marketing test should confirm or deny an assumption about the customer. You need enough knowledge about the customer to create marketing messages you think will be effective.

For this public experiment to help marketers improve their split testing abilities, we had a real customer to work with — donors to Consumer Reports.

To help our audience better understand the customer, the MECLABS Marketing Intelligence team created the 26-page ConsumerReports Market Intelligence Research document (which you can see for yourself at that link).

This example was originally published in Calling All Writers and Marketers: Write the most effective copy for this Consumer Reports email and win a MarketingSherpa Summit package and Consumer Reports Value Proposition Test: What you can learn from a 29% drop in clickthrough .

Example #3: Virtual event company’s conversation

What if you don’t have the budget for A/B testing? Or any of the other tactics in this article?

Well, if you’re like most people you likely have some relationships with other human beings. A significant other, friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, customers, a nemesis (“Newman!”). While conducting market research by talking to these people has several validity threats, it at least helps you get out of your own head and identify some of your blind spots.

WebBabyShower.com’s lead magnet is a PDF download of a baby shower thank you card ‘swipe file’ plus some extras. “Women want to print it out and have it where they are writing cards, not have a laptop open constantly,” said Kurt Perschke, owner, WebBabyShower.com.

That is not a throwaway quote from Perschke. That is a brilliant insight, so I want to make sure we don’t overlook it. By better understanding customer behavior, you can better serve customers and increase results.

However, you are not your customer. So you must bridge the gap between you and them.

Often you hear marketers or business leaders review an ad or discuss a marketing campaign and say, “Well, I would never read that entire ad” or “I would not be interested in that promotion.” To which I say … who cares? Who cares what you would do? If you are not in the ideal customer set, sorry to dent your ego, but you really don’t matter. Only the customer does.

Perschke is one step ahead of many marketers and business leaders because he readily understands this. “Owning a business whose customers are 95% women has been a great education for me,” he said.

So I had to ask him, how did he get this insight into his customers’ behavior? Frankly, it didn’t take complex market research. He was just aware of this disconnect he had with the customer, and he was alert for ways to bridge the gap. “To be honest, I first saw that with my wife. Then we asked a few customers, and they confirmed it’s what they did also. Writing notes by hand is viewed as a ‘non-digital’ activity and reading from a laptop kinda spoils the mood apparently,” he said.

Back to WebBabyShower. “We've seen a [more than] 100% increase in email signups using this method, which was both inexpensive and evergreen,” Perschke said.

This example was originally published in Digital Marketing: Six specific examples of incentives that worked .

Example #4: Spiceworks Ziff Davis’ research-informed content marketing

Marketing research isn’t just to inform products and advertising messages. Market research can also give your brand a leg up in another highly competitive space – content marketing.

Don’t just jump in and create content expecting it to be successful just because it’s “free.” Conducting research beforehand can help you understand what your potential audience already receives and where they might need help but are currently being served.

When Spiceworks Ziff Davis (SWZD) published its annual State of IT report, it invested months in conducting primary market research, analyzing year-over-year trends, and finally producing the actual report.

“Before getting into the nuts and bolts of writing an asset, look at market shifts and gaps that complement your business and marketing objectives. Then, you can begin to plan, research, write, review and finalize an asset,” said Priscilla Meisel, Content Marketing Director, SWZD.

This example was originally published in Marketing Writing: 3 simple tips that can help any marketer improve results (even if you’re not a copywriter) .

Example #5: Business travel company’s guerilla research

There are many established, expensive tactics you can use to better understand customers.

But if you don’t have the budget for those tactics, and don’t know any potential customers, you might want to brainstorm creative ways you can get valuable information from the right customer target set.

Here’s an example from a former client of Mitch McCasland, Founding Partner and Director, Brand Inquiry Partners. The company sold a product related to frequent business flyers and was interested in finding out information on people who travel for a living. They needed consumer feedback right away.

“I suggested that they go out to the airport with a bunch of 20-dollar bills and wait outside a gate for passengers to come off their flight,” McCasland said. When people came off the flight, they were politely asked if they would answer a few questions in exchange for the incentive (the $20). By targeting the first people off the flight they had a high likelihood of reaching the first-class passengers.

This example was originally published in Guerrilla Market Research Expert Mitch McCasland Tells How You Can Conduct Quick (and Cheap) Research .

Example #6: Intel’s market research database

When conducting market research, it is crucial to organize your data in a way that allows you to easily and quickly report on it. This is especially important for qualitative studies where you are trying to do more than just quantify the data, but need to manage it so it is easier to analyze.

Anne McClard, Senior Researcher, Doxus worked with Shauna Pettit-Brown of Intel on a research project to understand the needs of mobile application developers throughout the world.

Intel needed to be able to analyze the data from several different angles, including segment and geography, a daunting task complicated by the number of interviews, interviewers, and world languages.

“The interviews were about an hour long, and pretty substantial,” McClard says. So, she needed to build a database to organize the transcripts in a way that made sense.

Different types of data are useful for different departments within a company; once your database is organized you can sort it by various threads.

The Intel study had three different internal sponsors. "When it came to doing the analysis, we ended up creating multiple versions of the presentation targeted to individual audiences," Pettit-Brown says.

The organized database enabled her to go back into the data set to answer questions specific to the interests of the three different groups.

This example was originally published in 4 Steps to Building a Qualitative Market Research Database That Works Better .

Example #7: National security survey’s priming

When conducting market research surveys, the way you word your questions can affect customers’ response. Even the way you word previous questions can put customers in a certain mindset that will skew their answers.

For example, when people were asked if they thought the U.S. government should spend money on an anti-missile shield, the results appeared fairly conclusive. Sixty-four percent of those surveyed thought the country should and only six percent were unsure, according to Opinion Makers: An Insider Exposes the Truth Behind the Polls .

But when pollsters added the option, "...or are you unsure?" the level of uncertainty leaped from six percent to 33 percent. When they asked whether respondents would be upset if the government took the opposite course of action from their selection, 59 percent either didn’t have an opinion or didn’t mind if the government did something differently.

This is an example of how the way you word questions can change a survey’s results. You want survey answers to reflect customer’s actual sentiments that are as free of your company’s previously held biases as possible.

This example was originally published in Are Surveys Misleading? 7 Questions for Better Market Research .

Example #8: Visa USA’s approach to getting an accurate answer

As mentioned in the previous example, the way you ask customers questions can skew their responses with your own biases.

However, the way you ask questions to potential customers can also illuminate your understanding of them. Which is why companies field surveys to begin with.

“One thing you learn over time is how to structure questions so you have a greater likelihood of getting an accurate answer. For example, when we want to find out if people are paying off their bills, we'll ask them to think about the card they use most often. We then ask what the balance was on their last bill after they paid it,” said Michael Marx, VP Research Services, Visa USA.

This example was originally published in Tips from Visa USA's Market Research Expert Michael Marx .

Example #9: Hallmark’s private members-only community

Online communities are a way to interact with and learn from customers. Hallmark created a private members-only community called Idea Exchange (an idea you could replicate with a Facebook or LinkedIn Group).

The community helped the greeting cards company learn the customer’s language.

“Communities…let consumers describe issues in their own terms,” explained Tom Brailsford, Manager of Advancing Capabilities, Hallmark Cards. “Lots of times companies use jargon internally.”

At Hallmark they used to talk internally about “channels” of distribution. But consumers talk about stores, not channels. It is much clearer to ask consumers about the stores they shop in than what channels they shop.

For example, Brailsford clarified, “We say we want to nurture, inspire, and lift one’s spirits. We use those terms, and the communities have defined those terms for us. So we have learned how those things play out in their lives. It gives us a much richer vocabulary to talk about these things.”

This example was originally published in Third Year Results from Hallmark's Online Market Research Experiment .

Example #10: L'Oréal’s social media listening

If you don’t want the long-term responsibility that comes with creating an online community, you can use social media listening to understand how customers talking about your products and industry in their own language.

In 2019, L'Oréal felt the need to upgrade one of its top makeup products – L'Oréal Paris Alliance Perfect foundation. Both the formula and the product communication were outdated – multiple ingredients had emerged on the market along with competitive products made from those ingredients.

These new ingredients and products were overwhelming consumers. After implementing new formulas, the competitor brands would advertise their ingredients as the best on the market, providing almost magical results.

So the team at L'Oréal decided to research their consumers’ expectations instead of simply crafting a new formula on their own. The idea was to understand not only which active ingredients are credible among the audience, but also which particular words they use while speaking about foundations in general.

The marketing team decided to combine two research methods: social media listening and traditional questionnaires.

“For the most part, we conduct social media listening research when we need to find out what our customers say about our brand/product/topic and which words they use to do it. We do conduct traditional research as well and ask questions directly. These surveys are different because we provide a variety of readymade answers that respondents choose from. Thus, we limit them in terms of statements and their wording,” says Marina Tarandiuk, marketing research specialist, L'Oréal Ukraine.

“The key value of social media listening (SML) for us is the opportunity to collect people’s opinions that are as ‘natural’ as possible. When someone leaves a review online, they are in a comfortable environment, they use their ‘own’ language to express themselves, there is no interviewer standing next to them and potentially causing shame for their answer. The analytics of ‘natural’ and honest opinions of our customers enables us to implement the results in our communication and use the same language as them,” Tarandiuk said.

The team worked with a social media listening tool vendor to identify the most popular, in-demand ingredients discussed online and detect the most commonly used words and phrases to create a “consumer glossary.”

Questionnaires had to confirm all the hypotheses and insights found while monitoring social media. This part was performed in-house with the dedicated team. They created custom questionnaires aiming to narrow down all the data to a maximum of three variants that could become the base for the whole product line.

“One of our recent studies had a goal to find out which words our clients used to describe positive and negative qualities of [the] foundation. Due to a change in [the] product’s formula, we also decided to change its communication. Based on the opinions of our customers, we can consolidate the existing positive ideas that our clients have about the product,” Tarandiuk said.

To find the related mentions, the team monitored not only the products made by L'Oréal but also the overall category. “The search query contained both brand names and general words like foundation, texture, smell, skin, pores, etc. The problem was that this approach ended up collecting thousands of mentions, not all of which were relevant to the topic,” said Elena Teselko, content marketing manager, YouScan (L'Oréal’s social media listening tool).

So the team used artificial intelligence-based tagging that divided mentions according to the category, features, or product type.

This approach helped the team discover that customers valued such foundation features as not clogging pores, a light texture, and not spreading. Meanwhile, the most discussed and appreciated cosmetics component was hyaluronic acid.

These exact phrases, found with the help of social media monitoring, were later used for marketing communication.

Creative Sample #7: Marketing communicating for personal care company with messaging based on discoveries from market research

Creative Sample #7: Marketing communicating for personal care company with messaging based on discoveries from market research

“Doing research and detecting audience’s interests BEFORE starting a campaign is an approach that dramatically lowers any risks and increases chances that the campaign would be appreciated by customers,” Teselko said.

This example was originally published in B2C Branding: 3 quick case studies of enhancing the brand with a better customer experience .

Example #11: Levi’s ethnographic research

In a focus group or survey, you are asking customers to explain something they may not even truly understand. Could be why they bought a product. Or what they think of your competitor.

Ethnographic research is a type of anthropology in which you go into customers’ homes or places of business and observe their actual behavior, behavior they may not understand well enough to explain to you.

While cost prohibitive to many brands, and simply unfeasible for others, it can elicit new insights into your customers.

Michael Perman, Senior Director Cultural Insights, Levi Strauss & Co. uses both quantitative and qualitative research on a broad spectrum, but when it comes to gathering consumer insight, he focuses on in-depth ethnographic research provided by partners who specialize in getting deep into the “nooks and crannies of consumer life in America and around the world.” For example, his team spends time in consumers’ homes and in their closets. They shop with consumers, looking for the reality of a consumer’s life and identifying themes that will enable designers and merchandisers to better understand and anticipate consumer needs.

Perman then puts together multi-sensory presentations that illustrate the findings of research. For example, “we might recreate a teenager’s bedroom and show what a teenage girl might have on her dresser.”

This example was originally published in How to Get Your Company to Pay Attention to Market Research Results: Tips from Levi Strauss .

Example #12: eBags’ ethnographic research

Ethnographic research isn’t confined to a physical goods brand like Levi’s. Digital brands can engage in this form of anthropology as well.

While usability testing in a lab is useful, it does miss some of the real-world environmental factors that play a part in the success of a website. Usability testing alone didn’t create a clear enough picture for Gregory Casey, User Experience Designer and Architect, eBags.

“After we had designed our mobile and tablet experience, I wanted to run some contextual user research, which basically meant seeing how people used it in the wild, seeing how people are using it in their homes. So that’s exactly what I did,” Gregory said.

He found consumers willing to open their home to him and be tested in their normal environment. This meant factors like the television, phone calls and other family members played a part in how they experienced the eBags mobile site.

“During these interview sessions, a lot of times we were interrupted by, say, a child coming over and the mother having to do something for the kid … The experience isn’t sovereign. It’s not something where they just sit down, work through a particular user flow and complete their interaction,” Gregory said.

By watching users work through the site as they would in their everyday life, Gregory got to see what parts of the site they actually use.

This example was originally published in Mobile Marketing: 4 takeaways on how to improve your mobile shopping experience beyond just responsive design .

Example #13: John Deere’s shift from product-centric market research to consumer-centric research

One of the major benefits of market research is to overcome company blind spots. However, if you start with your blind spots – i.e., a product focus – you will blunt the effectiveness of your market research.

In the past, “they’d say, Here’s the product, find out how people feel about it,” explained David van Nostrand, Manager, John Deere's Global Market Research. “A lot of companies do that.” Instead, they should be saying, “Let's start with the customers: what do they want, what do they need?”

The solution? A new in-house program called “Category Experts” brings the product-group employees over as full team members working on specific research projects with van Nostrand’s team.

These staffers handle items that don’t require a research background: scheduling, meetings, logistics, communication and vendor management. The actual task they handle is less important than the fact that they serve as human cross-pollinators, bringing consumer-centric sensibility back to their product- focused groups.

For example, if van Nostrand’s team is doing research about a vehicle, they bring in staffers from the Vehicles product groups. “The information about vehicle consumers needs to be out there in the vehicle marketing groups, not locked in here in the heads of the researchers.”

This example was originally published in How John Deere Increased Mass Consumer Market Share by Revamping its Market Research Tactics .

Example #14: LeapFrog’s market research involvement throughout product development (not just at the beginning and the end)

Market research is sometimes thought of as a practice that can either inform the development of a product, or research consumer attitudes about developed products. But what about the middle?

Once the creative people begin working on product designs, the LeapFrog research department stays involved.

They have a lab onsite where they bring moms and kids from the San Francisco Bay area to test preliminary versions of the products. “We do a lot of hands-on, informal qualitative work with kids,” said Craig Spitzer, VP Marketing Research, LeapFrog. “Can they do what they need to do to work the product? Do they go from step A to B to C, or do they go from A to C to B?”

When designing the LeapPad Learning System, for example, the prototype went through the lab “a dozen times or so,” he says.

A key challenge for the research department is keeping and building the list of thousands of families who have agreed to be on call for testing. “We've done everything from recruiting on the Internet to putting out fliers in local schools, working through employees whose kids are in schools, and milking every connection we have,” Spitzer says.

Kids who test products at the lab are compensated with a free, existing product rather than a promise of the getting the product they're testing when it is released in the future.

This example was originally published in How LeapFrog Uses Marketing Research to Launch New Products .

Related resources

The Marketer’s Blind Spot: 3 ways to overcome the marketer’s greatest obstacle to effective messaging

Get Your Free Test Discovery Tool to Help Log all the Results and Discoveries from Your Company’s Marketing Tests

Marketing Research: 5 examples of discovering what customers want

Online Marketing Tests: How do you know you’re really learning anything?

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The Ultimate Guide to Market Research: Types, Benefits, and Real-World Examples

Team Fratzke

example of a market research strategy

Today's consumers hold a lot of power when making purchase decisions. With a quick inquiry in a search engine or search bar within a social media platform, they can access genuine reviews from their peers without relying on sales reps.

Considering this shift in consumer behavior, adjusting your marketing strategy so it caters to the modern-day buying process is essential . To achieve this, you must thoroughly understand your target audience, the market you operate in, and the factors influencing their decision-making.

This is where market research can be leveraged so you stay current with your audience and industry. 

Article Overview

In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about how to conduct market research, including:

  • Why market research is essential for understanding your target audience, the market you operate in, and factors influencing decision-making
  • What are the different types of market research, such as primary and secondary market research
  • How to collect information about your customers and target market to determine the success of a new or existing product, improve your brand, and communicate your company's value
  • Real-world examples of companies leveraging market research

Schedule your Free Market Research Consultation with Fratzke

What is market research?

Market research is a necessary process that involves collecting and documenting information about your target market and customers. This helps you determine the success of a new product, improve an existing one, or understand how your brand is perceived. You can then turn this research into profits by  developing marketing strategies and campaigns to effectively communicate your company's value .

While market research can provide insights into various aspects of an industry, it is not a crystal ball that can predict everything about your customers. Market researchers typically explore multiple areas of the market, which can take several weeks or even months to get a complete picture of the business landscape.

Even by researching just one of those areas, you can gain better insights into who your buyers are and what unique value proposition you can offer them that no other business currently provides.

Of course, you can simply use your industry experience and existing customer insights to make sound judgment calls. However, it's important to note that market research provides additional benefits beyond these strategies. There are two things to consider:

  • Your competitors also have experienced individuals in the industry and a customer base. Your immediate resources may equal those of your competition's immediate resources. Seeking a larger sample size for answers can provide a better edge.
  • Your brand's customers do not represent the entire market's attitudes, only those who are attracted to your brand.

The market research services industry is experiencing rapid growth , indicating a strong interest in market research as we enter 2024. The market is expected to grow from approximately $75 billion in 2021 to $90.79 billion in 2025, with a compound annual growth rate of 5%. 

Your competitors have highly skilled individuals within the industry, meaning your available personnel resources are likely similar to those of your competitors. So what are you going to do to get ahead?

You’re going to do thorough market research, which is why seeking answers from a larger sample size is essential. Remember that your customers represent only a portion of the market already attracted to your brand, and their attitudes may not necessarily reflect those of the entire market. You could be leaving money on the table by leaving out untapped customers .

Why do market research?

Market research helps you meet your buyers where they are. Understanding your buyer's problems, pain points, and desired outcomes is invaluable as our world becomes increasingly noisy and demanding. This knowledge will help you tailor your product or service to appeal to them naturally. 

What’s even better is when you're ready to grow your business, market research can also guide you in developing an effective market expansion strategy.

Market research provides valuable insights into factors that impact your profits and can help you to :

What can market research help your brand with?

  • Identify where your target audience and current customers are conducting their product or service research
  • Determine which competitors your target audience looks to for information, options, or purchases
  • Keep up with the latest trends in your industry and understand what your buyers are interested in
  • Understand who makes up your market and what challenges they are facing
  • Determine what influences purchases and conversions among your target audience
  • Analyze consumer attitudes about a particular topic, pain, product, or brand
  • Assess the demand for the business initiatives you're investing in
  • Identify unaddressed or underserved customer needs that can be turned into selling opportunities
  • Understand consumer attitudes about pricing for your product or service.

Market research provides valuable information from a larger sample size of your target audience, enabling you to obtain accurate consumer attitudes. By eliminating any bias or assumptions you have about your target audience, you can make better business decisions based on the bigger picture. 

As you delve deeper into your market research, you will come across two types of research: primary and secondary market research . Simply put, think of two umbrellas beneath market research - one for primary and one for secondary research. In the next section, we will discuss the difference between these two types of research. That way, if you work with a market who wants to use them, you’ll be ready with an understanding of how they can each benefit your business.

Primary vs. Secondary Research

Both primary and secondary research are conducted to collect actionable information on your product. That information can then be divided into two types: qualitative and quantitative research. Qualitative research focuses on public opinion and aims to determine how the market feels about the products currently available. On the other hand, quantitative research seeks to identify relevant trends in the data gathered from public records. 

Let's take a closer look at these two types.

Primary Research vs Secondary Research

Primary Research

Primary research involves gathering first-hand information about your market and its customers. It can be leveraged to segment your market and create focused buyer personas . Generally, primary market research can be categorized into exploratory and specific studies.

Exploratory Primary Research

This type of primary market research is not focused on measuring customer trends; instead, it is focused on identifying potential problems worth addressing as a team. It is usually conducted as an initial step before any specific research is done and may involve conducting open-ended interviews or surveys with a small group of people.

Specific Primary Research

After conducting exploratory research, businesses may conduct specific primary research to explore issues or opportunities they have identified as necessary. Specific research involves targeting a smaller or more precise audience segment and asking questions aimed at solving a suspected problem. Specific primary research reveals problems that are unique to your audience so you can then offer a unique (and valuable) solution.

Secondary Research

Secondary research refers to collecting and analyzing data that has already been published or made available in public records. This may include market statistics, trend reports, sales data, and industry content you already can access. Secondary research really shines when you go to your competitors . The most commonly used sources of secondary market research include:

  • Public sources
  • Commercial sources
  • Internal sources

Public Sources

When conducting secondary market research, the first and most accessible sources of information are usually free . That’s right–these public sources are free and at your fingertips so there’s no reason for you to not be checking them out and leveraging them for your own gain.

One of the most common types of public sources is government statistics. According to Entrepreneur, two examples of public market data in the United States are the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor & Statistics. These sources offer helpful information about the state of various industries nationwide including:

Commercial Sources

Research agencies such as Pew, Fratzke, Gartner, or Forrester often provide market reports containing industry insights from their own in-depth studies . These reports usually come at a cost if you want to download and obtain the information, but these agencies are experts at what they do, so the research is most likely valuable.

Internal Sources

Internal sources of market data can include average revenue per sale, customer retention rates, and other data on the health of old and new accounts. They are often overlooked when it comes to conducting market research because of how specific the data is; however, these sources can be valuable as they provide information on the organization's historical data.

By analyzing this information, you can gain insights into what your customers want now . In addition to these broad categories, there are various ways to conduct market research. Let’s talk about them.  

Types of Market Research

  • Interviews (in-person or remote)

Focus Groups

  • Product/ Service Use Research

Observation-Based Research

Buyer persona research, market segmentation research, pricing research.

  • Competitive Analysis Research

Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty Research

Brand awareness research, campaign research.

11 types of market research

Interviews can be conducted face-to-face or virtually, allowing for a natural conversation flow while observing the interviewee's body language. By asking questions about themselves, the interviewee can help you create buyer personas , which are made by using information about the ideal customer, such as:

  • Family size 
  • Challenges faced at work or in life 

And other aspects of their lifestyle. This buyer profile can shape your entire marketing strategy , from the features you add to your product to the content you publish on your website. Your target audience will feel that the marketing was made just for them and will be drawn to your product or service.

Focus groups are market research involving a few carefully selected individuals who can test your product, watch a demonstration, offer feedback, and answer specific questions. This research can inspire ideas for product differentiation or highlight the unique features of your product or brand that set it apart from others in the market.  This is a great market research option to gain specific feedback, which you can use to improve your services .

Product/Service Use Research

Product or service usage research provides valuable insights into how and why your target audience uses your product or service.  This research can help in various ways including:

  •  Identifying specific features of your offering that appeal to your audience. 
  • Allowing you to assess the usability of your product or service for your target audience. 

According to a report published in 2020, usability testing was rated the most effective method for discovering user insights, with a score of 8.7 out of 10. In comparison, digital analytics scored 7.7, and user surveys scored 6.4.

Observation-based research is a process that involves observing how your target audience members use your product or service. The way that you intended your product or service to be used may not be the actual way that it is used. Observation-based research helps you understand what works well in terms of customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX), what problems they face, and which aspects of your product or service can be improved to make it easier for them to use.

To better understand how your potential customers make purchasing decisions in your industry, it is essential to know who they are. This is where buyer persona research comes in handy. Buyer or marketing personas are fictional yet generalized representations of your ideal customers. They give you someone to whom you want your marketing efforts to empathize and move, even though they don’t really exist. 

Gathering survey data and additional research to correctly identify your buyer personas will help you to visualize your audience so you can streamline your communications and inform marketing strategy . Key characteristics to include in a buyer persona are:

  • Job title(s)
  • Family size
  • Major challenges

Customer Persona Example

Market segmentation research enables you to classify your target audience into various groups or segments based on specific and defining characteristics. This method allows you to understand their needs, pain points, expectations, and goals more effectively.

Pricing research can provide valuable insights about the prices of similar products or services in your market. It can help you understand what your target audience expects to pay for your offerings and what would be a reasonable price for you to set. Correct pricing is important because if you set it too high, consumers will go to your cheaper competitor; but if you set it too low, your consumers may become suspicious of your product or service and still end up with your competitor. This information allows you to develop a solid pricing strategy aligning with your business goals and objectives. 

Competitive Analysis

Competitive analyses are incredibly valuable as they provide a deep understanding of your market and industry competition. Through these analyses, you can gain insights like: 

  • What works well in your industry 
  • What your target audience is already interested in regarding products like yours
  • Which competitors you should work to keep up with and surpass 
  • How you can differentiate yourself from the competition

Understanding customer satisfaction and loyalty is crucial to encouraging repeat business and identifying what drives customers to return (such as loyalty programs, rewards, and exceptional customer service). Researching this area will help you determine the most effective methods to keep your customers coming back again and again. If you have a CRM system, consider further utilizing automated customer feedback surveys to improve your understanding of their needs and preferences.

Brand awareness research helps you understand the level of familiarity your target audience has with your brand. It provides insights into your audience members' perceptions and associations when they think about your business.This type of research reveals what they believe your brand represents. This information is valuable for developing effective marketing strategies, improving your brand's reputation, and increasing customer loyalty .

To improve your marketing campaigns, you need to research by analyzing the success of your past campaigns among your target audience and current customers. This requires experimentation and thoroughly examining the elements that resonate with your audience. By doing so, you can identify the aspects of your campaigns that matter most to your audience and use them as a guide for future campaigns. 

Now that you understand the different market research categories and types let's look at how to conduct your market research.  Using our expertise and experience, we’ve created a step-by-step guide to conducting market research.

How to Do Market Research (Detailed Roadmap)

  • Define the problem or objective of the research. 
  • Determine the type of data needed. 
  • Identify the sources of data. 
  • Collect the data. 
  • Analyze the data. 
  • Interpret the results. 
  • Report the findings. 
  • Take action based on the findings.

Market Research Roadmap

1. Define the problem or objective of the research

Defining the problem or objective of the research is the first step in conducting market research. This involves identifying the specific issue that the research is trying to address. It is essential to be clear and specific about the research problem or objective, as it will guide the entire research process.

2. Determine the type of data needed

After defining the research problem or objective, the next step is determining the data type needed to address the issue. This involves deciding whether to collect primary or secondary data. Primary data is collected directly from the source, while secondary data is collected from existing sources such as government reports or market research studies.

3. Identify the sources of data

Once the data type has been determined, the next step is identifying the data sources. This involves identifying potential sources of primary and secondary data that can be used to address the research problem or objective. Primary data sources can include surveys, focus groups, and interviews, while secondary data sources can include government reports, industry publications, and academic journals.

4. Collect the data

After identifying the data sources, the next step is to collect the data. This involves designing and implementing a data collection plan consistent with the research problem or objective. The data collection plan should specify the methods and procedures for collecting data, sample size, and sampling method.

5. Analyze the data

Once the data has been collected, the next step is to analyze the data. This involves organizing, summarizing, and interpreting the data to identify patterns, relationships, and trends. The research problem or objective should guide the data analysis process and be conducted using appropriate statistical methods and software.

6. Interpret the results

After analyzing the data, the next step is to interpret the results. This involves drawing conclusions from the data analysis and using the results to address the research problem or objective. It is essential to analyze the results objectively and to avoid making assumptions or drawing conclusions that are not supported by the data.

7. Report the findings

Try identifying common themes to create a story and action items.To make the process easier, use your favorite presentation software to create a report, as it will make it easy to add quotes, diagrams, or call clips.

Feel free to add your flair, but the following outline should help you craft a clear summary:

  • Background: What are your goals, and why did you conduct this study?
  • Participants: Who you talked to? A table works well to break groups down by persona and customer/prospect.
  • Executive Summary: What were the most exciting things you learned? What do you plan to do about it?
  • Key Findings: Identify the key findings using data visualizations and emphasize key points.
  • Recommendations + Action Plan: Your analysis will uncover actionable insights to fuel strategies and campaigns you can run to get your brand in front of buyers earlier and more effectively. Provide your list of priorities, action items , a timeline, and its impact on your business.

8. Take action based on the findings

The final step in conducting market research is to take action based on the findings. This involves using the results to make informed decisions about the marketing strategy, product development, or other business decisions. It is important to use the findings to drive action and to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the action taken continuously.

How to Prepare for Market Research Projects

Identify a persona group to engage, prepare research questions for your market research participants, list your primary competitors.

The idea is to use your persona as a reference point for understanding and reaching out to your industry's audience members. Your business might cater to more than one persona, and that's completely acceptable! However, you must be mindful of each persona while strategizing and planning your content and campaigns. 

How to Identify the Right People to Engage for Market Research

When selecting a group on which to conduct market research , it is essential to consider individuals with the same characteristics as your target audience. 

If you need to research multiple target audiences, recruit separate groups for each one. Select people who have recently interacted with you by looking through social media for post interactions or seeing if they’ve made recent purchases from you.

If you are planning to conduct an evaluation, it is recommended that you focus on people who have completed it within the last six months. However, if you have a longer sales cycle or a specific market, you can extend the period up to a year. It is crucial to ask detailed questions during the evaluation, so the participants' experience must be fresh.

Gather a mix of participants

If you want to expand your customer base, you’re going to want to get viewpoints of your product or service from every angle. Consider getting this mix by recruiting individuals who have already purchased your product, those who have bought a competitor's product, and those who haven't purchased anything. While targeting your existing customers may be the easiest option, gathering information from non-customers can help you gain a more balanced market perspective .

We recommend taking the following steps to select a mix of participants:

  • Create a list of customers who made a recent purchase . This is usually the most accessible group to recruit. If you have a CRM system with list segmentation capabilities, run a report of deals that closed within the past six months and filter it for the characteristics you're looking for. Otherwise, work with your sales team to get them a list of appropriate accounts.
  • Create a list of customers who were in an active evaluation but didn't make a purchase. You should get a mix of buyers who either purchased from a competitor or decided not to purchase. Again, you can obtain this list from your CRM or your Sales team's system to track deals.
  • Use social media to call for participants. Try reaching out to people who follow you on social media but decided not to buy from you. Some may be willing to talk to you and explain why they did not purchase your product.
  • Leverage your network . Spread the word that you're conducting a study to your coworkers, former colleagues, and LinkedIn connections. Even if your direct connections don't qualify, some will likely have a coworker, friend, or family member who does.
  • Choose an incentive to motivate participants to spend time on your study. If you're on a tight budget , you can reward participants for free by giving them exclusive access to content. 
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Preparation is key when conducting research in hopes of gaining productive and informative conversations. This involves creating a discussion guide, whether it is for a focus group, an online survey, or a phone interview. The guide should help you cover all the relevant topics and manage your time efficiently.

The discussion guide should be in an outline format, with an allocated time and open-ended questions for each section. All the questions must be open-ended, as asking closed questions may lead the interviewee to respond with a simple "yes" or "no" answer. You may need more detailed answers to make informed decisions, so be sure to ask follow-up questions as necessary.  Also leave out any leading questions as they may unintentionally influence the interviewee's response, skewing your research results.

It's essential to identify your competitors accurately and you may even have some hidden in plain sight.  There are some instances where your company's business division might compete with your main product or service, even though that company's brand might have a different focus. Take a look at Apple:  the company is known primarily for its laptops and mobile devices, but Apple Music competes with Spotify over its music streaming service.

From a content perspective, you might compete with a blog, YouTube channel, or similar publication for inbound website visitors — even though their products don't overlap with yours. An example of this is when a toothpaste company might compete with publications like Health.com or Prevention on specific blog topics related to health and hygiene, even though the magazines don't sell oral care products.

Here are a few ways to build your competitor list:

  • Check your industry quadrant on G2 Crowd: This is a significant first step for secondary market research in some industries. G2 Crowd aggregates user ratings and social data to create "quadrants" that show companies as contenders, leaders, niche players, or high performers in their respective industries. G2 Crowd specializes in digital content, IT services, HR, e-commerce, and related business services.
  • Download a market report: Companies like Forrester and Gartner offer free and gated market forecasts yearly on the vendors leading their industry. On Forrester's website, for example, you can select "Latest Research" from the navigation bar and browse Forrester's latest material using a variety of criteria to narrow your search. These reports are good assets to save on your computer.
  • Use social media : Social networks can be excellent company directories if you use the search bar correctly. On LinkedIn, for example, select the search bar and enter the name of the industry you're pursuing. Then, under "More," select "Companies" to narrow your results to the businesses that include this or a similar industry term on their LinkedIn profile.

Identifying Content Competitors

Search engines can be beneficial when it comes to secondary market research . To identify the online publications competing with your business, start with the overarching industry term you identified earlier, and then come up with more specific industry terms that are related to your company . For example, if you run a catering business, you might consider yourself a "food service" company, as well as a vendor in "event catering," "cake catering," "baked goods," and so on.

Once you have this list, follow these steps:

  • Google it: Running a search on Google for the industry terms that describe your company can be very beneficial. You may come across a mix of product developers, blogs, magazines, and other websites.
  • Compare your search results against your buyer persona: Remember the persona you created during the primary research stage? You can use it to evaluate whether a publication you found through Google could steal website traffic from you. If the website's content aligns with what your buyer persona would want to see, it is a potential competitor and should be added to your list of competitors.

After a series of similar Google searches for the industry terms you identify with, look for repetition in the website domains that have come up.

When searching, examine the first two or three pages of results. These websites are considered reputable sources of content in your industry and should be monitored closely as you create your collection of videos, reports, web pages, and blog posts.

Make faster, smarter decisions with market research.

Market Research Examples

Mcdonald's focus on customer feedback and profiling.

McDonald's invests in developing a detailed consumer profile to attract and retain customers, including parents of young children who appreciate the family-friendly atmosphere and menus. The brand seeks feedback from customers through surveys and questionnaires in stores, social media, and its mobile app. It also monitors customer feedback on digital channels.

Nike's Extensive Research and Collaboration for Running Shoes Development

Nike invests heavily in creating running shoes that cater to the needs of its customers, which it determines through extensive market research and customer surveys. The brand goes to great lengths to understand its customers' preferences, such as the type of running surface, the distance they run, and their running style, to develop shoes that meet their specific needs.

In addition to customer surveys, Nike also collaborates with athletes to develop shoes that cater to their specific requirements. This research helps Nike improve its existing running shoe models and innovate new ones, ensuring that the brand stays ahead of the competition.

Disney employs focus groups that specifically cater to children to test out their new characters and ideas.

The Walt Disney Company invests millions of dollars in creating captivating stories tested for their effectiveness with children, the intended audience. Disney executives hold focus groups with preschoolers and kindergartners several times a year to gather their opinions and feedback on TV episodes, Disney characters, and more. 

This market research strategy is effective because children are the ultimate audience that Disney aims to please. The collected feedback helps the company improve existing content to meet the preferences of its audience and ensure continued success as a multi-billion dollar enterprise.

KFC tested its meatless product in specific markets before launching it nationwide.

In 2019, KFC began developing and testing a meatless version of its famous chicken. However, instead of immediately launching the product nationwide, they decided to test it in select stores in the Atlanta, Georgia area. 

This is an innovative and practical approach to market research, as it allows the company to determine the product's sales performance on a smaller scale before committing too many resources to it. If the meatless chicken fails to gain popularity in Georgia, KFC can make the necessary changes to the product before introducing it to the broader market.

Yamaha conducted a survey to determine whether to use knobs or sliding faders on the Montage keyboard.

Yamaha is a Japanese corporation that produces various products, from motorcycles to golf cars to musical instruments. When it began developing its new Montage keyboard, the team was unsure whether to use knobs or sliding faders on the product. 

To address this dilemma, Yamaha used Qualtrics to send a survey to their customers. Within just a few hours , they received 400 responses. By using survey feedback, Yamaha ensured that it was designing a product that would perfectly meet the preferences of its audiences.

The Body Shop used social listening to determine how to reposition brand campaigns based on customer feedback.

The Body Shop is a well-known brand that offers ethically sourced and natural products. They take pride in their core value of sustainability. The Body Shop team tracked conversations to understand the sustainability subtopics that were most important to their audiences. 

They found that their customers cared a lot about refills. Based on this information, the Body Shop team confidently relaunched their Refill Program across 400 stores globally in 2021, with plans to add another 400 in 2022. Market research confirmed that their refill concept was on the right track and also highlighted the need for increased efforts to demonstrate how much the Body Shop cares about its customers' values .

VideoTranscript

The takeaway.

Fratzke Consulting offers a comprehensive suite of market research services to help brands gain valuable insights into their target market, competitors, and industry trends. Our expert team utilizes various primary and secondary research methods to gather accurate and unbiased data, including surveys, competitive research, and industry reports. With Fratzke Consulting, you'll have the tools to succeed in today's rapidly evolving business landscape.

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Brandwatch Consumer Research

Formerly the Falcon suite

Formerly Paladin

Published October 17 th 2023

10 Essential Methods for Effective Consumer and Market Research

When it comes to understanding the world around you, market research is an essential step.

We live in a world that’s overflowing with information. Sifting through all the noise to extract the most relevant insights on a certain market or audience can be tough.

That’s where market research comes in – it’s a way for brands and researchers to collect information from target markets and audiences.

Once reliant on traditional methods like focus groups or surveys, market research is now at a crossroads. Newer tools for extracting insights, like social listening tools, have joined the array of market research techniques available.

Here, we break down what market research is and the different methods you can choose from to make the most of it.

What is market research, and why is it critical for you as a marketer?

Market research involves collecting and analyzing data about a specific industry, market, or audience to inform strategic decision-making. It offers marketers valuable insights into the industry, market trends, consumer preferences, competition, and opportunities, enabling businesses to refine their strategies effectively.

By conducting market research, organizations can identify unmet needs, assess product demands, enhance value propositions, and create marketing campaigns that resonate with their target audience. 

This practice serves as a compass, guiding businesses in making data-driven decisions for successful product launches, improved customer relationships, and a stronger positioning in the business landscape. 

For marketers and insights professionals, market research is an indispensable tool. It helps them make smarter decisions and achieve growth and success in the market.

These 10 market research methods form the backbone of effective market research strategies. 

Continue reading or jump directly to each method by tapping the link below.

  • Focus groups
  • Consumer research with social media listening
  • Experiments and field trials
  • Observation
  • Competitive analysis
  • Public domain data
  • Buy research
  • Analyze sales data

Use of primary vs secondary market research

Market research can be split into two distinct sections: primary and secondary. These are the two main types of market research.

They can also be known as field and desk, respectively (although this terminology feels out of date, as plenty of primary research can be carried out from your desk).

Primary (field) research

Primary market research is research you carry out yourself. Examples of primary market research methods include running your own focus groups or conducting surveys. These are some of the key methods of consumer research. The ‘field’ part refers to going out into the field to get data.

Secondary (desk) research

Secondary market research is research carried out by other people that you want to use. Examples of secondary market research methods include studies carried out by researchers or financial data released by companies.

10 effective methods to do market research

The methods in this list cover both areas. Which ones you want to use will depend on your goals. Have a browse through and see what fits.

1. Focus groups

It’s a simple concept but one that can be hard to put into practice.

You bring together a group of individuals into a room, record their discussions, and ask them questions about various topics you are researching. For some, it’ll be new product ideas. For others, it might be views on a political candidate.

From these discussions, the organizer will try to pull out some insights or use them to judge the wider society’s view on something. The participants will generally be chosen based on certain criteria, such as demographics, interests, or occupations.

A focus group’s strength is in the natural conversation and discussion that can take place between participants (if they’re done right).

Compared to a questionnaire or survey with a rigid set of questions, a focus group can go off on tangents the organizer could not have predicted (and therefore not planned questions for). This can be good in that unexpected topics can arise; or bad if the aims of the research are to answer a very particular set of questions.

The nature of the discussion is important to recognize as a potential factor that skews the resulting data. Focus groups can encourage participants to talk about things they might not have otherwise, and others might impact the group. This can also affect unstructured one-on-one interviews.

In survey research, survey questions are given to respondents (in person, over the phone, by email, or via an online form). Questions can be close-ended or open-ended. As far as close-ended questions go, there are many different types:

  • Dichotomous (two choices, such as ‘yes’ or ‘no’)
  • Multiple choice
  • Rating scale
  • Likert scale (common version is five options between ‘strongly agree’ and ‘strongly disagree’)
  • Matrix (options presented on a grid)
  • Demographic (asking for information such as gender, age, or occupation)

Surveys are massively versatile because of the range of question formats. Knowing how to mix and match them to get what you need takes consideration and thought. Different questions need the right setup.

It’s also about how you ask. Good questions lead to good analysis. Writing clear, concise questions that abstain from vague expressions and don’t lead respondents down a certain path can help your results reflect the true colors of respondents.

There are a ton of different ways to conduct surveys as well, from creating your own from scratch or using tools that do lots of the heavy lifting for you.

3. Consumer research with social media listening

Social media has reached a point where it is seamlessly integrated into our lives. And because it is a digital extension of ourselves, people freely express their opinions, thoughts, and hot takes on social media.

Because people share so much content on social media and the sharing is so instant, social media is a treasure trove for market research. There is plenty of data to monitor , tap into, and dissect.

By using a social listening tool, like Consumer Research , researchers can identify topics of interest and then analyze relevant social posts. For example, they can track brand mentions and what consumers are saying about the products owned by that brand. These are real-world consumer research examples.

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Social media listening democratizes insights, and is especially useful for market research because of the vast amount of unfiltered information available. Because it’s unprompted, you can be fairly sure that what’s shared is an accurate account of what the person really cares about and thinks (as opposed to them being given a subject to dwell on in the presence of a researcher).

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Your complete social listening guide.

Learn how to get started with social listening

4. Interviews

In interviews, the interviewer speaks directly with the respondent. This type of market research method is more personal, allowing for communication and clarification, making it good for open-ended questions. Furthermore, interviews enable the interviewer to go beyond surface-level responses and investigate deeper.

However, the drawback is that interviews can be time-intensive and costly. Those who opt for this method will need to figure out how to allocate their resources effectively. You also need to be careful with leading or poor questions that lead to useless results. Here’s a good introduction to leading questions .

5. Experiments and field trials

Field experiments are conducted in the participants’ environment. They rely on the independent variable and the dependent variable – the researcher controls the independent variable in order to test its impact on the dependent variable. The key here is to establish whether there’s causality.

For example, take Hofling’s experiment that tested obedience, conducted in a hospital setting. The point was to test if nurses followed authority figures (doctors) and if the authority figures’ rules violated standards (The dependent variable being the nurses, the independent variable being a fake doctor calling up and ordering the nurses to administer treatment.)

According to Simply Psychology , there are key strengths and limitations to this method.

The assessment reads:

  • Strength: Behavior in a field experiment is more likely to reflect real life because of its natural setting, i.e., higher ecological validity than a lab experiment.
  • Strength: There is less likelihood of demand characteristics affecting the results, as participants may not know they are being studied. This occurs when the study is covert.
  • Limitation: There is less control over extraneous variables that might bias the results. This makes it difficult for another researcher to replicate the study in exactly the same way.

There are also massive ethical implications for these kinds of experiments and experiments in general (especially if people are unaware of their involvement). Don’t take this lightly, and be sure to read up on all the guidelines that apply to the region where you’re based.

6. Observation

Observational market research is a qualitative research method where the researcher observes their subjects in a natural or controlled environment. This method is much like being a fly on the wall, but the fly takes notes and analyzes them later. In observational market research, subjects are likely to behave naturally, which reveals their true selves. 

They are not under much pressure. However, if they’re aware of the observation, they can act differently.

This type of research applies well to retail, where the researcher can observe shoppers’ behavior by day of the week, by season, when discounts are offered, and more. However, observational research can be time-consuming, and researchers have no control over the environments they research.

7. Competitive analysis

Competitive analysis is a highly strategic and specific form of market research in which the researchers analyze their company’s competitors. It is critical to see how your brand stacks up to rivals. 

Competitive analysis starts by defining the product, service, brand, and market segment. There are different topics to compare your firm with your competitors. It could be from a marketing perspective: content produced, SEO structure, PR coverage, and social media presence and engagement. It can also be from a product perspective: types of offerings, pricing structure. SWOT analysis is key in assessing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

We’ve written a whole blog post on this tactic, which you can read here .

8. Public domain data

The internet is a wondrous place. Public data exists for those strapped for resources or simply seeking to support their research with more data.  With more and more data produced every year, the question about access and curation becomes increasingly prominent – that’s why researchers and librarians are keen on open data.

Plenty of different types of open data are useful for market research: government databases, polling data, “fact tanks” like Pew Research Center, and more. 

Furthermore, APIs grant developers programmatic access to applications. A lot of this data is free, which is a real bonus.

9. Buy research

Money can’t buy everything, but it can buy research. Subscriptions exist for those who want to buy relevant industry and research reports. Sites like Euromonitor, Statista, Mintel, and BCC Research host a litany of reports for purchase, oftentimes with the option of a single-user license or a subscription.

This can be a massive time saver, and you’ll have a better idea of what you’re getting from the very beginning. You’ll also get all your data in a format that makes sense, saving you effort in cleaning and organizing.

10. Analyze sales data

Sales data is like a puzzle piece that can help reveal the full picture of market research insights. Essentially, it indicates the results. Paired with other market research data, sales data helps researchers better understand actions and consequences. Understanding your customers, their buying habits, and how they change over time is important.

This research will be limited to customers, and it’s important to keep that in mind. Nevertheless, the value of this data should not be underestimated. If you’re not already tracking customer data, there’s no time like the present.

Choosing the right market research method for your strategy

Not all methods will be right for your situation or your business. Once you’ve looked through the list and seen some that take your fancy, spend more time researching each option.You’ll want to consider what you want to achieve, what data you’ll need, the pros and cons of each method, the costs of conducting the research, and the cost of analyzing the results.

Get it right, and it’ll be worth all the effort.

Former Brandwatch Employee

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How To Present Your Market Research Results And Reports In An Efficient Way

Market research reports blog by datapine

Table of Contents

1) What Is A Market Research Report?

2) Market Research Reports Examples

3) Why Do You Need Market Research Reports

4) How To Make A Market Research Report?

5) Types Of Market Research Reports

6) Challenges & Mistakes Market Research Reports

Market research analyses are the go-to solution for many professionals, and for good reason: they save time, offer fresh insights, and provide clarity on your business. In turn, market research reports will help you to refine and polish your strategy. Plus, a well-crafted report will give your work more credibility while adding weight to any marketing recommendations you offer a client or executive.

But, while this is the case, today’s business world still lacks a way to present market-based research results efficiently. The static, antiquated nature of PowerPoint makes it a bad choice for presenting research discoveries, yet it is still widely used to present results. 

Fortunately, things are moving in the right direction. There are online data visualization tools that make it easy and fast to build powerful market research dashboards. They come in handy to manage the outcomes, but also the most important aspect of any analysis: the presentation of said outcomes, without which it becomes hard to make accurate, sound decisions. 

Here, we consider the benefits of conducting research analyses while looking at how to write and present market research reports, exploring their value, and, ultimately, getting the very most from your research results by using professional market research software .

Let’s get started.

What Is a Market Research Report?

A market research report is an online reporting tool used to analyze the public perception or viability of a company, product, or service. These reports contain valuable and digestible information like customer survey responses and social, economic, and geographical insights.

On a typical market research results example, you can interact with valuable trends and gain insight into consumer behavior and visualizations that will empower you to conduct effective competitor analysis. Rather than adding streams of tenuous data to a static spreadsheet, a full market research report template brings the outcomes of market-driven research to life, giving users a data analysis tool to create actionable strategies from a range of consumer-driven insights.

With digital market analysis reports, you can make your business more intelligent more efficient, and, ultimately, meet the needs of your target audience head-on. This, in turn, will accelerate your commercial success significantly.

Your Chance: Want to test a market research reporting software? Explore our 14-day free trial & benefit from interactive research reports!

How To Present Your Results: 4 Essential Market Research Report Templates

When it comes to sharing rafts of invaluable information, research dashboards are invaluable.

Any market analysis report example worth its salt will allow everyone to get a firm grip on their results and discoveries on a single page with ease. These dynamic online dashboards also boast interactive features that empower the user to drill down deep into specific pockets of information while changing demographic parameters, including gender, age, and region, filtering the results swiftly to focus on the most relevant insights for the task at hand.

These four market research report examples are different but equally essential and cover key elements required for market survey report success. You can also modify each and use it as a client dashboard .

While there are numerous types of dashboards that you can choose from to adjust and optimize your results, we have selected the top 3 that will tell you more about the story behind them. Let’s take a closer look.

1. Market Research Report: Brand Analysis

Our first example shares the results of a brand study. To do so, a survey has been performed on a sample of 1333 people, information that we can see in detail on the left side of the board, summarizing the gender, age groups, and geolocation.

Market research report on a brand analysis showing the sample information, brand awareness, top 5 branding themes, etc.

**click to enlarge**

At the dashboard's center, we can see the market-driven research discoveries concerning first brand awareness with and without help, as well as themes and celebrity suggestions, to know which image the audience associates with the brand.

Such dashboards are extremely convenient to share the most important information in a snapshot. Besides being interactive (but it cannot be seen on an image), it is even easier to filter the results according to certain criteria without producing dozens of PowerPoint slides. For instance, I could easily filter the report by choosing only the female answers, only the people aged between 25 and 34, or only the 25-34 males if that is my target audience.

Primary KPIs:

a) Unaided Brand Awareness

The first market research KPI in this most powerful report example comes in the form of unaided brand awareness. Presented in a logical line-style chart, this particular market study report sample KPI is invaluable, as it will give you a clear-cut insight into how people affiliate your brand within their niche.

Unaided brand awareness answering the question: When you think about outdoor gear products - what brands come to your mind? The depicted sample size is 1333.

As you can see from our example, based on a specific survey question, you can see how your brand stacks up against your competitors regarding awareness. Based on these outcomes, you can formulate strategies to help you stand out more in your sector and, ultimately, expand your audience.

b) Aided Brand Awareness

This market survey report sample KPI focuses on aided brand awareness. A visualization that offers a great deal of insight into which brands come to mind in certain niches or categories, here, you will find out which campaigns and messaging your target consumers are paying attention to and engaging with.

Aided brand awareness answering the question: Have you heard of the following brands? - The sample size is 1333 people.

By gaining access to this level of insight, you can conduct effective competitor research and gain valuable inspiration for your products, promotional campaigns, and marketing messages.

c) Brand image

Market research results on the brand image and categorized into 5 different levels of answering: totally agree, agree, maybe, disagree, and totally disagree.

When it comes to research reporting, understanding how others perceive your brand is one of the most golden pieces of information you could acquire. If you know how people feel about your brand image, you can take informed and very specific actions that will enhance the way people view and interact with your business.

By asking a focused question, this visual of KPIs will give you a definitive idea of whether respondents agree, disagree, or are undecided on particular descriptions or perceptions related to your brand image. If you’re looking to present yourself and your message in a certain way (reliable, charming, spirited, etc.), you can see how you stack up against the competition and find out if you need to tweak your imagery or tone of voice - invaluable information for any modern business.

d) Celebrity analysis

Market research report example of a celebrity analysis for a brand

This indicator is a powerful part of our research KPI dashboard on top, as it will give you a direct insight into the celebrities, influencers, or public figures that your most valued consumers consider when thinking about (or interacting with) your brand.

Displayed in a digestible bar chart-style format, this useful metric will not only give you a solid idea of how your brand messaging is perceived by consumers (depending on the type of celebrity they associate with your brand) but also guide you on which celebrities or influencers you should contact.

By working with the right influencers in your niche, you will boost the impact and reach of your marketing campaigns significantly, improving your commercial awareness in the process. And this is the KPI that will make it happen.

2. Market Research Results On Customer Satisfaction

Here, we have some of the most important data a company should care about: their already-existing customers and their perception of their relationship with the brand. It is crucial when we know that it is five times more expensive to acquire a new consumer than to retain one.

Market research report example on customers' satisfaction with a brand

This is why tracking metrics like the customer effort score or the net promoter score (how likely consumers are to recommend your products and services) is essential, especially over time. You need to improve these scores to have happy customers who will always have a much bigger impact on their friends and relatives than any of your amazing ad campaigns. Looking at other satisfaction indicators like the quality, pricing, and design, or the service they received is also a best practice: you want a global view of your performance regarding customer satisfaction metrics .

Such research results reports are a great tool for managers who do not have much time and hence need to use them effectively. Thanks to these dashboards, they can control data for long-running projects anytime.

Primary KPIs :

a) Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Another pivotal part of any informative research presentation is your NPS score, which will tell you how likely a customer is to recommend your brand to their peers.

The net promoter score is shown on a gauge chart by asking the question: on a scale of 1-10, how likely is it that you would recommend our service to a friend?

Centered on overall customer satisfaction, your NPS Score can cover the functions and output of many departments, including marketing, sales, and customer service, but also serve as a building block for a call center dashboard . When you’re considering how to present your research effectively, this balanced KPI offers a masterclass. It’s logical, it has a cohesive color scheme, and it offers access to vital information at a swift glance. With an NPS Score, customers are split into three categories: promoters (those scoring your service 9 or 10), passives (those scoring your service 7 or 8), and detractors (those scoring your service 0 to 6). The aim of the game is to gain more promoters. By gaining an accurate snapshot of your NPS Score, you can create intelligent strategies that will boost your results over time.

b) Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

The next in our examples of market research reports KPIs comes in the form of the CSAT. The vast majority of consumers that have a bad experience will not return. Honing in on your CSAT is essential if you want to keep your audience happy and encourage long-term consumer loyalty.

Visual representation of a customer satisfaction score (CSAT) metric

This magnificent, full report KPI will show how satisfied customers are with specific elements of your products or services. Getting to grips with these scores will allow you to pinpoint very specific issues while capitalizing on your existing strengths. As a result, you can take measures to improve your CSAT score while sharing positive testimonials on your social media platforms and website to build trust.

c) Customer Effort Score (CES)

When it comes to presenting research findings, keeping track of your CES Score is essential. The CES Score KPI will give you instant access to information on how easy or difficult your audience can interact with or discover your company based on a simple scale of one to ten.

The customer effort score (CES) helps you in figuring out how easy and fast it is to make business with your company according to your customers

By getting a clear-cut gauge of how your customers find engagement with your brand, you can iron out any weaknesses in your user experience (UX) offerings while spotting any friction, bottlenecks, or misleading messaging. In doing so, you can boost your CES score, satisfy your audience, and boost your bottom line.

3. Market Research Results On Product Innovation

This final market-driven research example report focuses on the product itself and its innovation. It is a useful report for future product development and market potential, as well as pricing decisions.

Market research results report on product innovation, useful for product development and pricing decisions

Using the same sample of surveyed people as for the first market-focused analytical report , they answer questions about their potential usage and purchase of the said product. It is good primary feedback on how the market would receive the new product you would launch. Then comes the willingness to pay, which helps set a price range that will not be too cheap to be trusted nor too expensive for what it is. That will be the main information for your pricing strategy.

a) Usage Intention

The first of our product innovation KPI-based examples comes in the form of usage intention. When you’re considering how to write a market research report, including metrics centered on consumer intent is critical.

This market analysis report shows the usage intention that resulted in 41% of a target group would use a product of the newest generation in comparison to competing or older products

This simple yet effective visualization will allow you to understand not only how users see your product but also whether they prefer previous models or competitor versions . While you shouldn’t base all of your product-based research on this KPI, it is very valuable, and you should use it to your advantage frequently.

b) Purchase Intention

Another aspect to consider when looking at how to present market research data is your audience’s willingness or motivation to purchase your product. Offering percentage-based information, this effective KPI provides a wealth of at-a-glance information to help you make accurate forecasts centered on your product and service offerings.

The purchase intention is showing the likelihood of buying a product in  percentage

Analyzing this information regularly will give you the confidence and direction to develop strategies that will steer you to a more prosperous future, meeting the ever-changing needs of your audience on an ongoing basis.

c) Willingness To Pay (WPS)

Willingness to pay is depicted on a pie chart with additional explanations of the results

Our final market research example KPI is based on how willing customers are to pay for a particular service or product based on a specific set of parameters. This dynamic visualization, represented in an easy-to-follow pie chart, will allow you to realign the value of your product (USPs, functions, etc.) while setting price points that are most likely to result in conversions. This is a market research presentation template that every modern organization should use to its advantage.

4. Market Research Report On Customer Demographics 

This particular example of market research report, generated with a modern dashboard creator , is a powerful tool, as it displays a cohesive mix of key demographic information in one intuitive space.

Market research reports example for a customer demographics study

By breaking down these deep pockets of consumer-centric information, you can gain the power to develop more impactful customer communications while personalizing every aspect of your target audience’s journey across every channel or touchpoint. As a result, you can transform theoretical insights into actionable strategies that will result in significant commercial growth. 

Every section of this responsive marketing research report works in unison to build a profile of your core audience in a way that will guide your company’s consumer-facing strategies with confidence. With in-depth visuals based on gender, education level, and tech adoption, you have everything you need to speak directly to your audience at your fingertips.

Let’s look at the key performance indicators (KPIs) of this invaluable market research report example in more detail.

a) Customer By Gender

Straightforward market research reports showing the number of customers by gender

This KPI is highly visual and offers a clear-cut representation of your company’s gender share over time. By gaining access to this vital information, you can deliver a more personalized experience to specific audience segments while ensuring your messaging is fair, engaging, and inclusive.

b) Customers by education level

Number of customers by education level as an example of a market research report metric

The next market analysis report template is a KPI that provides a logical breakdown of your customers’ level of education. By using this as a demographic marker, you can refine your products to suit the needs of your audience while crafting your content in a way that truly resonates with different customer groups.

c) Customers by technology adoption

Market research report template showing customers technology adoption for the past 5 years

Particularly valuable if you’re a company that sells tech goods or services, this linear KPI will show you where your customers are in terms of technological know-how or usage. By getting to grips with this information over time, you can develop your products or services in a way that offers direct value to your consumers while making your launches or promotions as successful as possible.

d) Customer age groups

Number of customers by age group as a key demographic metric of a market research report

By understanding your customers’ age distribution in detail, you can gain a deep understanding of their preferences. And that’s exactly what this market research report sample KPI does. Presented in a bar chart format, this KPI will give you a full breakdown of your customers’ age ranges, allowing you to build detailed buyer personas and segment your audience effectively.

Why Do You Need Market Research Reports?

As the adage goes, “Look before you leap“ – which is exactly what a research report is here for. As the headlights of a car, they will show you the pitfalls and fast lanes on your road to success: likes and dislikes of a specific market segment in a certain geographical area, their expectations, and readiness. Among other things, a research report will let you:

  • Get a holistic view of the market : learn more about the target market and understand the various factors involved in the buying decisions. A broader view of the market lets you benchmark other companies you do not focus on. This, in turn, will empower you to gather the industry data that counts most. This brings us to our next point.
  • Curate industry information with momentum: Whether you’re looking to rebrand, improve on an existing service, or launch a new product, time is of the essence. By working with the best market research reports created with modern BI reporting tools , you can visualize your discoveries and data, formatting them in a way that not only unearths hidden insights but also tells a story - a narrative that will gain a deeper level of understanding into your niche or industry. The features and functionality of a market analysis report will help you grasp the information that is most valuable to your organization, pushing you ahead of the pack in the process.
  • Validate internal research: Doing the internal analysis is one thing, but double-checking with a third party also greatly helps avoid getting blinded by your own data.
  • Use actionable data and make informed decisions: Once you understand consumer behavior as well as the market, your competitors, and the issues that will affect the industry in the future, you are better armed to position your brand. Combining all of it with the quantitative data collected will allow you to more successful product development. To learn more about different methods, we suggest you read our guide on data analysis techniques .
  • Strategic planning: When you want to map out big-picture organizational goals, launch a new product development, plan a geographic market expansion, or even a merger and acquisition – all of this strategic thinking needs solid foundations to fulfill the variety of challenges that come along.
  • Consistency across the board: Collecting, presenting, and analyzing your results in a way that’s smarter, more interactive, and more cohesive will ensure your customer communications, marketing campaigns, user journey, and offerings meet your audience’s needs consistently across the board. The result? Faster growth, increased customer loyalty, and more profit.
  • Better communication: The right market research analysis template (or templates) will empower everyone in the company with access to valuable information - the kind that is relevant and comprehensible. When everyone is moving to the beat of the same drum, they will collaborate more effectively and, ultimately, push the venture forward thanks to powerful online data analysis techniques.
  • Centralization: Building on the last point, using a powerful market research report template in the form of a business intelligence dashboard will make presenting your findings to external stakeholders and clients far more effective, as you can showcase a wealth of metrics, information, insights, and invaluable feedback from one centralized, highly visual interactive screen. 
  • Brand reputation: In the digital age, brand reputation is everything. By making vital improvements in all of the key areas above, you will meet your customers’ needs head-on with consistency while finding innovative ways to stand out from your competitors. These are the key ingredients of long-term success.

How To Present Market Research Analysis Results?

15 best practices and tips on how to present market research analysis results

Here we look at how you should present your research reports, considering the steps it takes to connect with the outcomes you need to succeed:

  • Collect your data 

As with any reporting process, you first and foremost need to collect the data you’ll use to conduct your studies. Businesses conduct research studies to analyze their brand awareness, identity, and influence in the market. For product development and pricing decisions, among many others. That said, there are many ways to collect information for a market research report. Among some of the most popular ones, we find: 

  • Surveys: Probably the most common way to collect research data, surveys can come in the form of open or closed questions that can be answered anonymously. They are the cheapest and fastest way to collect insights about your customers and business. 
  • Interviews : These are face-to-face discussions that allow the researcher to analyze responses as well as the body language of the interviewees. This method is often used to define buyer personas by analyzing the subject's budget, job title, lifestyle, wants, and needs, among other things. 
  • Focus groups : This method involves a group of people discussing a topic with a mediator. It is often used to evaluate a new product or new feature or to answer a specific question that the researcher might have. 
  • Observation-based research : In this type of research, the researcher or business sits back and watches customers interact with the product without any instructions or help. It allows us to identify pain points as well as strong features. 
  • Market segmentation : This study allows you to identify and analyze potential market segments to target. Businesses use it to expand into new markets and audiences. 

These are just a few of the many ways in which you can gather your information. The important point is to keep the research objective as straightforward as possible. Supporting yourself with professional BI solutions to clean, manage, and present your insights is probably the smartest choice.

2. Hone in on your research:

When looking at how to source consumer research in a presentation, you should focus on two areas: primary and secondary research. Primary research comes from your internal data, monitoring existing organizational practices, the effectiveness of sales, and the tools used for communication, for instance. Primary research also assesses market competition by evaluating the company plans of the competitors. Secondary research focuses on existing data collected by a third party, information used to perform benchmarking and market analysis. Such metrics help in deciding which market segments are the ones the company should focus its efforts on or where the brand is standing in the minds of consumers. Before you start the reporting process, you should set your goals, segmenting your research into primary and secondary segments to get to grips with the kind of information you need to work with to achieve effective results.

3. Segment your customers:

To give your market research efforts more context, you should segment your customers into different groups according to the preferences outlined in the survey or feedback results or by examining behavioral or demographic data.

If you segment your customers, you can tailor your market research and analysis reports to display only the information, charts, or graphics that will provide actionable insights into their wants, needs, or industry-based pain points. 

  • Identify your stakeholders:

Once you’ve drilled down into your results and segmented your consumer groups, it’s important to consider the key stakeholders within the organization that will benefit from your information the most. 

By looking at both internal and external stakeholders, you will give your results a path to effective presentation, gaining the tools to understand which areas of feedback or data are most valuable, as well as most redundant. As a consequence, you will ensure your results are concise and meet the exact information needs of every stakeholder involved in the process.

  • Set your KPIs:

First, remember that your reports should be concise and accurate - straight to the point without omitting any essential information. Work to ensure your insights are clean and organized, with participants grouped into relevant categories (demographics, profession, industry, education, etc.). Once you’ve organized your research, set your goals, and cleaned your data, you should set your KPIs to ensure your report is populated with the right visualizations to get the job done. Explore our full library of interactive KPI examples for inspiration.

  • Include competitor’s analysis 

Whether you are doing product innovation research, customer demographics, pricing, or any other, including some level of insights about competitors in your reports is always recommended as it can help your business or client better understand where they stand in the market. That being said, competitor analysis is not as easy as picking a list of companies in the same industry and listing them. Your main competitor can be just a company's division in an entirely different industry. For example, Apple Music competes with Spotify even though Apple is a technology company. Therefore, it is important to carefully analyze competitors from a general but detailed level. 

Providing this kind of information in your reports can also help you find areas that competitors are not exploiting or that are weaker and use them to your advantage to become a market leader. 

  • Produce your summary:

To complement your previous efforts, writing an executive summary of one or two pages that will explain the general idea of the report is advisable. Then come the usual body parts:

  • An introduction providing background information, target audience, and objectives;
  • The qualitative research describes the participants in the research and why they are relevant to the business;
  • The survey research outlines the questions asked and answered;
  • A summary of the insights and metrics used to draw the conclusions, the research methods chosen, and why;
  • A presentation of the findings based on your research and an in-depth explanation of these conclusions.
  • Use a mix of visualizations:

When presenting your results and discoveries, you should aim to use a balanced mix of text, graphs, charts, and interactive visualizations.

Using your summary as a guide, you should decide which type of visualization will present each specific piece of market research data most effectively (often, the easier to understand and more accessible, the better).

Doing so will allow you to create a story that will put your research information into a living, breathing context, providing a level of insight you need to transform industry, competitor, or consumer info or feedback into actionable strategies and initiatives.

  • Be careful not to mislead 

Expanding on the point above, using a mix of visuals can prove highly valuable in presenting your results in an engaging and understandable way. That being said, when not used correctly, graphs and charts can also become misleading. This is a popular practice in the media, news, and politics, where designers tweak the visuals to manipulate the masses into believing a certain conclusion. This is a very unethical practice that can also happen by mistake when you don’t pick the right chart or are not using it in the correct way. Therefore, it is important to outline the message you are trying to convey and pick the chart type that will best suit those needs. 

Additionally, you should also be careful with the data you choose to display, as it can also become misleading. This can happen if you, for example, cherry-pick data, which means only showing insights that prove a conclusion instead of the bigger picture. Or confusing correlation with causation, which means assuming that because two events happened simultaneously, one caused the other. 

Being aware of these practices is of utmost importance as objectivity is crucial when it comes to dealing with data analytics, especially if you are presenting results to clients. Our guides on misleading statistics and misleading data visualizations can help you learn more about this important topic. 

  • Use professional dashboards:

To optimize your market research discoveries, you must work with a dynamic business dashboard . Not only are modern dashboards presentable and customizable, but they will offer you past, predictive, and real-time insights that are accurate, interactive, and yield long-lasting results.

All market research reports companies or businesses gathering industry or consumer-based information will benefit from professional dashboards, as they offer a highly powerful means of presenting your data in a way everyone can understand. And when that happens, everyone wins.

Did you know? The interactive nature of modern dashboards like datapine also offers the ability to quickly filter specific pockets of information with ease, offering swift access to invaluable insights.

  • Prioritize interactivity 

The times when reports were static are long gone. Today, to extract the maximum value out of your research data, you need to be able to explore the information and answer any critical questions that arise during the presentation of results. To do so, modern reporting tools provide multiple interactivity features to help you bring your research results to life. 

For instance, a drill-down filter lets you go into lower levels of hierarchical data without generating another graph. For example, imagine you surveyed customers from 10 different countries. In your report, you have a chart displaying the number of customers by country, but you want to analyze a specific country in detail. A drill down filter would enable you to click on a specific country and display data by city on that same chart. Even better, a global filter would allow you to filter the entire report to show only results for that specific country. 

Through the use of interactive filters, such as the one we just mentioned, you’ll not only make the presentation of results more efficient and profound, but you’ll also avoid generating pages-long reports to display static results. All your information will be displayed in a single interactive page that can be filtered and explored upon need.  

  • Customize the reports 

This is a tip that is valuable for any kind of research report, especially when it comes to agencies that are reporting to external clients. Customizing the report to match your client’s colors, logo, font, and overall branding will help them grasp the data better, thanks to a familiar environment. This is an invaluable tip as often your audience will not feel comfortable dealing with data and might find it hard to understand or intimidating. Therefore, providing a familiar look that is also interactive and easier to understand will keep them engaged and collaborative throughout the process. 

Plus, customizing the overall appearance of the report will also make your agency look more professional, adding extra value to your service. 

  • Know your design essentials 

When you’re presenting your market research reports sample to internal or external stakeholders, having a firm grasp on fundamental design principles will make your metrics and insights far more persuasive and compelling.

By arranging your metrics in a balanced and logical format, you can guide users toward key pockets of information exactly when needed. In turn, this will improve decision-making and navigation, making your reports as impactful as possible.

For essential tips, read our 23 dashboard design principles & best practices to enhance your analytics process.

  • Think of security and privacy 

Cyberattacks are increasing at a concerning pace, making security a huge priority for organizations of all sizes today. The costs of having your sensitive information leaked are not only financial but also reputational, as customers might not trust you again if their data ends up in the wrong hands. Given that market research analysis is often performed by agencies that handle data from clients, security and privacy should be a top priority.  

To ensure the required security and privacy, it is necessary to invest in the right tools to present your research results. For instance, tools such as datapine offer enterprise-level security protocols that ensure your information is encrypted and protected at all times. Plus, the tool also offers additional security features, such as being able to share your reports through a password-protected URL or to set viewer rights to ensure only the right people can access and manipulate the data. 

  • Keep on improving & evolving

Each time you gather or gain new marketing research reports or market research analysis report intel, you should aim to refine your existing dashboards to reflect the ever-changing landscape around you.

If you update your reports and dashboards according to the new research you conduct and new insights you connect with, you will squeeze maximum value from your metrics, enjoying consistent development in the process.

Types of Market Research Reports: Primary & Secondary Research

With so many market research examples and such little time, knowing how to best present your insights under pressure can prove tricky.

To squeeze every last drop of value from your market research efforts and empower everyone with access to the right information, you should arrange your information into two main groups: primary research and secondary research.

A. Primary research

Primary research is based on acquiring direct or first-hand information related to your industry or sector and the customers linked to it.

Exploratory primary research is an initial form of information collection where your team might set out to identify potential issues, opportunities, and pain points related to your business or industry. This type of research is usually carried out in the form of general surveys or open-ended consumer Q&As, which nowadays are often performed online rather than offline . 

Specific primary research is definitive, with information gathered based on the issues, information, opportunities, or pain points your business has already uncovered. When doing this kind of research, you can drill down into a specific segment of your customers and seek answers to the opportunities, issues, or pain points in question.

When you’re conducting primary research to feed into your market research reporting efforts, it’s important to find reliable information sources. The most effective primary research sources include:

  • Consumer-based statistical data
  • Social media content
  • Polls and Q&A
  • Trend-based insights
  • Competitor research
  • First-hand interviews

B. Secondary research

Secondary research refers to every strand of relevant data or public records you have to gain a deeper insight into your market and target consumers. These sources include trend reports, market stats, industry-centric content, and sales insights you have at your disposal.  Secondary research is an effective way of gathering valuable intelligence about your competitors. 

You can gather very precise, insightful secondary market research insights from:

  • Public records and resources like Census data, governmental reports, or labor stats
  • Commercial resources like Gartner, Statista, or Forrester
  • Articles, documentaries, and interview transcripts

Another essential branch of both primary and secondary research is internal intelligence. When it comes to efficient market research reporting examples that will benefit your organization, looking inward is a powerful move. 

Existing sales, demographic, or marketing performance insights will lead you to valuable conclusions. Curating internal information will ensure your market research discoveries are well-rounded while helping you connect with the information that will ultimately give you a panoramic view of your target market. 

By understanding both types of research and how they can offer value to your business, you can carefully choose the right informational sources, gather a wide range of intelligence related to your specific niche, and, ultimately, choose the right market research report sample for your specific needs.

If you tailor your market research report format to the type of research you conduct, you will present your visualizations in a way that provides the right people with the right insights, rather than throwing bundles of facts and figures on the wall, hoping that some of them stick.

Taking ample time to explore a range of primary and secondary sources will give your discoveries genuine context. By doing so, you will have a wealth of actionable consumer and competitor insights at your disposal at every stage of your organization’s development (a priceless weapon in an increasingly competitive digital age). 

Dynamic market research is the cornerstone of business development, and a dashboard builder is the vessel that brings these all-important insights to life. Once you get into that mindset, you will ensure that your research results always deliver maximum value.

Common Challenges & Mistakes Of Market Research Reporting & Analysis

We’ve explored different types of market research analysis examples and considered how to conduct effective research. Now, it’s time to look at the key mistakes of market research reporting.  Let’s start with the mistakes.

The mistakes

One of the biggest mistakes that stunt the success of a company’s market research efforts is strategy. Without taking the time to gather an adequate mix of insights from various sources and define your key aims or goals, your processes will become disjointed. You will also suffer from a severe lack of organizational vision.

For your market research-centric strategy to work, everyone within the company must be on the same page. Your core aims and objectives must align throughout the business, and everyone must be clear on their specific role. If you try to craft a collaborative strategy and decide on your informational sources from the very start of your journey, your strategy will deliver true growth and intelligence.

  • Measurement

Another classic market research mistake is measurement – or, more accurately, a lack of precise measurement. When embarking on market intelligence gathering processes, many companies fail to select the right KPIs and set the correct benchmarks for the task at hand. Without clearly defined goals, many organizations end up with a market analysis report format that offers little or no value in terms of decision-making or market insights.

To drive growth with your market research efforts, you must set clearly defined KPIs that align with your specific goals, aims, and desired outcomes.

  • Competition

A common mistake among many new or scaling companies is failing to explore and examine the competition. This will leave you with gaping informational blindspots. To truly benefit from market research, you must gather valuable nuggets of information from every key source available. Rather than solely looking at your consumers and the wider market (which is incredibly important), you should take the time to see what approach your direct competitors have adopted while getting to grips with the content and communications.

One of the most effective ways of doing so (and avoiding such a monumental market research mistake) is by signing up for your competitors’ mailing lists, downloading their apps, and examining their social media content. This will give you inspiration for your own efforts while allowing you to exploit any gaps in the market that your competitors are failing to fill.

The challenges

  • Informational quality

We may have an almost infinite wealth of informational insights at our fingertips, but when it comes to market research, knowing which information to trust can prove an uphill struggle.

When working with metrics, many companies risk connecting with inaccurate insights or leading to a fruitless informational rabbit hole, wasting valuable time and resources in the process. To avoid such a mishap, working with a trusted modern market research and analysis sample is the only way forward.

  • Senior buy-in

Another pressing market research challenge that stunts organizational growth is the simple case of senior buy-in. While almost every senior decision-maker knows that market research is an essential component of a successful commercial strategy, many are reluctant to invest an ample amount of time or money in the pursuit.

The best way to overcome such a challenge is by building a case that defines exactly how your market research strategies will offer a healthy ROI to every key aspect of the organization, from marketing and sales to customer experience (CX) and beyond.

  • Response rates

Low interview, focus group, or poll response rates can have a serious impact on the success and value of your market research strategy. Even with adequate senior buy-in, you can’t always guarantee that you will get enough responses from early-round interviews or poll requests. If you don’t, your market research discoveries run the risk of being shallow or offering little in the way of actionable insight.

To overcome this common challenge, you can improve the incentive you offer your market research prospects while networking across various platforms to discover new contact opportunities. Changing the tone of voice of your ads or emails will also help boost your consumer or client response rates.

Bringing Your Reports a Step Further

Even if it is still widespread for market-style research results presentation, using PowerPoint at this stage is a hassle and presents many downsides and complications. When busy managers or short-on-time top executives grab a report, they want a quick overview that gives them an idea of the results and the big picture that addresses the objectives: they need a dashboard. This can be applied to all areas of a business that need fast and interactive data visualizations to support their decision-making.

We all know that a picture conveys more information than simple text or figures, so managing to bring it all together on an actionable dashboard will convey your message more efficiently. Besides, market research dashboards have the incredible advantage of always being up-to-date since they work with real-time insights: the synchronization/updating nightmare of dozens of PowerPoint slides doesn’t exist for you anymore. This is particularly helpful for tracking studies performed over time that recurrently need their data to be updated with more recent ones.

In today’s fast-paced business environment, companies must identify and grab new opportunities as they arise while staying away from threats and adapting quickly. In order to always be a step further and make the right decisions, it is critical to perform market research studies to get the information needed and make important decisions with confidence.

We’ve asked the question, “What is a market research report?”, and examined the dynamics of a modern market research report example, and one thing’s for sure: a visual market research report is the best way to understand your customer and thus increase their satisfaction by meeting their expectations head-on. 

From looking at a sample of a market research report, it’s also clear that modern dashboards help you see what is influencing your business with clarity, understand where your brand is situated in the market, and gauge the temperature of your niche or industry before a product or service launch. Once all the studies are done, you must present them efficiently to ensure everyone in the business can make the right decisions that result in real progress. Market research reports are your key allies in the matter.

To start presenting your results with efficient, interactive, dynamic research reports and win on tomorrow’s commercial battlefield, try our dashboard reporting software and test every feature with our 14-day free trial !

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How to conduct your own market research survey (with example)

Hero image with an icon of a survey

After watching a few of those sketches, you can imagine why real-life focus groups tend to be pretty small. Even without any over-the-top personalities involved, it's easy for these groups to go off the rails.

So what happens when you want to collect market research at a larger scale? That's where the market research survey comes in. Market surveys allow you to get just as much valuable information as an in-person interview, without the burden of herding hundreds of rowdy Eagles fans through a product test.

Table of contents:

What is a market research survey?

Why conduct market research, primary vs. secondary market research.

6 types of market research surveys

How to write and conduct a market research survey

Tips for running a market research survey.

Market research survey campaign example questions

Market research survey template

Use automation to put survey results into action

A market research survey is a questionnaire designed to collect key information about a company's target market and audience that will help guide business decisions about products and services, branding angles, and advertising campaigns.

Market surveys are what's known as "primary research"—that is, information that the researching company gathers firsthand. Secondary research consists of data that another organization gathered and published, which other researchers can then use for their own reports. Primary research is more expensive and time-intensive than secondary research, which is why you should only use market research surveys to obtain information that you can't get anywhere else. 

A market research survey can collect information on your target customers':

Experiences

Preferences, desires, and needs

Values and motivations

The types of information that can usually be found in a secondary source, and therefore aren't good candidates for a market survey, include your target customers':

Demographic data

Consumer spending data

Household size

Lots of this secondary information can be found in a public database like those maintained by the Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics . There are also a few free market research tools that you can use to access more detailed data, like Think with Google , Data USA , and Statista . Or, if you're looking to learn about your existing customer base, you can also use a CRM to automatically record key information about your customers each time they make a purchase.

If you've exhausted your secondary research options and still have unanswered questions, it's time to start thinking about conducting a market research survey.

The first thing to figure out is what you're trying to learn, and from whom. Are you beta testing a new product or feature with existing users? Or are you looking to identify new customer personas for your marketers to target? There are a number of different ways to use a marketing research survey, and your choice will impact how you set up the questionnaire.

Here are some examples of how market research surveys can be used to fill a wide range of knowledge gaps for companies:

A B2B software company asks real users in its industry about Kanban board usage to help prioritize their project view change rollout.

A B2C software company asks its target demographic about their mobile browsing habits to help them find features to incorporate into their forthcoming mobile app.

A printing company asks its target demographic about fabric preferences to gauge interest in a premium material option for their apparel lines.

A wholesale food vendor surveys regional restaurant owners to find ideas for seasonal products to offer.

Market surveys are what's known as "primary research"—that is, information that the researching company gathers firsthand. Secondary research consists of data that another organization gathered and published, which other researchers can then use for their own reports. 

Primary research is more expensive and time-intensive than secondary research, which is why you should only use market research surveys to obtain information that you can't get anywhere else. 

Lots of this secondary information can be found in a public database like those maintained by the Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics . There are also a few free market research tools that you can use to access more detailed data, like Think with Google , Data USA , and Statista . 

Or, if you're looking to learn about your existing customer base, you can also use a CRM to automatically record key information about your customers each time they make a purchase.

6 types of market research survey

Depending on your goal, you'll need different types of market research. Here are six types of market research surveys.

1. Buyer persona research

A buyer persona or customer profile is a simple sketch of the types of people that you should be targeting as potential customers. 

A buyer persona research survey will help you learn more about things like demographics, household makeup, income and education levels, and lifestyle markers. The more you learn about your existing customers, the more specific you can get in targeting potential customers. You may find that there are more buyer personas within your user base than the ones that you've been targeting.

2. Sales funnel research

The sales funnel is the path that potential customers take to eventually become buyers. It starts with the target's awareness of your product, then moves through stages of increasing interest until they ultimately make a purchase. 

With a sales funnel research survey, you can learn about potential customers' main drivers at different stages of the sales funnel. You can also get feedback on how effective different sales strategies are. Use this survey to find out:

How close potential buyers are to making a purchase

What tools and experiences have been most effective in moving prospective customers closer to conversion

What types of lead magnets are most attractive to your target audience

3. Customer loyalty research

Whenever you take a customer experience survey after you make a purchase, you'll usually see a few questions about whether you would recommend the company or a particular product to a friend. After you've identified your biggest brand advocates , you can look for persona patterns to determine what other customers are most likely to be similarly enthusiastic about your products. Use these surveys to learn:

The demographics of your most loyal customers

What tools are most effective in turning customers into advocates

What you can do to encourage more brand loyalty

4. Branding and marketing research

The Charmin focus group featured in that SNL sketch is an example of branding and marketing research, in which a company looks for feedback on a particular advertising angle to get a sense of whether it will be effective before the company spends money on running the ad at scale. Use this type of survey to find out:

Whether a new advertising angle will do well with existing customers

Whether a campaign will do well with a new customer segment you haven't targeted yet

What types of campaign angles do well with a particular demographic

5. New products or features research

Whereas the Charmin sketch features a marketing focus group, this one features new product research for a variety of new Hidden Valley Ranch flavors. Though you can't get hands-on feedback on new products when you're conducting a survey instead of an in-person meeting, you can survey your customers to find out:

What features they wish your product currently had

What other similar or related products they shop for

What they think of a particular product or feature idea

Running a survey before investing resources into developing a new offering will save you and the company a lot of time, money, and energy.

6. Competitor research

You can get a lot of information about your own customers and users via automatic data collection , but your competitors' customer base may not be made up of the same buyer personas that yours is. Survey your competitors' users to find out:

Your competitors ' customers' demographics, habits, and behaviors

Whether your competitors have found success with a buyer persona you're not targeting

Information about buyers for a product that's similar to one you're thinking about launching

Feedback on what features your competitors' customers wish their version of a product had

Once you've narrowed down your survey's objectives, you can move forward with designing and running your survey.

Step 1: Write your survey questions

A poorly worded survey, or a survey that uses the wrong question format, can render all of your data moot. If you write a question that results in most respondents answering "none of the above," you haven't learned much. 

You'll find dozens of question types and even pre-written questions in most survey apps . Here are a few common question types that work well for market surveys.

Categorical questions

Also known as a nominal question, this question type provides numbers and percentages for easy visualization, like "35% said ABC." It works great for bar graphs and pie charts, but you can't take averages or test correlations with nominal-level data.

Yes/No: The most basic survey question used in polls is the Yes/No question, which can be easily created using your survey app or by adding Yes/No options to a multiple-choice question. 

Multiple choice: Use this type of question if you need more nuance than a Yes/No answer gives. You can add as many answers as you want, and your respondents can pick only one answer to the question. 

Checkbox: Checkbox questions add the flexibility to select all the answers that apply. Add as many answers as you want, and respondents aren't limited to just one. 

A screenshot of a multiple choice question asking about how you travel to work with various answers and an option to type in your own answer in an "other" field

Ordinal questions

This type of question requires survey-takers to pick from options presented in a specific order, like "income of $0-$25K, $26K-$40K, $41K+." Like nominal questions, ordinal questions elicit responses that allow you to analyze counts and percentages, though you can't calculate averages or assess correlations with ordinal-level data.

Dropdown: Responses to ordinal questions can be presented as a dropdown, from which survey-takers can only make one selection. You could use this question type to gather demographic data, like the respondent's country or state of residence. 

Ranking: This is a unique question type that allows respondents to arrange a list of answers in their preferred order, providing feedback on each option in the process. 

Interval/ratio questions

For precise data and advanced analysis, use interval or ratio questions. These can help you calculate more advanced analytics, like averages, test correlations, and run regression models. Interval questions commonly use scales of 1-5 or 1-7, like "Strongly disagree" to "Strongly agree." Ratio questions have a true zero and often ask for numerical inputs (like "How many cups of coffee do you drink per day? ____").

Ranking scale: A ranking scale presents answer choices along an ordered value-based sequence, either using numbers, a like/love scale, a never/always scale, or some other ratio interval. It gives more insight into people's thoughts than a Yes/No question. 

Matrix: Have a lot of interval questions to ask? You can put a number of questions in a list and use the same scale for all of them. It simplifies gathering data about a lot of similar items at once. 

Example : How much do you like the following: oranges, apples, grapes? Hate/Dislike/Ok/Like/Love

Textbox: A textbox question is needed for collecting direct feedback or personal data like names. There will be a blank space where the respondent can enter their answer to your question on their own. 

Screenshot example of an interval question about how much you enjoy commuting to work with options to indicate how much a person agrees and disagrees with a statement

Step 2: Choose a survey platform

There are a lot of survey platforms to choose from, and they all offer different and unique features. Check out Zapier's list of the best online survey apps to help you decide.

Most survey apps today look great on mobile, but be sure to preview your survey on your phone and computer, at least, to make sure it'll look good for all of your users.

A screenshot image of two survey questions on a mobile device rather than a desktop view to illustrate the importance of checking to see how a survey will show up on multiple platforms

If you have the budget, you can also purchase survey services from a larger research agency. 

Step 3: Run a test survey

Before you run your full survey, conduct a smaller test on 5%-10% of your target respondent pool size. This will allow you to work out any confusing wording or questions that result in unhelpful responses without spending the full cost of the survey. Look out for:

Survey rejection from the platform for prohibited topics

Joke or nonsense textbox answers that indicate the respondent didn't answer the survey in earnest

Multiple choice questions with an outsized percentage of "none of the above" or "N/A" responses

Step 4: Launch your survey

If your test survey comes back looking good, you're ready to launch the full thing! Make sure that you leave ample time for the survey to run—you'd be surprised at how long it takes to get a few thousand respondents. 

Even if you've run similar surveys in the past, leave more time than you need. Some surveys take longer than others for no clear reason, and you also want to build in time to conduct a comprehensive data analysis.

Step 5: Organize and interpret the data

Unless you're a trained data analyst, you should avoid crunching all but the simplest survey data by hand. Most survey platforms include some form of reporting dashboard that will handle things like population weighting for you, but you can also connect your survey platform to other apps that make it easy to keep track of your results and turn them into actionable insights.

You know the basics of how to conduct a market research survey, but here are some tips to enhance the quality of your data and the reliability of your findings.

Find the right audience: You could have meticulously crafted survey questions, but if you don't target the appropriate demographic or customer segment, it doesn't really matter. You need to collect responses from the people you're trying to understand. Targeted audiences you can send surveys to include your existing customers, current social media followers, newsletter subscribers, attendees at relevant industry events, and community members from online forums, discussion boards, or other online communities that cater to your target audience. 

Take advantage of existing resources: No need to reinvent the wheel. You may be able to use common templates and online survey platforms like SurveyMonkey for both survey creation and distribution. You can also use AI tools to create better surveys. For example, generative AI tools like ChatGPT can help you generate questions, while analytical AI tools can scan survey responses to help sort, tag, and report on them. Some survey apps have AI built into them already too.

Focus questions on a desired data type: As you conceptualize your survey, consider whether a qualitative or quantitative approach will better suit your research goals. Qualitative methods are best for exploring in-depth insights and underlying motivations, while quantitative methods are better for obtaining statistical data and measurable trends. For an outcome like "optimize our ice cream shop's menu offerings," you may want to find out which flavors of ice cream are most popular with teens. This would require a quantitative approach, for which you would use categorical questions that can help you rank potential flavors numerically.

Establish a timeline: Set a realistic timeline for your survey, from creation to distribution to data collection and analysis. You'll want to balance having your survey out long enough to generate a significant amount of responses but not so long that it loses relevance. That length can vary widely based on factors like type of survey, number of questions, audience size, time sensitivity, question format, and question length.

Define a margin of error: Your margin of error shows how much the survey results might differ from the real opinions of the entire group being studied. Since you can't possibly survey every single person in your desired population, you'll have to settle on an acceptable percentage of error upfront, a percentage figure that varies by sample size, sample proportion, and confidence interval. According to University of Wisconsin-Madison's Pamela Hunter , 95% is the industry standard confidence level (though small sample sizes may get by with 90%). At the 95% level, for example, an acceptable margin of error for a survey of 500 respondents would be 3%. That means that if 80% of respondents give a positive response to a question, the data shows that between 77-83% respond positively 95 out of 100 times.

Market research survey campaign example

Let's say you own a market research company, and you want to use a survey to gain critical insights into your market. You prompt users to fill out your survey before they can access gated premium content.

Survey questions: 

1. What size is your business? 

<10 employees

11-50 employees

51-100 employees

101-200 employees

>200 employees

2. What industry type best describes your role?

3. On a scale of 1-4, how important would you say access to market data is?

1 - Not important

2 - Somewhat important

3 - Very important

4 - Critically important

4. On a scale of 1 (least important) to 5 (most important), rank how important these market data access factors are.

Accuracy of data

Attractive presentation of data

Cost of data access

Range of data presentation formats

Timeliness of data

5. True or false: your job relies on access to accurate, up-to-date market data.

Survey findings: 

63% of respondents represent businesses with over 100 employees, while only 8% represent businesses with under 10.

71% of respondents work in sales, marketing, or operations.

80% of respondents consider access to market data to be either very important or critically important.

"Timeliness of data" (38%) and "Accuracy of data" (32%) were most commonly ranked as the most important market data access factor.

86% of respondents claimed that their jobs rely on accessing accurate, up-to-date market data.

Insights and recommendations: Independent analysis of the survey indicates that a large percentage of users work in the sales, marketing, or operations fields of large companies, and these customers value timeliness and accuracy most. These findings can help you position future report offerings more effectively by highlighting key benefits that are important to customers that fit into related customer profiles. 

Market research survey example questions

Your individual questions will vary by your industry, market, and research goals, so don't expect a cut-and-paste survey to suit your needs. To help you get started, here are market research survey example questions to give you a sense of the format.

Yes/No: Have you purchased our product before?

Multiple choice: How many employees work at your company?

<10 / 10-20 / 21-50 / 51-100 / 101-250 / 250+

Checkbox: Which of the following features do you use in our app?

Push notifications / Dashboard / Profile customization / In-app chat

Dropdown: What's your household income? 

$0-$10K / $11-$35K / $36-$60K / $61K+

Ranking: Which social media platforms do you use the most? Rank in order, from most to least.

Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / LinkedIn / Reddit

Ranking scale: On a scale of 1-5, how would you rate our customer service? 

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

Textbox: How many apps are installed on your phone? Enter a number: 

Market research survey question types

Good survey apps typically offer pre-designed templates as a starting point. But to give you a more visual sense of what these questions might look like, we've put together a document showcasing common market research survey question types.

Screenshot of Zapier's market research survey question format guide

You're going to get a lot of responses back from your survey—why dig through them all manually if you don't have to? Automate your survey to aggregate information for you, so it's that much easier to uncover findings. 

Related reading:

Poll vs. survey: What is a survey and what are polls?

The best online survey apps

The best free form builders and survey tools

How to get people to take a survey

This article was originally published in June 2015 by Stephanie Briggs. The most recent update, with contributions from Cecilia Gillen, was in September 2023.

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Amanda Pell

Amanda is a writer and content strategist who built her career writing on campaigns for brands like Nature Valley, Disney, and the NFL. When she's not knee-deep in research, you'll likely find her hiking with her dog or with her nose in a good book.

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Marketing research

Definition, how-to, examples.

Marketing research is the process of using surveys, feedback, and observations to better understand audiences and the market for your brand and products. Discover how to conduct your own marketing research with examples.

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