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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

what is the meaning of business market research

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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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How to Do Market Research: The Complete Guide

Learn how to do market research with this step-by-step guide, complete with templates, tools and real-world examples.

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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.

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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.

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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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Written by Mary Kate Miller | June 1, 2021

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Components of market research

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Market research is a cornerstone of all successful, strategic businesses. It can also be daunting for entrepreneurs looking to launch a startup or start a side hustle . What is market research, anyway? And how do you…do it?

We’ll walk you through absolutely everything you need to know about the market research process so that by the end of this guide, you’ll be an expert in market research too. And what’s more important: you’ll have actionable steps you can take to start collecting your own market research.

What Is Market Research?

Market research is the organized process of gathering information about your target customers and market. Market research can help you better understand customer behavior and competitor strengths and weaknesses, as well as provide insight for the best strategies in launching new businesses and products. There are different ways to approach market research, including primary and secondary research and qualitative and quantitative research. The strongest approaches will include a combination of all four.

“Virtually every business can benefit from conducting some market research,” says Niles Koenigsberg of Real FiG Advertising + Marketing . “Market research can help you piece together your [business’s] strengths and weaknesses, along with your prospective opportunities, so that you can understand where your unique differentiators may lie.” Well-honed market research will help your brand stand out from the competition and help you see what you need to do to lead the market. It can also do so much more.

The Purposes of Market Research

Why do market research? It can help you…

  • Pinpoint your target market, create buyer personas, and develop a more holistic understanding of your customer base and market.
  • Understand current market conditions to evaluate risks and anticipate how your product or service will perform.
  • Validate a concept prior to launch.
  • Identify gaps in the market that your competitors have created or overlooked.
  • Solve problems that have been left unresolved by the existing product/brand offerings.
  • Identify opportunities and solutions for new products or services.
  • Develop killer marketing strategies .

What Are the Benefits of Market Research?

Strong market research can help your business in many ways. It can…

  • Strengthen your market position.
  • Help you identify your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Help you identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.
  • Minimize risk.
  • Center your customers’ experience from the get-go.
  • Help you create a dynamic strategy based on market conditions and customer needs/demands.

What Are the Basic Methods of Market Research?

The basic methods of market research include surveys, personal interviews, customer observation, and the review of secondary research. In addition to these basic methods, a forward-thinking market research approach incorporates data from the digital landscape like social media analysis, SEO research, gathering feedback via forums, and more. Throughout this guide, we will cover each of the methods commonly used in market research to give you a comprehensive overview.

Primary vs. Secondary Market Research

Primary and secondary are the two main types of market research you can do. The latter relies on research conducted by others. Primary research, on the other hand, refers to the fact-finding efforts you conduct on your own.

This approach is limited, however. It’s likely that the research objectives of these secondary data points differ from your own, and it can be difficult to confirm the veracity of their findings.

Primary Market Research

Primary research is more labor intensive, but it generally yields data that is exponentially more actionable. It can be conducted through interviews, surveys, online research, and your own data collection. Every new business should engage in primary market research prior to launch. It will help you validate that your idea has traction, and it will give you the information you need to help minimize financial risk.

You can hire an agency to conduct this research on your behalf. This brings the benefit of expertise, as you’ll likely work with a market research analyst. The downside is that hiring an agency can be expensive—too expensive for many burgeoning entrepreneurs. That brings us to the second approach. You can also do the market research yourself, which substantially reduces the financial burden of starting a new business .

Secondary Market Research

Secondary research includes resources like government databases and industry-specific data and publications. It can be beneficial to start your market research with secondary sources because it’s widely available and often free-to-access. This information will help you gain a broad overview of the market conditions for your new business.

Identify Your Goals and Your Audience

Before you begin conducting interviews or sending out surveys, you need to set your market research goals. At the end of your market research process, you want to have a clear idea of who your target market is—including demographic information like age, gender, and where they live—but you also want to start with a rough idea of who your audience might be and what you’re trying to achieve with market research.

You can pinpoint your objectives by asking yourself a series of guiding questions:

  • What are you hoping to discover through your research?
  • Who are you hoping to serve better because of your findings?
  • What do you think your market is?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • Are you testing the reception of a new product category or do you want to see if your product or service solves the problem left by a current gap in the market?
  • Are you just…testing the waters to get a sense of how people would react to a new brand?

Once you’ve narrowed down the “what” of your market research goals, you’re ready to move onto how you can best achieve them. Think of it like algebra. Many math problems start with “solve for x.” Once you know what you’re looking for, you can get to work trying to find it. It’s a heck of a lot easier to solve a problem when you know you’re looking for “x” than if you were to say “I’m gonna throw some numbers out there and see if I find a variable.”

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How to Do Market Research

This guide outlines every component of a comprehensive market research effort. Take into consideration the goals you have established for your market research, as they will influence which of these elements you’ll want to include in your market research strategy.

Secondary Data

Secondary data allows you to utilize pre-existing data to garner a sense of market conditions and opportunities. You can rely on published market studies, white papers, and public competitive information to start your market research journey.

Secondary data, while useful, is limited and cannot substitute your own primary data. It’s best used for quantitative data that can provide background to your more specific inquiries.

Find Your Customers Online

Once you’ve identified your target market, you can use online gathering spaces and forums to gain insights and give yourself a competitive advantage. Rebecca McCusker of The Creative Content Shop recommends internet recon as a vital tool for gaining a sense of customer needs and sentiment. “Read their posts and comments on forums, YouTube video comments, Facebook group [comments], and even Amazon/Goodreads book comments to get in their heads and see what people are saying.”

If you’re interested in engaging with your target demographic online, there are some general rules you should follow. First, secure the consent of any group moderators to ensure that you are acting within the group guidelines. Failure to do so could result in your eviction from the group.

Not all comments have the same research value. “Focus on the comments and posts with the most comments and highest engagement,” says McCusker. These high-engagement posts can give you a sense of what is already connecting and gaining traction within the group.

Social media can also be a great avenue for finding interview subjects. “LinkedIn is very useful if your [target customer] has a very specific job or works in a very specific industry or sector. It’s amazing the amount of people that will be willing to help,” explains Miguel González, a marketing executive at Dealers League . “My advice here is BE BRAVE, go to LinkedIn, or even to people you know and ask them, do quick interviews and ask real people that belong to that market and segment and get your buyer persona information first hand.”

Market research interviews can provide direct feedback on your brand, product, or service and give you a better understanding of consumer pain points and interests.

When organizing your market research interviews, you want to pay special attention to the sample group you’re selecting, as it will directly impact the information you receive. According to Tanya Zhang, the co-founder of Nimble Made , you want to first determine whether you want to choose a representative sample—for example, interviewing people who match each of the buyer persona/customer profiles you’ve developed—or a random sample.

“A sampling of your usual persona styles, for example, can validate details that you’ve already established about your product, while a random sampling may [help you] discover a new way people may use your product,” Zhang says.

Market Surveys

Market surveys solicit customer inclinations regarding your potential product or service through a series of open-ended questions. This direct outreach to your target audience can provide information on your customers’ preferences, attitudes, buying potential, and more.

Every expert we asked voiced unanimous support for market surveys as a powerful tool for market research. With the advent of various survey tools with accessible pricing—or free use—it’s never been easier to assemble, disseminate, and gather market surveys. While it should also be noted that surveys shouldn’t replace customer interviews , they can be used to supplement customer interviews to give you feedback from a broader audience.

Who to Include in Market Surveys

  • Current customers
  • Past customers
  • Your existing audience (such as social media/newsletter audiences)

Example Questions to Include in Market Surveys

While the exact questions will vary for each business, here are some common, helpful questions that you may want to consider for your market survey. Demographic Questions: the questions that help you understand, demographically, who your target customers are:

  • “What is your age?”
  • “Where do you live?”
  • “What is your gender identity?”
  • “What is your household income?”
  • “What is your household size?”
  • “What do you do for a living?”
  • “What is your highest level of education?”

Product-Based Questions: Whether you’re seeking feedback for an existing brand or an entirely new one, these questions will help you get a sense of how people feel about your business, product, or service:

  • “How well does/would our product/service meet your needs?”
  • “How does our product/service compare to similar products/services that you use?”
  • “How long have you been a customer?” or “What is the likelihood that you would be a customer of our brand?

Personal/Informative Questions: the deeper questions that help you understand how your audience thinks and what they care about.

  • “What are your biggest challenges?”
  • “What’s most important to you?”
  • “What do you do for fun (hobbies, interests, activities)?”
  • “Where do you seek new information when researching a new product?”
  • “How do you like to make purchases?”
  • “What is your preferred method for interacting with a brand?”

Survey Tools

Online survey tools make it easy to distribute surveys and collect responses. The best part is that there are many free tools available. If you’re making your own online survey, you may want to consider SurveyMonkey, Typeform, Google Forms, or Zoho Survey.

Competitive Analysis

A competitive analysis is a breakdown of how your business stacks up against the competition. There are many different ways to conduct this analysis. One of the most popular methods is a SWOT analysis, which stands for “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.” This type of analysis is helpful because it gives you a more robust understanding of why a customer might choose a competitor over your business. Seeing how you stack up against the competition can give you the direction you need to carve out your place as a market leader.

Social Media Analysis

Social media has fundamentally changed the market research landscape, making it easier than ever to engage with a wide swath of consumers. Follow your current or potential competitors on social media to see what they’re posting and how their audience is engaging with it. Social media can also give you a lower cost opportunity for testing different messaging and brand positioning.

SEO Analysis and Opportunities

SEO analysis can help you identify the digital competition for getting the word out about your brand, product, or service. You won’t want to overlook this valuable information. Search listening tools offer a novel approach to understanding the market and generating the content strategy that will drive business. Tools like Google Trends and Awario can streamline this process.

Ready to Kick Your Business Into High Gear?

Now that you’ve completed the guide to market research you know you’re ready to put on your researcher hat to give your business the best start. Still not sure how actually… launch the thing? Our free mini-course can run you through the essentials for starting your side hustle .

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About Mary Kate Miller

Mary Kate Miller writes about small business, real estate, and finance. In addition to writing for Foundr, her work has been published by The Washington Post, Teen Vogue, Bustle, and more. She lives in Chicago.

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How To Do Market Research: Types and Templates (2024)

Want to do market research for your brand? Get the best templates and a step-by-step guide in this article.

a magnifying glass on blue and pink background representing market research

Market research consists of systematically gathering data about people or companies—a market—and then analyzing it to better understand what that group needs. The results of market research are then used to help business owners make informed decisions about the company’s strategies, operations, and potential customer base.

Market research can help businesses run more efficiently and market more effectively. Ahead, you’ll learn how to do market research for your business, whether you’re breaking into a new market or developing a product .

What is market research?

Market research is the process of gathering data about people or companies and analyzing it to figure out what they’re looking for. Using market research, which is usually summarized in a report, you can make better decisions about your company’s strategy, operations, and potential customers. There are two main types of market research: primary and secondary.

Primary market research

Primary data is first-hand information you gather yourself, or with the help of a market research firm. You control it. Common ways to do primary market research include surveys, interviews, focus groups, and observations. 

Doing your own research has its benefits. You’ll learn exactly what customers want, because you’ve asked them directly. Information is fresh, and you can understand the nuances of your customers, like taste preferences or pricing.

Secondary market research

Secondary data is pre-existing public information, such as data shared in magazines and newspapers or government or industry reports. 

Say you’re a fashion brand expanding its product line to sustainable options, you’d use secondary research to understand market potential. You’d read market reports from Mintel or Nielsen Company to understand consumer demands for sustainable products.

Why is market research important?

Reduce risks for entering new markets.

Misjudging market demand for a new product leads to big financial losses. Market research lowers that risk by providing insights to inform your go-to-market plan, such as:

  • Market size
  • Income range
  • Employment rate
  • Market saturation

Gathering this information beforehand helps you understand opportunities and challenges for getting new customers. It also helps you understand emerging trends to stay competitive and identify new growth opportunities.

Understand the competition

A competitive analysis helps you understand the business landscape of a new market and uncovers gaps your business can fill. By analyzing your competitors’ offerings, marketing strategies, and customer feedback, you can create a plan to differentiate yourself in a crowded market. 

Make your business customer-centric

Market research reveals the needs, preferences, and behaviors of potential customers in a new market. For example, if you were expanding into South Korea, you’d want to take into account that shoppers value fast delivery times, readily available products, and the best price possible. 

Armed with this information, you’d want to create a seamless mobile shopping experience with quick load times and quick delivery to appeal to the local market. 

Types of market research

Surveys .

Surveys consist of a list of questions that can be shared with an individual by phone, in person, on a card or paper, or online using a survey software like SurveyMonkey or Qualtrics. 

Ask customers a series of questions to better understand how they feel about a product’s features, or about the experience they had. 

Focus groups

Bringing together groups of people with a common characteristic, such as age, hobby, or buying habits, to better understand their likes and dislikes is a focus group. 

Focus groups typically consist of eight to 12 people and a moderator who poses questions for the group to discuss. They are useful ways of getting feedback on a new product, new features, or new ad campaign.


When the researcher gathers information simply by watching how a subject interacts with a product, the technique is observation. This is often used in comparing preferences for several types of products.

In-depth interviews

Another market research technique is the one-on-one interview with an individual, during which probing questions are posed to better understand that person’s thoughts, opinions, challenges, and product preferences.

Secondary sources

Secondary research is often a good place to start when conducting market research to better understand industry trends and broader shifts. 

Some of the most useful sources include:

  • Industry associations and trade groups
  • Trade journals specific to your industry
  • Government reports, such as the census or annual federal procurement results
  • Industry analysts
  • University faculty members 

You can also analyze competitor websites and materials to uncover what convinces potential customers to buy from them.

How to conduct market research

1. choose your focus.

Start by defining what you want to achieve from your research. You might want to:

  • Understand a target audience
  • Develop new product features
  • Create a brand identity
  • Improve customer experience

If you’re launching a new line of eco-friendly packaging, for example, your focus might be to understand customer attitudes toward sustainability. 

2. Determine your research methods 

Choose how you’ll capture the data based on your objectives and budget. Combine qualitative research (like interviews and focus groups) with quantitative data (like surveys) to understand attitudes and perceptions.

Maybe you’ll decide to conduct a focus group with environmentally conscious consumers to explore their feelings about packaging materials.

3. Collect the data

Depending on your research methods, you might need to prepare questionnaires, conduct interviews, or analyze data courses. You can conduct the process in-house or outsource it to a third party to help speed things along.

4. Analyze the data

Now it’s time to turn that raw data into insights. Identify any patterns or trends that answer your objectives. For example, you may analyze and identify the percentage of customers who prefer sustainable packaging over traditional options.

5. Report your findings

Prepare a report that includes key insights, data, and recommendations based on your findings. Go beyond stating the findings and explain what they mean for your business. What can you conclude about your market, audience, or product? 

For example, if your research finds high demand for eco-friendly packaging amongst the 25-to-34 demographic, you can conclude a targeted marketing campaign to this group could increase sales. 

Market research templates and guides

Behind every successful business is solid market research. But the hardest part is knowing where to start, and that’s where the following templates come in. These guides can help you stay on track and prepare for your market research process. 

  • Shopify’s Market Research Competitor Analysis Template : Contains a free template to help you find your product market fit, so you can sell successfully right away. 
  • HubSpot’s Market Research Kit : Contains an instructional guide, SWOT analysis template, focus group template, survey template, and more.
  • Qualtrics XM : Qualtrics XM offers a collection of pre-made customer, product, and brand survey templates with a free account.

Online vs. offline marketing research

Online Offline
Data collection methods Surveys, polls, online focus groups, web analytics, social media listening Interviews, observations
Reach Wide, diverse, global reach Limited to specific locations
Cost Affordable Can be expensive
Quality Lower response rates; potential for poorer data quality Potentially higher quality data; more in-depth responses

Online marketing research involves using digital platforms and tools to collect data from your audience. It includes surveys, polls, online focus groups, web analytics, and social media listening . 

The benefit of online research is that you can reach a wide audience quickly and at an affordable price. Because it’s done online, it’s convenient for both researchers and participants. However, online marketing research has some drawbacks, like low response rates and poor data quality. People may not give in-depth explanations or observations if they don’t sit in front of you.

In offline research, data is collected through in-person methods, such as interviews or observations. This allows researchers to examine people’s nonverbal cues and emotions in greater detail. However, offline research is expensive to conduct and analyze, and in-person methods may also limit sample size and diversity. 

How market research helps with competitive analysis

Knowing what your competitors are doing makes it easier to break into the market (or stay ahead of it). If you’re starting an ecommerce business , market research can help you:

  • Identify industry trends
  • Create a benchmark against competitors 
  • Determine competitive pricing strategies
  • Find gaps in the market

All these elements inform your competitive analysis, whether you’re developing a new product or entering a new market. In this way, you can uncover areas where competition is intense and gain leverage over your competitors.

Free competitor research template

Find a strategic angle to achieve sales success, uncover your product-market fit, and stand out from the competition with our free template.

Market research examples

Before launching a premium cocktail machine into a new category, the team at Bartesian had to identify a common problem: how hard it was to make great-tasting cocktails at home without any professional skill. 

It was a problem the founder, Ryan Close, struggled with himself, as he explains in a Shopify Masters interview . 

“I could never get [drinks] right, so I understood it was difficult to make great tasting cocktails at home if you’re not a bartender,” Ryan says. 

For his market research, Ryan carried a prototype of the machine around the country, getting in-person feedback. He’d go to trade shows and networking events to talk with people, ask about their pain points, and find out what they’d be willing to pay for his cocktail-making machine. These events helped give Ryan the market research needed to launch Bartesian. 

Image of the Bartesian on a bar cart with people drinking cocktails in the background

💡 Read more about how Ryan Close launched Bartesian


Beardbrand has become a popular men’s grooming brand since its launch in 2012. In 2023, it was estimated to have generated $25.7 million in revenue. Its founder, Eric Bandholz, took an informal approach to market research rooted in his personal experiences. 

Screenshot of Beardbrand’s ecommerce website homepage

He identified the potential for Beardbrand through several key insights:

  • Observation: Noticing an increase in beards and mustaches, and a general interest in male grooming in urban areas, Eric recognized a growing trend that had yet to be fully capitalized on.
  • Community engagement: By being an active member of the beard community and blogging about beard care and lifestyle, Eric immersed himself in the target market. This direct engagement provided him with firsthand insights into the needs and wants of his potential customers.
  • Participation in events: Attending the 2012 West Coast Beard & Mustache Championships in Portland, Oregon, was a pivotal moment. It was here Eric realized the existence of a like-minded community that was underserved in terms of products and content tailored to their interests.
  • Using social media for feedback and ideas: Eric leveraged social media platforms, especially Tumblr, to gather product ideas and gauge community interest. This approach allowed for immediate feedback and helped shape the product offering.

Before officially launching Beardbrand, Eric experimented with blogging about beard care products and engaging with the community. This phase acted as an informal market test, providing insights into the market’s receptivity to various products.

Abel Samet and Samuel Bail started Troubadour after unsuccessfully searching for a high-performing weekender bag. This personal experience highlighted a gap in the market for bags that were both aesthetically pleasing and functionally equivalent to sports gear—lightweight, waterproof, and comfortable.

They did market testing by initially offering their products to friends, family, and colleagues, which allowed them to gather valuable feedback. The brand continued to collect qualitative feedback from customers on their likes and dislikes about the bags, as well as quantitative data on sales and returns to understand needs and buying behavior. This allowed them to innovate and expand, taking calculated risks that paid off.

📚  Read: 10 Lessons Learned From Troubadour’s 10 Years in Business

Qualitative vs. quantitative market research

Qualitative and quantitative research are two fundamental approaches to doing market research. 

Qualitative research

Focuses on understanding concepts, thoughts, or experiences through subjective data. It explores the howand why of customers’ behaviors through open-ended questions and discussions. It can involve interviews, observations, and textual analysis to develop a more detailed understanding of the participant. 

Quantitative research

Rooted in quantifying a problem through numerical data, like statistics. You’ll normally use quantitative data to generalize results from a larger sample population. These include surveys, questionnaires, and experiments with fixed questions or conditions. 

Even though these two approaches are different, you can combine them to conduct a mixed methods study. This helps further validate your findings and get a better understanding of the issue at hand. 

Conduct your own market research today

Understanding industry shifts, changing consumer needs and preferences, and legislative trends, among other things, can shape where a business chooses to focus its efforts and resources. That’s the value of market research. Use the templates and market research techniques above to improve your process and grow your business. 

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  • What Is Direct Mail? Definition and Guide
  • What Is Media Planning? Definition and Guide
  • How To Create a Digital Marketing Strategy
  • What Is Guerrilla Marketing? Definition and Guide
  • What Is Telemarketing? Definition and Guide
  • What Is a Trade Show? Definition and Guide
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  • Website Builder & Website Maker by Shopify

What is market research? FAQ

What are the 4 types of marketing research.

  • Exploratory research
  • Descriptive research
  • Causal research
  • Predictive research

What is an example of market research?

An example of market research would be a company conducting a survey to learn more about their target audience’s preferences and buying habits. They might ask questions about age, gender, income level, and what types of products they purchase. The research would then inform the company’s business and marketing strategy. 

How often should market research be conducted?

Businesses can conduct market research on an as-needed basis. If you are launching a new product or entering a new market, you’ll do market research to support the initiative. Some businesses do market research on an annual basis to stay competitive. 

What are the 4 main purposes of market research?

  • Identifying and understanding the target market: Market research helps organizations better identify and understand their target market. It can provide insights into customer demographics, preferences, needs and motivations.
  • Product/service development and innovation: Market research helps organizations identify and develop new products or services that meet the needs of their target market. It also helps them understand how new products or services can be positioned in the marketplace.
  • Market entry and expansion: Market research helps organizations plan and execute successful market entry and expansion. It can help them identify target markets, assess market potential and evaluate the competitive landscape.
  • Brand and reputation management: Market research helps organizations maintain and improve their brand and reputation. It can provide insights into customer perception and help organizations differentiate their brand from competitors.

How much does market research cost?

How much market research costs depends on the research method used. For example, face-to-face interviews are more expensive than phone interviews. The sample size required is also a factor. The larger your sample size, the more expensive it will cost. On average, you can expect to pay between $20,000 and $60,000 for a round of market research from a marketing research firm.

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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 ( complementary research ) via secondary research companies , 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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A Plain-English Guide to Market Research

Braden Becker

Published: January 21, 2021

In some circles, market research is a catch-all term for asking the industry what it wants. "Do we know what the demand is for this product? Who's even looking for our services? Let me do some market research to find out," someone might say.

analyzing market research on a device

But what does that actually mean?

Here's a simple definition of market research that encompasses all the possible goals of this practice, in fewer than 100 words:

Market Research Definition

Market research is the process of examining an industry's buyers, the product these buyers want, and where they're currently getting it. By engaging the right people and data, a business can use this research to position itself in the market and predict where the market will go in the future.

Market research can answer various questions about the state of an industry, but 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.

Certainly you can make sound judgment calls based on your experience in the industry and your existing customers. However, keep in mind that market research offers benefits beyond those strategies. There are two things to consider: 

  • 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. 

Why is market research important?

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 from knowing the bigger picture.

Here are some examples of insights you can gain from market research:

  • Consumer attitudes about a particular topic, pain, product, or brand
  • Whether there's demand for the business initiatives you're investing in
  • Where to advertise or sell to (geographically or online)
  • Unaddressed or underserved customer needs that can be flipped into selling opportunity
  • Attitudes about pricing for a particular product or service

Getting answers to these questions based on real data can help you make sound business decisions and minimize risk.

Types of Market Research

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.

Let's talk about four different types of market research studies you can conduct , a potential goal of each one, and how these studies help you better understand your market.

Qualitative information

Interviews are the personal, one-on-one conversations you can have with the buyers in your industry. You can conduct interviews in person or over the phone.

Your interviewees can answer questions about themselves to help you design your buyer personas. These buyer personas describe your ideal customer's age, family size, budget, job title, the challenges they face at work, and similar aspects of their lifestyle. Having this buyer profile in hand can shape your entire marketing strategy, from the features you add to your product to the content you publish on your website.

Focus Groups

Focus groups are similar to interviews, but in this case, you're assembling a large group of people for one shared interview. A focus group consists of people who have at least one element of your buyer persona in common -- age or job title, for instance.

This type of market research can give you ideas for product differentiation, or the qualities of your product that make it unique in the marketplace. Consider asking your focus group questions about (and showing them examples of) your services, and ultimately use the group's feedback to make these services better.

Quantitative information

Surveys are a form of quantitative research, and you can distribute them over the phone, via email, or through an online survey. A survey could cater to people who've downloaded content from your website or interacted with a member of your business.

Enough completed surveys can help you determine your customer satisfaction level. This denotes how happy your customers are with what you're selling them. You might include questions like, "How well did we solve your problem?" and "Would you recommend our product to a friend?"

Secondary Data

The interviews, focus groups, and surveys are all sources of primary data. Secondary data , on the other hand, is the public information -- online and offline -- that characterizes your industry. This includes competitor websites, social media business pages, trade magazines, market reports, and even census data published by the government.

If you examine enough secondary data, you can learn how much brand awareness you have in the marketplace compared to the companies that provide the same product or service as you.

The market research you perform doesn't have to include every source of information described above. What data you collect will depend on the needs of your business and what you might be most interested in at the moment. 

Editor's note: This post was originally published in July 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Home Market Research

Market Research: What it Is, Methods, Types & Examples

What is Market Research

Would you like to know why, how, and when to apply market research? Do you want to discover why your consumers are not buying your products? Are you interested in launching a new product, service, or even a new marketing campaign, but you’re not sure what your consumers want?

LEARN ABOUT: Market research vs marketing research

To answer the questions above, you’ll need help from your consumers. But how will you collect that data? In this case and in many other situations in your business, market research is the way to get all the answers you need.

In this ultimate guide about market research, you’ll find the definition, advantages, types of market research, and some examples that will help you understand this type of research. Don’t forget to download the free ebook available at the end of this guide!

LEARN ABOUT: Perceived Value

Content Index

Three key objectives of market research

Why is market research important.

  • Types of Market Research: Methods and Examples

Steps for conducting Market Research

Benefits of an efficient market research, 5 market research tips for businesses, why does every business need market research, free market research ebook, what is market research.

Market research is a technique that is used to collect data on any aspect that you want to know to be later able to interpret it and, in the end, make use of it for correct decision-making.

Another more specific definition could be the following:

Market research is the process by which companies seek to collect data systematically to make better decisions. Still, its true value lies in the way in which all the data obtained is used to achieve a better knowledge of the market consumer.

The process of market research can be done through deploying surveys , interacting with a group of people, also known as a sample , conducting interviews, and other similar processes.  

The primary purpose of conducting market research is to understand or examine the market associated with a particular product or service to decide how the audience will react to a product or service. The information obtained from conducting market research can be used to tailor marketing/ advertising activities or determine consumers’ feature priorities/service requirement (if any).

LEARN ABOUT: Consumer Surveys

Conducting research is one of the best ways of achieving customer satisfaction , reducing customer churn and elevating business. Here are the reasons why market research is important and should be considered in any business:

  • Valuable information: It provides information and opportunities about the value of existing and new products, thus, helping businesses plan and strategize accordingly.
  • Customer-centric: It helps to determine what the customers need and want. Marketing is customer-centric and understanding the customers and their needs will help businesses design products or services that best suit them. Remember that tracing your customer journey is a great way to gain valuable insights into your customers’ sentiments toward your brand.
  • Forecasts: By understanding the needs of customers, businesses can also forecast their production and sales. Market research also helps in determining optimum inventory stock.
  • Competitive advantage: To stay ahead of competitors market research is a vital tool to carry out comparative studies. Businesses can devise business strategies that can help them stay ahead of their competitors.

LEARN ABOUT: Data Analytics Projects

Types of Market Research: Market Research Methods and Examples

Whether an organization or business wishes to know the purchase behavior of consumers or the likelihood of consumers paying a certain cost for a product segmentation , market research helps in drawing meaningful conclusions.

LEARN ABOUT: Behavioral Targeting

Depending on the methods and tools required, the following are the types:

1. Primary Market Research (A combination of both Qualitative and Quantitative Research):

Primary market research is a process where organizations or businesses get in touch with the end consumers or employ a third party to carry out relevant studies to collect data. The data collected can be qualitative data (non-numerical data) or quantitative data (numerical or statistical data).

While conducting primary market research, one can gather two types of information: Exploratory and Specific. Exploratory research is open-ended, where a problem is explored by asking open ended questions in a detailed interview format usually with a small group of people, also known as a sample. Here the sample size is restricted to 6-10 members. Specific research, on the other hand, is more pinpointed and is used to solve the problems that are identified by exploratory research.

LEARN ABOUT: Marketing Insight

As mentioned earlier, primary market research is a combination of qualitative market research and quantitative market research. Qualitative market research study involves semi-structured or unstructured data collected through some of the commonly used qualitative research methods like:

Methods of Market Research

Focus groups :

Focus group is one of the commonly used qualitative research methods. Focus group is a small group of people (6-10) who typically respond to online surveys sent to them. The best part about a focus group is the information can be collected remotely, can be done without personally interacting with the group members. However, this is a more expensive method as it is used to collect complex information.

One-to-one interview:

As the name suggests, this method involves personal interaction in the form of an interview, where the researcher asks a series of questions to collect information or data from the respondents. The questions are mostly open-ended questions and are asked to facilitate responses. This method heavily depends on the interviewer’s ability and experience to ask questions that evoke responses.

Ethnographic research :

This type of in-depth research is conducted in the natural settings of the respondents. This method requires the interviewer to adapt himself/herself to the natural environment of the respondents which could be a city or a remote village. Geographical constraints can be a hindering market research factor in conducting this kind of research. Ethnographic research can last from a few days to a few years.

Organizations use qualitative research methods to conduct structured market research by using online surveys , questionnaires , and polls to gain statistical insights to make informed decisions.

LEARN ABOUT: Qualitative Interview

This method was once conducted using pen and paper. This has now evolved to sending structured online surveys to the respondents to gain actionable insights. Researchers use modern and technology-oriented survey platforms to structure and design their survey to evoke maximum responses from respondents.

Through a well-structured mechanism, data is easily collected and reported, and necessary action can be taken with all the information made available firsthand.

Learn more: How to conduct quantitative research

2. Secondary Market Research:

Secondary research uses information that is organized by outside sources like government agencies, media, chambers of commerce etc. This information is published in newspapers, magazines, books, company websites, free government and nongovernment agencies and so on. The secondary source makes use of the following:

  • Public sources: Public sources like library are an awesome way of gathering free information. Government libraries usually offer services free of cost and a researcher can document available information.
  • Commercial sources: Commercial source although reliable are expensive. Local newspapers, magazines, journal, television media are great commercial sources to collect information.
  • Educational Institutions: Although not a very popular source of collecting information, most universities and educational institutions are a rich source of information as many research projects are carried out there than any business sector.

Learn more: Market Research Example with Types and Methods

A market research project may usually have 3 different types of objectives.

  • Administrative : Help a company or business development, through proper planning, organization, and both human and material resources control, and thus satisfy all specific needs within the market, at the right time.
  • Social : Satisfy customers’ specific needs through a required product or service. The product or service should comply with a customer’s requirements and preferences when consumed.
  • Economical : Determine the economical degree of success or failure a company can have while being new to the market, or otherwise introducing new products or services, thus providing certainty to all actions to be implemented.

LEARN ABOUT:  Test Market Demand

Knowing what to do in various situations that arise during the investigation will save the researcher time and reduce research problems . Today’s successful enterprises use powerful market research survey software that helps them conduct comprehensive research under a unified platform, providing actionable insights much faster with fewer problems.

LEARN ABOUT:  Market research industry

Following are the steps to conduct effective market research.

Step #1: Define the Problem

Having a well-defined subject of research will help researchers when they ask questions. These questions should be directed to solve problems and must be adapted to the project. Make sure the questions are written clearly and that the respondents understand them. Researchers can conduct a marketing test with a small group to know if the questions are going to know whether the asked questions are understandable and if they will be enough to gain insightful results.

Research objectives should be written in a precise way and should include a brief description of the information that is needed and the way in which it will obtain it. They should have an answer to this question “why are we doing the research?”

Learn more: Interview Questions

Step #2: Define the Sample

To carry out market research, researchers need a representative sample that can be collected using one of the many sampling techniques . A representative sample is a small number of people that reflect, as accurately as possible, a larger group.

  • An organization cannot waste their resources in collecting information from the wrong population. It is important that the population represents characteristics that matter to the researchers and that they need to investigate, are in the chosen sample.
  • Take into account that marketers will always be prone to fall into a bias in the sample because there will always be people who do not answer the survey because they are busy, or answer it incompletely, so researchers may not obtain the required data.
  • Regarding the size of the sample, the larger it is, the more likely it is to be representative of the population. A larger representative sample gives the researcher greater certainty that the people included are the ones they need, and they can possibly reduce bias. Therefore, if they want to avoid inaccuracy in our surveys, they should have representative and balanced samples.
  • Practically all the surveys that are considered in a serious way, are based on a scientific sampling, based on statistical and probability theories.

There are two ways to obtain a representative sample:

  • Probability sampling : In probability sampling , the choice of the sample will be made at random, which guarantees that each member of the population will have the same probability of selection bias and inclusion in the sample group. Researchers should ensure that they have updated information on the population from which they will draw the sample and survey the majority to establish representativeness.
  • Non-probability sampling : In a non-probability sampling , different types of people are seeking to obtain a more balanced representative sample. Knowing the demographic characteristics of our group will undoubtedly help to limit the profile of the desired sample and define the variables that interest the researchers, such as gender, age, place of residence, etc. By knowing these criteria, before obtaining the information, researchers can have the control to create a representative sample that is efficient for us.

When a sample is not representative, there can be a margin of error . If researchers want to have a representative sample of 100 employees, they should choose a similar number of men and women.

The sample size is very important, but it does not guarantee accuracy. More than size, representativeness is related to the sampling frame , that is, to the list from which people are selected, for example, part of a survey.

LEARN ABOUT: Behavioral Research If researchers want to continue expanding their knowledge on how to determine the size of the sample consult our guide on sampling here.

Step #3: Carry out data collection

First, a data collection instrument should be developed. The fact that they do not answer a survey, or answer it incompletely will cause errors in research. The correct collection of data will prevent this.

Step #4: Analyze the results

Each of the points of the market research process is linked to one another. If all the above is executed well, but there is no accurate analysis of the results, then the decisions made consequently will not be appropriate. In-depth analysis conducted without leaving loose ends will be effective in gaining solutions. Data analysis will be captured in a report, which should also be written clearly so that effective decisions can be made on that basis.

Analyzing and interpreting the results is to look for a wider meaning to the obtained data. All the previous phases have been developed to arrive at this moment. How can researchers measure the obtained results? The only quantitative data that will be obtained is age, sex, profession, and number of interviewees because the rest are emotions and experiences that have been transmitted to us by the interlocutors. For this, there is a tool called empathy map that forces us to put ourselves in the place of our clientele with the aim of being able to identify, really, the characteristics that will allow us to make a better adjustment between our products or services and their needs or interests. When the research has been carefully planned, the hypotheses have been adequately defined and the indicated collection method has been used, the interpretation is usually carried out easily and successfully. What follows after conducting market research?

Learn more: Types of Interviews

Step #5: Make the Research Report

When presenting the results, researchers should focus on: what do they want to achieve using this research report and while answering this question they should not assume that the structure of the survey is the best way to do the analysis. One of the big mistakes that many researchers make is that they present the reports in the same order of their questions and do not see the potential of storytelling.

Tips to create a market research report

To make good reports, the best analysts give the following advice: follow the inverted pyramid style to present the results, answering at the beginning the essential questions of the business that caused the investigation. Start with the conclusions and give them fundamentals, instead of accumulating evidence. After this researchers can provide details to the readers who have the time and interest.

Step #6: Make Decisions

An organization or a researcher should never ask “why do market research”, they should just do it! Market research helps researchers to know a wide range of information, for example,  consumer purchase intentions, or gives feedback about the growth of the target market. They can also discover valuable information that will help in estimating the prices of their product or service and find a point of balance that will benefit them and the consumers.

Take decisions! Act and implement.

Learn more: Quantitative Research

  • Make well-informed decisions: The growth of an organization is dependent on the way decisions are made by the management. Using market research techniques, the management can make business decisions based on obtained results that back their knowledge and experience. Market research helps to know market trends, hence to carry it out frequently to get to know the customers thoroughly.

LEARN ABOUT: Research Process Steps

  • Gain accurate information: Market research provides real and accurate information that will prepare the organization for any mishaps that may happen in the future. By properly investigating the market, a business will undoubtedly be taking a step forward, and therefore it will be taking advantage of its existing competitors.
  • Determine the market size: A researcher can evaluate the size of the market that must be covered in case of selling a product or service in order to make profits.
  • Choose an appropriate sales system: Select a precise sales system according to what the market is asking for, and according to this, the product/service can be positioned in the market.
  • Learn about customer preferences: It helps to know how the preferences (and tastes) of the clients change so that the company can satisfy preferences, purchasing habits, and income levels. Researchers can determine the type of product that must be manufactured or sold based on the specific needs of consumers.
  • Gather details about customer perception of the brand: In addition to generating information, market research helps a researcher in understanding how the customers perceive the organization or brand.
  • Analyze customer communication methods: Market research serves as a guide for communication with current and potential clients.
  • Productive business investment: It is a great investment for any business because thanks to it they get invaluable information, it shows researchers the way to follow to take the right path and achieve the sales that are required.

LEARN ABOUT: Total Quality Management

The following tips will help businesses with creating a better market research strategy.

Tip #1: Define the objective of your research.

Before starting your research quest, think about what you’re trying to achieve next with your business. Are you looking to increase traffic to your location? Or increase sales? Or convert customers from one-time purchasers to regulars? Figuring out your objective will help you tailor the rest of your research and your future marketing materials. Having an objective for your research will flesh out what kind of data you need to collect.

Tip #2: Learn About Your Target Customers.

The most important thing to remember is that your business serves a specific kind of customer. Defining your specific customer has many advantages like allowing you to understand what kind of language to use when crafting your marketing materials, and how to approach building relationships with your customer. When you take time to define your target customer you can also find the best products and services to sell to them.

You want to know as much as you can about your target customer. You can gather this information through observation and by researching the kind of customers who frequent your type of business. For starters, helpful things to know are their age and income. What do they do for a living? What’s their marital status and education level?

Learn more: Customer Satisfaction

Tip #3: Recognize that knowing who you serve helps you define who you do not.

Let’s take a classic example from copywriting genius Dan Kennedy. He says that if you’re opening up a fine dining steakhouse focused on decadent food, you know right off the bat that you’re not looking to attract vegetarians or dieters. Armed with this information, you can create better marketing messages that speak to your target customers.

It’s okay to decide who is not a part of your target customer base. In fact, for small businesses knowing who you don’t cater to can be essential in helping you grow. Why? Simple, if you’re small your advantage is that you can connect deeply with a specific segment of the market. You want to focus your efforts on the right customer who already is compelled to spend money on your offer.

If you’re spreading yourself thin by trying to be all things to everyone, you will only dilute your core message. Instead, keep your focus on your target customer. Define them, go deep, and you’ll be able to figure out how you can best serve them with your products and services.

Tip #4: Learn from your competition.

This works for brick-and-mortar businesses as well as internet businesses because it allows you to step into the shoes of your customer and open up to a new perspective of your business. Take a look around the internet and around your town. If you can, visit your competitor’s shops. For example, if you own a restaurant specializing in Italian cuisine, dine at the other Italian place in your neighborhood or in the next township.

As you experience the business from the customer’s perspective, look for what’s being done right and wrong.

Can you see areas that need attention or improvement? How are you running things in comparison? What’s the quality of their product and customer service ? Are the customers here pleased? Also, take a close look at their market segment. Who else is patronizing their business? Are they the same kinds of people who spend money with you? By asking these questions and doing in-person research, you can dig up a lot of information to help you define your unique selling position and create even better offers for your customers.

Tip #5: Get your target customers to open up and tell you everything.

A good customer survey is one of the most valuable market research tools because it gives you the opportunity to get inside your customer’s head. However, remember that some feedback may be harsh, so take criticism as a learning tool to point you in the right direction.

Creating a survey is simple. Ask questions about what your customer thinks you’re doing right and what can be improved. You can also prompt them to tell you what kinds of products and services they’d like to see you add, giving you fantastic insight into how to monetize your business more. Many customers will be delighted to offer feedback. You can even give customers who fill out surveys a gift like a special coupon for their next purchase.

Bonus Tip: Use an insight & research repository

An insight & research repository is a consolidated research management platform to derive insights about past and ongoing market research. With the use of such a tool, you can leverage past research to get to insights faster, build on previously done market research and draw trendlines, utilize research techniques that have worked in the past, and more.

Market research is one of the most effective ways to gain insight into your customer base , competitors , and the overall market. The goal of conducting market research is to equip your company with the information you need to make informed decisions.

It is especially important when small businesses are trying to determine whether a new business idea is viable, looking to move into a new market, or are launching a new product or service.  Read below for a more in-depth look at how market research can help small businesses.

  • COMPETITION According to a study conducted by Business Insider, 72% of small businesses focus on increasing revenue. Conducting research helps businesses gain insight into competitor behavior. By learning about your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, you can learn how to position your product or offering. In order to be successful, small businesses need to have an understanding of what products and services competitors are offering, and their price point.

Learn more: Trend Analysis

  • CUSTOMERS Many small businesses feel they need to understand their customers, only to conduct market research and learn they had the wrong assumptions. By researching, you can create a profile of your average customer and gain insight into their buying habits, how much they’re willing to spend, and which features resonate with them. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, you can learn what will make someone use your product or service over a competitor.

Learn more: Customer Satisfaction Survey

  • OPPORTUNITIES Potential opportunities, whether they are products or services, can be identified by conducting market research. By learning more about your customers, you can gather insights into complementary products and services. Consumer needs change over time, influenced by new technology and different conditions, and you may find new needs that are not being met, which can create new opportunities for your business.

Learn more: SWOT Analysis 

  • FORECAST A small business is affected by the performance of the local and national economy, as are its’ customers. If consumers are worried, then they will be more restrained when spending money, which affects the business. By conducting research with consumers, businesses can get an idea of whether they are optimistic or apprehensive about the direction of the economy, and make adjustments as necessary. For example, a small business owner may decide to postpone a new product launch if it appears the economic environment is turning negative.

Learn more: 300+ Market Research Survey Questionnaires

Market research and market intelligence may be as complex as the needs that each business or project has. The steps are usually the same. We hope this ultimate guide helps you have a better understanding of how to make your own market research project to gather insightful data and make better decisions.

LEARN ABOUT: Projective Techniques

We appreciate you taking the time to read this ultimate guide. We hope it was helpful! 

You can now download our free ebook that will guide you through a market research project, from the planning stage to the presentation of the outcomes and their analysis.

Sign up now, and download our free ebook: The Hacker’s Guide to Advanced Research Methodologies 



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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. 

what is the meaning of business market research

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what is the meaning of business market research

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.

what is the meaning of business market research

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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what is the meaning of business market research

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what is the meaning of business market research

Geoff Whiting

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

Team Fratzke

what is the meaning of business market research

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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  • Digital Marketing Strategy: Keep It Simple
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  • Recession Proof Marketing Strategies for Your Business
  • Marketing Operations Framework - The Five Ps
  • Biggest Marketing Challenges Leaders Face
  • Digital Marketing Benchmarks & KPIs - How To Compare Your Performance

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 .


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.

Interested in learning more? Book a free audit consultation today.

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The 8 types of market research: definitions, uses and examples.

13 min read What are the different types of market research that can help you stay ahead of the curve with your marketing strategy? Understand how to use each type, and what the advantages and disadvantages are.

Market research  (also called marketing research) is the action or activity of gathering information about market needs and preferences. This helps companies understand their target market — how the audience feels and behaves. There are 8 variations of market research in our lineup that we’ll explore in more detail.

Download our free eBook: How to rethink and reinvent market research

A number of the tools for carrying out market research can be classed under two main categories: primary and secondary market research. Let’s start our list by exploring these two types first.

1. Primary research

Primary research is research that you collect yourself but going directly to the target market through a range of methods. Because it is data you create, you own the data set.

Two types of results — exploratory information (determines the nature of a problem that hasn’t yet been clearly defined) and conclusive information (carried out to solve a problem that exploratory research identified) — from participants are collected as raw data and then analysed to gather insights from trends and comparisons.

This method is good for getting the views of a lot of people at one time, especially when time is short, but it comes with its own management issues. The interviewer must prepare a way to gather answers and record these, while engaging in conversation with many people.

Participants may be affected by the group setting, either from acquiescence bias (the desire to say yes to please the interviewer), dominance bias (stronger participants can alter the results from less dominant participants) or researcher bias (where the research leads or impacts the participant responses indirectly).

This provides a structured setting where the interviewer can listen to what’s being said and investigate further into an answer. The interviewer can also pick up on non-verbal cues from body language can help the interview understand where to deep-dive and broaden their understanding.

However, some of the same biases (acquiescence and researcher) still exit in this format. The method is time consuming to do the interviews and collect the data afterwards.

A survey is an excellent method for carrying out primary research as participants do need to be physically present with the interviewer to carry it out. The survey can be completed anywhere there is an internet connection, meaning there is flexibility for the participants to use different devices and for interviewers to contact participants in different geographical time-zones.Preparation is key, however, as the researchers must segment the market and create a list of participants to send the survey to. Hiring a panel or using existing marketing lists can help with this.

2. Secondary research

Secondary research is the use of data that has previously been collected, analysed and published (and therefore you do not own this data). An example of this for market research is:

Most information is freely available, so there are less costs associated with this kind of secondary research over primary research methods.

Secondary research can often be the preparation for primary research activities, providing a knowledge base. The information gathered may not provide the specific information to explain the results, which is where primary market research would be used to enhance understanding.

There is also a logistics planning need for a recording solution that can handle large datasets, since manual management of the volumes of information can be tricky.

Both primary and secondary research have its advantages and disadvantages, as we’ve seen, but they are best used when paired together. Combined, the data can give you the confidence to act knowing that any hypothesis you have is backed up.

Learn more about primary and secondary research methods

The next market research types can be defined as qualitative and quantitative research types:

3. Qualitative research

Qualitative market research is the collection of primary or secondary data that is non-numerical in nature, and therefore hard to measure.

Researchers collect this market research type because it can add more depth to the data.

This kind of market research is used to summarise and infer, rather than pin-points an exact truth held by a target market. For example, qualitative market research can be done to find out a new target market’s reaction to a new product to translate the reaction into a clear explanation for the company.

4. Quantitative research

Quantitative research is the collection of primary or secondary data that is numerical in nature, and so can be collected more easily.

Researchers collect this market research type because it can provide historical benchmarking, based on facts and figures evidence.

There are a number of ways to collect this data — polls, surveys, desk research, web statistics, financial records — which can be exploratory in nature without a lot of depth at this stage.

Quantitative market research can create the foundation of knowledge needed by researchers to investigate hypotheses further through qualitative market research.

Learn more about qualitative and quantitative research

The next four variations of market research are specific to topics areas, that bring about specific information.:

5. Branding research

Branding  market research assists a company to create, manage and maintain the company brand. This can relate to the tone, branding, images, values or identity of the company.

Research can be carried out through interviews, focus groups or surveys. For example, brand awareness surveys will ask your participants whether the brand is known to them and whether it is something they would be interested in buying.

Additional areas for brand research is also around brand loyalty,  brand perception ,  brand positioning ,  brand value  and brand identity .

The aim of research will be to understand how to know if:

  • Your brand is performing in relation to other competitors
  • There are areas to improve your brand activities
  • There are positives to showcase to enhance your brand’s image

6. Customer research

Customer market research looks at the key influences on your target customers and how your company can make changes to encourage sales.

The aim of this research is to know your customer inside out, and continuously learn about how they interact with the company. Some themes covered by this include:

  • Customer satisfaction  – Exploring what keeps customers happy, as higher customer satisfaction is more likely to lead to increased customer retention.
  • Customer loyalty  – This looks at what experiences have happened to lead to greater customer loyalty across the customer lifecycle.
  • Customer segmentation research  – Discovering who the customers are, what their behaviour and preferences are and their shared characteristics.

Relevant desk research may look at historical purchase records,  customer journey mapping , customer segmentation, demographics and persona templates.

Primary research, such as  NPS  and  customer satisfaction surveys , or customer satisfaction interviews at the end of customer support calls, can also give more details.

7. Competitor research

Competitor market research is about knowing who your competition is and understanding their strengths and weaknesses, in comparison to your organisation. It can also be about your competitive offering in the market, or how to approach a new market.

The aim of this research is to find ways to make your organisation stand out and future planning through horizon scanning and listening to customer preferences.

For example, for competitive analysis, researchers would create a SWOT for your business and your competitors, to see how your business compares.

Primary research could interview customers about their buying preferences, while secondary sources would look at competitor’s market dominance, sales, structure and so on. With this thorough analysis, you can understand where you can change to be more competitive, and look for ideas that make you stand out.

8. Product research

Product market research is a key way to make sure your products and services are fit for launching in the market, and are performing as well as they can.

The aim of this research is to see how your product is perceived by customers, if they are providing value and working correctly. Ideas can also be formed about upgrades and future product development.

There are a number of avenues within product research:

  • Product branding  – Does the product brand and design attract customers in the intended way?
  • Product feature testing  – this can happen at various stages of development with target markets (in early development, between versions, before product launch, etc.) to check if there are positive reaction to new or improved features
  • Product design  thinking  – what solutions would solve your customers’ current or future problems?
  • Product marketing  – Do the marketing messages help your product’s memorability and saleability, or can they be improved?

Primary research methods have a clear advantage in this kind of market research: Surveys can ask for rankings on the popularity or usefulness of features or conduct conjoint analysis, while in-person observation interviews (where the participant can handle a product) can be particularly useful in seeing what customers do with the product in real time.

How to use market research types in your company

In a good marketing strategy, it’s preferable to have a mixture of data across:

  • Qualitative and quantitative research
  • Primary and secondary research
  • Your specific topic area or area of focus

With these three components, you can make sure your market strategy gives you a complete picture of your market’s  operational data and experience data , —  what  your market does and  why .

Economical experience data (O data)

This type of experience data is quantitative in nature (including operations, featuring sales data, finance data and  HR data ). As it can be quantified into numerical values, it can be measured over and over, providing datasets.

There is the opportunity to use a data-driven approach to understanding the results and making predictions based on historical trends.

This sort of data can be measured more easily than emotions and feelings. But it can only tell you about past activities and what happened. It can’t tell you what will happen in the future and why things will happen — this is where X data comes in.

Emotional experience data (X data)

This type of experience data seeks to find reasons to explain emotional decisions and how brands ‘sit’ in people’s minds. In this way, this data is qualitative in nature.

Companies that have X data have a ‘mental advantage’ over other companies,  as they are able to understand the perceptions of the customer, their needs and values.

When you have tangible insights on the audience’s needs, you can then take steps to meet those needs and solve problems. This mitigates the risk of an experience gap – which is what your audience expects you deliver versus what you actually deliver.

eBook: How to rethink and reinvent market research

Related resources

Market intelligence 9 min read, qualitative research questions 11 min read, ethnographic research 11 min read, business research methods 12 min read, qualitative research design 12 min read, business research 10 min read, qualitative research interviews 11 min read, request demo.

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How to Do Market Research

Large magnifying glass surveying a city. Represents conducting market research to understand your customers, competitors, and industry.

Noah Parsons

18 min. read

Updated May 10, 2024

Download Now: Free 1-Page Business Plan Template →

One of the biggest and most expensive mistakes I’ve made in my business career could have been avoided by doing a little homework.

In the late 2000s, my team and I came up with what we thought was a great idea for a product . Tons of businesses would need it, and it was almost guaranteed to be a huge hit!

But, we neglected to do our market research. 

We ended up with a product searching for a market instead of figuring out who our ideal customer was and building a product specifically for them.

You can avoid making this same mistake. 

Let’s learn from my experience and go over the basics of how to conduct market research. 

  • What is market research?

Market research is the process of gathering information about your potential customers. 

It helps you define your target market, craft customer personas , and understand the viability of your business, by answering questions like: 

  • Who are your customers?
  • What are their buying and shopping habits?
  • How many of them are there? 

By exploring your ideal customers’ problems, desires, and current solutions, you can build your product, service, and overall business strategy to better serve them.

  • Why is market research important?

When starting a business , conducting market research to get to know your customers is one of the most important things you can do. 

If you don’t understand your customer, you don’t know:

  • How you can solve their problems . 
  • What kind of marketing messages and advertising work. 
  • If your product or service is actually something your customers will spend money on.

Beyond that, market research can help you:

  • Reduce risk: Inform critical decisions with real-world data.
  • Understand your competitors: Know how competitors and alternatives to your business represent themselves in pricing, quality, and placement.
  • Identify market trends: Stay ahead by spotting emerging trends and shifts in the market.
  • Enhance customer experience: Improve customer satisfaction by addressing their pain points.

Gathering data on your customers should become a regular practice for your business. 

The more in tune you are with your customers, the better you can serve them and the more likely you are to grow your business. You should never just let assumptions about your customers drive business decisions.

Developing primary and secondary data through market research is how you get an accurate reflection of your customers’ needs.

Further Reading: 6 things to consider before entering a market

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Things to consider before conducting market research

Market research can be incredibly time-consuming (and even a waste of time) when done without the right preparation.

Here are a few questions to answer to help ensure you make the most of your efforts.

What are your objectives?

A research objective is a stated purpose that explains why you’re doing market research. It should include a specific result you intend to achieve, using available resources within a certain time frame. 

Without an objective, you’ll pour over a sea of data without knowing what you’re looking for. And if you speak to customers without a goal, you’ll struggle to ask useful questions and dig deeper.

Don’t overthink it.

Your objective should be easy to understand and connected to your business needs. 

For example, if you’re just starting, your objective may be to verify before investing in production if your chosen customer base is interested and willing to purchase your product or service.

What research methods will you use?

You don’t need to have every question prepped or a list of people to interview at the start—but you should know what research methods you intend to use.

The research options you choose will impact the data you collect, and the time it will take to complete it. By doing this ahead of time, you’ll be better prepared to create a timeline of when to take specific actions and what milestones to hit to stay on track.

What tools and resources do you need?

You likely won’t know every resource you’ll need until you start doing research. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be proactive. 

If you know the methods you’ll be using, research what tools you’ll need to:

  • Conduct interviews
  • Create surveys
  • Observe customer behavior

If you use third-party data, identify reputable sources to provide the information you want.

  • How to conduct market research

Every business will do market research differently. The sources, the methods of data collection, and how you’ll use that data are entirely up to you. 

However, the core steps you should take remain the same. Here’s my recommendation for how to structure your research efforts:

1. Start by identifying your target market

Imagine that someone walks into your business, reaches out online, or picks up the phone and calls you. 

It’s your perfect customer: someone who has the problem that you solve and is willing to spend money on your solution. 

Now imagine the details about this person. Who are they? Can you describe them?

Ideal customers and common traits

This “ideal customer” is your target market . Your business might have several target markets, but it will usually serve you best to keep your list of target customers to two or three.

Each of your target markets should share common traits . These might be demographic traits such as: 

  • Income levels
  • Locations 

They might be psychographic traits—groups of people that like the same things or have similar interests. Or, your target market might be a certain type of employee at another company, such as a Chief Technology Officer or head of marketing.

Most often, target markets are blends of demographic and psychographic groups. For example, you might develop a new type of shoe targeted at female triathletes. Or you might be opening a hair salon targeting urban, hipster men.

Further Reading: Why niche audiences are important and how to find yours

Market segmentation

Creating multiple target markets for your company is doing what’s called “ market segmentation .” 

This sounds complex, but all you’re doing is dividing your target markets into different groups you hope to sell to. Each market segment might have different characteristics and buy your product or service for different reasons.

You might create different marketing campaigns or customize your product or service for each segment.

Further Reading:

Target marketing explained

Your target market is your ideal customer who needs your solution. They share common traits like age, gender, income, interests, or job roles. To start, focus your efforts on one target customer.

Consider focusing on a younger audience

Younger consumers are often overlooked in favor of older customers who currently make purchasing decisions. However, if you can crack the interests of a younger audience, it may lead to long-term loyalty.

2. Find out if your market is big enough

Are there enough potential customers to sustain you and your competitors? If the answer is no, then you need to consider changing your product or service offering.

Use the attributes you defined in the target market step and determine how many people meet your demographic, psychographic, or location criteria. I’ve got some links to resources to help you figure this out at the end of this article.

For example: If your target market only has a few thousand potential customers, you must either sell to them frequently or at a fairly high price to create a sustainable, profitable business.

Further Reading: How to use TAM, SAM, SOM to determine market size

If you are targeting an existing market with established competitors, you do what’s called industry research . 

For example, perhaps you are building a new company in the market for sports drinks or the market for cell phones. In cases like this, understanding how much people buy of existing offerings will give you the best sense of your potential market size. 

In this case, you want to look for industry reports and read trade publications for your industry. These publications often summarize the market size.

Further Reading: Differences between industry and market research explained

3. Talk to your potential customers

Once you have identified your target market, or at least made a good guess at who your target market is, you need to take the most important step in this entire market research process. 

You need to get up from your desk, leave behind your computer, and go outside. That’s right, you need to go and talk to people in your potential target markets. 

Yes, you can do online surveys and other research, but that’s no substitute for actually talking to potential customers. 

You’ll gain more insight into your customers through first-hand accounts than any survey will ever tell you.

Do this one thing, and you’ll be miles ahead of your competition. Why? Because most people skip this step. It’s intimidating to talk to strangers. What if they don’t want to buy what you plan on making?

So, don’t be like most entrepreneurs (including me!) and skip this critical step. 

It can mean the difference between success and failure. Getting this step done early will help you refine your business model and make a clear impact on your future success.

Further Reading: How to Create a Market Penetration Strategy  

4. Identify and analyze your competitors

Part of understanding your customers is knowing what solutions they already use. 

These are your competitors, and they may directly compete with you or provide a reasonable substitution customers settle for. 

You’ll understand how to position your business to take advantage of potential opportunities and mitigate risks by analyzing who they are, what they do, and how customers respond.  

Document your known competitors

To keep things simple, start by listing your known competitors . Account for businesses that offer a similar product/service, and those that indirectly compete with their solution or industry expertise. 

Example:   You operate an outdoor goods retail store. Your mission is to provide hands-on direction for customers to find camping, hiking, and survival gear that they will love. You offer a wide selection of well-known brands, local options, and in-house creations.

Your direct competitors are the large brands themselves, less niche retail stores, and online sellers. You must also account for other businesses that provide expert-level information on outdoor activities. 

They likely don’t sell the products, but may provide guided tours, reviews, or other insights that overlap with your business. 

Analyze your competitors

Once you have your list, it’s time to get to know the competition. Check out their websites, social media, customer reviews, and news stories from the last year. 

Sign up for their email lists, visit their stores (if they have them), and track down any industry reports that give you an idea of their size, performance, and strategic direction.

You don’t have to do everything I just listed. But you must go deep enough to clearly understand your competitors and why potential customers may choose them over you. 

It may even be useful to use the SWOT analysis framework to provide additional structure for your research. 

Further Reading: 10 ways to determine what your competitors are doing

5. Document your findings

The final (and easiest) step is to document your findings. How formal your documentation is will depend on how you plan on using it.

If you only need to share your findings with business partners and others in your business, then you can probably communicate fairly informally. 

However, if you’re looking for investors for your business, you may need to write a more formal market analysis and do a market forecast.

Presenting your market research

The single piece of documentation that every business should create is a buyer persona . 

A persona is a description of a person that hits on all of the key aspects of your target market. And, just like you might have several target markets for your business, you might have several different buyer personas.

Creating a buyer persona converts your target marketing information from dry research into a living, breathing person. 

For LivePlan , we’ve created a persona named Garrett, who drives much of our product development. Garrett embodies the attributes of our ideal customer.

When we think about creating a new marketing campaign or developing a new feature for our products, we ask, “Would Garrett like this?” You can read about the process we used to create Garrett in this article.

How to create a detailed user or buyer persona

Visualizing your customers when reviewing a sea of data can be tricky. So, create a customer persona and turn that data into the living, breathing person you imagine your customer to be.

LivePlan customer persona example

Check out this real-world customer persona used by the business planning and management software LivePlan.

When should you conduct market research?

Market research is vital when starting a business. It will improve your product or service and help you avoid starting a business without customers.

However, market research shouldn’t be exclusive to new businesses. Conditions are bound to change, and you must stay up-to-date on your industry , competitors, and emerging trends. 

Here are a few other business events where market research can make a difference:

  • Launching a new product/service or updating current features.
  • Expanding into a new market.
  • Consistent dips in financial performance. 
  • Widespread market changes.
  • New competitors enter the market.

Primary vs secondary market research explained

No matter how you decide to gather information, the methods can be boiled down to primary and secondary research. As a business owner, it’s worth understanding the basics of each type of research and how they work together.

What is primary research?

Primary research is the first-hand information collected (by you or someone you’ve hired) from customers within your market. Primary research cuts out the middleman and ensures that the results you are gathering are straight from the source. 

That’s why you should conduct primary research when validating your business idea. 

Furthermore, it can be broken down into two result categories — exploratory and specific.

Exploratory primary research

Exploratory primary research involves non-quantifiable customer feedback. This means you’re not trying to measure results but to record interest or an emotional response. You’ll accomplish this by asking open-ended questions in formats like focus groups or 1:1 interviews.

Asking for open-ended feedback ensures that the results are unfiltered and honest. You aren’t unintentionally leading or hindering their responses. 

Specific primary research

Specific research allows you to dig deeper into issues or opportunities you identified through your exploratory research. 

You may target a smaller segment of customers from the larger group you’ve spoken to, conduct additional interviews, or shift to more quantifiable research such as beta-testing or surveys.

What is secondary research?

Secondary research covers every other piece of data you have available. This includes resources such as:

  • Public sources: Typically free and highly accessible information gathered through government-sponsored research projects. 
  • Commercial sources: Research studies conducted by private organizations regarding the state of specific markets, industries, or innovations. 
  • Internal sources: Data you have collected through everyday business operations. Everything from financial statements to Analytics reports can qualify.

Which is better: primary or secondary research?

Neither primary nor secondary research is better than the other. They simply have different use cases. So, aim for a healthy mix.

When starting, focus on conducting primary research to ensure you get the necessary information to validate your business. 

Compare those findings to secondary resources such as industry benchmarks , market reports, and internal data you’ve collected. 

You’ll likely leverage secondary research more consistently as you grow—but it’s wise to run primary research initiatives occasionally, especially when approaching a strategic decision. Only with both types of research will you fully understand the story of your place in the market. 

Further Reading: Types of market research explained and how to use them

Types of market research to try

1. face-to-face, remote, or phone interviews.

I mentioned this before, but the best thing you can do is get out and talk to your potential or current customers, virtually or in person. 

Be sure you have a refined set of closed and open-ended questions ready, and consider the interviewee’s tone, body language, and interest alongside their answers.

2. Focus groups

Similar to interviews, focus groups can provide direct feedback from your customer mix. Rather than receiving answers or reactions in a bubble, you get to see how customers may act when influenced by others in the market. You can simply ask questions, run product tests, or have them watch a demo.

3. Observational research

Observational research is about watching how potential customers engage with your product or service. You’re attempting to understand what roadblocks or frustrations they may be hitting, what functionality seems to resonate, what they want from your business, etc.

To conduct observational research, you can set up an official testing environment that you control. Or you can just go out and observe your potential customers and see how they shop, make purchases, and what factors encourage or deter them from purchasing.

4. Pricing research

You may include questions about pricing when conducting interviews or focus groups, but you can also specifically develop research around pricing. 

This can be anything from testing different pricing options on your website ( A/B testing ), offering discounts to exclusive segments, or running ad campaigns with different pricing positions. The goal is to understand what your customers are willing to pay and what they consider a fair price .

5. Brand awareness research

This type of research is about understanding if your target market knows about your brand and how much they happen to know. What do they associate with your brand? What competitors come to mind first?

It’s a great way to understand your current market penetration and who your competitors are. You can integrate this type of questioning within your other tests or conduct surveys to get this data.

6. Customer interest

As part of your initial validation process, you should try to understand current customer interest. At its most basic, you’re asking: Are customers willing to buy your product or service? 

You can simply ask questions and look for yes or no answers, but it may be wise to run a limited-time sale or pre-sale to actually line up initial revenue for your business. 

You can offer the chance to purchase during your interviews or focus groups, as well as run pre-orders through a simple landing page or by measuring engagement with a paid ad campaign.

7. Customer satisfaction

This research will help you understand current customer loyalty and what it will take to get customers to come back. Again, you can do this research within focus groups or interviews. 

Still, you can also test loyalty programs, limited-time promotions, customer service initiatives, and other ways to improve customer loyalty. 

Market research tools and resources

Finding market research data depends on the market you are targeting and the industry you are in. 

Here are a few of my go-to sources for market research:

  • U.S. Census : If you’re opening a business in the U.S., the U.S. Census site is a goldmine of information. Check out the Census Business Builder to get population data and data on how much people spend in a given area on your type of business.
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics : Another U.S.-centric resource, but a fantastic site for information on specific industries: hiring and expense trends as well as industry sizes. If your target market is other businesses, this is a good place to look for data.
  • Consumer Expenditure Survey : If you want to know what people spend their money on, this is your source.
  • SBDCNet Business Snapshots : You’ll find a great collection of industry profiles that describe how industries are growing and changing, who their customers are, and what typical startup costs are. You should also check out their list of market research resources, sorted by industry .
  • ChatGPT : All data generated from AI models like ChatGPT must be verified. But it can still be an excellent market research assistant. With the right prompting, you can generate customer segments, understand their nuances, and prioritize them based on your needs.

Further Reading: 21 best market research resources for small businesses

Market research informs your startup decisions

Effective market research can help you avoid costly mistakes early on in the life of your business. 

However, it should remain a core practice that you regularly implement when approaching crucial business decisions, growth opportunities, or just to reaffirm your understanding of the market. 

Revisit this framework whenever you’re approaching a key strategic decision . Confirm that you still understand your customers, competitors, and where the market is headed.

Then use this information to inform your planning and adjust your strategy if necessary.

Content Author: Noah Parsons

Noah is the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of the online business plan app LivePlan. He started his career at Yahoo! and then helped start the user review site Epinions.com. From there he started a software distribution business in the UK before coming to Palo Alto Software to run the marketing and product teams.

Check out LivePlan

Table of Contents

  • Before conducting market research
  • When to conduct market research
  • Primary vs secondary research
  • Types of market research
  • Tools and resources
  • Market research informs your decisions

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Market Research Definition, Types, Tools and Benefits

what is Market Research

Published on Jul 01, 2022

More than doubling in size from 2008 to 2021, the market research sector brought in over $76.4 (Statista) billion worldwide in 2021.  

What is Market Research?

Market research is the process of gathering, analyzing, and interpreting information about a market, about the product or service to be offered for sale in that market. It is also about the previous, current, and potential customers for the product or service. 

Data collection, analysis, and interpretation are the three main steps in any successful market research project. The data could pertain to a certain demographic, general consumers, rival businesses, or the entire market. This is the cornerstone of any thriving business. The findings can be used for anything from discovering a fresh opportunity to entering the market to developing an entirely new product or service. 

Small business owners can benefit greatly from conducting market research. It can eliminate uncertainty in the creative process and direct energy and funding toward the most promising ideas and initiatives. Many types of market research are conducted by businesses at many different stages. 

Market Research for Businesses  

Accurate and comprehensive data gives a plethora of information on potential and existing customers, competitors, and the industry as a whole, making it the bedrock of any successful commercial endeavor. It helps entrepreneurs weigh the odds of success before sinking a lot of money into a new firm. 

what is Market Research

An essential aspect of every successful business plan is conducting market research to gather data that can be used to address potential marketing obstacles. In reality, it is not viable to develop tactics like market segmentation (identifying distinct groups within a market) and product differentiation (establishing a unique selling proposition for a product or service that distinguishes it from the competition) without conducting market research. 

Types of Market Research  

1. quantitative research .

The results of quantitative studies are typically presented using numerical and graphic representations. It's the gold standard for verifying or disproving hypotheses. It is possible to establish broad, overarching truths about a subject by conducting this kind of study. Experiments, numerically recorded observations, and surveys with a limited number of predetermined answer choices are all examples of common quantitative approaches. 

2. Qualitative research 

Words are the currency of qualitative inquiry. It's a tool for making sense of things like ideas and experiences. Using this method, you can learn more about a topic from every angle, which is very useful for researching controversial or poorly understood subjects. Open-ended interviews, written descriptions of observations, and in-depth analyses of the existing literature are all examples of common qualitative techniques. 

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research 

Quantitative research focuses on numerical and statistical facts, while qualitative research examines concepts and interpretations. Both are necessary to learn various things. Comparatively, qualitative research draws its conclusions from interviews and documents rather than statistics and reasoning. Quantitative studies typically report their findings numerically or graphically, while qualitative studies report their findings verbally. 

3. Primary Research 

Primary data refers to a study that seeks to collect firsthand information from real-world participants. Primary research is data collected by the researcher themselves through various techniques of approaching the target audience directly. You have full legal and ethical rights to the data set you to create. Primary research can be challenging due to the time, money, resources, and familiarity with the topic that it demands. 

4. Secondary Research 

Secondary research is a study that is done after primary research has already been conducted, and it consists of analyzing, interpreting, and summarizing the results of the primary research. A more precise definition of secondary research would be any study that makes use of publicly available data. When conducting secondary research, scholars refer to information that has already been gathered, processed, and made public (and therefore, you do not own this data). Since the accessible data has already been evaluated and interpreted, the researcher just needs to determine the data he wants to use, i.e., the data that is necessary for his project. 

types of market research

Primary Research vs. Secondary Research

Research that involves the collection of new information, or "primary" research, is distinguished from secondary research by the fact that it is conducted for the first time on a particular topic. Instead, secondary research makes use of information that has previously been gathered through primary research. The fundamental dividing line between primary and secondary research is whether the research has been done before. 

5. Market Research 

Market research on branding can help a business develop, launch, and sustain its brand. This may involve the firm's ethos, branding, visuals, ideals, or very name. Interviews, focus groups, and surveys are all viable options for conducting research. 

6. Customer Research 

Market research on customers is learning what factors most strongly affect your demographic of interest and what adjustments may be made to better attract and retain them as paying customers. The objective of this study is to acquire an intimate understanding of your consumer base and their habits and preferences as they relate to your business. 

7. Competitor Research 

Conducting market research on your competitors entails learning about their businesses and assessing how they stack up against your own. Your competitive product in the market or how to break into a new market could also be a topic of discussion. The study's overarching goal is to help your company prepare for the future by identifying methods to set itself apart from competitors and by learning from customers' opinions and suggestions. 

8. Product Research 

Conducting market research on your items is essential to ensuring they will sell successfully once they hit the shelves. Finding out how people feel about your product and if they feel it's valuable and functioning properly is the goal of this study. The ability to think creatively about enhancements and new features is another benefit. 

Benefits of Market Research 

According to a survey, the market research business is expected to increase at a rate of 12-14% (The Economic Times) per year through FY26, at which point it would have surpassed the $4 billion mark. 

Benefits of Market Research 

The following is a list of the most important reasons and benefits of marketing research: 

It's a great tool for boosting companies' standing. The ability to think critically and act on that thinking is the key to success. You can keep your business one step ahead of the competition by conducting market research to expand your knowledge of your market or target audience. 

Reduces the potential for loss on an investment. This is a basic point to think about, but it is often crucial to the success of a firm. When starting a firm, it makes sense to spend what amounts to a negligible amount on research and testing the market, product, concept, or idea. 

Possible dangers and benefits are highlighted. Insurance against these two glaring pitfalls lies in both primary research (fieldwork) and secondary research (desk research). Opportunities or red flags may be uncovered through the combination of this with qualitative research for further investigation. 

You can learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of your own business and of your competitors. To achieve entirely objective reporting, it is generally recommended to collaborate with a market research agency. Take advantage of what you've learned from study to improve in areas where you're weak and to gain an edge over the competition. 

Strategic preparation is helped by this. Where do you stand with the core principles of your company plan? If it's supported by data, and you've put in the time and effort to do your own (hopefully continuous) research, you can rest assured that you're giving yourself the best chance of success in your commercial endeavors. 

This aids in the identification of developing tendencies. Being the first, the best, or coming up with the idea that nobody else has is typically what it takes to stay ahead in business. Taking the pulse of your industry on a regular basis is an important habit. You can learn more about the tools available to you to identify and capitalize on these trends by consulting with a research firm or expert. 

Helpful for firms in keeping up with the competition. Being the best calls for an insatiable need for knowledge and a propensity to experiment. The key to success, and the ability to maintain that success, is knowing how to effectively apply the information gleaned from market research, audience research, and data research. 

It includes forecasts for future income. One of the most important parts of any market study is a forecast, which looks into the future and predicts the size, makeup, and trends of the market you're interested in. This allows for the categorization of prospective clients. You should prioritize the market that is the best fit for your business rather than the largest or fastest-growing. 

It's geared toward meeting the wants and desires of its patrons. Many things in business, including research, benefit from keeping clients front and center. By reaching out to individuals through online panels, web forums, telephone surveys, in-depth interviews, and focus groups, market researchers can learn where their business's ideas, services, and products can be strengthened. 

Using this method, one can measure the progress of one's company against predetermined standards. Utilize data gathered from the market to study the competition, gauge employee enthusiasm, identify knowledge or skill shortages, and identify development opportunities. This will allow you to consider novel approaches, ideas, and resources for boosting your company's efficiency. 

Product Research 

Market Research Tools 

In order to better understand your market and target audience, you need to use market research techniques. It's fundamental to every company's success, and in today's more crowded marketplace, a thorough familiarity with your target market is more important than ever. Good news: you don't have to be an "insights genius" to get started collecting the data you need, owing to the proliferation of market research tools. Some of the best and most widely used methods of market research include: 

  • Answer the Public 
  • Attest 
  • Google Trends 
  • Social Mention 
  • Remesh 
  • Heartbeat Ai 
  • Think With Google 
  • Spyfu 
  • Latana 
  • BuzzSumo 
  • Statista 
  • Typeform 
  • Otter.ai 
  • Dimensions.ai 

How to Conduct Research for Your Business: Market Research Strategies 

Despite their different objectives, market research and marketing research should use the same framework for gathering and analyzing information about your company's target audiences. These help in primary research as well as secondary research.  

Clearly identify the problem at stake. Establish an initial research topic. Having a clear research question in mind will allow you to better organize your findings. 

Start by figuring out your financial and time constraints. How much money do you have to put into your study? When do you anticipate finishing data collection? Research, like any other tactic for expanding your company, should be carried out within your means. Nonetheless, it may be worthwhile to spend more money to receive the most comprehensive results available, especially if the questions you are answering are time-sensitive. 

Planning your approach and requirements. Find out what information needs to be gathered and figure out how to get it. Observation, surveys, phone calls, and focus groups are among the alternatives. Consult a professional research agency if you are unsure of how to organize your data collection. 

Pick a way to sample the data. I need to know how you plan on picking people to take part in your study. You may require a cross-section of the consumer population at large, a subset of the population who share a particular characteristic of their way of life, or just the opinions of those who are already familiar with your brand. Develop a plan for tracking down and contacting the persons who will take part in your research. 

Prepare a data analysis strategy. Think about the methods you'll use to examine the data. Do you require numbers for statistical analysis, or can you get a sense of things from qualitative, observable data? Spend some time learning about the many types of analysis so you can pick the one that will yield the most useful results for your study. 

Gathering information. The next step is data collection, which may begin once you have settled on a research question and developed a strategy for answering it within the bounds of your time and money. Research is often outsourced to professional firms or consultants by many corporations. 

Examining the information. It is important to apply certain methods of analysis to make sense of your data, no matter how simple it may appear at first. Which analytical techniques you employ are most suited to your data is a function of the information you've gathered. Also, this is the time to double-check for any mistakes that might have crept into your data gathering, analysis, or sampling. 

market research tools

Make the report you need. Concluding your research with a written report is the next to last stage. From formulating a problem statement to discussing the findings of your data study, your report should include it all. 

Why is Market Research Important?

Over 44,000 businesses across the United States provide some form of market research. Their total annual income is around $23 billion (QuestionPro).  

The importance of Market Research is the following -  

1. Identifies new products or services

By conducting market research, a business can learn what consumers want and how to best meet their demands. Identifying the major challenges associated with creating a product or service can help you save money. It's useful for figuring out what customers value most and how to implement that into your product or service offering. 

2. Identifies potential customers

You may learn more about your clientele by analyzing demographic information like their gender, age, income, occupation, and interests. You'll have a better idea of who to target with your future advertising efforts if you have a clear picture of your current clientele. When a product is marketed to the wrong demographic, sales suffer. 

3. Establishes viability of a product or service

If your organization is considering introducing a novel product or service to consumers, you should find out if there is a need for it. Do people need this product? Do the people you plan to sell to actually want this product? Does it have any chance of succeeding, and does it even have a chance of being a viable trend? 

4. Anticipates and discovers future market trends 

If you are familiar with your market and the tendencies that are just beginning to emerge, you will be better prepared to build tactics to combat any negative tendencies that may threaten your company. As a result, you can use rising tendencies to your advantage and propel your company forward. 

5. Keeps your company ahead of competitors

Examining your company's performance in relation to that of its rivals is a prime use for comparative research. If they're much ahead of you, it's a fantastic chance to figure out what you're doing wrong. It is possible to devise business plans that will help you surpass the competition. 

6. Decide the best marketing strategy

Conducting research is helpful for pinpointing the optimal distribution platform for reaching your target audience. If you find out that a large portion of your audience prefers one form of communication over another, it makes sense to concentrate your efforts there. Because of the scarcity of these resources, it only makes sense to direct them toward endeavors with a high probability of success. 

7. Reduces risk and increases profitability

The ability to assess the value of potential risks in light of past performance and anticipated future market behavior is a crucial business skill. The success or failure of a business idea depends heavily on the results of market research. Understanding your consumers and their habits is another crucial step in risk reduction. Taking less risk leads to greater financial rewards. 

8. Identifies threats and opportunities

The SWOT analysis is likely familiar to many of you. The acronym SWOT refers to a company's "strengths," "weaknesses," and "All four of them can be figured out with the use of market research . While a lot of data can be collected through market research, not all of it needs to be used. Use only information that is directly related to your major objective (which you will have established in advance). 

9. Helps to understand existing customers

By conducting market research, you can learn more about your current clientele. Because of this complexity, you can't assume that you know what your clients require. If you want to be successful, you need to take the temperature of your clientele on a frequent basis. Satisfaction levels among customers can also be measured with the help of surveys. You can find out what is bothering them and make adjustments if necessary. If they are already rather high, you can examine the factors that led to this success and implement changes to maintain it. 

10. Assists in realistic goal setting

Goals that are more realistic can be established with the support of up-to-the-minute information on your market and customer base. Knowing what to expect and how to realistically expand growth over time is greatly aided by establishing a growth pattern throughout time. Setting objectives that are too lofty will cause you to waste time and energy trying to achieve something that is impossible. 

 importance of Market Research

How Efficient is Market Research? 

You should only invest time, energy, and money into market research if you expect to see a favorable return on that investment. Because it is so worthwhile, market research continues to play a significant role in the success of any organization. Market research won't ensure your company's success on its own, but it will arm you with the data you need to make the moves that will. 

Many of the advantages of this type of study were examined, but the drawbacks were also taken into account. If you don't conduct market research, you run the danger of losing clients to the competition, missing out on growth prospects, being more susceptible to hazards, making bad business decisions, and more. Some companies succeed without first doing their homework, but those situations are unusual. To build your firm and avoid typical errors, conduct market research. 

Market Research Methods  

Although there are a variety of approaches to conducting market research, the majority of companies opt to utilize one of the following five fundamental approaches: surveys, focus groups, personal interviews, observation, and field trials. Which strategies you decide to implement for your company will depend on the kinds of data you require as well as the amount of money you are ready to pay. Some of the major methods of market research are following - 

1. Surveys 

Surveys ask participants questions. They can use numerous survey methods. Surveys are a cost-effective technique to collect data for the study. Written surveys may encourage truthful responses since participants feel like they're speaking privately. 

2. Discussions 

Focus groups are moderated discussions. Companies assemble consumers to conduct focus groups, pose questions, and record replies. Participants' replies may reveal what consumers want in a firm or a product because they represent a broad group. Focus groups offer longer participant interaction than surveys. 

3. Interviews 

An interview combines focus group and one-on-one survey aspects. It includes recording one participant's comments at a time. Open-ended questions elicit in-depth answers from the interviewee. Researchers can ask follow-up questions and let interviewees ask their own. 

4. Social media listening 

Social media users routinely discuss corporations and their products. Researchers can search for discussion topics and measure consumer sentiment through social media listening. 

5. Observations 

Observation in market research means studying how consumers shop. Filming shoppers in a store and studying their shopping habits is common. This strategy can reveal their natural selves if they are ignorant of the observation. 

6. Experiments 

In a field trial, a corporation lets participants use a product under typical conditions and collects data. Participants' feedback was used to improve the product. 

7. Competitive analysis 

Competitive analysis is a secondary market research process where companies acquire and analyze competition information. It entails identifying primary and secondary rivals and analyzing their offerings, revenues, and marketing methods. 

8. Statistics 

Public data entails seeking and evaluating public market data. This research is often free online or in libraries. Research centers, polls, or government databases may provide this information. Public data is often used to confirm or compare primary market research. 

9. Purchased data 

Companies without the time or resources to perform their own market research can buy it. Several market research companies sell database subscriptions. Small and medium-sized businesses that can't afford primary market research may benefit from this approach. 

10. Analysis of sales data 

Competition analysis is just one way that may be used in tandem with sales data analysis to show how different business tactics affect revenue. It can also reveal consumers' buying behavior and consumer trends. 

Functions of Marketing Research  

The following are the main functions of Marketing Research - 

Description: Marketing research details customers. Age, sex, education, income, etc., are listed. It describes the market and competitors. This description helps marketing decision-makers and problem-solvers. 

Evaluation: Marketing research evaluates firm performance. It evaluates production and marketing policies. It measures customer reactions to product quality, price, packaging, advertising, sales, and promotions. If consumers dislike the company's policies, they must alter them. It contrasts company and rival policies. 

Functions of Marketing Research  

Explanation: Marketing research answers all marketing questions. It explains why sales are declining, why retailers are unhappy, etc. It explains the problem's causes. It gives a solution. 

Prediction: Marketing research forecasts. Predictions are future forecasts. It predicts sales, market prospects, dangers, marketing environment, customer behavior, etc. All predictions may be wrong. Predictions help the organization create plans and policies. It helps seize possibilities. It prevents future hazards. 

Decision Making: Marketing research aids decision-makers. It gives decision-making data. Decision-making involves choosing between options. Decision-making requires accurate data. MR helps the marketer decide. It gives decision-making data. It offers alternatives. It compares each option's pros and cons. It helps marketing managers choose the right action. 


The world's markets are changing at a dizzying rate, making it more important than ever for companies to adapt quickly enough to be competitive. One method is to conduct market research. The results of your market research and analysis will provide you with a thorough understanding of your target audience's wants and needs, as well as your competitors' strengths and weaknesses. 

The key to making your business successful in the face of intense competition is identifying and fixing your deficiencies. The right market research tools will aid you in doing just that! The time to begin expanding your company is now.  

With a presence in New York, San Francisco, Austin, Seattle, Toronto, London, Zurich, Pune, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad, SG Analytics, a pioneer in Research and Analytics, offers tailor-made services to enterprises worldwide.    

A leader in  Market research services , SG Analytics enables organizations to achieve actionable insights into products, technology, customers, competition, and the marketplace to make insight-driven decisions.  Contact us  today if you are an enterprise looking to make critical data-driven decisions to prompt accelerated growth and breakthrough performance.

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Market Research Basics: What is Market Research?

  • Accessing Information
  • Advanced Web Searching
  • Definitions of Source Types
  • Industry Codes
  • Self-Check #1
  • Track Down "Who Cares"
  • Finding Trade Publications
  • Finding Industry Reports
  • Self-Check #2
  • Finding Competitors
  • Self-Check #3
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  • Finding Demographic Data
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  • Wrapping Up

Doing market research is like a cross between a scavenger hunt and a jigsaw puzzle.

pile of jigsaw puzzle pieces

There's no one magic information source that has all the answers. And sometimes, the information or data you're looking for may not even exist. Don't get discouraged! There are often alternate places to look or ways to search.

What is a market research definition?

Market research is " The process of gathering, analyzing and interpreting information about a market, about a product or service to be offered for sale in that market, and about the past, present and potential customers for the product or service; research into the characteristics, spending habits, location and needs of your business's target market, the industry as a whole, and the particular competitors you face " ( source ).

Essentially, it helps you answer some of the following questions:

  • What is the size of my market?
  • Who are my competitors?
  • Which market is best suited for my product or service?
  • How much will customers pay for my product or service?
  • What are the emerging trends in an industry?

These questions can be roughly divided into two categories, Industry Questions, and Market Sizing & Customer Discovery.

The best market research is a combination of primary and secondary information.

Primary information: research you compile yourself or hire someone to gather for you.

Secondary information : This type of research is already compiled and organized for you. Examples of secondary information include reports and studies by government agencies, trade associations or other businesses within your industry.( source )

This module focuses on secondary research.

The next section defines the information sources you will likely use in researching your market.

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Sales CRM Terms

What is Market Research? (Explained With Examples)

Oct 11, 2023

What is Market Research? (Explained With Examples)

Market research is an essential component of any business strategy. It helps companies understand their target market, identify consumer preferences, and make informed decisions about product development, marketing campaigns, and overall business growth. In this article, we will explore the concept of market research in detail, providing clear definitions, discussing advantages and disadvantages, and providing real-world examples to illustrate its importance

1°) What is Market Research?

Market research is the process of gathering and analyzing relevant data about a target market to gain insights into consumer behavior, preferences, and needs. It involves collecting both qualitative and quantitative data to understand market trends, competitor analysis, and customer satisfaction levels.

Market research plays a crucial role in helping businesses make informed decisions and develop effective strategies. By understanding the market dynamics and customer demands, companies can tailor their offerings to meet the specific needs of their target audience. This not only enhances customer satisfaction but also increases the chances of business success.

1.1 - Definition of Market Research

Market research can be defined as the systematic gathering, interpretation, and analysis of data about a specific target market, industry, or product/service. It helps businesses understand market dynamics, customer demands, and competitor strategies, ultimately enabling them to make informed decisions.

Market research involves various methods and techniques to collect data, such as surveys, interviews, focus groups, and observation. These methods help researchers gather both qualitative and quantitative data, providing a comprehensive understanding of the target market.

1.2 - Advantages of Market Research

There are several advantages of conducting market research:

Market Insights: Market research provides valuable insights into customer preferences, behaviors, and pain points, allowing businesses to tailor their offerings to meet customer needs effectively. By understanding what drives consumer decision-making, companies can develop marketing strategies that resonate with their target audience.

Competitor Analysis: By conducting market research, companies can gain a comprehensive understanding of their competitors, their strengths, weaknesses, and unique selling propositions. This knowledge helps businesses refine their own strategies and stand out in the market. It enables companies to identify opportunities for differentiation and develop competitive advantages.

Product Development: Market research helps businesses identify potential gaps in the market, enabling them to develop innovative products that satisfy unmet consumer needs. By understanding customer preferences and pain points, companies can create products that address specific challenges or provide unique solutions.

Evidence-Based Decision Making: By collecting and analyzing data, market research eliminates guesswork and supports data-driven decision making, reducing the risk of making costly mistakes. It provides businesses with the necessary information to evaluate market opportunities, assess risks, and make informed choices.

1.3 - Disadvantages of Market Research

While market research offers numerous benefits, it also has certain limitations:

Time-consuming: Conducting comprehensive market research can be a time-consuming process, requiring careful planning, data collection, and analysis. It involves identifying research objectives, designing research methodologies, collecting data, and analyzing the findings. This process can take weeks or even months, depending on the scope of the research.

Costly: Market research can be expensive, especially when involving large sample sizes or advanced research techniques. The costs include expenses related to data collection, analysis, and hiring research professionals. Small businesses with limited budgets may find it challenging to invest in extensive market research.

Accuracy Limitations: Despite efforts to ensure reliability, market research results are still subject to bias, sample error, and respondent inaccuracies. Researchers must carefully design their studies to minimize these limitations, but it is impossible to completely eliminate them. The accuracy of market research findings depends on the quality of data collection, sample representativeness, and the honesty of respondents.

2°) Examples of Market Research

Real-world examples can help illustrate the practical application of market research:

2.1 - Example in a Startup Context

Imagine a startup aiming to disrupt the meal delivery industry. Before launching their service, they conduct market research to identify the preferences and demands of their target audience. Through surveys, focus groups, and data analysis, they uncover that convenience, healthy options, and affordability are essential factors for their target market. Armed with this information, they develop a meal delivery service that meets these needs and differentiates themselves from established competitors.

For instance, during their market research, the startup discovers that their target audience values convenience above all else. They find that busy professionals and families are looking for a meal delivery service that can provide them with quick and easy options for their busy lifestyles. Armed with this insight, the startup decides to focus on developing a user-friendly mobile app that allows customers to easily order meals with just a few taps on their smartphones. This innovative approach to convenience sets them apart from their competitors and attracts a loyal customer base.

In addition to convenience, the startup also uncovers a strong demand for healthy meal options. They find that their target audience is health-conscious and actively seeks out nutritious meals that align with their dietary preferences. To cater to this demand, the startup partners with local farms and suppliers to source fresh and organic ingredients for their meals. They also collaborate with nutritionists and chefs to create a menu that offers a variety of healthy and delicious options. This commitment to providing healthy meals not only meets the needs of their target audience but also positions the startup as a trusted and reliable choice in the market.

Lastly, the startup identifies affordability as a key factor for their target market. They discover that price sensitivity is high among their audience, and they are looking for cost-effective meal delivery options that don't compromise on quality. To address this, the startup adopts a pricing strategy that offers competitive prices while still maintaining the quality and value of their meals. They also introduce subscription plans and loyalty programs to incentivize repeat customers and provide additional savings. This focus on affordability allows the startup to attract price-conscious customers and gain a competitive edge in the market.

2.2 - Example in a Consulting Context

A consulting firm specializing in marketing strategy decides to expand its service offerings. To ensure they align with market demand, they conduct market research to identify the most sought-after services and emerging industry trends. By analyzing market data, interviewing industry experts, and conducting competitor analysis, they identify a gap in the market for data-driven digital marketing strategies. This research helps the consulting firm refine their service offerings and attract new clients.

During their market research, the consulting firm uncovers a growing demand for data-driven digital marketing strategies. They find that businesses are increasingly looking for ways to leverage data and analytics to optimize their marketing efforts and drive better results. Armed with this insight, the consulting firm decides to develop a specialized service that focuses on helping businesses harness the power of data in their marketing strategies.

To deliver this service, the consulting firm invests in hiring data analysts and marketing experts with a strong background in data-driven marketing. They also develop proprietary tools and software that can collect, analyze, and interpret marketing data to provide actionable insights and recommendations to their clients. By offering this specialized service, the consulting firm is able to position themselves as industry leaders in data-driven marketing and attract clients who are seeking innovative and effective marketing solutions.

In addition to data-driven marketing, the consulting firm also identifies an emerging trend in influencer marketing. They find that businesses are increasingly turning to influencers and social media platforms to reach their target audience and build brand awareness. Recognizing the potential of this trend, the consulting firm expands their service offerings to include influencer marketing strategies. They develop partnerships with popular influencers in various industries and create comprehensive influencer marketing campaigns for their clients. This expansion allows the consulting firm to tap into a growing market and provide their clients with a holistic approach to digital marketing.

2.3 - Example in a Digital Marketing Agency Context

A digital marketing agency wants to optimize its client's pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns. They conduct market research to understand consumer behavior and identify effective strategies. By analyzing search data, conducting A/B testing, and reviewing industry case studies, they discover that creating personalized ad copy and optimizing landing pages increases click-through rates and conversions. Armed with this knowledge, the agency produces better results for their clients and improves their overall reputation.

During their market research, the digital marketing agency delves into consumer behavior to gain insights into what motivates users to click on PPC ads and convert into customers. They find that personalization is a key factor in capturing the attention of users and driving conversions. Armed with this insight, the agency develops a strategy that focuses on creating personalized ad copy that resonates with the target audience. They conduct extensive research on the target audience's demographics, interests, and preferences to craft ad copy that speaks directly to their needs and desires. This personalized approach increases the relevance and effectiveness of the PPC ads, resulting in higher click-through rates and conversions for their clients.

In addition to personalized ad copy, the digital marketing agency also discovers the importance of optimizing landing pages in maximizing the success of PPC campaigns. They find that a well-designed and user-friendly landing page can significantly impact the conversion rate of PPC ads. Armed with this insight, the agency conducts A/B testing to identify the most effective landing page design and layout. They analyze user behavior, conduct heat map analysis, and gather feedback from users to refine and optimize the landing pages. This meticulous approach to landing page optimization leads to improved conversion rates and a higher return on investment for their clients' PPC campaigns.

2.4 - Example with Analogies

Imagine a chef who wants to create a new dessert recipe. Before experimenting with ingredients, they conduct market research to gather inspiration and understand current dessert trends. By analyzing popular recipes, studying customer reviews, and experimenting with flavors, the chef can develop a unique and delicious dessert that resonates with their target audience.

During their market research, the chef explores various dessert trends and flavors that are currently popular among consumers. They analyze social media platforms, food blogs, and culinary magazines to identify the latest dessert trends and gather inspiration for their own creation. Armed with this knowledge, the chef experiments with different flavor combinations, textures, and presentation styles to develop a dessert that not only satisfies the taste buds but also captures the attention of their target audience.

The chef also pays close attention to customer reviews and feedback on existing dessert recipes. They analyze the strengths and weaknesses of popular recipes and use this information to refine their own creation. By incorporating customer preferences and addressing common complaints or suggestions, the chef ensures that their dessert stands out from the competition and meets the expectations of their target audience.

Market research plays a pivotal role in understanding consumer needs, identifying market opportunities, and driving business success. Whether you are a startup, consulting firm, or digital marketing agency, conducting market research can provide valuable insights, inform decision-making, and improve overall business performance.

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what is the meaning of business market research

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Market Research - Meaning, Importance & Types

What is market research.

Market research is a study conducted by firms to understand & evaluate market needs when planning to produce & sell new goods. Market research involves looking at target consumers, competitor benchmarking, existing prices & compiling data for calculated decision making. This knowledge empowers the company to understand the market opportunity as well as the industry.

Importance of Market Research

Whenever a company wants a launch a new product or service, it is utmost important they understand the industry, existing competitors, price trends, target customers and the overall business opportunity. This requires a thorough study via surveys, polls, research papers, interviews etc. This process of collecting, evaluating & analyzing data is known as market research.

Market Research

  • Marketing Function
  • Market Segmentation
  • Marketing Mix
  • Market Potential
  • Market Follower Strategy

Types of Market Research

The different types of market research are explained as:

1. Exploratory Research - This type of study is used to explore the basics needed to start any activity. It is a basic non-conclusive research, and after this more research study is needed. Exploratory study involves secondary research, pilot study, experiential research, case studies etc.

2. Descriptive Research - This study defines & describes the problem or opportunity that a company is seeking. This describes the population, demographics, household income, personas and the market.

3. Causal Research - This type of market research evaluates the cause-and-effect nature of consumers. This is more of a qualitative research which is used to identify the behavior of consumers.

Market Research Methods

There are several methods to collect data & conduct a study. Some key methods are:

3. Interviews

4. Secondary data or historical trends

5. Experiments

6. Observation

Advantages & Disadvantages of Market Research

Some benefits of such a study are:

1. Helps companies to improve performance.

2. Helps in understanding of the market better.

3. Marketing research can be useful increasing new products as per the needs.

4. Exploration of new markets for its products.

5. Better understanding of competitors, and customer perception.

Some disadvantages of marketing research are:

1. Forecasting can never be exact.

2. Errors in findings can affect overall understanding.

3. High cost and time consuming.

Hence, this concludes the definition of Market Research along with its overview.

This article has been researched & authored by the Business Concepts Team . It has been reviewed & published by the MBA Skool Team. The content on MBA Skool has been created for educational & academic purpose only.

Browse the definition and meaning of more similar terms. The Management Dictionary covers over 1800 business concepts from 5 categories.

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10 Reasons Why Marketing Research Is Important to a Business

It’s easy to dismiss the importance of marketing research. But new businesses need sales and customers as soon as possible, and market research can ensure that those sales and customers don’t stop coming.

Marketing research

When you get caught by the creative spark, it’s easy to underestimate the importance of market research. But there’s a real need for market research before you bring a product to your customers.

Today, I’ll take you through some basic marketing research concepts. I’ll also explain why marketing research is important and share some resources to help you get started on your own marketing research.

If you want to stay up to date, you should also read the in-depth guide to the latest marketing trends on the Envato Blog.

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What Is Marketing Research?

Before you can understand the importance of marketing research, you need to know what it is. Market research isn’t about a specific method or activity—it’s just what businesses call their attempt to learn more about their target customers.

While tasks like surveys and focus groups can help, they aren’t absolutely necessary, and they aren’t the only things you can do to research your target market. Here are some tasks that can be part of your market research:

  • Have short conversations with contacts who are part of your target market . Let’s say you’re looking to launch a wedding photography service. Talk to your contacts who have been married or who are engaged and ask them about their experience in hiring and working with a wedding photographer. Even a five-minute conversation can give you insights on how to run your business.
  • Look up Facebook groups relevant to your target market . This can provide a free, low-effort way to reach target customers online and ask them questions. Eventually, you can go back to these groups to promote your business, if the group rules allow for it.
  • Add a survey form to your website . If you already have a website for your small business, you can offer potential customers a small discount in exchange for completing a survey. This tutorial on online market research forms can help you get started.

The above activities are just a handful of tasks that could be part of your market research. In fact, you can classify any task as a market research activity as long as you end up knowing your target market’s needs, behaviors, and preferences.

The Importance of Marketing Research

These are the ten reasons why market research is important, especially for smaller teams and businesses:

1. Better Understand Customer Needs

While every business has many stakeholders, the customer is always at the center of what you do. Conducting market research helps keep your customer as your business’s focus.

Here is where you can avoid the disconnect that businesses of all sizes can have with their customers. Learning their perspective from first-hand accounts has its benefits, including understanding what their needs and wants are. Taking this information into consideration will help guide your strategy better.

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2. Uncover Emerging Trends

Understanding customer needs also means uncovering industry trends. When interpreting your findings, it’s not uncommon to identify where businesses like yours will be headed in the future.

Staying ahead of the curve has its benefits. It allows you to better serve your customers in the future. Your business will be able to better position itself as an industry leader. There’s also increased trust in a business that can cater to its customers’ current and future needs.

3. Identify Potential Issues

While it’s great to keep an eye on the future in market research, it’s also important to pick up on any pain points your customers have. Pain points are the issues that stand in the way of your customers having a smooth experience when interacting with your business.

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The more pain points you can identify, the better. After all, you can’t solve a problem you don’t know you have. This is why marketing research is so important: you’ll be able to work on solutions that have been bothering your customers with the data to support your efforts.

4. Easily Spot Business Opportunities

After you’ve done your market research, it’ll be clear who you want to reach out to (your target customers), where you can reach them (your marketing channels), and what they’re interested in. Once you’ve defined these, you’ll be able to easily spot business opportunities. For example:

  • Form partnerships with other businesses . Learning about who your customers are, such as their demographics, can help you find other small businesses that serve them. You can approach these businesses for joint promotions that’ll be mutually beneficial.
  • Create profitable order upgrades . Knowing the other products and services that your customers tend to buy can help you come up with add-ons, product bundles, and upsells that increase the average value of each order.
  • Find new locations to sell to . Knowing the geographical areas where most of your target customers live will allow you to create compelling targeted campaigns that suit the needs and culture of that area.

5. Lower Business Risks

Around half of businesses with employees don’t survive past the fifth year, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics . The way to make sure that your business survives for longer is to ensure that you’ve got a steady stream of sales and customers. To do that, you need market research.

Regular market research will be your way to check in with your current customers and potential customers to ensure that you’re still meeting their needs. Here’s how you can apply this:

  • Test new designs and products before launching . Before you go all-in on a dramatic change for your business, you can test it on a smaller subset of your audience to see if the change would be welcome. For example, if you plan to do a redesign of a popular product, show the new design to your most frequent buyers. Test or ask them if they’re more likely to buy the new design versus an alternative new design or the old design.
  • Find out why customers don’t come back . Ideally, your small business should have recurring customers. If they don’t come back, you can conduct a survey of previous customers or set up a focus group to find out why you’re not making any repeat sales.
  • Get insights on problem areas . If your most popular product sees a big drop in sales for three consecutive months, you need to find out how to fix it before it ruins your profits completely. Survey your most frequent customers about the product and find out where the problem lies. It could be anything from a decline in the product quality to a glitch on your online store. You’ll never know unless you ask.

6. Create Relevant Promotional Materials

If you’ve ever wondered what text or images to put on your fliers, website, or social media accounts thorough market research will tell you exactly what to do. Since target customers have already expressed all their wants, needs, and frustrations with you, you’ll know exactly what to address and how to address it when you start creating your marketing materials.

For example, author Tiffany Sun surveyed her readers to find out which problems they were trying to solve. Instead of coming up with blog topics or headlines in a vacuum, she used the results of this survey to brainstorm compelling topics.

Survey results for market research

Here are some other ways your marketing materials will be easier to create:

  • Knowing whether customers see your products and services as a necessity or as a luxury can help you design your product labels, brochures, and a website that fits their perception.
  • Identifying the age range of your customers can tell you the type of language you’ll be using in your promotional materials. You’ll write differently when addressing retired Baby Boomers than you would when addressing young professionals.

7. Know Where to Advertise

One of the problems that small business owners face is a limited budget. Because of this, your marketing budget should be optimized to give you the best returns possible. Your market research can help ensure that you’re reaching your intended audience in the channels where they’re most likely to see your message.

These are some of the budgetary tasks that your market research can help with:

  • Buying ads on social media . If your market research shows that your target audience spends most of their time on Instagram and almost never uses X, you’ll know to direct most of your social media ad budget to Instagram and forget about X.
  • Placing flyers and posters . Knowing the physical spaces where your customer spends their time will tell you where you can best place your advertising. For example, university students are likely to be on campus, so placing ads for that market means that you can try bulletin boards on campus or outside local establishments that their crowd tends to frequent.
  • Targeting ads . Online ads such as social media ads and pay-per-click ads can often be targeted with precision. This means that you can target based not just on the usual demographic data, but also based on online behaviors, life stage, and interests. If you truly know your customers, you’ll be able to maximize the potential for targeting. For example: here are some of the targeting options for Facebook Ads :

Targeting options for Facebook Ads

8. Outsell Competitors

Businesses that know their customers better tend to win more. If you can beat your competitors at finding out your customers’ needs and you aim to fulfill those needs, you’ve got a better chance of standing out from the competition. Here are some ways you can use market research to outsell competitors:

  • Target dissatisfied customers . Asking target customers about their frustrations with your competitors’ products or reading their product reviews can help you improve your own products and market them to an audience that’s ready to switch brands.
  • Find an underserved customer segment . Your market research might reveal that there’s a segment of the market that your competition has neglected. This will give you a new customer segment to reach out to.
  • Identify unaddressed customer needs . During your market research, you might uncover some customer pain points or desires that you don’t see addressed in your competitors’ marketing materials. Try including them in your own marketing and see if the results show an increase in sales.

If you need to know more about conducting market research with competitors in mind, check out this guide on how to write a competitive analysis . You can also learn more about finding out who’s buying from your competitors .

9. Set Better Goals for Your Business

When business owners set goals for their business, they’re typically related to growth in sales or customers. But without market research, you won’t be able to know if your goals are achievable and how to achieve them in the first place.

You might say that you want to double sales by the end of the next quarter. How would you know if this goal is feasible if you don’t know whether the size of your target market is more than twice the size of your current customer base? Without knowing the current size of your potential market, you’ll just be setting arbitrary goals.

With market research, you’ll be able to determine the specific ways you want to expand your customer base. For example, do you want to reach new customers via a new untapped market segment? Or do you still have room for growth among your current target audience?

If you need help setting growth goals for your business, check out this guide on small business growth strategies . You can also learn how to set effective goals for your freelance business .

10. Decision-Making Becomes Simple

The importance of marketing research frequently comes up when making tough business decisions. Instead of having arbitrary criteria for the decisions you make as a business owner, you can always go back to your market research report. Based on that report, will this decision lead to more customers? Will you be able to reach more people who are likely to buy from you? Will it be clear to them that your business can meet their needs?

While not all decisions should be solved by market research, many of them can be, such as:

  • where to spend your advertising or marketing budget
  • whether there’s a demand for a new product you want to make
  • if you should open a storefront in a new location
  • which products to discontinue and which ones to merely improve
  • how to price all your offers

There’s a real need for market research because it provides you with solid facts. Through market research, you’ll make more informed decisions rather than resting the fate of your business on guesswork.

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Discover the Importance of Market Research for Your Business

Now that you understand the importance of market research, you’re ready to get started. Your business doesn’t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on focus groups and extensive surveys to conduct market research. But it’s important that you do market research in the first place, and present your research findings with your team.

As long as you end up with a thorough list of your target market’s demographics, needs, and frustrations, you’ll be able to reap the above benefits as you grow your business. Why not get started with your marketing research today?

Present Confidently as a Research Marketer With Envato Elements

Being able to present your research and other marketing activities is crucial for any business. Instead of spending hours designing and editing, use the premium assets from Envato Elements. With a low monthly fee, you can download unlimited premium assets that you can use for your work or personal projects.

Sign up for Envato Elements today and start downloading as many premium PowerPoint templates, photos, and audio tracks as you want, without caps or worrying about licenses.

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June 14, 2024

Industry Research vs. Market Research: A Detailed Comparison

Prompt: I want you to act as a market and industry researcher and provide a detailed comparison between industry and market research. Create a table displaying the key characteristics of each type of research side by side, highlighting their unique aspects and differences. Give full citations with links to the sources you use.


Industry Research

Market Research


Understanding the broader industry landscape, including its size, growth, trends, competitive forces, and key players.

Analyzing the specific market for a product or service, including its size, demographics, customer preferences, buying behavior, and competitive landscape.


To assess the overall attractiveness and potential profitability of an industry, identify opportunities and threats, and inform strategic decision-making.

To understand the target market, identify customer needs and wants, and develop effective marketing strategies to reach and engage potential customers.


Macro-level analysis of the industry as a whole.

Micro-level analysis of a specific market segment.

Key Questions

- How big is the industry? - Is the industry growing or declining? - Who are the major players in the industry? - What are the key trends shaping the industry? - What are the barriers to entry and exit?

- Who are the target customers? - What are their needs and wants? - How do they make purchasing decisions? - Who are the competitors in the market? - What are the current market trends?

Data Sources

- Industry reports and publications - Government statistics and data - Trade association data - Financial statements of companies in the industry - Expert interviews

- Surveys and questionnaires - Focus groups and interviews - Customer data and analytics - Social media listening - Competitive intelligence


- PESTLE analysis - Porter's Five Forces analysis - SWOT analysis - Competitor analysis - Industry benchmarking

- Market segmentation - Target market analysis - Customer journey mapping - Buyer persona development - Competitive analysis


- Industry reports and analysis - Market entry strategies - Competitive intelligence reports - Investment recommendations - Strategic planning documents

- Market research reports - Marketing plans - Product development strategies - Customer segmentation reports - Pricing strategies

Examples of Use

- A company evaluating whether to enter a new industry. - A private equity firm assessing the investment potential of an industry. - A consulting firm advising a client on industry trends.

- A company launching a new product. - A marketing agency developing a campaign for a new client. - A retailer deciding which products to stock.

  • Bplans: Industry Research Versus Market Research: What's the Difference?: https://www.bplans.com/start-a-business/market-research/industry-vs-market-research/
  • Determ: Industry Research vs Market Research: 3 Crucial Differences: https://www.determ.com/blog/industry-research-vs-market-research/
  • Chron: Difference Between Industry & Market Analysis: https://smallbusiness.chron.com/difference-between-industry-market-analysis-41062.html

Feel free to ask if you have any further questions or would like me to elaborate on specific aspects of industry and market research!

  • Last Updated Jun 24, 2024
  • Answered By Peter Z McKay

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A Guide To The Top 14 Types Of Reports With Examples Of When To Use Them

Types Of Reports Blog By RIB Software

What Is The Report Definition?

What are the different types of reports, what does a report look like, what you should look for in a reporting tool, types of reporting for every business & purpose.

Businesses have been producing reports forever. No matter what role or industry you work in, chances are that you have been faced with the task of generating a tedious report to show your progress or performance.

While reporting has been a common practice for many decades, the business world keeps evolving, and with more competitive industries, the need to generate fast and accurate reports becomes critical. This presents a problem for many modern organizations today, as building reports can take from hours to days. In fact, a survey about management reports performed by Deloitte says that 50% of managers are unsatisfied with the speed of delivery and the quality of the reports they receive.

With this issue in mind, several BI tools, such as RIB BI+ , have been developed to assist businesses in generating interactive reports with just a few clicks, enhancing the way companies make critical decisions and service insights from their most valuable data.

But, with so many types of reports used daily, how can you know when to use them effectively? How can you push yourself ahead of the pack with the power of information? Here, we will explore the 14 most common types of reports in business and provide some examples of when to use them to your brand-boosting advantage. In addition, we will see how online dashboards have overthrown the static nature of classic reports and given way to a much faster, more interactive way of working with data.

Let’s get started with a brief report definition.

Construction Dashboard For Project Controlling

A report is a document that presents relevant business information in an organized and understandable format. Each report is aimed at a specific audience and business purpose, and it summarizes the development of different activities based on goals and objectives.

That said, there are various types of reports that can be used for different purposes. Whether you want to track the progress of your strategies or stay compliant with financial laws, there is a different report for each task. To help you identify when to use them, we will cover the top 14 most common report formats used for businesses today.

Top 14 Types Of Reports

1. Informational Reports

The first in our list of reporting types is informational reports. As their name suggests, this report type aims to give factual insights about a specific topic. This can include performance reports, expense reports, and justification reports, among others. A differentiating characteristic of these reports is their objectivity; they are only meant to inform but not propose solutions or hypotheses. Common informational reports examples are for performance tracking, such as annual, monthly, or weekly reports.

2. Analytical Reports

This report type contains a mix of useful information to facilitate the decision-making process through a mix of qualitative and quantitative insights as well as real-time and historical insights. Unlike informational reports that purely inform users about a topic, this report type also aims to provide recommendations about the next steps and help with problem-solving. With this information in hand, businesses can build strategies based on analytical evidence and not simple intuition. With the use of the right BI reporting tool, businesses can generate various types of analytical reports that include accurate forecasts via predictive analytics technologies. Let’s look at it with an analytical report example.

Sales Analytical Report

The example above is the perfect representation of how analytical reports can boost a business’s performance. By getting detailed information such as sales opportunities, a probability rate, as well as an accurate pipeline value forecast based on historical data, sales teams can prepare their strategies in advance, tackle any inefficiencies, and make informed decisions for increased efficiency.

3. Operational Reports

These reports track every pertinent detail of the company’s operational tasks, such as its production processes. They are typically short-term reports as they aim to paint a picture of the present. Businesses use this type of report to spot any issues and define their solutions or to identify improvement opportunities to optimize their operational efficiency. Operational reports are commonly used in manufacturing, logistics, and retail as they help keep track of inventory, production, and costs, among others.

4. Industry Reports

Next in our list of the most common kinds of reports, we have industry-specific reports. As its name suggests, these types of reports are used in specific industries and provide valuable information about KPIs and goals that are unique to that industry. For instance, construction reports are invaluable tools to track project progress and extract valuable conclusions to optimize processes.

The example below is a report for a construction company that has multiple active projects. The template offers a complete overview of performance with KPIs related to contract value, budget, and profit margins, among other things. That said, the most valuable part of this report is the detailed overview of finishing projects and projects in execution, where we see that industry-specific KPIs like the SPI and CPI are tracked for each project with color to understand the status at a glance. Templates like this one play a fundamental role in efficient project management in construction as they offer the necessary overview to make smart decisions with fresh data. 

Construction Project Report

5. Product Reports

As its name suggests, this report type is used to monitor several aspects related to product development. Businesses often use them to track which of their products or subscriptions are selling the most within a given time period, calculate inventories, or see what kind of product the client values the most. Another common use case of these reports is to research the implementation of new products or develop existing ones. Let’s see it in more detail with a visual example.

Product Innovation Report

The image above is a product report that shows valuable insights regarding usage intention, purchase intention, willingness to pay, and more. In this case, the report is based on the answers from a survey that aimed to understand how the target customer would receive a new product. Getting this level of insight through this report type is very useful for businesses as it allows them to make smart investments in new products and set realistic pricing based on their clients’ willingness to pay.

6. Department Reports

These reports are specific to each department or business function. They serve as a communication tool between managers and team members who must stay connected and work together for common goals. Whether it is the sales department, customer service, logistics, or finances, this specific report type helps track and optimize strategies on a deeper level. Let’s look at it with an example of a team performance report.

Department Report Template For Customer Service

The image above is a department report created with an online data analysis tool, and it tracks the performance of a support team. This insightful report displays relevant metrics such as the top-performing agents, net promoter score, and first contact resolution rate, among others. Having this information in hand not only helps each team member to keep track of their individual progress but also allows managers to understand who needs more training and who is performing at their best.

7. Progress Reports

From the branch of informational reports, progress reports provide critical information about a project’s status. Employees or managers can produce these reports daily, weekly, or monthly to track performance and fine-tune tasks for the project’s better development. Progress reports are often used as visual materials to support meetings and discussions. A good example is a KPI scorecard.

8. Internal Reports

A type of report that encompasses many others on this list, internal reports refer to any type of report that is used internally in a business. They convey information between team members and departments to keep communication flowing regarding goals and business objectives.

Internal Report Example For Hospital Management

As mentioned above, internal reports are useful communication tools to keep every relevant person in the organization informed and engaged. This healthcare report aims to do just that. By providing insights into the performance of different departments and areas of a hospital, such as in and outpatients, average waiting times, treatment costs, and more, healthcare managers can allocate resources and plan the schedule accurately, as well as monitor any changes or issues in real-time.

9. External Reports

Although most of the report types listed here are used for internal purposes, not all reporting is meant to be used behind closed doors. External reports are created to share information with external stakeholders such as clients or investors for budget or progress accountability, as well as for governmental bodies to stay compliant with the law requirements.

External Report Template

The image above is the perfect example of an external client report from an IT project. This insightful report provides a visual overview of every relevant aspect of the project’s development. From deadlines, budget usage, completion stage, and task breakdown, clients can be fully informed and involved in the project.

10. Vertical & Lateral Reports

Next, in our rundown of types of reports, we have vertical and lateral reports. This reporting type refers to the direction in which a report travels. A vertical report is meant to go upward or downward the hierarchy, for example, a management report. A lateral report assists in organization and communication between groups that are at the same level of the hierarchy, such as the financial and marketing departments.

11. Research Reports

Without a doubt, one of the most vital reporting types for any modern business is centered on research. Being able to collect, collate, and drill down into insights based on key pockets of your customer base or industry will give you the tools to drive innovation while meeting your audience’s needs head-on.

Research Report For Customer Demographics

The image above is a market research analytics report example for customer demographics. It serves up a balanced blend of metrics that will empower you to boost engagement as well as retention rates. Here, you can drill down into your audience’s behaviors, interests, gender, educational levels, and tech adoption life cycles with a simple glance.

What’s particularly striking about this dashboard is the fact that you can explore key trends in brand innovation with ease, gaining a working insight into how your audience perceives your business. This invaluable type of report will help you get under the skin of your consumers, driving growth and loyalty in the process.

12. Strategic Reports

Strategy is a vital component of every business, big or small. Strategic analytics tools are perhaps the broadest and most universal of all the different types of business reports imaginable.

These particular tools exist to help you consistently understand, meet, and exceed your most pressing organizational goals by providing top-level metrics on various initiatives or functions.

By working with strategic-style tools, you will:

  • Improve internal motivation and engagement
  • Refine your plans and strategies for the best possible return on investment (ROI)
  • Enhance internal communication and optimize the way your various departments run
  • Create more room for innovation and creative thinking

13. Project Reports

Projects are key to keeping a business moving in the right direction while keeping innovation and evolution at the forefront of every plan, communication, or campaign. But without the right management tools, a potentially groundbreaking project can become a resource-sapping disaster.

A project management report serves as a summary of a particular project’s status and its various components. It’s a visual tool that you can share with partners, colleagues, clients, and stakeholders to showcase your project’s progress at multiple stages. Let’s look at our example and dig a little deeper.

Project Report Template

Our example above is a construction project management dashboard that offers a 360-degree view of a project’s development. This invaluable construction collaboration tool can help keep every relevant project stakeholder involved and informed about the latest developments to ensure maximum efficiency and transparency.

Work and budget development and cost breakdown charts can help develop efficient construction cost control strategies to ensure the project remains profitable and on schedule. On the other hand, progress metrics like the SPI and the CPI can help assess construction productivity issues that can lead to delays and costly overruns.

14. Statutory Reports

It may not seem exciting or glamorous, but keeping your business’s statutory affairs in order is vital to your ongoing commercial health and success.

When it comes to submitting vital financial and non-financial information to official bodies, one small error can result in serious repercussions. As such, working with statutory report formats is a watertight way of keeping track of your affairs and records while significantly reducing the risk of human error.

Armed with interactive insights and dynamic visuals, you will keep your records clean and compliant while gaining the ability to nip any potential errors or issues in the bud.

Now that we’ve covered the most relevant types of reports, we will answer the question: what does a report look like?

As mentioned at the beginning of this insightful guide, static reporting is a thing of the past. With the rise of modern technologies like self-service BI tools, the use of interactive reports in the shape of business dashboards has become more and more popular among companies.

Unlike static reports that take time to be generated and are difficult to understand, modern reporting tools are intuitive. Their visual nature makes them easy to understand for any type of user, and they provide businesses with a central view of their most important performance indicators for an improved decision-making process. Here, we will cover 20 useful dashboard examples from different industries, functions, and platforms to put the value of dashboard reporting into perspective.

1. Financial Report

Financial KPI Report

Keeping finances in check is critical for success. This financial report offers an overview of the most important financial metrics that a business needs to monitor its economic activities and answer vital questions to ensure healthy finances.

With insights about liquidity, invoicing, budgeting, and general financial stability, managers can extract long and short-term conclusions to reduce inefficiencies, make accurate forecasts about future performance, and keep the overall financial efficiency of the business flowing. For instance, getting a detailed calculation of the business’s working capital can allow you to understand how liquid your company is. If it’s higher than expected, it means you have the potential to invest and grow—definitely one of the most valuable types of finance reports.

2. Construction Report

Bid Management Report

Our next example is a construction report offering the perfect overview for efficient construction bid management . In this case, the template is tracked for an enterprise that has multiple projects working simultaneously and needs a general view of how everything is performing to ensure maximum efficiency.

The key metric highlighted in this report is the net bid value, which shows the value of all submitted bids, including canceled ones. As seen in the net bid value by status chart, only a small amount is accounted for canceled bids, which means this organization’s construction bidding process is efficient. The rest of the charts displayed in the template help provide a deeper understanding of bids to make informed decisions.

Another valuable aspect of this construction report is its interactivity. The filters on top allow the user to visualize only data for a specific category, project classification, or bid status, making it possible to answer any questions that arise during meetings or discussions. This was not possible in the past as the construction industry relied heavily on static reporting. Luckily, with the rise of digital construction tools, like interactive real-time reporting, they no longer need to rely solely on intuition or outdated information. Instead, they have fresh insights at all times.

3. Marketing Report

Marketing Performance Report

Our following example is a marketing report that ensures a healthy return on investment from your marketing efforts. This type of report offers a detailed overview of campaign performance over the last 12 weeks. Having access to this information enables you to maximize the value of your promotional actions, keeping your audience engaged by providing a targeted experience.

For instance, you can implement different campaign formats as a test and then compare which one is most successful for your business. This is possible thanks to the monitoring of important marketing metrics such as the click-through rate (CTR), cost per click (CPC), cost per acquisition (CPA), and more.

The visual nature of this report makes it easy to understand important insights at a glance. For instance, the four gauge charts at the top show the total spending from all campaigns and how much of the total budget of each campaign has been used. In just seconds, you can see if you are on target to meet your marketing budgets for every single campaign.

4. Sales Report

Sales KPI Report

An intuitive sales dashboard like the one above is the perfect analytical tool to monitor and optimize sales performance. Armed with powerful high-level metrics, this report type is especially interesting for managers, executives, and sales VPs as it provides relevant data to ensure strategic and operational success.

The value of this sales report lies in the fact that it offers a complete and comprehensive overview of relevant insights needed to make smart sales decisions. For instance, at the top of an analysis tool, you get important metrics such as the number of sales, revenue, profit, and costs, all compared to a set target and to the previous time period. The use of historical data is fundamental when building successful sales strategies as they provide a picture of what could happen in the future. Being able to filter the key metrics all in one screen is a key benefit of modern reporting.

5. HR Report

Human Resources Report

Our next report example concerns human resources analytics. The HR department needs to track various KPIs for employee performance and effectiveness. However, it must also ensure that employees are happy and working in a healthy environment since an unhappy workforce can significantly damage an organization. This intuitive dashboard makes this possible.

Providing a comprehensive mix of metrics, this employee-centric report drills down into every major element needed to ensure successful workforce management. For example, the top portion of the dashboard covers absenteeism in 3 different ways: yearly average, absenteeism rate with a target of 3.8%, and absenteeism over the last five years. Tracking absenteeism rates in detail is helpful as it can tell you if your employees are skipping workdays. If the rate is over the expected target, then you have to dig deeper into the reasons and find sustainable solutions.

On the other hand, the second part of the dashboard covers the overall labor effectiveness (OLE). This can be tracked based on specific criteria that HR predefined, and it helps them understand if workers are achieving their targets or if they need extra training or help.

6. Management Report

Investors Management Report

Managers must monitor big amounts of data to ensure that the business is running smoothly. One of them being investor relationships. This management dashboard focuses on high-level metrics that shareholders need to look at before investing, such as the return on assets, return on equity, debt-equity ratio, and share price, among others.

By getting an overview of these important metrics, investors can easily extract the needed insights to make an informed decision regarding an investment in your business. For instance, the return on assets measures how efficiently are the company’s assets being used to generate profit. With this knowledge, investors can understand how effectively your company deploys available resources compared to others in the market. Another great indicator is the share price; the higher the increase in your share price, the more money your shareholders are making from their investment.

7. IT Report

IT Issue Management Report

Just like all the other departments and sections covered in this list, the IT department is one that can especially benefit from these types of reports. With so many technical issues to solve, the need for a visual tool to help IT specialists stay on track with their workload becomes critical.

As seen in the image above, this IT dashboard offers detailed information about different system indicators. For starters, we get a visual overview of the status of each server, followed by a detailed graph displaying the uptime & downtime of each week. This is complemented by the most common downtown issues and some ticket management information. Getting this level of insight helps your IT staff to know what is happening and when it is happening and find proper solutions to prevent these issues from repeating themselves. Keeping constant track of these metrics will ensure robust system performance.

8. Procurement Report

Procurement KPI Report

The following report example was built with intuitive procurement analytics software. It gives a general view of various metrics that any procurement department needs to manage suppliers efficiently.

With the possibility to filter, drill down, and interact with KPIs, this intuitive procurement dashboard offers key information to ensure a healthy supplier relationship. With metrics such as compliance rate, the number of suppliers, or the purchase order cycle time, the procurement team can classify the different suppliers, define the relationship each of them has with the company and optimize processes to ensure it stays profitable.

One of the industries that could truly benefit from this template is construction. Managing procurement in construction projects is not easy, as suppliers must be picked carefully to ensure they meet the project’s needs. An overview like this one can help assess the abilities of each supplier to choose the ones that best meet the requirements. In construction, supplier selection is more than just about pricing, it also involves availability, certifications, quality, etc.

9. Customer Service Report

Customer Service Report

Following our list of examples of reports is one from the support area. Armed with powerful customer service KPIs, this dashboard is a useful tool for monitoring performance, spotting trends, identifying strengths and weaknesses, and improving the overall effectiveness of the customer support department.

Covering aspects such as revenue and costs from customer support as well as customer satisfaction, this complete analysis tool is the perfect tool for managers who have to keep an eye on every little detail from a performance and operational perspective. For example, by monitoring your customer service costs and comparing them to the revenue, you can understand if you are investing the right amount into your support processes. This can be directly related to your agent’s average time to solve issues; the longer it takes to solve a support ticket, the more money it will cost and the less revenue it will bring. If your agents take too long to solve an issue, you can think of some training instances to help them reduce this number.

10. Market Research Report

Market Research Report On Brand Analytics

This list of report types would not be complete without a market research report. Market research agencies deal with a large amount of information coming from surveys and other research sources. Considering that, reports that can be filtered for deeper interaction become more necessary for this industry than for any other.

The image above is a brand analytics dashboard that displays the survey results about how the public perceives a brand. This savvy tool contains different charts that make it easy to understand the information visually. For instance, the map chart with the different colors lets you quickly understand in which regions each age range is located. The charts can be filtered further to see the detailed answers from each group for a deeper analysis.

11. Social Media Report

Social Media Report

Last but not least, we have a social media report. This scorecard-format dashboard monitors the performance of four main social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. It serves as a perfect visual overview to track the performance of different social media efforts and achievements.

Tracking relevant metrics such as followers, impressions, clicks, engagement rates, and conversions, this report type serves as a perfect progress report for managers or clients who need to see the status of their social channels. Each metric is shown in its actual value and compared to a set target. The colors green and red from the fourth column let you quickly understand if a metric is over or under its expected target.

12. Logistics Report

Logistics are the cornerstone of an operationally fluent and progressive business. If you deal with large quantities of goods and tangible items, in particular, maintaining a solid logistical strategy is vital to ensuring you maintain your brand reputation while keeping things flowing in the right direction.

Warehouse Logistics Report

A prime example designed to improve logistical management, our warehouse KPI dashboard is equipped with metrics required to maintain strategic movement while eliminating any unnecessary costs or redundant processes. Here, you can dig into your shipping success rates across regions while accessing warehouse costs and perfect order rates in real-time. If you spot any potential inefficiencies, you can track them here and take the correct course of action to refine your strategy. This is an essential tool for any business with a busy or scaling warehouse.

13. Manufacturing Report

Next, in our essential types of business reports examples, we’re looking at tools made to improve your business’s various manufacturing processes.

Manufacturing Production Report

Our clean and concise production tool is a sight to behold and serves up key manufacturing KPIs that improve the decision-making process regarding costs, volume, and machinery.

Here, you can hone in on historical patterns and trends while connecting with priceless real-time insights that will not only enable you to make the right calls concerning your manufacturing process at the moment but will also allow you to formulate predictive strategies that will ultimately save money, boost productivity, and result in top-quality products across the board.

14. Retail Report

As a retailer with so many channels to consider and so many important choices to make, working with the right metrics and visuals is absolutely essential. Fortunately, we live in an age where there are different types of reporting designed for this very reason.

Retail Report Template

Our sales and order example, generated with retail analytics software, is a dream come true for retailers as it offers the visual insights needed to understand your product range in greater detail while keeping a firm grip on your order volumes, perfect order rates, and reasons for returns.

Gaining access to these invaluable insights in one visually presentable space will allow you to track increases or decreases in orders over a set timeframe (and understand whether you’re doing the right things to drive engagement) while plowing your promotional resources into the products that are likely to offer the best returns.

Plus, by gaining an accurate overview of why people are returning your products, you can omit problem items or processes from your retail strategy, improving your brand reputation as well as revenue in the process.

15. Digital Media Report

The content and communications you publish are critical to your ongoing success, regardless of your sector, niche, or specialty. Without putting out communications that speak directly to the right segments of your audience at the right times in their journey, your brand will swiftly fade into the background.

Content Quality Report

To ensure your brand remains inspiring, engaging, and thought-leading across channels, working with media types of a business report is essential. You must ensure your communications cut through the noise and scream ‘quality’ from start to finish—no ifs, no buts, no exceptions.

Our content quality control tool is designed with a logical hierarchy that will tell you if your content sparks readership, if the language you’re using is inclusive and conversational, and how much engagement-specific communications earn. You can also check your most engaging articles with a quick glance to understand what your users value most. Armed with this information, you can keep creating content that your audience loves and ultimately drives true value to the business.

16. Energy Report

In the age of sustainability and in the face of international fuel hikes, managing the energy your business uses effectively is paramount. Here, there is little room for excess or error, and as such, working with the right metrics is the only way to ensure successful energy regulation.

Energy Management Report

If your company has a big HQ or multiple sites that require power, our energy management analytics tool will help you take the stress out of managing your resources. One of the most striking features of this dashboard is the fact that it empowers you to compare your company’s energy usage against those from other sectors and set an accurate benchmark.

Here, you can also get a digestible breakdown of your various production costs regarding energy consumption and the main sources you use to keep your organization running. Regularly consulting these metrics will not only allow you to save colossal chunks of your budget, but it will also give you the intelligence to become more sustainable as an organization. This, in turn, is good for the planet and your brand reputation—a real win-win-win.

17. FMCG Report

FMCG Report

The fast-moving consuming goods (FMCG) industry can highly benefit from a powerful report containing real-time insights. This is because the products handled in this sector, which are often food and beverages, don’t last very long. Therefore, having a live overview of all the latest developments can aid decision-makers in optimizing the supply chain to ensure everything runs smoothly and no major issues happen.

Our report format example above aims to do just that by providing an overview of critical performance indicators, such as the percentage of products sold within freshness date, the out-of-stock rate, on-time in full deliveries, inventory turnover, and more. What makes this template so valuable is the fact that it provides a range of periods to get a more recent view of events but also a longer yearly view to extract deeper insights.

The FMCG dashboard also offers an overview of the main KPIs to aid users in understanding if they are on the right track to meet their goals. There, we can observe that the OTIF is far from its target of 90%. Therefore, it should be looked at in more detail to optimize it and prevent it from affecting the entire supply chain.

18. Google Analytics Report

Google Analytics Performance Report

Regardless of your industry, if you have a website, you probably require a Google Analytics report. This powerful tool helps you understand how your audience interacts with your website while helping you reach more people through the Google search engine. The issue is that the reports the tool provides are more or less basic and don’t give you the dynamic and agile view you need to stay on top of your data and competitors.

For that reason, we generated a range of Google Analytics dashboards that take your experience one step further by allowing you to explore your most important KPIs in real-time. That way, you’ll be able to spot any potential issues or opportunities to improve as soon as they occur, allowing you to act on them on the spot.

Among some of the most valuable metrics you can find in this sample are the sessions and their daily, weekly, and monthly development, the average session duration, the bounce rate by channel and by top 5 countries, among others.

19. LinkedIn Report

LinkedIn Report

Another very important platform that companies use, no matter their size or industry, is LinkedIn. This platform is the place where companies develop and showcase their corporate image, network with other companies, and tell their clients and audience about the different initiatives they are developing to grow and be better. Some organizations also use LinkedIn to showcase their charity or sustainability initiatives.

The truth is LinkedIn has become an increasingly relevant platform, and just like we discussed with YouTube, organizations need to analyze data to ensure their strategies are on the right path to success.

The template above offers a 360-degree view of a company page’s performance. With metrics such as the followers gained, engagement rate, impressions vs unique impressions, CTR, and more. Decision-makers can dive deeper into the performance of their content and understand what their audience enjoys the most. For instance, by looking at the CTR of the last 5 company updates, you can start to get a sense of what topics and content format your audience on the platforms interact with the most. That way, you’ll avoid wasting time and resources producing content without interaction.

20. Healthcare Report

Healthcare Report For Patient Satisfaction

Moving on from platform-related examples, we have one last monthly report template from a very relevant sector, the healthcare industry. For decades now, hospitals and healthcare professionals have benefited from data to develop new treatments and analyze unknown diseases. But data can also help to ensure daily patient care is of top quality.

Our sample above is a healthcare dashboard report that tracks patient satisfaction stats for a clinic named Saint Martins Clinic. The template provides insights into various aspects of patient care that can affect their satisfaction levels to help spot any weak areas.

Just by looking at the report in a bit more detail, we can already see that the average waiting time for arrival at a bed and time to see a doctor are on the higher side. This is something that needs to be looked into immediately, as waiting times are the most important success factors for patients. Additionally, we can see those lab test turnarounds are also above target. This is another aspect that should be optimized to prevent satisfaction levels from going down.

Reporting Tools Features

As you learned from our extensive list of examples, different reports are widely used across industries and sectors. Now, you might wonder, how do I get my hands on one of these reports? The answer is a professional online reporting tool. With the right software in hand, you can generate stunning reports to extract the maximum potential out of your data and boost business growth in the process.

But, with so many options in the market, how do make sure you choose the best tool for your needs? Below we cover some of the most relevant features and capabilities you should look for to make the most out of the process.

1. Pre-made reporting templates

To ensure successful operations, a business will most likely need to use many reports for its internal and external strategies. Manually generating these reports can become a time-consuming task that burdens the business. That is why professional reporting software should offer pre-made reporting templates. At RIB, we offer an extensive template library for the construction industry that allows users to generate reports in a matter of seconds—allowing them to use their time on actually analyzing the information and extracting powerful insights from it.

2. Multiple visualization options

If you look for report templates on Google, you might run into multiple posts about written ones. This is not a surprise, as written reports have been the norm for decades. That being said, a modern approach to reporting has developed in the past years where visuals have taken over text. The value of visuals lies in the fact that they make the information easier to understand, especially for users who have no technical knowledge. But most importantly, they make the information easier to explore by telling a compelling story. For that reason, the tool you choose to invest in should provide you with multiple visualization options to have the flexibility to tell your data story in the most successful way possible.

3. Customization

While pre-made templates are fundamental to generating agile reports, being able to customize them to meet your needs is also of utmost importance. At RIB Software, we offer our users the possibility to customize their construction reports to fit their most important KPIs, as well as their logo, business colors, and font. This is an especially valuable feature for external reports that must be shown to clients or other relevant stakeholders, giving your reports a more professional look. Customization can also help from an internal perspective to provide employees who are uncomfortable with data with a familiar environment to work in.

4. Real-time insights

In the fast-paced world we live in today, having static reports is not enough. Businesses need to have real-time access to the latest developments in their data to spot any issues or opportunities as soon as they occur and act on them to ensure their resources are spent smartly and their strategies are running as expected. Doing so will allow for agile and efficient decision-making, giving the company a huge competitive advantage.

5. Sharing capabilities

Communication and collaboration are the basis of a successful reporting process. Today, team members and departments need to be connected to ensure everyone is on the right path to achieve general company goals. That is why the tool you invest in should offer flexible sharing capabilities to ensure every user can access the reports. For instance, we offer our users the possibility to share reports through automated emails or password-protected URLs with viewing or editing rights depending on what data the specific user can see and manipulate. A great way to keep everyone connected and boost collaboration.

As we’ve seen throughout our journey, businesses use different report formats for diverse purposes in their everyday activities. Whether you’re talking about types of reports in research, types of reports in management, or anything in between, these dynamic tools will get you where you need to be (and beyond).

In this post, we covered the top 14 most common ones and explored key examples of how different report types are changing the way businesses are leveraging their most critical insights for internal efficiency and, ultimately, external success.

With modern tools and solutions, reporting doesn’t have to be a tedious task. Anyone in your organization can rely on data for their decision-making process without needing technical skills. Rather, you want to keep your team connected or show progress to investors or clients. There is a report type for the job. To keep your mind fresh, here are the top 14 types of data reports covered in this post:

  • Informational reports
  • Analytical reports
  • Operational reports
  • Product reports
  • Industry reports
  • Department reports
  • Progress reports
  • Internal reports
  • External reports
  • Vertical and lateral reports
  • Strategic reports
  • Research reports
  • Project reports
  • Statutory reports

At RIB Software , we provide multiple solutions to make construction companies’ lives easier. Our construction data analytics software, RIB BI+, offers powerful business intelligence and reporting capabilities to help businesses in the building sector manage their data and make data-driven decisions to boost the quality of their projects. If you are ready to benefit from automated, interactive analytics, get a demo of RIB BI+ today!


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