What is Market Research?

By the Editors

Market researchers gather information about people and their opinions, behaviors, preferences, habits and lifestyles. At its simplest, market research is all about asking the right people the right questions and understanding their answers.

Suppose you have been asked to do some market research, or think you should do some to help with a marketing or business problem. Now what? What are some of the things to think about to ensure a successful market research project?

  • First, think about the business problem you are trying to solve. What is the specific question you need to answer? For example, you might want to know why a new product is not meeting its sales goals, which new ad should be chosen for a campaign, what the right price is for your product, or where to open a new factory or store. These are all questions which can be answered by conducting market research. A useful way to proceed is often to do some “qualitative” research first, among a small group of people, to help to define the questions that could then be asked in a “quantitative” survey.
  •  Next, who will you need to talk to? For example customers, colleagues, potential investors, etc.  – and how will you find those people.  Sample or panel companies provide access to large populations across the globe, targeting by thousands of different criteria. Other sources of the people you need might include customer lists. It is important to understand how well the people you choose represent all the people you are interested in. Asking 500 of your customers a question will almost certainly give a very different answer than asking a sample of 500 people chosen to represent an entire country’s population.
  • What other sources of data could help answer your questions? There are many sources of data online.
  • What is the budget and how much time do you have? The answer to this question will drive many decisions: how much of the project you will handle yourself rather than hiring people to do it, what your sample source will be, how many questions you can ask of how many people, how long the project will take, etc..

A sample and data collection company like SSI can help you plan, and most importantly advise you on how to design a market research project so you end up with data you can trust to make your business decisions.