What Types of Market Research You Should Be Conducting (and When)
Many business owners are confused and frustrated by just the thought of market research. Since you’re here now, you probably feel the same way. Fortunately, we’ve made it easier for you to grasp by explaining the different types of market research. Moreover, we’ve provided some advice on when you should take a deep dive into your customers, competition, and industry.
But first, it’s worth exploring the relationship between market research and marketing strategy…
How Are Market Research and Marketing Strategy Connected?
Essentially, market research helps build the foundation of your marketing strategy. Think of your marketing strategy as your playbook—it maps out how you play the game (and win). But that strategy doesn’t just appear out of thin air. It’s something you have to put time and effort into developing.
And the most effective, well-developed strategies are those based on data and insights, which you get from—you guessed it—market research.
By conducting this kind of in-depth research, you’re able to…
- Build out customer avatars
- Identify competitors in your industry
- Pinpoint market trends and opportunities
- Determine potential product/service performance
Further, you can continue to improve your marketing efforts by using research to reveal areas of weakness in your current strategy.
Now that you understand how crucial research is to your overall strategy, let’s look at the main types of market research…
What Are the Main Types of Market Research?
Generally speaking, there are two main types of market research: primary and secondary. There are other subtypes and methods of research, but don’t let that confuse you! They all fall under the umbrella of either primary or secondary research.
1) Primary Research
Primary research refers to the first-party data and information you gather on your own. Typically, it’s collected by reaching out to your existing (and potential) customers. This allows you get insights specific to your business and offerings. Because it comes directly from those who’ve already shown an interest in what you have available, primary research is considered the most valuable.
With it, you learn exactly what your customers like, don’t like, and so on.
Here are some examples of primary research:
- Focus groups
2) Secondary Research
Secondary research, on the other hand, is third-party data and information you get from outside sources. Oftentimes it’s found by sorting through materials from government agencies, chambers of commerce, trade associations, and even your competitors. The insights you get aren’t quite as specific. However, they’re still useful for understanding your industry as a whole. Plus, conducting secondary research is an affordable, time-saving option for small and medium-sized businesses.
With this type of research, you can get a better idea of what you’re up against in the marketplace.
Here are some examples of secondary research:
- White papers
- Analyst reports
- Conversations on social sites
How These Types of Market Research Break Down
The main types of market research can also be broken down into two categories: quantitative and qualitative. This refers to the kind of information you get from your research. Based on the names, you can probably guess how they differ…
Quantitative research deals with—that’s right—facts and figures. In essence, it’s all about gathering numbers for statistical analysis. Since you can collect such data from your own customer base and outside sources, it can be either primary or secondary in nature.
The great thing about quantitative research is that it gives you hard data to back up your marketing strategy. There’s less interpretation involved. Instead, you get reliable insights that can help guide your marketing efforts.
Quantitative research findings can take various forms, including…
- Website metrics
- Email clicks and open rates
- Customer ratings
- Social media followers
Qualitative research is focused on unstructured data. Specifically, it makes use of opinions and observations that can’t be measured. Like quantitative research, it can also be discovered through primary or secondary means.
What’s great about qualitative research is that it helps you understand how your customers feel and think. It gives you a glimpse into the minds (and even hearts) of your target audience. Plus, it allows you to take their feelings and thoughts into consideration when building your marketing strategy.
Qualitative research findings can also take various forms, such as…
- Interview responses
- Chatbot interaction
- Focus group observation
- Blog comments
Now, you may be asking yourself, “Do I really need both quantitative and qualitative research?” And the answer is yes!
Here’s the thing…
The most successful organizations are those that see the value of tapping into both areas. They understand that combining these kinds of insights yields the best results, as it provides a broader view. If you want to build a solid marketing strategy, you need to take everything into account. And by looking at both quantitative and qualitative research, you can make sure that you’ve covered all your bases.
When Should You Conduct Market Research?
There really isn’t a hard-and-fast rule about conducting market research every week, month, or quarter. Ultimately, however, it’s something you should revisit on a regular basis.
As we’ve seen over the last few months, the world (and your particular market) can change at a moment’s notice. That means you need to stay up to date on the goings-on with your customers, competition, and industry. Doing so ensures that your marketing strategy remains strong. And as an added bonus, it makes it much easier for you to pivot when necessary.
That being said, there are some specific times when conducting different types of market research should go at the top of your to-do list.
- Before launching a new start-up
- Prior to introducing a new offering
- As a follow-up to a recent product release
Basically, you should start doing research whenever you’re working on a new project. That way, you can get the information you need to inform your marketing efforts and predict performance.
To develop a winning marketing strategy, you’ve got to make research a top priority. After all, getting insight into your customers, competition, and industry is key to ensuring your company stands out from the crowd. Therefore, you really can’t afford not to do your research.
Now that you understand what types of market research you should be doing (and you’re feeling a lot more confident), it’s time to act. So, get to work on conducting your research now. And make sure you apply those findings!