You’ve probably come across this blog post because you find yourself in the middle of exactly what this post is about: Research. In today’s world dominated by the world wide web, research is usually the equivalent of a quick Google search. Fortunately (or not), there’s also an information overload out there and in most cases, we find enough data for our objectives. But researches are of several kinds and a cookie-cutter approach doesn’t always make the cut, pun intended. Market research is one such example, and an integral pillar of any business strategy.
As a general rule of thumb, just devouring pre-existing information on the internet will not help. A winning market research is one that has clearly outlined objectives. By the end of it, you must know exactly who you’re selling to, how and at the best price for them. And you.
Why researching your potential market is critical
Let’s begin with the basics: What is market research and what purpose does it serve in your business plan? Simply put, it is a study of your potential customers or buyers, as the case may be. It helps you arrive at the usability and desirability of your product or service and who your offering may be best suited for. Especially for a company that is in its initial stages, market research can help you get answers to these 10 important questions:
Four types of market research
You can go about collecting data in one or more of the following ways.
Primary research: The personal touch
This is the most direct and accessible kind of research for it essentially means you collect it right from the source. This is the research your plan, execute and analyse on your own and the data points are owned by you. By collecting data directly from your potential customers, you can embed the information into your business strategy and this is one of the key highlights of primary research.
Further, there are two types of data collection you can execute under primary research:
A. Exploratory: Open-ended; To identify the problem or its nature
B: Conclusive or specific: Guided by the problem identified in exploratory collection and aims to find a solution to said problem
You can conduct primary research by using (but not limiting yourself) to these 4 tools:
A. Surveys: These are among the simplest tools, all you need to do is put together a list of open-ended questions or a questionnaire with a selected scale and circulate among your target audience. You need not be physically present to collect the data. Be careful of choosing the right respondents and sample size, as well as using relevant questions.
B. Polls: With the ever-increasing and heightened interest in short-form or short-duration content, polls are a great way for you to grab some quick numbers and analyse them. It takes hardly a few seconds to respond. The only catch is- frequency. Asking a poll at a time might mean that you have to ask too many too often. So lay out a plan and timeline to cover all important questions via a poll.
C. Interviews: While interviews also consist of open-ended questions, they are more personalised in nature, in terms of interviewee-interviewer interaction as well as picking up on the cues from one’s responses. These can be telephonic, face-to-face or virtual. These can be useful when elaborate responses are needed to develop a market entry strategy.
D. Focus groups: While this sampling method can save time, in that you can get a sample group of up to 10 people and record their responses, people management can be a concern. You will have to monitor several responses together and one or more participants may be influenced by others’ responses. Focus groups can help generate in-depth, observable and actionable insights.
Secondary research: Sourcing data
In this type, data collection happens by tapping into pre-existing databases, knowledge bases and other secondary or tertiary sources. This can help you leverage facts and figures about your industry, competing firms or anything else that would be tedious to directly obtain. Now this is where your quick Google searches could come in!
Some examples include but are not limited to- research journals, government-released figures, analysis reports, textbooks, news pieces, statistical databases and more.
Smart tip from TSB: Don’t look at primary or secondary research in isolation. A well-planned strategy would be one that includes both in conjunction with one another.
Quantitative research: The numbers’ game
As its name suggests, this research focuses on gathering the figures and numerical values associated with your research. Gathering such empirical evidence is integral, as is analysing it to understand what’s working for you and what isn’t. Any computational, mathematical and/or statistical operation on the data collected is essentially quantitative research. Remember we mentioned sizes and segments of your market earlier in this blog? Those are exactly the kind of parameters that quantitative research can help you with.
The surveys and polls talked about in primary research are clear examples of quantitative data collection. Beyond such traditional tools of primary research, these days, Google Analytics, in-house content management systems and even business or creator tools on social media show statistics for the content you create and market. These are simple to track and can help you improve communication with your target audience.
The main types of quantitative research are:
A. Survey research: Survey research can help a company get answers to several survey questions, get data from a customer pool and analyse such data to obtain numerical results.
B. Descriptive research: This method helps form a hypothesis after aggregating all the required data. It describes the surrounding situation and environment of a variable.
C. Correlational research: This is conducted to determine a relationship between two variables, usually related, the impact of one on the other and subsequent changes.
D. Experimental research: The basis of experimental research is typically a theory that has not yet been proven and is being assumed. In such research, the analysis is performed around proving or rejecting the statement.
E. Causal-comparative research: Researchers use this quantitative research method to conclude the cause-effect equation between variables, where one variable is dependent on the other independent one.
In many ways, quantitative research lays the groundwork for the qualitative kind. It gives researchers certain benchmarks and starting points to dive deeper into the data and uncover more insights.
Qualitative research: Adding depth to data
Numbers are great. Numbers are important. But those numbers need to be supplemented with actionable insights and in turn, outcomes. Qualitative market research best helps you consolidate and summarise all that the numbers are pointing towards. It helps you gain a more accurate and elaborate understanding of who you are selling to and gauge their “vibe” or feel towards your product or service.
Perhaps the most obvious use case thus is in testing out product or brand communication. You can get feelers from a relatively large sample and keep it free-flowing and open-ended. Focus groups and in-depth interviews are two most obvious examples of conducting such research, among other primary and secondary research formats. Data in qualitative collection is too large or broad-based to be measured and thus, such research focuses more on the outward aspects of respondents such as body language, thoughts, reception etc. One way to make the most of the qualitative research process is getting enough feedback from your potential customers about numerous aspects of your product or service- pricing, branding, desirability, scope for improvement et al.
Here’s a snapshot of the key differences between quantitative and qualitative market researching methods:
1. Data points: Quantitative research is based on figures and numbers whereas qualitative data takes into account opinions, experiences and beliefs of respondents.
2. Sample size: Quantitative research can be applied on a larger sample of population compared to qualitative research for it is difficult to analyse a large quantum of non-numerical data.
3. Research tools: Surveys, polls, financial information and statistical historical data available on the internet are the most common ways under quantitative research whereas qualitative research uses tools such as interviews, focus groups etc.
4. Data analyses: In quantitative research, one usually arrives at conclusions that are also numerical in nature, such as X% of the sample prefers A over B. On the other hand, qualitative research yields results that are more in-depth and explanatory in nature.
5. Types of questions: From this standpoint, quantitative data collection involves close-ended and objective questions that are answered in black or white. Qualitative analysis consists of open-ended questions which are of a subjective and more detailed nature.
We can help you…
The Strategy Boutique (TSB) has helped many firms lay out their business and marketing roadmaps, implement market research and enter the market with their best foot forward. From brand remodelling for a leading skincare brand in India to healthcare incubation in Africa, we continue to provide ethical, fair and pragmatic solutions across the globe, to firms of different scales and scopes. Take a look for yourself: https://thestrategyboutique.com/project.html