The Top 8 Most Valuable Types of Market Research

Posted on February 20, 2023 | Updated on October 30, 2023

People running successful marketing campaigns need in-depth knowledge about customers and competitors. Excelling in marketing also demands intimate knowledge about the sector. A holistic approach for all types of market research informs marketing teams’ strategies.

Then, decision-makers can improve their investment choices. That may mean setting new budgets or eliminating or improving current methods. Have you wondered what makes some products instant successes while others fail? Market research can increase the chances of profitable efforts. The results let marketers preview how the public will respond to new offerings.

People can experiment with many market research types. Knowing the advantages of each shows where time is most well-spent. Let’s go into some of them now so you can understand which ones may be best suited for your needs. 

Defining Market Research Umbrellas

Market research has a few overarching categories that separate different methodologies. All market research efforts generate data, such as percentages or opinions.

The key is to not rely too much on one form of market research. Prepare to learn about and use many types during your career. Diverse methods give more comprehensive pictures of your subjects.

The two most notable groups are qualitative and quantitative market research. Quantitative market research obtains numbers, figures, and facts. Some studies may prioritize one over the other, but when analyzing target audiences, you would obtain insights from each.

Then, quantitative analysis gathers opinions and motivations. Both are more valuable when you have large sample sizes. An adequate sample size is most important for quantitative research, though.

Another designation is primary and secondary research. Primary refers to original research data that a company or individual gets first-hand. Referring to already-researched materials is secondary market research. Other methods include exploratory or casual research.

Modern or mixed-methods research may overlap with the goals of different research categories. Still, it can vary, especially due to technological and digital tools like social media or AI.

1. Surveys

Everyone has received or participated in a survey. They are one of the most accessible quantitative and qualitative research forms. Fill-in surveys with customizable responses can gather customer attitudes and give satisfaction percentages. Offering a small financial incentive or chance at a prize can encourage people to take part. Surveys also help you get perspectives from those outside your geographic area.

Here are some surveys most people encounter as a part of a company’s market research strategy:

  • Online questionnaires
  • Phone prompts
  • Mail-in surveys
  • In-person interviews
  • Text messages

Surveys are inexpensive and customizable, making them desirable options. Other types of market research sometimes have surveys within their larger objectives. That’s why these methods often overlap. You could also use survey data to steer future research efforts.

2. Focus Groups

Focus groups have coordinators managing small to medium-sized groups of people. The goal is to foster discussion about products or services. This is a costly method. But it’s often a worthwhile one. 

Proper execution can bring about helpful insights. You’re most likely to succeed with an unbiased and diligent focus group moderator. Finding willing participants also helps. Get them on your side early by giving them accurate details about the timing and format of each focus group. People should be more open and upfront if they feel you have been honest, too. 

Sometimes a focus group is a one-time event. Other situations may call for holding many focus groups about the same topic. Doing that can highlight participants’ varied responses. 

Video game developers run focus groups to identify problems before widespread releases. People play the games, uncovering bugs, glitches, and inconsistencies to address. Regular updates occur based on focus group feedback. Those testers help mold the game into its final form.

Early-access gamers engage in usability testing. That’s another market research method under the focus group umbrella.

3. Interviews and Roundtables

One-on-one or group interviews and roundtable discussions collect feedback in low-pressure environments. People weigh in on the products and services they use or have tried. They may also give opinions about potential new offerings. 

This market research is usually face-to-face, even if over Zoom. Then verbal and visual cues give insights beyond text feedback. Using Zoom could attract people who don’t want to travel.

Some interviewers prepare questions beforehand. But it’s often better to keep an adventurous mindset by allowing more flexibility. Less-structured discussions often lead to unexpected places. 

When that happens, the conversations could reveal unexpected and valuable information. Roundtable discussions have this effect, too. Participants hear what others in the room say, sparking innovative responses.

4. Segmentation

Marketing segmentation comes in almost as many forms as market research itself. It allows marketers to categorize their audience based on metrics. The metrics vary depending on the type of marketing segmentation:

  • Demographic: Involves aspects such as age, gender, education, income, and ethnic background.
  • Firmographic: Measures data like demographics but on a commercial scale. The details studied could include staff size and revenue.
  • Behavioral: Evaluates customer intentions. They span how people use products, what they buy, and social media engagement.
  • Psychographic: Measures more nebulous, personal concepts. They include morality, ethics, lifestyle design, or personal values.
  • Geographic: Measures based on climate, population, county, or language.

Marketing segmentation’s goal is to understand the target audience in more detail. It reveals where companies should invest their efforts to please the target audience. Segmentation results could also show customers or groups with unmet needs. 

5. Observational Study

Marketers can do observational research without participants’ permission or knowledge. It involves studying customers’ natural interactions in different environments. 

An observational study might involve monitoring how long shoppers’ look at store displays. It could also track which sections of a company’s website people visit most often. 

This research helps marketers learn if their efforts have the expected effects. Some observers tell the individuals about the study. But doing that could skew results due to the Hawthorne effect. It causes people to change their behaviors once they know others are watching.

Some businesses hire secret shoppers to perform disguised observations. In those cases, participants act as normal consumers. Company representatives instruct them on engagements to have with store workers. 

There are also indirect observations. Those could show which sidewalks have more litter than others, for example. Trials, experiments, and case studies can all include observational types of market research.

In any case, observational studies help company representatives learn more about B2C interactions. That’s vital since customers buy your products and keep the company profitable. Many customers also feel more loyal if they feel companies meet their needs. 

6. Desk Research

This is a form of secondary research where the name describes the method. People sit at desks, libraries, or their computer to do it. They dig into secondary resources to get market data and study trends. 

Some industries have more secondary research than others. That’s most common in newer industries. You may use secondary research more to learn artificial intelligence versus infant fashion. 

Secondary research can also increase customer confidence or desire for new products. Consider if well-known thought leaders discuss a specific problem. Their input could justify products that solve it. 

Here are some of the resources desk researchers can use to get this information:

  • Libraries, including books or academic journals
  • Schools and universities, including professors or industry experts
  • News and media outlets
  • Search engines

7. Phenomenological Studies

Market researchers must take time to empathize with customers. That means seeing company interactions and purchasing behaviors through their point of view. These goals illustrate the aim of phenomenological study. This qualitative research method shows consumer motivations. It’s a type of psychographic and behavioral market segmentation. It can include countless other forms of market research, like interviews and observation. But, the goal is always to understand audience behaviors and consumption patterns.

8. Competitive Analysis

Looking at what your competitors do can reveal how your company compares to them. You can then take pride in the superior aspects of your business and work on the areas to improve. Many company leaders perform competitive analyses when researching new business opportunities. The results can also reveal how to find new clients. 

A competitive analysis may also improve processes. It demonstrates ways to optimize the business for productivity and efficiency. Are you ready to conduct one? 

Start by researching companies and their business and marketing practices. Use Google, the company’s website, and reports to get customer feedback. Perform SEO research to see how online metrics perform. These avenues provide priceless data on ways to self-reflect on your enterprise.

Conducting Productive Market Research

Getting the best results from market research requires understanding your company’s mission. Sending an online survey might suit one campaign. But you may find experimental trials better suit more extensive efforts. Researching the market before releasing any product or service helps you determine interest. 

These activities can also inform advertising and targeting. You may find that some of these methods are staples in your industry. That doesn’t mean they’re the best choices, though. 

Always be open-minded about your results. The studies may surprise you, but they’re still valid and worth exploring. Stay motivated about trying new strategies and getting audience feedback from various places. These best practices will help you succeed with your chosen types of market research. 

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