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Top 5 Market Research Methods And Tools

Kate William

8 min read

Have you heard of Odeo?

In 2005, Evan Williams launched a podcast platform called Odeo. The platform went as far as a Series A before shutting down when Apple launched podcast support on iTunes. His next product would go on to earn more than 330 million monthly users and a net worth of over $49 billion. But before that could happen, Evan Williams and his co-founders would leave no stone unturned in their market research methods.

In this blog, we’ll help you learn what marketing research is. You will also learn about the best methods and tools to do market research like a pro.

What is market research?

Market research is a process of gathering, analyzing, and understanding information about your target market. Market research involves interacting with and getting the feedback of potential customers from a company’s target market.

Then, businesses use this feedback to fine-tune their products, services, experiences or campaigns, or check the viability of new products and services. That’s why market research methods are a significant component of business planning.

What are the types of market research?

Market research methods have two types:

  • Primary: This is also called field research. Primary market research methods require going out into the field to collect data – or in other words, doing the research yourselves.
  • Secondary: This type is also known as desk research. Secondary research is the research done by others that you would want to utilize.

For the purpose of this blog, we shall focus on primary market research methods.

The 5 primary market research methods

#1. Focus Groups

It is one of those marketing research methods that seem simple in theory but is tricky to practice.

Focus groups gather a group of people in a room. These participants are a carefully chosen sample that represents a target population. Then a moderator is put in charge. The moderator suggests a topic for discussion – a new idea for a product, opinions on feature updates, political views, etc.

These freestyle discussions are a treasure trove of information for the researcher. They can glean many insights from the participants during an open debate. But one of the downsides is that focus groups can go off-topic and wander into unintended territories. What’s more, dominance bias and moderator bias can skew the results. Nevertheless, focus groups are one of the best means to conduct qualitative and exploratory research.

#2. Surveys

Survey research is, by far, the most common marketing research method. This is because surveys are convenient and can be administered through phone, in-person, and online questionnaires.

The questions in a survey are either closed-ended or open-ended. Hence survey data is a mix of qualitative and quantitative data. Close-ended questions are of different types: ranging from dichotomous (questions with two answer options: yes or no), checkbox, rating scales, and multi-choice to the fancier ones like matrix (where the answer choices are in a grid) and the semantic differential.

While surveys are convenient, crafting the questions and format requires some skill. That’s because good questions form the foundation of good analysis. On the other hand, online surveys are pretty straightforward, inexpensive, and let you collect data quickly. Online survey platforms also have a ton of features that lets you automate the surveys.

#3. One-on-One Interviews

In one-on-one interviews, the interviewer has a direct conversation with the respondent. So among all the market research methods, this one is the most personal. Through interviews, one can probe deep into the respondent’s mind and investigate interesting aspects in greater detail.

Apart from the fact that one-on-one interviews can be time-consuming and costly, they are worth it. As a business, speaking to a customer will help you become more empathetic, and you get a chance to see your brand from their point of view.

The interviewer must choose good leading questions that offer more insights for this market research method to truly work. Then, it’s up to the interviewer to decide how they want the interview to go forward. For example, will it be a casual conversation loosely based on your topic or a highly structured interview based on specific questions?

It’s best to do one-on-one interviews in person. If that is not possible, the next best option is video conferencing.

#4. Observation

Observation research can be of 2 types: observation with very little interaction and some level of interaction. Among all the market research methods, this one tests actual behavior. In other words, the researcher observes the consumer using the product/service in real-time.

A fly-on-the-wall observation is an excellent way to assess real-time reactions. Standard observation methods are:

  • In-store observation: This is common in the retail industry. In this method, we observe shoppers in a store setting. What do they notice at first, and how do they behave within the store?
  • Contextual inquiry: With a combination of interviews and observations, the researcher assesses the consumer as they use their product.
  • Eye-tracking: Eye-tracking technology creates heat maps of the user’s eye movements while viewing a website. It shows you the most and least viewed portions. Using this information, you can optimize the website.

#5. Experiments and Field Trials

Experiments are based on two variables- a dependent and an independent variable. In this method, the researcher varies the independent variable to test its effect on the dependent variable. The main objective here is to try if there is causality between variables. For example, does the independent variable cause a change in the dependent variable?

Experiments and field trials can either be in a controlled environment or a natural setting. An example of this in real life is A/B testing for a website. Modifying elements like the banner image, Call To Action, or website design can affect click-through rates and sign-ups.

What are the best tools for market research?

Now that you have learned about market research methods let’s look at some tools to help you on your quest for data. Here are the 5 best market research tools for 2021.

SurveySparrow

SurveySparrow is a powerful tool for creating insightful research surveys to study your market in-depth. It has hundreds of templates to help you craft the perfect study yourself without investing in an agency.

From demographic research and customer needs to product-market fit and pricing strategy, market research surveys will give your business that much-needed competitive edge. As an example, check out this template for market research.

Templates can save you time on question creation and help you focus on getting insights. You can get access to more templates and customize them with a free account.

Make My Persona

Defining your audience is the most effective way to market your brand. Each user has a persona of their own – be it their occupation, age, gender, or the purpose of using your products. Make My Persona lets you create a buyer persona that your business can use to understand your target audience better.

All you need to do is choose a name, age, career, and your buyer’s needs. Then, before you invest time and resources in building a new product, you can refer to your list of buyer personas to find your ideal customer.

Social Mention

Where does your brand pop up in search? Social Mention helps you find out. Social Mention is a free tool that ensures you don’t miss a single comment about your brand on the internet. You can use it to discover brand mentions on blogs, comments, news sites, and more.

Social Mention gives you a glimpse into the top keywords and hashtags associated with your brand name. It also does a basic sentiment analysis of mentions and sorts them into positive, neutral, and negative. What’s more, you can download each data as a CSV file.

Ubersuggest

Ubersuggest is a popular tool with digital marketers for its keyword research abilities. Through its Competitive Analysis feature, it lets you find out your competitor’s keywords, their best-performing pages, and monthly search traffic.

Moreover, you can also find out what your audience searches for through the Keyword Analyzer and figure out the kind of content that generates traffic. Interestingly, Ubersuggest has a new feature called Backlink Opportunities that lets you compare your domain with your competitor’s to uncover backlink opportunities.

Statista

Another valuable market research tool to have in your arsenal is Statista. Statista is a data visualization website that retrieves data from the internet and converts it into an easy-to-understand format. As a result, researchers and marketers can analyze information at a glance, saving a ton of time and effort. Visualizations and charts are updated each year.

Take, for example, a research study on the increasing use of cosmetics among women. The statistics of the year 2015 won’t be the same as the year 2020, and the graph will automatically update over the years.

ThriveCart

There’s one more tool that you can add to your armory – ThriveCart. While this tool is an online shopping cart solution, it can also be used to upsell your products and boost click-to-sale conversation rates.

ThriveCart can also be integrated into most of your favorite marketing software to spike your digital/physical products/services sales.

What are the basic steps of market research?

Now that we have learned about market research methods and tools, let’s talk about the four basic steps to do market research.

#1. Define the problem

What’s your objective for the research? Researchers should have a clear idea of what information they have with them and what is needed. This will help when they draft questions.

To ensure that the questions are foolproof, do a test survey with a small group and judge their responses. You can then measure the margin of errors with an MoE calculator.

#2. Select the sample

To conduct market research, researchers need a sample representative of their target population. The sample must have similar characteristics to the target audience to obtain the most accurate results. The larger the sample, the better because a large sample can reduce the effect of bias. However, remember that the survey will always have a slight bias since not all people will answer it or complete it.

You can select the sample through probabilistic and non-probabilistic sampling. The former is a random selection, while the latter is chosen for specific demographics like age or gender.

#3. Collect and analyze the data

Data is precious. So make sure that your team tracks and records every response regardless of the feedback channel. Then, once all the answers are collected, analyze the results and interpret them to form your research findings.

#4. Finally, present your findings as a report

To create the best report, answer the most important questions that led to the investigation in the first place. Then, to make the numbers more accessible, find humanity in the middle of it all. People by nature are hardwired to remember stories – craft your data to tell an interesting story.

What is the best example of market research?

There are so many market research examples out there that it would be a very long blog indeed if we were to cover them all! So let’s talk about one market research example.

Consider the unique story of Kellogg’s.

Kellogg’s – the much-loved cereal brand- decided to enter the Indian market in 1994. With a series of massive launches and marketing campaigns, Kellogg’s stepped in with a bang.

But its initial foray into India did not go smoothly. So let’s see what went wrong and how Kellogg’s overcame this challenge.

  • They saw their sales decline a few months after launch. Analysis revealed that there were no repeat purchases of cereals.
  • Now that they got to the bottom of “what happened,” they needed answers to “why did this happen?”
  • This is where marketing research came in. Kellogg’s decided to study Indian food habits.
  • The study found that Indian consumers are used to boiling their milk and having it warm with sugar. So the challenge here was to convince customers to have their Kellogg’s with cold milk rather than hot – since crispy flakes would turn soggy in warm milk.
  • Besides, Indian customers were used to heavy breakfasts like parathas and dosas. So bland cereal did not seem like a good substitute – that too at twice the price of competitors.
Every cloud (or bowl) has a silver lining. Here’s how Kellogg’s turned the situation around.

After their initial market research, Kellogg’s fine-tuned their marketing strategy in India.

  • The first to go from their packaging was their brand mascot “Corny,” the green rooster. Corny didn’t sit well with Indian consumers, who were predominantly vegetarian.
  • They introduced flavors like banana and mango to suit Indian taste buds.
  • Kellogg’s also rolled out ad campaigns that repositioned cornflakes as an evening snack for kids to recapture their market share.
  • Furthermore, they fortified the cornflakes with iron and added phrases like “shakti”(strength) to appeal to Indian consumers.
  • Kellogg’s lowered the prices of its products and started to offer a variety of pack sizes. A variant called Frosties, launched in 1997, was also a great success.

Thanks to their market research, Kellogg’s now enjoys a 70% market share in breakfast cereals and is an undisputed leader in the Indian market, despite the initial challenges.

Wrapping up

Market research is the foundation of any successful market strategy. So before embarking on a research project, consider your objective, budget, and the time and resources available.

We hope this list of market research methods and tools will help you find the data you need faster. Time to take your business to the next level!

Kate William

Content Marketer at SurveySparrow

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