Market Research Methods
Learn about all the different market research methods like focus groups, 1:1 interviews, online surveys, ad testing, usability research, in-market tracking and more. Also learn about the pros, cons and best uses for different market research methods.
The market research function at large companies generally involves leading teams responsible for Consumer Insights, Product Development Research, Customer Segmentation, Marketing Effectiveness Measurement, Shopper Insights, Packaging Research, Brand Perception measurement, and Media Insights.
Small companies typically use online surveys and focus groups. You may gain a competitive advantage by understanding the market research methods larger companies use and trying the newer, more innovative types of research like "qualy-quant" and social media monitoring.
Market research methods
There are two primary types of market research: quantitative and qualitative.
Quantitative research is conducted with a large enough number of people to provide statistically accurate measurement and analysis.
Surveys and polls with multiple choice answers are the most common type of quantitative research.
Quantitative research is very structured and involves a large number of participants.
Every respondent is asked the same series of questions. Or different “test cells” are set up and results are compared when one variable is changed.
The results (data) are analyzed or "mined", often with specialized tools or experts in a particular type of market research.
Quantitative research can be conducted online, by email, by phone or in person.
Learn about these types of quantitative research methods for marketing:
- Customer satisfaction surveys
- Market research surveys that are done with 100 or more people.
- Ad testing is specialized research to assess how effective an ad concept or finished ad is.
- Usability research is generally considered projectable and statistically valid.
Opinion polls and market tracking studies that measure ad and brand recall and brand popularity are other kinds of quantitative research.
Qualitative market research is conducted with a small number of people, generally either through 1:1 interviews, focus groups, or by observing people to gather directional insights from customers and prospects.
- Qualitative research is not statistically projectable because only a small number of people are part of these studies. It’s used to generate ideas, understand answers to “how” and “why” questions and guide decision making.
- Unlike quantitative research, qualitative research is less structured. The interviewer, moderator or observer uses a discussion guide to explore and record various issues in-depth. The discussion between the interviewer and the respondent is a conversation. The respondents answers are recorded in a report and may also be audio or videotaped.
- After interviewing (or observing) research participants, the researcher writes a summary of the insights gleaned and action recommendations. This is not statistically projectable. It’s consulting informed by the customer interviews or observations.
1:1 interviews are generally conducted in a research facility or in the participant’s home or office. Other in-depth interview techniques include a paired interview (two people), a triad (three respondents) or a mini group of three to five people.
Ethnography research is done by observing people’s behaviors (the human equivalent of what Jane Goodall did as an animal behaviorist with her observations of chimpanzees in their natural habitat).
How-to guides on qualitative market research:
- Focus groups. These are discussion groups made up of six to eight participants with a research moderator whose role is to guide the discussion. Typically these are done in a research facility with one-way mirrors for clients to watch. They can also be done in offices, conference rooms, trade shows or restaurants and bars.
- Mystery shopping where someone pretends to be a prospect or buyer and records their experiences.
Next page - newer market research methods and techniques
Top Online Survey Suppliers
Top Market Research Suppliers
- Ad Testing
- Customer Satisfaction Surveys - how to create effective surveys with actionable results. Recommendations on what questions to ask.
How to Find Market Research Participants
- Market Research Screeners - how to qualify people before you ask them questions
- Mystery Shopping - how it works, how you can do this yourself or hire experts
- Best Free and Low Cost Market Research Ideas for small businesses and non-profit organizations
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