It seems that 80% of a market research is a collection of valid information on the market. While 20% refer to the analysis and interpretation of already gathered data. This is the 80/20 rule. Because the market is made up from customers and competition, it is necessary collect all information relating to them.
I want to mention something before starting with the six most popular methods that you can use for market research. The most important source of information is your customer. Why? Because the methods listed below you cannot use with your competitors, but simply with your customers. In such a way through your current and potential customers, you will try to find all necessary information about competitors that will help you to implement great market research process.
It is necessary to take a care about information overflow that is not so good for this purposes.
One of the most used methods in market research and one of the strongest weapons in the hands of entrepreneurs are surveys. Surveys are most popular because they are most easiest to implement and most easiest to collect information that arrives in a form that is easy for analysis. Of course if you design it in the right way. Surveys can be implemented in several forms:
- Paper surveys.
- Telephone surveys.
- Surveys send through mail.
- Online surveys.
The process of conducting the survey can be implemented as follows:
- Preparation of survey questions.
- Choosing the distributing method of a survey.
- Dissemination of the survey.
- Collecting and analyzing the data.
The second method that can be used in market research is interviewing. This simply means to meet someone who will be interviewed and ask him questions that will be of interest to your market research process. The interview is more difficult in comparison with a survey and will require more time for implementation. As an disadvantage can also be considered limited number of people who can be interviewed. So, you can use:
- Face to face interview.
- Phone interview.
- Online interview (Skype).
Interviewing process can be as follow:
- Select a group of people who will be interviewed.
- Contact those people and schedule an interview meeting.
- Prepare questions.
- Conduct the interview.
- Analyze collected information.
The old and still applicable and effective technique for market research is observation. It means that you or someone from your staff members will observe a situation and will note different behaviors of a observed subject on the market. For example, one way of exploring the market for a retail business is to monitor the competitors. Well, in that situation the subject (competitor) will be observed in order to answer the following questions:
- How many people enter in the competitor’s tore?
- How many of them buy something?
- What is the profile of those people?
Implementation process of observation can be as follow:
- Select the subject that will be observed.
- Select which activities and behaviors must be observed.
- Implement observing.
- Process and analyse the collected information.
4. Trial and Error
This method is not used so much, but it can give you very useful information related to your market research. It can be implemented on a random basis. For example, you want to implement something new just to see what the results will be. If you have results that you want to have, you will continue, but if not, then you must implement specific improvements. In such a way, you can receive high quality information from the market. You know what the market want, what don’t want, what is the behavior, how to have influence on them…
5. Focus Groups
Focus groups as one of the market research methods is a very specific method, and probably it is one of the more expensive methods because it needs recording equipment and a special room for the implementation of the focus group session. At the focus group sessions, moderator uses the specially prepared questions that stimulate discussion within the group. Usually one focus group session lasts two to three hours, and it is necessary to conduct several sessions with different members if you want to have better results.
The process of implementation of this method can be as follows:
- Select the members of the focus group.
- Prepare questions.
- Conduct and record sessions of discussion.
- Analyze gathered information.
6. Asking Employees
The last in this list, but not less important than others methods is asking your employees, especially your sales team. They are the ones who are in a direct everyday contact with your customers, and they are those who communicate with them on a daily basis. Several questions on which they can get answers from customers will bring you high quality information directly from your market.