6 Market Research Methods You Can Use in Your Small Business

Market research is one of the most critical activities you need to take as an entrepreneur when running a business. Each market research relies on specific market research methods, which is a way of collecting information or data required for the research.

It seems that 80% of market research is a collection of valid information on the market. In comparison, 20% refers to the analysis and interpretation of already collected data. This is the 80/20 rule. Because the market is made up of customers and competition, collecting all information relating to them is necessary.

Before I start with the six most popular market research methods that you can use for your market research, I want to mention something. The most important source of information is your customer. Why? Because of the market research methods listed below, you cannot use them with your competitors but simply with your customers. In such a way, through your current and potential customers, you will find all necessary information about competitors that will help you implement a great market research process.

It is necessary to take care of information overflow that is not so good for this purpose.

Market Research Method #1: Surveys

One of the most used methods in market research and one of the strongest weapons in the hands of entrepreneurs is surveys. Surveys are most popular because they are simplest to implement and easiest to collect information that arrives in a form that is easy for analysis. Of course, if you design it in the right way. You can implement surveys in several forms:

  • Paper surveys.
  • Telephone surveys.
  • Surveys send through the 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.

Market Research Method #2: Interviews

The second method that you can use in market research is interviewing. This simply means to meet someone who you will interview. Using this technique, you will 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. A disadvantage can also be considered the limited number of people who you can interview. So, you can use:

  • Face to face interview.
  • Phone interview.
  • Online interview (Skype).

The 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.

Market Research Method #3: Observation

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 note the different behaviors of an 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, you will observe the subject (competitor) 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?

The implementation process of observation can be as follow:

  • Select the subject that you will observe.
  • Select which activities and behaviors you must observe.
  • Implement observing.
  • Process and analyze the collected information.

Market Research Method #4: Trial and Error

This method is not used so much, but it can give you helpful information about your market research. You can implement it on a random basis. For example, you want to implement something new to see what the results will be. If you have results that you want to have, you will continue, but if not, you must implement specific improvements. In such a way, you can receive high-quality information from the market. You know what the market wants, what don’t want, what is the behavior, how to influence your customers, etc.

Market Research Method #5: Focus Groups

Focus groups, as one of the market research methods, is a very specific method. It is probably one of the more expensive methods because it requires recording equipment and a particular room to implement the focus group session. At the focus group sessions, the moderator uses 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.

Market Research Method #6: Asking Employees

The last in this list of market research methods, but not less important than others, is asking your employees, especially your sales team. They are the ones who are in direct everyday contact with your customers, and they are those who communicate with them daily. Several questions on which they can get answers from customers will bring you high-quality information directly from your market.

Dragan Sutevski

Posted by Dragan Sutevski

Dragan Sutevski is a founder and CEO of Sutevski Consulting, creating business excellence through innovative thinking. Get more from Dragan on Twitter. Contact Dragan