17 Sources of Market Research Information to Fuel Your Business Decisions

Market Research Information Sources
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A successful entrepreneur will always be able to choose the right products and/or services his company will offer to the customers on the market, including competition. So, before anything else, you must collect data from different market research information sources to conduct market research.

If there is no market saturation and still no competition, it is obvious that you cannot expect that it will be the same situation for a long time. The right products and services you need to sell to your customers will become available only after you collect the right marketing information and do the initial market research.

📖 Key takeaways

  • Effective market research requires a clear understanding of the importance of market research, conducting research, and using various market research information.
  • Market research also involves identifying and analyzing the target market and using online tools and platforms to aid in the process. This involves understanding consumer behavior, market segmentation, and competitive advantage.
  • You can use different data collection methods to collect marketing information that you can analyze in your market research. The process will require you to collect internal and external data for primary and secondary market research.

What is Market Research?

Market research is the process of gathering marketing information and analyzing relevant data about a particular market, industry, or potential customers, as well as consumer behavior and economic trends.

So, market research aims to help you understand your target audience, competitors, and current market trends so that they can develop and improve your ideas and strategy and make informed decisions about their products and services.

Market research requires various methods, including surveys, focus groups, and data analysis.

Why You Must Conduct Market Research?

You are probably wondering why there would be a space for you to enter the market with products that current or future competition offers or will offer. We should always keep in mind that the market is something that will change very quickly. Products and product features offered and most popular five years ago no longer exist. The way these products were sold five years ago is not the same as now, and today’s opportunities are bigger than yesterday.

Today, customers consume thousands of products, and there are thousands of ways your product and sales methods can differ from those of your current or future competition. Your job as an entrepreneur is to choose the right business idea so that your product and sales methods will be better than what is currently offered by other businesses on the market. This rule will continue to be true as your products and services move through different levels of the product lifecycle.

Therefore, a critical element in your company’s initial stage is conducting market research and competitive analysis.

In the next section of this post, I will provide some primary and secondary research information sources that can help you conduct successful market research and select.

Related: Your Competitive Advantage – Is it Strong Enough?

Primary Market Research vs. Secondary Market Research

Market analysis typically combines two types of market research: primary and secondary.

Primary research

Primary research is market research that collects primary information directly from potential customers from the target market.

In this case, you get original research data directly from your target audience through interviews, market research surveys, focus groups, or any other technique where customers generate information for you. So, you own the data you generate through primary research.

Primary research generally falls into two categories: exploratory and specific research.

Secondary research

Secondary research involves collecting and analyzing existing external data and published information on a specific medium. Thus, secondary research may provide a great starting point for primary research activities, ensuring enough knowledge to design primary market research better.

Regarding market research, secondary data contains information that has been publicly accessible, like paid industry or market research reports, research journals, universities, conference proceedings, unpublished manuscripts, theses, or even business sources like reports or whitepapers.

Many secondary data sources are free to download, which makes secondary research less costly than traditional research methods.

It is important to carefully review all the secondary data available during the analysis. This can save time and money spent collecting the needed information. Among the biggest advantages of using secondary information are the cost savings and timely use of information.

Remember to use secondary research to prepare for primary research activities.

Primary Market Research Information Sources

When it comes to primary research information sources, most are based on exploratory research. This research often relies on qualitative data collection methods (only surveys can be more structured for using quantitative research), such as informal discussions with consumers, employees, and managers, interviews, focus groups, or case studies.

1. Customer feedback

Customer feedback is one of the most valuable sources of information for all companies. It can take many forms, such as market research surveys, online reviews, online feedback forms, and comment cards. Gathering and analyzing customer feedback data sources can provide insights into customer preferences, satisfaction levels, and possible areas where you must improve your company, products, services, and marketing approach.

2. Customer Surveys

Customer surveys are a common way to collect valuable insights into customer satisfaction and preferences. There are different types of surveys you can conduct to collect information:

  • Online surveys (e.g., SurveyMonkey, Google Forms)
  • Telephone surveys
  • Face-to-face surveys
  • Mail surveys

Analyzing survey responses lets you identify your target market’s needs and preferences, informing product development and marketing strategies.

When you use online surveys, you will get data that is ready for quantitative research as part of your market research.

3. Interviews

In-depth customer interviews can help you better understand their thoughts and opinions about your company and products. These personal interactions allow for open-ended questions and follow-up discussions, providing valuable insights into customer perceptions, needs, and pain points.

You can use several ways to conduct interviews:

In-depth personal interviews.

This is the best way to collect marketing research data because you will talk with prospective customers in person, and you can observe their nonverbal communication. On the other hand, it is the most expensive way to collect data to conduct market research.

Telephone interviews.

In the past, but also today, some companies are using telephone interviews. However, my personal thinking is not positive about them. I don’t want to receive a phone call when someone else thinks that it is the most appropriate time for that call. Other people probably share my thinking today. Also, telephone interviews will not give you a visual view of potential customers that will be interviewed, and in such a way to estimate based on non-verbal communication, are they telling the truth?

Video interviews

Recently, video interviews have become a popular method for conducting market research. With the rise of remote work and virtual meetings technology, it has become easier to reach a wider audience through video interviews. This method allows you to hear and see your potential customers, giving you a better understanding of their body language and facial expressions.

Also, the interviews will be scheduled at the most appropriate time for both you or your team members and the interviewed persons.

Furthermore, this approach, such as Google Meet, allows you to record and playback, which can help you conduct qualitative research to respond in detail. You can transcribe the recordings and use tools like nVivo or Tagguete to conduct qualitative research.

4. Focus Groups

Focus groups have long been a popular method for market research, and with virtual meeting technology, they have become even more accessible. Instead of physically gathering a group of individuals in one location, you can now conduct focus groups virtually through digital platforms like Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or Skype.

This method has become increasingly popular, allowing diverse individuals to provide insights and opinions on a particular product or service.

With virtual focus groups, you can still follow traditional methods such as moderator-led discussions and open-ended questions. Additionally, these platforms often include features like breakout rooms where smaller group discussions can occur.

5. Ethnography (Customer Observations)

Ethnography or participant observation requires extended involvement in the social life of those you study. You are interested in a social context for some time and observe and listen to learn about the culture of a social group. 

Conducting observation is another way to collect data for your market research. This involves directly observing individuals or groups in their natural environment to gather information from customers for your product research for the specific market segment. In such a way, observations can provide valuable insights into how consumers interact with a product or service and their purchasing behaviors.

6. Experiments

Experiments involve manipulating different variables to determine their effect on the behavior of customers. You can conduct experiments in a controlled laboratory setting or real-life situations.

Experiments can help you understand the cause-and-effect relationship between different strategies and consumer attitudes and responses.

For example, A/B testing involves creating two versions of a product or marketing campaign and testing them on different groups to see which one performs better. This can provide valuable data on what appeals to customers and inform future strategies.

Usability testing can also help identify any issues or barriers affecting consumer interactions with a product or service. This can lead to improvements and ultimately increase customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

Also, when you use experiments, you can use controlled trials in marketing research, where one group is exposed to a certain variable (such as a new advertisement) and another group is not. This allows you to measure the impact of the variable on customer’s decisions.

Secondary Data for Market Research

initial market analysis business

As secondary data sources for market research, you can use:

  • Internal data (company records) like past recorded data within the organization, such as sales data, financial reports, employees and management staff, and customer feedback recorded inside internal databases.
  • External information sources for gathering secondary research data include industry reports, government databases, trade associations, and academic research.

7. Company Records

You will use sales data to identify trends in customer spending and purchasing behavior. This sales data can include sales numbers, revenue generated, and other relevant metrics. By analyzing this information, you can gain insights into which products or services are popular among customers and what factors may influence their purchasing decisions.

Financial reports, such as balance sheets and income statements, can also provide a broad overview of your company’s financial health. These documents can be used to determine the company’s profitability and identify potential areas for cost-cutting. Additionally, these records can provide insights into the success of different marketing strategies and previous product launches.

Customer databases like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) can help you track customer reactions to each interaction with your small business, allowing you to adjust your marketing efforts to target specific demographics or personalize product recommendations.

8. Competitive analysis data collection

Collecting data on your competitors is important to staying ahead of the competition. This can include their sales numbers, market share, pricing strategies, and marketing tactics. By analyzing this data, you can identify areas where your company may be falling behind and make important decisions to improve your competitiveness.

9. Website Analytics

Analyzing website traffic data through Google Analytics can provide you with valuable data on website visitors’ (potential customers) behavior on your website. This information can help you optimize your online presence, identify popular pages or products, and improve the user experience.

10. Social Media

Social media platforms have become valuable sources of information for conducting market research in recent years. Companies can use social media to collect real-time feedback from customers, track social media engagement, brand sentiment, and consumer interest, and monitor competitor activity.

11. Published Reports and Studies

External data are sources outside the organization, such as trade associations, travel bureaus, and government sources. For example, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides a list with links where you can find data regarding your market research and competitive analysis.

SBA market research information sources

Market research firms, industry or trade associations, or government agencies usually conduct published reports and studies in trade journals. Statistics bureaus also provide monthly and annual statistical reports on various industries and activities under the national classification of activities, where you can find detailed information about economic indicators and see how target customers spend their money in different markets.

These reports provide valuable insights into the overall market state, including consumer preferences, industry trends, and competitive analysis by market sector.

12. Academic Journals and Articles

Academic journals and articles are another source of external data that can provide valuable information for your market research and competitive analysis.

These publications are usually peer-reviewed, meaning experts in the field have evaluated them to ensure their accuracy and reliability.

There are many different platforms where you can find journals and articles, such as Google Scholar, JSTOR, and PubMed, which offer in-depth analyses of specific industries, customers, and trends.

13. Commercial Data Services

Commercial data services like Statista, Euromonitor International, or IBISWorld can also provide you with a valuable data source for your market research. These services provide extensive and up-to-date reports on various industries, including market size, growth trends, key players, and competitive landscape.

IBISWorld market research source

They often include data such as consumer demographics, buying behaviors, and product demand that can help you better understand your target markets and audience.

These services also offer industry forecasts and projections that can give you insights into future industry trends and potential growth opportunities.

14. Media Sources

Look at newspapers, radio, and TV to find specific ads for products now offered on the market. With particular attention, note everything that is happening in your particular industry.

Media sources are also a great way to keep up with current events and trends that may impact your target market. By staying informed about what is happening in the world, you can better understand how it may affect your business and adjust accordingly.

15. Internet Forums

A second way to test the demand is to go to some web-based forums and open a topic for your future or current business regarding different opinions about the product you plan to offer. One disadvantage may be that you still do not know what region or area refers to these opinions. On the other hand, you can get a bunch of useless answers in the form of the wrong direction. Therefore, although this method is worth trying, be careful.

Browse other topics at the forum, research topics related to your business idea, and carefully read and note different people’s opinions. This will help you create the image of a future offer and demand for potential products.

16. Blog Post

If you have a personal or business blog, you can use it to write a post about your ideas. Just elaborate on the idea and ask questions so visitors can respond through comments. This can be a great way to collect information directly from potential customers.

17. Similar Business Locations

If your business is location-based, you can also start with the streets and nearby streets where you plan to locate your company. Then, start with the quantitative and qualitative analysis of existing companies in that place and its closer and wider surroundings. Using this analysis, you will understand what is already offered and who can be your competitor.