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Definition of Market Research
Market Research is a systematic, objective collection and analysis of data about a particular target market, competition, and/or environment. It always incorporates some form of data collection whether it be secondary research (often referred to as desk research) or primary research which is collected direct from a respondent.
The purpose of any market research project is to achieve an increased understanding of the subject matter. With markets throughout the world becoming increasingly more competitive, market research is now on the agenda of many organisations, whether they be large or small.
The Market Research Process
To conduct market research, organisations may decide to undertake the project themselves (some through a marketing research department) or they might choose to commission it via a market research agency or consultancy. Whichever, before undertaking any research project, it is crucial to define the research objectives i.e. what are you trying to achieve from the research? and what do you need to know?
After considering the objectives, Market Researchers can utilise many types of research techniques and methodologies to capture the data that they require. All of the available methodologies either collect quantitative or qualitative information. The use of each very much depends on the research objectives but many believe that results are most useful when the two methods are combined.
Types of Market Research
Market research is the process of finding information about your competitors, current market trends or your customers. Most companies invest in market research when they release a new product, improve on an existing product or if they plan on introducing a particular product in a new market.
Market research can also prove helpful if you want to explore business opportunities in new markets. Market research can be conducted by two methods, primary research or secondary research.
Primary research refers to information that is directly collected from the source. Another simple method of primary research would be to directly talk to your customers and get their feedback. Primary research can be both qualitative and quantitative.
1. Quantitative Research
Quantitative research is numerically oriented, requires significant attention to the measurement of market phenomena and often involves statistical analysis. For example, a bank might ask its customers to rate its overall service as either excellent, good, poor or very poor. This will provide quantitative information that can be analysed statistically. The main rule with quantitative research is that every respondent is asked the same series of questions. The approach is very structured and normally involves large numbers of interviews/questionnaires.
Perhaps the most common quantitative technique is the ‘market research survey’. These are basically projects that involve the collection of data from multiple cases – such as consumers or a set of products. Quantitative surveys can be conducted by using post (self-completion), face-to-face (in-street or in-home), telephone, email or web techniques. The questionnaire is one of the more common tools for collecting data from a survey, but it is only one of a wide ranging set of data collection aids.
2. Qualitative Research
Qualitative research provides an understanding of how or why things are as they are. For example, a Market Researcher may stop a consumer who has purchased a particular type of bread and ask him or her why that type of bread was chosen. Unlike quantitative research there are no fixed set of questions but, instead, a topic guide (or discussion guide) is used to explore various issues in-depth. The discussion between the interviewer (or moderator) and the respondent is largely determined by the respondents' own thoughts and feelings.
As with quantitative techniques, there are also various types of qualitative methodologies. Research of this sort is mostly done face-to-face. One of the best-known techniques is market research group discussions (or focus groups). These are usually made up of 6 to 8 targeted respondents, a research moderator whose role is to ask the required questions, draw out answers, and encourage discussion, and an observation area usually behind one way mirrors, and video and/or audio taping facilities.
In addition, qualitative research can also be conducted on a ‘one on one’ basis i.e. an in-depth interview with a trained executive interviewer and one respondent, a paired depth (two respondents), a triad (three respondents) and a mini group discussion (4-5 respondents).
Secondary market research
Secondary research is more economical and easier to do when compared to primary research. Here you will have to analyze the information that has been collected for some other reason. You can find the data that you require through a set of articles, demographic/ statistical data, studies etc.
By investing in secondary market research you can analyze your target markets, evaluate your competitors and assess political, social and economic factors. The internet has a large number of secondary data sources and most resources, magazines and press releases are now available online.
Secondary research resources
There are a large number of resources from which secondary research information can be obtained. Some of these sources are:
1. Trade associations
2. The marketing departments of local colleges
3. Chamber of commerce
4. Insurance companies, banks and real estate companies
5. Wholesalers and manufacturers
6. Libraries and other public information centers
7. Books and publications
8. Magazines and newspapers
9. Media representatives
11. Business information centers
12. Federal government resources
13. Regional planning organizations
14. Discussion groups
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