There are many ways to do market research. However businesses mostly use a combination of the following common methods: surveys, focus groups, personal interviews, and product tests.
Which type of research is right for you? This depends on your long-term business goals, and the objectives for your specific research project.
Surveys are used a lot in market research, for a few good reasons. First, they can take many forms: online, on paper, in person, via text or mobile device, etc.
Second, surveys provide information on a wide range of topics – from brand awareness and whether your marketing is working to how customers feel about product features.
Surveys are great when:
In focus groups, a moderator leads participants through discussion using loosely scripted questions and topics. The focus group participants should cover a specific demographic in relation to business targets. For example “single mothers with at least 1 child under the age of 6”, “males between 40 – 50 years old with an income over $60K”, “business travelers who fly at least 5 times per month”, etc.
Focus groups are excellent for exploratory, qualitative research that seeks to understand underlying feelings, causes, perceptions, etc.
As part of a detailed research project, focus groups and surveys may used in tandem. For example, focus group insights can be a guide towards more specific and targeted survey questions. Or, focus groups can dive deeper into a topic that arises during the survey.
For example, if a survey tells your restaurant business that menu offerings are an issue, a focus group can then help researchers to understand – what exactly is the problem with the menu – is it too healthy? Not vegetarian-friendly? Too expensive, too cheap, or something else?
Individual, or one-on-one interviews are another qualitative market research method used for in-depth, exploratory research. When you need to dig deeply into root causes, psychological motivations and underlying perceptions – in-depth interviews are your best bet.
Personal interviews are typically recorded and consist of open-ended, unstructured questions. The interviewer will prompt the interviewer and listen for up to an hour.
As you can imagine, focus groups and in-depth one-on-one interviews produce more subjective data than surveys. Nevertheless, these methods give invaluable insights into customer attitudes. They are excellent for uncovering flaws related to new products, customer service or employee issues.
First and foremost, manufacturers need to ensure all products they produce and sell are safe, trustworthy, and fit for purpose. But there are other reasons to test your product before it goes to market.
Product tests including taste tests, product comparison testing and more, can help you:
There are two main approaches to product testing: IHUT and CLT.
CLTs are Central Location Tests – meaning consumers get recruited to test products in a controlled environment.
With In-Home Usage Tests (IHUTs), a product gets shipped to someone’s home, and the consumer reports their experience. In-Home Usage Tests are quite common thanks to their simplicity. You send one product at a time to the household, and the consumer then reports on their overall opinion of the product.
No matter what type of research you need, all projects are customized based on your business’ unique questions and goals. After an initial consultation, we’ll come up with a plan specifically for you.