If you’re launching a new business, developing a new product, or expanding your existing business, market research is critical to your success. Gathering and interpreting information in an organized manner takes the guesswork out of your business planning and puts you ahead of the competition.
One of the main goals of market research is to provide your company or business with an in-depth view of your customers or consumers, so you can better satisfy their needs. To do this, you need to learn more about a variety of factors such as:
Market Trends – Changes or developments in the market at any given time.
Market Segmentation – The process of dividing your potential consumers into segments, based on different characteristics such as interests, needs, location, income, and other demographics.
Pricing and Product Viability (Market Demand) – Current information about prices of different products offered in the marketplace, who is buying them, where, and how often.
SWOT Analysis – Understanding the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your business or company. This includes understanding your competition, product features, market landscape, and more.
Marketing Effectiveness – Understanding how customers perceive and react to your messaging.
Global leaders in business use a combination of primary and secondary research. How do you determine which market research method to use, and when?
Secondary research examines data and information from existing sources. The information in secondary sources has already been compiled, organized, and published by others, usually online or in print.
With secondary market research you gain foundational knowledge of a particular industry, market, or demographic. You’ll discover which questions to investigate further. In other words, secondary research serves as a basis for further exploration.
Examples of secondary research include a variety of resources including:
Business research often begins with secondary research, and for good reason. It’s easy to collect, cost-efficient, and leverages information that’s already available. In most cases, there is tons of information out there on your subject.
On the downside, the flood of available information can be overwhelming. Some of it may be irrelevant to your situation. And information compiled by others runs the risk of being incomplete, untrustworthy, or out-of-date.
So, be sure to apply a critical eye to your secondary research. Careful interpretation is key to getting the most value from your secondary research efforts.
Primary research is first-hand research conducted by you (or a qualified research partner). It involves gathering new information directly from a relevant source – usually employees and/or past, present and potential customers.
This method lets you delve into questions that haven’t been asked before. Investigate issues specific to your business situation. Or expand upon topics that arose during secondary research.
Depending on your needs, primary research will be more exploratory (using open-ended, general lines of questioning). Or, more specific (using structured, formal interviews).
Examples of primary research include:
Read more about common primary market research methodologies here.
Marketers invest in primary research because of the significant benefits it offers. One clear advantage is greater control. You have control over everything from how the data is collected, what data is collected, and from whom, how many, and where (to name a few!).
Also, primary research targets your own specific needs, audiences, questions or issues. So you end up with more relevant information. Finally, primary research is yours and yours only. Imagine what kind of advantage that proprietary information could give you.
The downside of primary research is that it requires more resources. It’s costlier and more time-consuming than secondary research. Finally, it’s easy to make mistakes when designing these “on-the-ground” research tools. So it pays to do your homework (or hire a professional).
With any research project, the best research method (or more likely a combination of methods) will depend on the specific research questions you’re hoping to answer. Ask yourself – is the research already out there? Or do I need answers specific to my company? How will this information drive my business forward?
Primary and secondary research work together to save you time and avoid duplicate work. And you can still investigate important questions that matter to your business, and your business only.
Combining the two will give you the most well-rounded view of your industry, your competition, and your target demographic.
Voccii is North Carolina’s premier market research and consulting services firm. We help national and global companies uncover data-driven insights that lead to smarter business decisions.