Market Research Methods
There are two broad methods of conducting and gathering market research – quantitative and qualitative research. The research method used is dependent on the type of information businesses want to gather about their customers, market or competitors. Each method involves a different process and reveals different information.
Quantitative market research
Quantitative market research is the collection of numerical data so that statistical analysis can be carried out to understand trends in the data. This type of research enables comparisons and trends in the data to be made. Quantitative market research is a structured market research process and can involve a large number of respondents in order to generate the required data.
The quantitative approach is used to identify the size of the market, how much it might be worth, and to find areas for sales growth. Quantitative research can also shed light on the demographics of customers, such as their age and gender. It is important to carry out quantitative research before starting a new business or launching a new product or service. It provides real world figures and data that highlight market interest. This can help to secure and assure investors that their risk would be reduced due to the presence of future demand.
Quantitative research methods comprise surveys that can be conducted in-person, over the telephone or online. One of the more common business research methods, a survey allows vast amounts of data to be collected in a very short space of time at a comparatively low cost.
These are one-on-one interviews typically conducted in high-traffic locations such as shopping malls. They allow people to be presented with samples of products, packaging or advertising and immediately give their feedback.
Telephone surveys may cost less than in-person surveys, but are still subjected to their own challenges. Due to consumer resistance as a result of relentless telemarketing, convincing people to participate in phone surveys has now become increasingly difficult.
An online survey is a simple, inexpensive way to collect anecdotal evidence and gather customer opinions and preferences.
Qualitative market research
Qualitative research seeks to gather the views and attitudes of consumers towards products and services. It is also useful in gaining a deeper understanding of customers’ interests, needs and habits, as well as identifying opportunities to grow sales and improve customer service. Qualitative research involves both formal and informal conversations with customers about their satisfaction with a business and a possible sensing of how they fare against their competitors. It helps the business understand how and what customers are thinking when purchasing or using a product or service.
Unlike quantitative research that follows a pre-determined set of questions, qualitative research provides a topic or discussion guide to ensure that research aims are met and relevant questions asked. Qualitative research includes personal interviews, focus groups and case studies.
Personal interviews usually take about an hour and are typically recorded. During the session, unstructured, open-ended questions are asked. These interviews may yield valuable insights into customer attitudes and are excellent means to uncover concerns related to new products or service development. An interview also allows the researcher to delve deeper and ask follow-up questions.
Focus groups usually consist of small numbers of people that fit the profile of the target market. A moderator uses a scripted series of questions or topics to lead a group discussion. A session usually lasts one to two hours, and it can take at least three different groups to get a more balanced set of results.
Case studies provide a comprehensive understanding of how an individual interacts with a product or service. It gives a more complete picture of their satisfaction, usage and attitudes towards a specific product, service or industry in the appropriate context.
In order to gain a full understanding of a business environment, the market place and the consumers within it, it is wise to conduct both quantitative and qualitative market research.
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Business Queensland. (2021, May 24). “Market Research Methods.” Accessed June 22, 2021. https://www.business.qld.gov.au/starting-business/planning/market-customer-research/market-research/methods
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