Key stages in the market research process

What is the first thing you do when you decide to buy an electronic gadget or a new piece of furniture for your home?

Research and find out the best thing that fulfils your requirements. 

It’s important to make your business decisions in the same manner – with research and data-backed insights to support your marketing or business strategies.

Market research, if conducted in a proper manner can give you insights that can work wonders on your strategies. To help you achieve that, below are 7 key stages of the market research process that should be followed.

Identify and define the market research problem

This is one of the most crucial stages in the market research process. Even the most organized or relevant data collection would go to waste if your research problem is not clearly defined.

One way to define it is by figuring out the business/management problem first. Let’s take an example.

Business problem: Sales for the new product are dwindling

Research problem: Why is it dwindling? (Customer perception about the product is bad/performance is poor/awareness is low/old product performance or perception is affecting the new one)

Defining the research problem focuses on asking ‘why’ and ‘how’ which in turn helps discover different arenas your research will focus on. 

Develop the market research approach

There are various things to consider while finalizing your market research approach:

  • Market research method: Would you be going for a survey, telephonic interview or focus group discussion?
  • Sample selection: Decide specifics like who will be the target population, where will you find them, will you go for probability or non probability sampling, how much sample size will be ideal, etc.
  • Type of research: This will determine the nature of data you will need to collect. The three types are exploratory research (helps gain broad insights, narrow your focus and discover the basics necessary to go deeper), descriptive research (gives you detailed data on specific topics of interest) and causal research (gives you specific data to explore the cause and effect relationship between two or more variables).

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Determine the design for market research instrument

If the market research method is to take a survey, you can begin by writing the questions and designing the questionnaire. You can design your questionnaire using different survey tools like Typeform.

On the other hand, if you’re planning to conduct a focus group discussion, you’ll have to start preparing questions, discussion guidelines and other material for the moderator.

In this stage, you should also deploy your research instrument to a small group prior to the final deployment. Observe people’s reactions to certain questions, if they have difficulty understanding something, if there are multiple interpretations to a question and if the data collection of the particular research instrument would have any difficulties during analysis.

Gather data

The data you collect will fall in one of the two categories: quantitative or qualitative. 

For example, if in an A/B test, you introduce a new pricing tier on your website and see the results you gather, that would form a part of quantitative data. On the other hand, if you put up a survey on your website asking questions about their thoughts on a new price tier and if they’d prefer having one, the data collected will be qualitative.

A good research will have a combination of both to make the insights even more powerful. 

If the research method is a survey, you can collect data by running it on your website, putting it on social media or emailing it.

Analyse and interpret the data

At this stage, you need to collect all the data into one single platform for further analysis. While a simple analysis can give you insights, it’s recommended to go for statistical analysis as they can show you whether the data trends you have gathered are meaningful or just chance results, whether one thing affecting your product or business is more significant than others, etc.

The different types of statistical tools you can use are T-test, Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), Cluster analysis, Factor analysis, Crosstab analysis, Sentiment analysis, Conjoint analysis, etc.

It’s important at this stage to write down a summary of how you arrived at a particular conclusion. This summary can help you in the future, act as a basis for other research studies and make sure that you arrived at the conclusion in an unbiased manner.

The summary could include things like the process that was followed, the results, conclusion and recommended course of action.

Report and present the data

It’s important at this stage to compile the data and results in a form, language and graphic that is easy to understand. It should have all the important information and at the same time shouldn’t include complex technical terms that may deter the reader.

To make the final report more action-oriented, include your insights and recommendations. For example, if you have included a chart that shows age and buying preference for a particular product, ask yourself, “What does this chart show and what can be the implications for the same?”

Adding this detail to your report will make your research more insightful, actionable and meaningful.

If you don’t want to use the same PowerPoint presentations and pdf reports, you can use other mediums like live, interactive dashboards, visual storytelling with infographics, online presentation technology like Prezi, etc.

Put your research into action

Your research is over but that does not mean your work is over. Start developing your marketing/business strategies and campaigns based on the research results. Test your research findings.

It’s important to note that the world is dynamic and today’s data will not remain set in stone. The trends, business environment, problems will keep on evolving and thus it’s important to keep analyzing your data on a regular basis and keep modifying your strategies and campaigns accordingly. 

So, get started with these seven steps and discover the power of market research.