How it works
By Use Case
New product development
US shopper trends report
UK shopper trends report
Facing up to food insecurity
5 key ways confectionery brands can improve in-store strategy
Consumer research made simple
The data you need to inform decisions
Target the consumers that matter
Get the most from your research
Smart features, simple outcomes
Track brand health and performance
Know your consumers
Test creative and track effectiveness
Analyse competitors and new markets
Scoping and new product development
Simple, accurate research for ambitious marketers
Quick, reliable data for fast-moving insights teams
Learn from Attest’s experts in the Consumer Research Academy.
Get a head start with survey templates written by our research experts.
Need help with the Attest platform? Get answers and chat with the team.
From surveys and focus groups to social media watching and consumer interviews, these market research methods are here to give you great insights.
There are plenty of roads that lead to Rome, and the same goes for market research. Consumer research through online surveys is a super powerful way to gain a true understanding of your target market. But whether you’re testing out a new food product or conducting market research for fashion brands, there are plenty market research methods that can be used alongside surveys to make sure you have the most comprehensive understanding of your current and potential customers.
In this guide, we’ll take you through no less than eleven popular market research methods. Keep on reading to find which ones are right for your research objectives.
Market research can be divided into big categories, primary research and secondary research. Let’s briefly remind ourselves which is which.
Using primary research, you collect primary data by conducting research yourself. This data can come from surveys, focus groups or any of the other methods we’re about to dive into.
To make the most of your research budget, you’ll ideally combine different primary types of market research. For the best insights you can combine qualitative and quantitative market research. This is so that you can back up your hunch (which often comes from qualitative research) with cold, hard data (quantitative research).
Secondary research uses secondary data (surprise!), aka data that has been collected by others. It’s largely quantitative research, but can also be broader. You will merely analyze this data for your own interpretation—you’re not collecting new information.
Effective market research often combines the two methods, for instance to test whether your own market research is in line with existing insights.
You could conduct your own surveys, and then use secondary research to find similar research from that target market to compare.
Searching for the research methodologies for your brand? From surveys to focus groups and in-depth interviews to observational research here are the market research techniques to consider.
Type: Primary market research
Works best for:
Surveys are an extremely versatile market research technique and can be used for a wide variety of research purposes. With Attest’s survey templates, you hit the ground running. Customize the questions in every online survey template to make them fit your needs and start surveying 125 million consumers in 59 countries.
Get quality insights fast with Attest
With our cutting-edge survey platform you can reach 125 million consumers in 59 markets. And dedicated expertise from our Customer Research Team will help you get the insights you need.
How do shoppers move in a store? How does layout affect the way they buy? What packages draw their attention? With observation, you learn a lot about the things that are hard to put in words in a survey or with desk research.
Works best for:
One of the most fun market research methods is experiments. You can test out new products, or put existing products in the hands of a new target group to see if there’s any potential there.
Type: Primary Market Research
If you’re conducting your own market research, interviews are a great way to get a more in-depth look into who your customers are, and what they are looking for from you. An in-depth interview is an opportunity to ask the things that mightn’t come across well in written surveys.
Focus groups let you see how consumers feel and act, but also come with a social aspect. A focus group perfect for testing out product ideas and seeing if your messaging sticks. Using a focus group is a great qualitative market research method to give more context to numbers or surveys.
We recommend you kick off any research with a little secondary data for exploratory research. Find out what’s already known and what statistical data is available, so you avoid doing unnecessary double research.
Type: Secondary Market Research
If you work with a market research firm, you can often get access to exclusive, purchased data. This can be sales data, or the insights from a high-end market research study.
If you want to know how a marketing campaign will work, you can test it on a smaller scale with a field trial. This will help you collect data and fine-tune your marketing strategy before taking it to your main market.
If you want to uncover industry trends, or collect information from your target audience without asking them questions directly, dive into social media. Keeping an eye on what’s being said all over the web can help you determine where your competitive advantage lies, for instance by looking at what people are complaining about with competitors.
It’s worth figuring out if it’s the right method for you, though. Here’s our lowdown on why social listening might not give you the insights you really need.
Supplement your research on purchasing habits and how people spend money with sales data from competitors. This will help you determine what people really spend—not just what they claim—and how much of a market opportunity there is for you.
Mystery shopping allows you to retrieve qualitative data from real stores, gaining a better understanding of the entire process a customer goes through when shopping at yours or at the competitor. It’s a form of observational research that does not focus on what consumers do, but at what players in the market do to attract said customers.
While they all sound fun—at least to us, but hey—you can’t decide on a market research method based on how entertaining the execution is. Instead, here are the factors you should keep in mind
Think talking to people is free? Think again. Setting up interviews can be costly. First you have to dedicate time and resources to select the right candidates, and getting them to participate often comes at a price too. When defining your budget and choosing a research method, think beyond only the data collection process. How much do you need to invest in finding participants? Setting up a shop, in case of an experiment? What tools and people will you need to pay for to analyze results?
When it comes to time, there are two things to keep in mind: how recent your data is, and how long you have before you need to make a decision based on the data. For the latter, it’s important to keep in mind that last-minute research is often hard to do, especially when it’s interviews or focus groups. With surveys, you collect relevant data and analyzing can often be done quickly. Desk research on the contrary might be just as fast, but you could be reading old data.
Keep in mind where the information is coming from, always. This goes not only for secondary research, but also for primary. Who will you be talking to? Why are they participating in your research? Could they be biased?
Goal of research: there’s a time and place for everything. Surveys are perhaps the most versatile research method of them all, but sometimes you need highly specific, real-life insights that can only come from experiments or field trials.
Accuracy: if you do the research again, how likely is it that the results will be similar? Choose a solid research method that you can ensure is accurate. This can be done by duplicating your own study, or at least comparing your results to similar studies.
You don’t have to do it alone. There are plenty of tools out there that can help you conduct market research. You might also have considered hiring a research agency to manage your insight-gathering.
Here’s a quick summary of agency vs. in-house research:
Yes, you can definitely DIY. With the right tools, and some assistance here and there from research experts, conducting market research in-house becomes a breeze. The benefit of doing it in-house is that you can act quickly, and you have all data internally already—saving you tons of time and allowing you to act quickly.
If you’d rather focus on your own tasks and leave the market research to experts, you could work with an agency. These people crunch numbers for breakfast, and will take up the most time-consuming aspects of market research. When they’re done, they’ll present you with the results you asked for. You do have less control over the process and you depend on their availability. But remember, this will always come with a big price tag…
Mixing research methods? Then it can make sense to combine your strengths with those of an agency. If you’re comfortable doing surveys in-house, but want to follow up with observation for instance, you can choose to combine your own data with the resources and skills that come with an agency.
Seasoned market researchers can take care of the parts you have no experience in, while you focus on the internal resources available. It’s crucial you work together with someone who is available, knowledgeable and has experience with your market segment.
Using a variety of market research methods means you get a more complete picture, and better data to base your decisions on. There are many types of surveys that allow for the collection of an immense variety of data, but it’s important you tailor them to your research needs. Our market analysis template allows for exactly that, so get started today.
The five common types of market research are surveys, field research, including observation and experiments, desk research, interviews and focus groups and social listening.
The most versatile, scalable, and easiest type is definitely surveys, but the best type of market research method depends heavily on the goal of your market research, your research needs and the resources at hand. If you want to get up close and personal with your target market, try sending a market analysis survey with Attest.
Market research is used to identify opportunities, minimize risk and help you craft more effective campaigns and marketing strategies. By getting to know your consumers and competition, you learn what position to take in the market to thrive.
Learn all about your target customers
By surveying your target market with Attest you can learn insights to inform your marketing, product and sales strategies.
Senior Customer Research Manager
Nick joined Attest in 2021, with more than 10 years' experience in market research and consumer insights on both agency and brand sides. As part of the Customer Research Team team, Nick takes a hands-on role supporting customers uncover insights and opportunities for growth.
13 min read
15 min read
17 min read
Fill in your email and we’ll drop fresh insights and events info into your inbox each week.
* I agree to receive communications from Attest.
You're now subscribed to our mailing list to receive exciting news, reports, and other