We’ve covered specific areas of market research, for instance aimed at successful product development and for startups. But there are many more reasons to conduct market research, so today we’re taking a step back and looking at the complete picture.
What does solid market research project entail in 2021, when we’re using metrics and tools that are relevant nowadays?
In this article, you’ll find the basic concepts of market research linked to handy tools and a free market research template and survey templates that’ll help you put the knowledge into practice.
What is market research?
Market research comes in many different shapes and sizes. You’ll look at all or some aspects of the market: market share, competitors, trends, target audience and more.
You’ll combine these based on the goal of your research, to inform your marketing strategies. You can also focus on one aspect of market research. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, but market research templates give you an awesome starting point.
You can identify gaps and opportunities by analysing consumers’ needs and preferences and comparing that to what is currently on the market. Or you evaluate trends to come up with a new business idea.
To guide your market research, or the parts of it, it can be helpful to divide it into different topics to make the scope of your research clear.
Here are some topics that are often used in market research:
Analysing distribution: to find cheaper or faster alternatives, or enter new markets
Consumer behaviour: how has this been developing over the years? What can you expect going forward, and how do you prepare your business for this?
Competitor analysis: who is leading your market, and how are they perceived? How can you position your brand to win territory?
Market Segmentation and Targeting: are there any target groups that are being overlooked? How can you reach your ideal customers more effectively?
Internet Marketing: learn to work with the search engines — what keywords are important in your market? What social media channels and types of content are working well?
As you can see, market research doesn’t just involve marketing. It can be used for your logistics as well, your product development department and even your sales people will need it, if they want to be effective sellers. All in all, successful market research is your gateway to product, sales and marketing strategies that really work.
Why do you need to do market research?
Even the biggest, most successful and established companies are still conducting market research. Coca-Cola doesn’t just assume their position, Apple stays on top of consumer behaviour and Mercedes needs to know how they can get millennials to drive the cars their parents used to own.
Market research can be done in different stages. Below we’ll look at two scenarios in which market research is relevant, and how you can use it.
Before starting a business or developing a product
In this case, market research is used to find out how likely you are to succeed and what needs you should address to put a successful product or service on the market. You gather data, using market research templates or your own research drafts, to minimise risks and potentially to convince investors that this idea of yours is worth pursuing.
Some things market research in this stage can help you with:
Think your idea for a new product is great because you’ve never heard of it before? Going in blindly is a risk – even if you want to move fast. With market research, you can determine what competition really looks like and if there’s enough demand for you to benefit from.
Plus, it will help you calculate the real costs you are going to make upon entering the market to find out if the idea is really viable in the long run.
Try convincing investors of your idea without giving them some numbers. Even though market research doesn’t exactly predict the future, past trends and thorough research into consumers and competitors will give investors a clear picture of how likely you are to make some profits from your idea.
What is the sweet spot when it comes to pricing? By looking at your competitors and surveying your ideal customers, you can pinpoint the right price for your product or service.
What areas of the market are crowded and what spots are still available – and are they interesting to look into? Market research can help you choose a strong positioning.
Don’t develop a product without ever talking to your target customers. They know what they really want, and market research surveys will help you find out how to create that.
Shaping your marketing mix
Your communication and messaging should come from your values, but it should also match the needs of the market.
Combining everything above will help you create an unbeatable strategy for every aspect of your business.
Ongoing market research
It might seem like an unnecessary extra workload, to have someone keep an eye on the market on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. But the alternative is more dangerous and, potentially, more costly.
If you don’t keep up to speed with the market, you will only notice changes when your sales are dropping. It’s important to be proactive, especially when you’re in a competitive market. Stay on top of what your rivals are doing, so you can make decisions and react accordingly faster.
Some things market research templates in this stage can help you with:
Keep an eye on how your own campaigns and ads are performing, but also check on your competitors. How does your target respond to their campaign? What can you learn from their successes and failures?
SEO and social listening
Search engines have become such an important part of ‘the market’ that they are a real part of market research. Keywords and search queries will teach you a lot about your market’s questions and needs.
Identify new opportunities
What’s the most dangerous phrase for any business? ‘We’ve always done it this way.’ With market research, you can proactively find gaps and opportunities in your market.
Keep the focus on current customers
Think you know your customers? Keep in mind that they are also growing older, and are being influenced by other things in your market and society. To stay relevant to them, check in regularly and perform ongoing buyer persona research and survey customer satisfaction.
De-risk market expansion
Spot opportunities to maximise the effectiveness of your marketing strategies in new territories, by understanding the differences between consumers in each market.
In product reviews, and it doesn’t even have to be your own product, you can figure out pain points that customers have. With that information, you can build an unbeatable product.
Did your marketing research team or product designer pitch a crazy idea and you, kind of, like it? Dive into your target market to find background information that can help you find out if it’s worth further investigation.
Type of market research
Market research templates can be used in many ways — and there’s usually not one that is best. The trick is to combine the different types of market research, depending on the availability of data and what you already know about your industry.
We’ll break down some of the types of market research before we dive into the methods and a step-by-step plan. We’ll be comparing primary and secondary research and explain how quantitative and qualitative market research complement each other.
Quantitative market research
Quantitative research is perfect for the data analysis part of your research. If focused on anything that can be measured, like market statistics, price developments and search volume.
Qualitative market research
You give your quantitative research more meaning and context with qualitative research, This supplements the dry data with motives and emotions, often from your customers.
Primary market research
Any data that you gather first-hand, whether directly from customers or by conducting completely new research, is considered primary data. This can come from surveys, focus groups or fresh research.
Secondary market research
Secondary research is done by data collection and analysing existing reports. You can look at historic data, surveys performed by other brands or trend reports from trusted sources.
Market research methods
Luckily, there are all kinds of tools and different types of methods you can combine to gather all the data on your target market using your market analysis template. We’ll dive into the methods that are commonly used in market research and give some suggestions on tools that make this a little easier.
You can interview either industry experts or customers, or even both – depending on what your research focuses on. This is a type of primary research that gives you in-depth information on things like buying reasons and preferences.
Experts on the other hand can help you give more context to dry market statistics and give you more information on the meaning of some of the market trends you spotted.
With focus groups, you sit down with your potential customers and listen to what they have to say. You can either observe or actively engage with them. How do they use certain products? How do they react to different marketing campaigns? This method can help you optimise what you’re offering, either in your product or in your communication.
Trend reports and public domain data
What trends in the world can affect your market? If you use the right sources, market trend reports will give you invaluable insight on things like demand, and factors that influence your target group.
When doing market research in 2021, you can’t skip social media. This is where customers are actively talking about brands and products, their needs and wishes and also what bothers them. Twitter and the comments under Instagram posts are incredibly valuable for some brands.
Market research without surveys is a lot like guesswork. If you want to know what your target audience is really thinking, hoping, wishing and seeing, all you have to do is ask.
You can use a survey template for all types of market research. Find out what your target audience thinks of other brands, what product features they would love to see, and how much they’d be willing to pay for a certain product.
Whether staged or unstaged, observation can be a great tool to see how your product would perform in the real world. How do they react to marketing visuals? How do they behave in a store? These details can help you fine tune your product and tactics to a t.
Experiment and testing
If you never try, you never know. Experiments can be incredibly useful, especially with product development. Create a minimal viable product (MVP) and see how your target audience likes it. A/B tests can be used for a wide variety of things, from social media campaigns to discounts – so use them! Read more about concept testing.
One of the most important parts of market research is undoubtedly an analysis of your competitors. You can’t really analyse your target market without looking at who else is in it. If you think you’re alone, look at how markets similar to yours are developing to become aware of market trends to look out for.
How to conduct market research
If only you could tell an AI-powered robot your objectives and sit back and relax while he surveys and analyses your market.
While we’re not there yet, we’re certainly equipped with a wide variety of tools that will make conducting market research a whole lot easier.
While it’s important to note that there are several approaches to market research templates, depending on your specific situation, we’ll give you a generic framework to work within. If you follow these steps and add the methods you need for your research goals to it, you surely won’t miss a thing.
Define the problem
Define how you’re going to approach the problem
Design your research
Identify information types, gaps and sources
Perform field work and collect data
Create a report on your market research
Communicate the results
Turn your insight into action points
Step 1. Define the problem
Before you start, find out what you really need to know and why. The latter is very important. Sometimes you think you want to know more about what your competitors are doing to be successful, while in fact your customers are the one who could close the knowledge gap by telling you what features they are missing in a product.
Step 2. Design your research
Think about what path you should follow to find the knowledge you need. What types and methods of research templates should you combine to find the right data and give context to it?
Step 3. Identify information types, gaps and sources
For what parts of your research will you need to talk to customers, and what can be found in reports for market trends? Make this part of your research design. Identifying this beforehand will save you a lot of time in the process.
Step 4. Fieldwork and collecting data
Get to work! This is the part where you’ll be launching surveys and analysing data from tools and trend reports.
Step 5. Prepare and organise data
It can get a bit messy, so take your time to structure the insights you’ve collected – especially if you used a mixture of tools and methods. Don’t draw any conclusions just yet – you want to have the full picture.
Step 6. Analyse data
If you combine what your customers said during the focus group sessions with the market trends you’ve spotted in reports, what can you say about the market? What keywords have become increasingly important? How have the actions of your competitors influenced and changed the market?
Step 7. Create a report
Include all the relevant data in a report and also determine what needs further research.
Step 8. Communicate the results
Present the results of your research to whomever it’s relevant to. Investors, marketers, designers – make sure the information is readily available so they can make well-informed decisions.
Step 9. Turn your insights into action points
Nobody conducts a full market research to just let it sit on your desk gathering dust. If you go into the whole process with the intention of changing or improving, base your next steps on this report.
Market research template
We’ll make market research a little easier for you with our market research templates. Our market analysis template is free and can be used in basically any market research plan, and is a key ingredient in a comprehensive market research program.
With this free market analysis template, you can ask your target customers up to 5 hyper-relevant research questions. You can reach people in the US or UK, or upgrade your plan to talk to the customers in the other 50+ countries we work in. And don’t worry about creating reports – we’ll help you analyse it within our platform.
Here’s what that’ll look like for your target audience:
Get started with your DIY market research templates – our free template could be the key to unlocking your next successful product or service.
Get started with your market research
Using our FREE templates you can start your market research journey in hours, not days or weeks.