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Market Research: The 5 Pillars

While there are numerous methods for conducting market research, the majority of companies employ one or more of the following five: surveys, focus groups, personal interviews, observation, and field trials. Which tactics you use for your organization will be determined by the sort of data you require and the amount of money you are willing to invest.

1: Surveys

You can evaluate a sample group that represents your target market using clear and concise questionnaires. Your results will be more reliable if you choose a bigger sample size.

  • In-person surveys are usually conducted in high-traffic areas such as shopping malls.  They allow you to hand out product samples, packaging, or advertising to consumers and get rapid feedback. In-person surveys can provide response rates of over 90%, but they can be expensive. An in-person survey might cost up to $100 per interview due to the time and work needed.
  • Telephone surveys are less expensive than in-person surveys, but they are more expensive than surveys sent by mail. However, because of consumer resistance to constant telemarketing, persuading consumers to engage in phone surveys has become more difficult. Response rates to telephone surveys are typically between 50 and 60 percent.
  • Mail surveys are a low-cost technique to reach a large number of people. They’re far less expensive than in-person and phone polls, yet their response rates are usually between 3% and 15%. Mail surveys, despite their low return, are still a cost-effective option for small businesses
  • Online surveys are a quick an inexpensive way to gather customer opinions and preferences, but they can sometimes produce unreliable data if you are not targeting the right audience with the survey. Make sure you are deliberate about who you would like to gather information from with this method.

2: Focus Groups

A moderator guides a group of people through a discussion using a predetermined series of questions or topics. These meetings are held in a neutral setting, usually at a facility with videotaping equipment and a one-way mirror observation room. A focus group normally lasts one to two hours, and balanced results require at least three groups.

3: Personal Interviews

Personal interviews, like focus groups, feature unstructured, open-ended inquiries. They normally last about an hour and are usually recorded.

Surveys provide more objective data than focus groups and personal interviews. Personal interviews also usually don’t reflect a substantial enough portion of the population, making the results less reliable. On the other hand, they provide vital insights into client or customer attitudes and are effective ways to uncover challenges connected to the creation of new products or services.

4: Observation

Observation is the best way to study your customers or potential customers in their natural habitat. Sometimes, responses to surveys and interviews are at odds with actual behaviour or thoughts. Observation allows you to learn how customers naturally buy or use a product or service, without the influence of a structured interview or survey. This gives you a more accurate picture of usage habits and behaviours.

5. Field Trials

Placing a new product in a few locations to gauge customer reaction under real-world selling situations can help you make product changes, pricing adjustments, and better packaging. Small business owners should aim to build relationships with local store owners and websites that can assist them in product testing.

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