Without sufficient market research into industry trends and consumer habits and preferences it’s very difficult for any type of business to truly understand whether it is heading in the right direction.

For businesses keen to innovate and make their mark in your respective industries, a methodological approach to market research can transform new projects, right from the initial concept through to its implementation.

At its core, there are two defined methods of market research: primary and secondary market research. Both methods can help businesses to better understand their market and make informed business decisions based largely on data intelligence.

Each type of primary and secondary research has its merits. If you’re unsure which technique will work best for your specific industry studies, take a look at the eight following methods that you might be able to combine as part of an overall strategy:

Competitor analysis

It’s all too easy for business owners to get too bogged down by their own business and forget about what else is going on in their respective industries. If you don’t take a step back and analyse how the market is operating and how your competitors are being perceived how do you truly know your business standing?

In today’s always-on business climate, it’s very easy to keep track of your competitors. Competitor analysis should be an important tool in your market research arsenal. With competitor analysis, it is much easier to ascertain the aspects of your product(s) or service(s) that are unique to your brand.

It’s a good idea to put together a checklist of questions that you can standardise to roll out and analyse multiple competitors at once. Some examples to get you started include:

  • What products or services do they sell to your target customers?
  • What are their self-proclaimed unique selling points?
  • What types of media are they utilising to market their brand?
  • What do you consider to be their strengths and weaknesses?
  • What potential threats do they pose to your business growth?
  • What potential opportunities does your competitor provide to your business?

Ethnography research

One of the oldest, yet most effective, forms of consumer study is the observation of people. Observing the behaviours of individuals in business is a specialist skill that helps to determine how one behaves and interacts under normal conditions.

Market observation is a particularly effective technique for businesses looking to tap into new markets. In this scenario, most importantly it can ascertain how ready consumers are for your brand.

There are six different types of market observation:

  • Human
  • Mechanical
  • Indirect
  • Disguised
  • Non-disguised
  • Observation

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Are you looking for a convenient place to carry out your market observations? You can hold focus groups in complete comfort and style at our Fleet Street Observation Room, which seats up to 16 participants and 10 observers. With all the state-of-the-art technology one could need and on-site refreshments, it’s surely the most convenient Central London location to host a focus group.

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Focus groups

A more personal approach to industry exploration, focus groups tend to feature smaller groups of people that you would consider to be your target market. By creating a focus group you can facilitate the discussion around the topics you wish to cover. It’s a brilliant method if wish to get to know the psyche of a typical customer and learn more about their perception of your brand.

The toughest aspect of a focus group – one which can ultimately negatively impact on its results – is successfully remaining unbiased throughout the discussion. It’s a real skill to engineer the conversation so that the responses from your focus group remain impartial. Selecting an experienced focus group moderator will be integral to the success and legitimacy of the discussion.

One-to-one interviews

If you want to ask some particularly probing or potentially sensitive questions of your target demographic, one-to-one interviews are one of the best ways to achieve a reliable outcome. Conducted via telephone or face-to-face in private, a personal interview is a very powerful qualitative market research technique as it enables the interviewee to be more candid and open with their opinions than they otherwise would in a focus group.

Another real bonus about one-to-one interviewing is that it’s not hugely onerous. The telephone calls or face-to-face meetings can take place at times that suit you. So if you’re a time-poor small business owner you can carry out your qualitative studies at your own pace.

Use of online research communities

Custom-designed online communities can help to generate discussion from target individuals across a series of topics relevant to your business. An online community platform is highly effective at securing qualitative data as respondents can comment and contribute their own content on topics at their leisure. Whether it’s a forum or message board post, blog entry or video diary, members of a private online community are given the freedom to offer their own opinions, free of bias.

Using online research communities can be a longer-term market research strategy as conversations can take place over many weeks or months.

Mobile-based research

Mobile-based market research can be particularly effective if you are planning on surveying time-poor consumers that don’t have the time to dedicate to a focus group or a telephone interview. Mobile market research is also a very efficient form of quantitative data as it’s easy to reach smartphone users and get a significant data sample within seconds.

Mobile market research is most commonly used for purposes such as recent purchase decisions, marketing communications and interactions with products. Although mobile-based research is by no means a standalone technique, when included as part of an integrated research strategy it can be highly valuable to any business.

Online surveys

Today’s connected world has resulted in online surveys becoming a very popular data collection method for market researchers. Whether it’s a staff or customer satisfaction survey, feedback on products or services or reviews of events and conferences, e-surveys are quick and concise, making the data easy to digest too.

If your target audience is comfortable using computers and the internet day-to-day and you have a well-cultivated list of legitimate e-mail addresses, an online survey can provide highly-targeted consumer feedback.

Secondary market research

Sometimes businesses try to reinvent the wheel with the research of their industry when there is often no need; especially when secondary market research data is published and easily at your disposal.

Secondary or desk research relates to the collection of data from multiple other sources such as industry bodies, databases and libraries to provide a clear overview of an industry landscape. Alternatively, interviews with industry experts can also prove useful in securing insight into future trends.

Are you looking for a convenient place to carry out your market observations? You can hold focus groups in complete comfort and style at our Fleet Street Observation Room, which seats up to 16 participants and 10 observers. With all the state-of-the-art technology one could need and on-site refreshments, it’s surely the most convenient Central London location to host a focus group.