What is market research?
Market research is broadly defined as the process through which data is gathered and analyzed to deduce useful information for business development. There are different types of market research studies. However, in order to conduct a market research successfully, one needs to choose the study and decide on how to conduct it and thereafter follow the process in order to complete it. It must be understood that not all market research follows a set pattern, often the sequence changes depending upon the problem and the target group from which the sample is collected.
However, there is a process that most of the market researchers follow in order to deduce authentic results. The following is the sequence one can refer to:
Understanding the problem
It is essential to identify and understand the problem the management is facing and then convert it into a research problem to analyze. So, if we are looking at sales issue, the focus should be on the customers from a research stand point so that, the cause can be analyzed to decide on the action.
The set pattern of inquiry is, to depend upon the existing knowledge to begin with. Although the steps involved in scientific method are similar to that of the research process however, scientific method is a quantitative research that is objective-based and relies on impartial analysis. Whereas, the research process is subjective and qualitative in nature.
Based on a hypothesis, the research process can begin, it can either be supported or rebutted built on the research findings. Once this hypothetical statement which is also the research objective is defined, the researcher can plan the research design and begin with the actual process.
Planning and organizing enhances the success of any project, so resource and budget planning along with time management can ease the process of research and yield desirable results.
Selecting an appropriate research methodology is key to finding answers. There are primarily two types of research methodologies. They are experimental and non-experimental research methods. Variables can be controlled for the first one through intervention while for the second type, one needs to only observe and record the findings without any intrusion.
This stage involves planning and development of a framework through which data will be gathered and studied. The selection of research instrument is broadly dependent on the type of data that needs to be collected. The research instrument can be exploratory, descriptive or causal. When the topic is vague and broad insights are required, exploratory research provides qualitative information. Descriptive research requires detailed and specific data in quantitative form. Causal research is used to analyze the causal relationship between variables.
Data collection techniques
Data can be gathered through either interview or observation. Interview technique also known as survey research depend upon face-to-face interview, email survey, telephonic survey, or over the internet. The technique of observation involves studying both past and present behavior of a person or a company to predict the future.
For a sample to work, it can be small but accurate and in order to choose the sample appropriately, the base need to be identified, from which a sample can be collected. Other considerable factors are the method of sample selection, size of the sample required and so on. The method can be based on probability or non-probability sampling, depending on which simple is either collected in random basis or based on judgement or convenience of the collector. Cost and accuracy are correlated with the sample size. The larger the sample size, it will be more accurate however, the cost will also increase accordingly.
Following the above process, one can create the market research reports which will include the information regarding the research process used, the results achieved, and the actions recommended. It should be ensured that the report is complete and lucid, and the same can be done by segregating the report into two parts – technical and the summary report. Afterall, the end objective is to take strategic business decisions!
– Sunanda Ganguli
Manager – Content Marketing & Strategy