Brands come and go, sometimes overnight. In this fast-paced market, having staying power comes down to understanding what’s happening within the industry, how your brand is perceived by consumers and how you measure up to the competition. And this understanding is made possible with a market research report.
We are going to cover the bases of what a market research report is and how to prepare one that will set you on the road to success. Let’s begin!
What Is a Market Research Report?
As a brand, you want to provide the best for your consumers – the best in service, products and anything else in-between.
A market research report starts with helping you understand the conversation happening about your company, or on a specific subject. It can include data from news sources, social media, online reports, reviews, blogs and much more.
It also reveals, in detail, who your consumers are, identifying their wants, needs and desires.
Think of a market research report as a guiding light for your business, allowing your brand to make calculated steps and decisions based on data that reveals critical intel on every aspect of your organization.
It can be used to showcase your brand’s ability, or keep investors up-to-date on to keep you aware of how things are going presently. And there are many different sources from which to pull this information. We’ll explore those now.
Types of Market Research
Market research is vast, and it can be overwhelming to know where to pull data from and what details to include in a report. And this will depend on your goals. Here are a few types that you may need:
- Primary – This is research pulled from your own data set, such as interviews, focus groups or surveys. And this is a fantastic jumping off point.
But it only covers a small fraction of people – it can only measure the known. Meanwhile that which is unknown remains a mystery without further research tools.
- Secondary – This is data you don’t own. If you’ve ever used government statistics to help you flesh out your understanding of how many people are on the internet for example, you’ve used secondary research.
This also covers research websites such as Mckinsey. This can help you discover the unknown to you, i.e., uncover intel that goes beyond your own datasets.
- Qualitative – This is the combination of results from your primary and secondary research efforts. And as such, adds more depth to your research. However, this is still only a starting point as it doesn’t reveal absolute truths about your target market, but rather offers you the chance to infer based on the intel gathered.
- Quantitative – This is a collection of primary and secondary research. This type of market research not only adds more depth, but also provides data that’s more easily measured.
And that’s because it’s inherently numerical. It can provide historical data as well, making benchmarking much simpler. This data can be found using polls, surveys, financial data and more.
Your market research tools should offer all of the above. Any one piece on its own is incomplete and would only offer a small slice of insight – and it would lack context.
For example, basing your next move based only on focus groups would be faulty, as there are far more consumers out there than just the focus group. It’s a small group which may not cover all types of consumers.
It’s when you combine primary, secondary, qualitative, and quantitative research that you begin to get a complete picture into whatever you’re researching and measuring, be it campaign success or one of these other market research options:
Brand Awareness Research:
Market research should include how your brand is perceived, not just by the market as whole, but by consumers on a personal level. And this should measure how you’re performing in respect to other competitors.
This intel is important to understand brand strengths and weaknesses from the consumers’ standpoint; as well as share of voice and how to increase it.
Consumer Behavior Research:
What sparks joy for your customers? Likewise, what causes them to veer away from your brand? These questions can be answered by conducting consumer behavior research.
It will also uncover how to grow brand loyalty and triggers to indicate movement through your purchase path, which will inform brand messaging.
Competitor Comparison Research:
Where do you stand when it comes to your competitors? Market research shows where you’re doing well and your challenge areas relative to top competitors.
It also reveals who the emerging competitors are and what it is about them that resonates with the potential consumers you share.
Product Innovation Research:
What are the unmet needs in the marketplace? Innovation is born of raw consumer insight combined with keen market understanding, and it hinges on real-time AI-driven analysis that offers analyses that one is comfortable betting the business on.
The rapid shifts that happen here run the gamut from ideation to product packaging, product design, product testing and ongoing iterations.
These are just a handful of market research options. Next, we’ll outline how to prepare a market research report using primary and secondary research.
Preparing a Market Research Report
As a first step, you need an objective – what are you trying to find out? When conducting primary research, it’s a good idea to break down the buyer persona.
- Who are your ideal customers?
- What do they want?
- What are their barriers to buying?
- And what are the drivers?
To find this out, you’ll need to conduct a survey, a series of interviews, or a focus group. Each of these have their pros and cons.
Primary Research Options
Focus Groups – A group of your ideal customers are brought together to discuss your brand and its offerings. And you should have several groups of “ideal customers” that represent different audiences.
From there it’s simply a matter of having the right questions to ask and getting answers from your groups. The disadvantage of this is twofold:
- These groups are only representative of known audiences. There may be groups out there that you have no knowledge of that would be or are interested in your brand. Without discovering who these people are, you are missing out.
- You are subject to how comfortable a person may feel speaking up in a group. Sometimes, the answers could be less honest due to group dynamics and therefore misdirect you. Which brings us to one-on-one interviews . . .
This is a more intimate option for consumers who may not feel comfortable in a group setting. This gives the interviewer the opportunity to observe body language as well as get a personal view into an individual consumer’s mind.
However, once again this method has drawbacks. It’s time consuming and depends on the consumer being 100% comfortable and direct with their feeling and thoughts.
This type is less time consuming and can offer its audience the freedom to be uninhibited and honest through a set of pre-selected questions in a survey. And you’ll need to hire a researcher or two to segment out the panelists, and that can take more time and money.
No matter which option you chose, or maybe you chose all three, you’ll want to avoid leading questions, or ones that have exclusive answers such as “Do you like cats or dogs?” Or questions with a yes or no answer like, “Do you enjoy hiking?” A better option would be, “What do you enjoy most about outdoors and why? “The idea is to get the participant to expound on the question, so that you have more data to analyze.
All three of these primary research options are bound to the questions being asked. But what if your audience has other things on their mind? Things that aren’t covered in the 20 questions you have for them?
Secondary Research Options
Break out your notebook and pen or get ready to manually transfer lots of data from sources outside of your company. This data can be from online journals or research papers, think tanks, government statistics, educational papers or newspapers
It can be helpful to use this as a beginning point for your primary research, this way you have a basis to work from. For example, if you already know that dog owners prefer bathing their furry friends at home, rather than taking them to a spa, you can skip right to figuring out what it would take to get them to the doggy spa. Is it the cost? The lack of shampoo options or lack of beauty packages? By using secondary market research to inform your primary research, you can enhance and supplement your findings and understanding of the intel.
So, you’ve done both primary and secondary market research, where do you go now? Well, the truth is, you need to be able to compile all of this in one area. If you were to do this yourself, that could take days or weeks. There’s a lot of information floating around out there. Plus, without auditing the consumers you don’t know about, you’re actually missing a huge chunk of intel, and possibly missing opportunity.
Writing a Market Research Report
Once you’ve gathered all your primary research, it’s time to upload your findings to a market research tool, assuming of course that your tool allows you to do this – if it doesn’t it may be time to find a tool which does. It will save you loads of time and money and will help put your findings into context within the greater market.
Your report will contain different metrics which are consistent with your goals. However, one of the most basic metrics your report needs to show is volume – volume of mentions, posts and potential impressions.
This will illustrate how often your brand is top of mind with consumers, new sources, blogs, etc.
Below, we have a popular pet care brand. Market intelligence reveals that volume over the past year is consistently, slowly growing, with a few spikes in mentions, posts and even sentiment throughout the year:
We can also adjust this metric to show as little as one month for benchmarking purposes.
Understanding volume is key to understanding your share of voice in the marketplace. If volume is too low, then you know it’s time to rethink your approach.
Additionally, on your market research report, you should be able to break this volume down to sources, identifying how much is coming from social media such as Twitter or Facebook, and how much is coming from other places such as blogs or news sources. This will help you understand where your brand is getting the most traction and where you may need to work a little harder––or abandon all together!
Volume alone, however, isn’t enough to really capture why these mentions and spikes in sentiment are happening. To have a good grasp on where your brand stands, you need to be able to look behind these fluctuations.
For example, the spike in sentiment above on February 6 is due to a viral post talking about the benefits of purchasing a pet through the pet care store in question. This could be made into a consumer generated content series, encouraging others to share their top experiences with and about you.
Another item about the pet care store focuses on how to help educate a toddler on animal care and on taking a child to the aquarium for this same purpose. This could encourage the facility to offer a monthly kid-focused event that teaches kids to be kind to animals and basic straining techniques.
And speaking of maintaining a good consumer/brand relationship, it’s always important to include a deeper dive into how your brand is being perceived by consumers.
Below, we added a theme of brand issues to our report which includes a sentiment analysis for Advertising/Commercials, Customer Care and Sustainability, as this is a topic consumers consistently care about:
Sentiment reveals consumers generally enjoy their ads and they feel good when engaging with customer care. And we find many news stories promoting the fact that this brand is moving in a sustainable direction. All good news.
One could easily change these categories above to Price, Website Feedback, or any number of qualifiers, including personal narratives which capture “I” statements from consumers to specifically pinpoint loves and hates.
It’s a deep dive to understand consumer perception from all angles and it’s precisely what brands need.
And another angle you’ll absolutely want to include in your market research report is competitive intelligence. How do you compare against other brands in your category?
Benchmarking your success using only yourself as an example can be a costly blunder. You need to know what your competition is doing, especially if you hope to understand your share of voice in the competitive landscape.
Rival IQ does this fantastically. By using a competitor comparison, you can figure out average engagement for brands in your category and then measure against that.
And you can see which social platforms truly matter to your target audience by understanding where they’re participating and engaging with your competitors (and with you) most often.
Market research is about more than volume of posts. Brands need to identify what drives those posts and mentions, and how that stacks up against others in the industry.
Your reporting capabilities could likely use some context to make it all actionable and, ultimately, valuable. Be sure to reach out for a demo and we’ll show you how to get things in motion!