Market research is the process of gathering business intelligence through the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data. It enables different people within the organization to make informed decisions about their daily tasks, ongoing projects, and the overall strategy––and it relies on capturing exceptional insight.
Some of the most common reasons organizations conduct market research include:
- Improving or creating products.
- Understanding new market segments.
- Boosting brand health.
The process is organized into market research steps that any brand can follow to accomplish its own objectives.
1. Define the Problem
The first step in market research is to identify or define the research problem. The research problem determines the scope of the research, the tools and methods to be used, and the sources of data.
The research problem is an information gap that the organization wants to close. It should be specific––and if it’s not well understood by the researcher or organization, an exploratory study should be done first.
Once the problem has been identified, a problem statement is prepared highlighting the importance of the subject matter, contextualizing the issue, and establishing the success criteria.
The success criteria is what will determine whether the problem has been solved after the exercise is done.
While some research problems can only be solved through a fresh study, sometimes the problem has an existing answer. In such cases, it is not necessary to do market research as the process can be costly in terms of both money and time.
Successful organizations have market research platforms that help them identify research problems and find existing answers. This frees their resources for the pursuit of the problems that haven’t been solved yet and require deeper analysis.
2. Develop the Research Strategy
Organizations can adopt different approaches in their market research processes depending on various factors. These factors include: The area of study, the research budget, and most importantly, the research problem.
A research strategy specifies the approach to be taken on a particular project including the market research steps, methods, tools, objectives, budget, and time allocation for each stage.
To formulate the proper strategy, it is important to have in mind the different approaches to market research.
Quantitative research deals with data that is represented by magnitudes such as numbers, sizes, and percentages. Qualitative research deals with the attributes in data e.g. emotions, opinions, and behaviors. It’s best understand these days as structured and unstructured data.
The market research approach can also be defined by the methods used – whether they are traditional or modern. Depending on the approach, the research strategy may include different methods and materials.
Lately, the multimodal market research approach has been preferred by many organizations. This approach takes different research techniques and applies them in stages, capitalizing on their strengths.
3. Acquire the Research Materials
The research strategy informs the materials to be used in the process. Materials include the methods and tools used to collect, analyze, and present data.
Traditionally, the most effective market research methods include surveys, interviews, focus groups, direct observation, and ethnography. Advances in technology have allowed researchers to improve the capabilities of each of these methods.
Among the tools, traditional market research has heavily relied on analog alternatives such as questionnaires, recording equipment, and spaces such as observation rooms and the open field.
The internet is a boon for modern market research. Not only does it accommodate and improve traditional methods, but it also allows for the development of new research tools.
Beyond the internet, AI technology has allowed market research to flourish in an environment of big data. AI-backed tools and platforms are the modern organization’s main component of the market research toolkit.
4. Collect the Data
Data is the heart of market research. This makes data collection the most important of the market research steps. Therefore, the quality of the data gathered can make or break the whole process.
The key features of high quality data are accuracy, consistency, relevance, completeness, and timeliness. Without any of these features, the data is corrupted.
The process of data collection must be carefully executed to ultimately ensure that the business makes accurate decisions.
Done correctly, the previous market research steps help make sure of this. The sources of data are well defined in the research strategy based on the research problem; and the tools necessary are picked on the third step.
Modern organizations can get most of the data that they need for most of their projects on the internet. However, the data is distributed across various sources and the larger portion of it is unstructured.
It takes an advanced AI consumer and market research platform to access this data, parse it, and make it available for analysis.
5. Analyze the Data
Once collected, the data that’s in raw form must be analyzed to yield information which then provides insights. The analysis of data should be done by experts using dedicated tools.
Data experts help get the most out of the data collected because they understand the language and can more effectively get rid of the noise to get to pure information.
Almost equally as important are the data analysis tools that are used. Advanced tools can crunch large volumes of data quickly and automatically. This takes care of the tediousness (and the mere impossibility) of doing it manually.
On the other hand, with the help of these tools, humans are able to apply their mental powers to tasks that machines cannot perform.
To enhance this synergistic relationship, the data gathered must be collected in one location – what is known as data integration. However, this is not always possible as the data may be collected in different tools.
To bridge this gap, analysts use business intelligence platforms that allow the integration of data from separate platforms into a single dashboard.
6. Compile the Data
After analysis, the data must be compiled and presented or reported to the relevant people i.e. those who will derive the insights: Marketers, managers, sales people, and customer service personnel, among others.
The report should be accurate based on the data analysis. Important information and notes should be included to address any confusion. And it should be visualized to enhance the attention, understanding, and memory of the stakeholders.
7. Implement Data-Driven Strategies
Finally, the market research steps are not complete without testing the utility of the process. And this is best done through the application of insights in business.
Modern businesses use data to inform all their strategies be it acquiring customers, beating the competition, or taking advantage of various opportunities.
All data-driven strategies in modern business can be summed up in two categories: Consumer and market strategies.
Consumer strategies address consumer needs while market strategies are aimed at other factors such as suppliers, partners, technologies, and competitors.
Thus, the organization needs consumer and market data to develop effective strategies.
With NetBase Quid’s AI-backed consumer and market intelligence platform, modern brands can perform an effective market research process that ends in truly actionable information. We can show you how right now – just reach out for a demo.