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Market research explores consumer behaviour, as well as the ways cultural, societal, economic and personal factors that influence that behaviour.

Primary market research studies consumers directly, while secondary research investigates consumer information others have gathered. This article focuses on primary research: what it is and the ways you can collect data.

Unlike secondary research, which gathers and analyzes published data, primary market research collects original information about the products and services you plan to offer. You can conduct primary research yourself, or you can engage a market research firm to determine the reasons consumers will buy your product or service. Common research questions include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Who are your customers? How can you reach them?
  • What do your customers buy? What products or services do they need or want?
  • What needs do you perceive in the target market? Does your product or service address them?
  • What are you presently doing? What could you do?
  • What factors do consumers consider when making a purchase?
  • What will make consumers buy from you?
  • What do consumers like or dislike about your current products and services? Where could you improve?
  • Is your pricing fair and competitive? What’s a fair price?
  • Who are your competitors? How do they operate?
  • What are your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses?

Once you’ve determined your goals and developed your research question(s), you’ll then need to develop a strategy and choose the methods you’ll use to get the answers. There following are just some ways to gather data.

surveys and questionnaires

Surveys and questionnaires are an effective way to solicit the opinions of large groups of people. Paper surveys, handed out at the place of business or mailed out, are costly to administer. Traditionally, only a limited number of recipients take the time to respond. Fortunately, online, Web and email surveys offer a cost-effective solution.

When designing your survey instrument, ensure that you

  • keep it as short and simple as possible
  • make it visually appealing and easy to read
  • move from general to more specific questions
  • ask brief questions that are easy to understand
  • avoid leading questions, questions with ambiguous words and questions that are hard to answer
  • use logical response scales, with mutually exclusive categories
  • pre-test your questionnaire to identify and resolve any potential issues

Telephone and in-person interviews

Surveys can also be conducted over the phone or in one-on-one interviews.

To maximize your effectiveness and to help overcome potential objections, create a discussion guide that covers all top-of-mind questions. Rather than a formal script, your discussion guide should follow an outline format. This type of flexible format lets you to go out of order or probe into certain areas as appropriate with open-ended questions. Open-ended questions allow you to gather more from respondents than simple yes or no answers. They also help you avoid influencing respondents by leading with your own hypothesis.

Focus groups

Focus groups are organized discussions designed to elicit consumer feedback about a chosen, scripted topic. A moderator facilitates the conversation and strives to create a non-threatening, receptive environment. Participants, deliberately chosen, should feel encouraged to openly interact and influence each other. Focus groups often include a question-and-answer session.

Focus groups aren’t designed to reach consensus or agreement. Instead, their purpose is to identify consumers’ feelings, perceptions and opinions about a particular product, service or solution. They achieve this by giving consideration to different ideas and perspectives.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

There’s no set order when it comes to collecting data, but you may find it more helpful to do primary research after you’ve done secondary research. In other words, before undertaking your own research about products and services you plan to offer, look at published data. Conducting secondary research first can provide you with the background information necessary to create a more focused primary research project: the more focused your data, the more valuable it is.

Market research: not just for market researchers

Because market research covers a broad range of activities, you may assume that it’s complicated, time consuming and costly. Not true! You can conduct market research regardless of your experience, the amount of time you have available and your research budget.

Whether a simple survey or an in-depth analysis by a hired market research firm, the complexity of your market research project is entirely up to you. The good news is that advice is available. Trust Lift Legal to help you position your business for success.

Contact us today to learn more about our legal services for corporate and business matters.

Mel Garbe

Mel founded Lift Legal with the goal of delivering cost effective legal services without sacrificing capability by effectively using modern tools to access the types of resources that larger law firms have access to. The result being that Lift Legal provides high level professional services at a greater value.

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