Market Research Process
In this lesson, you’re expected to:
– Learn how to define a business ‘problem’ and research objectives
– Understand every step in the market research process
– Discover how to draw conclusions and actionable insights from this process
The market research process is comprised of seven steps:
Step 1: Define the Research Problem & Objectives
Step 2: Select a Research Design
Step 3: Develop a Research Brief
Step 4: Determine the Sample Size
Step 5: Data Collection
Step 6: Data Analysis
Step 7: Report Preparation & Presentation
Once the business problem or goal has been identified, the organization may need additional information about its potential choices to help make the final decision. It is at this point that the research process begins.
The first stage in any research project is to define precisely the research problem. This problem definition is usually achieved by the researcher talking with the client to find out what exactly needs to be researched. In order to identify the research problem, a number of important questions need to be answered:
• What is known already?
• What decisions need to be made?
• Is the research possible?
A thorough understanding of the background and the business problem is vital to the research project. Without this understanding, the researcher might not identify exactly what needs to be researched, and therefore the research project will not provide the information which is required.
Once the research problem has been identified, it needs to be broken down further into a series of research objectives. Research objectives identify exactly the areas or topics that need to be investigated, and are usually set out as questions.
For example, if a gym is investigating ways of attracting new members, the research objectives might include:
• How does this gym compare with others in the area?
• What do current members think of the gym?
• Why did former members leave?
• What might encourage members of other gyms to move to this one?
What is a Research Design?
A detailed outline of how an investigation will take place. A research design will typically include how data is to be collected, what instruments will be employed, how the instruments will be used and the intended means for analyzing data collected.
The research design is a framework or blueprint for conducting a market research project.
Research design involves secondary data analysis; qualitative research; quantitative data methods (survey, observation, and experimentation); information needed; measurement and scaling procedures; questionnaire design; sampling process and sample size; and a plan of data analysis.
The research brief provides the basis for the research project. The brief provides the parameters of the research required:
• Background to the problem
• History of the business
• The reason for the research
• Resources available
• What will be done with the information
A well-written brief can provide a great deal of support to help the researcher create a suitable research proposal, showing exactly how the research project will be carried out. To be most effective, the brief should address the parameters listed above.
For instance, to understand how football fans feel about the use of technology in football, we would not ask the opinion of every football fan. Instead, we would interview a sample of football fans – potentially with quotas for the division in which their football team played for instance.
A representative sample is a sample which mirrors the makeup of the population in question – for instance research for local governments often requires that certain aspects of the local area are taken into account, such as ethnicity and employment status.
Use this Sample Size calculator:
Quantitative Research aims to quantify responses and information. Questions in quantitative studies usually ask for responses that can be counted in some way, such as yes/no answers or scales from 1-5. The resulting information can be expressed as statistics.
For example, a quantitative report may show the percentage of people who agree or disagree with a particular statement or question, or use graphs to illustrate its findings.
This might be particularly important, for example, when a company wants to launch a new product. It might need to find out what people think of the product before it can find out how many think in this way.
The people being interviewed express their thoughts in the way they wish, and the researcher’s role is to evaluate the importance and relevance of what is said and done.
Qualitative methods help you develop and fine-tune your quantitative research methods. They can help business owners define problems and learn about customers’ opinions, values and beliefs. With qualitative research, the sample size is usually small.
The aim of data analysis is to discover useful information from a set of data, and conclusions that can be used to form insights. Large quantities of data must be summarized and presented in a way that clearly communicates the most important features and conclusions.
Presenting your market research results is arguably the most important part of the process.
– Executive Summary: As with market research reports, your presentation should include an executive summary to explain why the research was done, what was found, what the findings mean, and what management should now do. Focus on the key findings.
– Visuals: Present graphs or charts with important numbers and findings. Remember, not every data set needs a graph, but do emphasize the information that is going to be needed to encourage a change or action. Visuals are extremely useful to communicate results if they are designed appropriately.
– Draw Conclusions: What are you going to do now that you have this information from your research? Have an idea that you can present in order to show others that you were able to find a solution through obtaining data on the market.