What Is Marketing Research?

Marketing research is the process of collecting information about customers and markets. 

It’s a systematic process for gathering data about buyers and their buying habits, such as why they buy certain products or services, what features are most important to them, which competitors they consider when making decisions about purchases, and more.

Marketing research helps companies understand their customers so that they can develop strategies that will enable them to reach those customers’ needs with relevant products or services at the right time.

Marketing research also helps companies understand their markets so that they can determine whether there’s demand for the product or service being offered.

What is Market Research? The Five Types, and a Basic
Market research is essential for informed business decisions.
It involves gathering insights into consumer preferences and behaviors.
Different methods like surveys, interviews, and data analysis are used.
Businesses of all sizes can benefit from market research.
Effective market research contributes to business growth.

Characteristics Of Data

Data is information that you collect. It can be quantitative (numbers) or qualitative (words), unstructured (words, text), or structured (numbers). Data can either be primary (collected for a specific purpose) or secondary (collected for another purpose).

A good example of primary data would be an opinion poll conducted by a company to determine if people would prefer their products in different shades than the current ones. 

While this type of research may have been conducted by the company itself, it was done specifically for this purpose and so we would count it as primary data. 

Secondary data refers to any other type of information that has already been collected but is being used in a new way think about how many times you’ve applied for jobs online using information from your social media profiles or uploaded your resume onto job sites like Indeed and LinkedIn!

When it comes to gathering insights without breaking the bank, our guide on conducting market research for free is a valuable resource. Discover creative ways to understand your audience without incurring high costs.

Cross-Sectional And Longitudinal Data

When deciding which type of data to collect, it’s important to take into account what kind of information you want. If your goal is to compare people who have different levels of a certain characteristic, then cross-sectional data will do the trick. 

For example, if you’re looking for a group that has had a lot more training than another group (e.g., people who have had formal training in leadership versus those who haven’t), then you need cross-sectional data.

If your goal is instead to look at changes over time in one group for example, if you want to see how leadership skills develop over time then longitudinal data is the better choice. 

As we’ve discussed before, longitudinal research can be difficult because it requires continuous observation and participation over an extended period; 

This means that longitudinal studies are often very expensive and complicated compared with other types of research methods (such as surveys).

Primary And Secondary Data

One of the most important distinctions to make when conducting a marketing research project is between primary and secondary data. 

Primary data refers to information that you collect for a specific purpose, while secondary data has been collected by someone else for another purpose. 

An example of primary research would be a survey sent out by an organization looking to learn more about its customers’ shopping habits or reasons for purchasing certain products. 

The goal of this type of research isn’t necessarily to get feedback on how people feel about their past experiences with the company or what they hope to see in the future.

But rather it’s meant to answer specific questions related directly back to their products or services (i.e., do they want more variety when it comes down).

Secondary sources include published reports from government agencies, media outlets, academic journals, and other organizations that have already done some sort of analysis to get information out there quickly.

And at times these may be outdated due because there hasn’t been a time since then for anything new

Surveys can be powerful tools, but their success hinges on preparation. Check out our 14 tips before conducting a survey to ensure your survey yields meaningful results that drive your marketing efforts.

Data Collection

Data collection methods are used to collect information from the target audience. There are many ways to do this, including:


An interview is a dialogue between a researcher and an individual or group of people. It is often done face-to-face but can also be conducted over the phone or through email.


Questionnaires are a list of questions that you ask your customers directly, either in person or via email, social media, etc. They’re typically sent out via email blasts to large groups of people who have signed up for them (e.g., “I want to know what you think about our new product”).

Focus Groups 

hese are small groups made up of around 6-12 participants who share their opinions on a particular topic over several hours for researchers to understand more about how consumers feel about certain subjects/products/services etc. 

The insights gained from these sessions are often very valuable when developing future campaigns/products etc.

The Research Brief And Questionnaire Design

Research Brief

The first step in any research project is to create a clear and concise research brief. This is an overview of what you want to learn, how you want to learn it (the methods), and why you’re interested in the topic at all (the purpose).

Not all marketing research is the same—different approaches yield different insights. Explore our guide on 16 types of marketing research and why you need them to make informed decisions about your research strategies.

Questionnaire Design

If you’ve decided on focus groups or telephone interviews as your primary method for collecting data, then it’s time to write questions for those interviews. You may also need a set of written survey questions if online panels or online surveys are part of your plan.

Sampling Technique(S)

Decide which sampling method(s) will be used for each type of respondent identified during market analysis from customers and prospects down to industry experts, suppliers, competitors’ employees, and others who could provide valuable insights into the market or problem at hand.

And write out instructions detailing how these individuals should be contacted so they can participate in the study once selected by random selection.

Or other means such as quota sampling techniques (which ensure that each subgroup has roughly equal representation within whatever total number was agreed upon beforehand).

Pilot Studies

Pilot studies are a way to test the questionnaire, data collection process, and analysis process. A pilot study is a small-scale version of the main study that allows researchers to check for potential problems or errors before running an entire research project. 

Pilot studies help researchers determine whether their measures work well enough for their purposes; they also allow them to improve their questions and procedures if necessary.

Since pilot studies are usually conducted with very small samples (e.g., 10 people), they tend to be much less expensive than full-scale research projects. 

By conducting pilot tests first, researchers can save time and money by avoiding mistakes in developing questionnaires or other measurement tools that won’t work as expected in larger surveys or experiments later on.

Believe it or not, zombie movies offer more than just scares—they can offer insights into marketing research. Learn about the unexpected lessons in our article on 11 things zombie movies can teach us about marketing research.


This is a good point to introduce the importance of sampling. Sampling is a process by which you select some people from your entire population to represent that population. The sample is then used to conclude the entire population. 

Therefore, it’s important to choose your sample carefully so that you get an accurate picture of what’s going on across your whole market.

There are three kinds of sampling: random, non-random, and convenience samples. Random sampling means that every member of your population has an equal chance of being chosen for inclusion in the sample (this can also be called probability sampling). 

Non-random sampling means that members are selected without any consideration given to their chances; they might be selected because they’re easy or cheap to reach or because they’re interesting people who will make good interviews. 

Convenience sampling involves choosing whoever happens to be around when you need them perhaps someone who works at your company or lives nearby or happens to have been in touch recently (this isn’t usually considered an acceptable form).

The second thing you need when planning a research project is how big your sample should be – this depends on how confident you want to be about its results, but typically ranges from 100 respondents up to 1,000+. Once again: bigger isn’t always better!

Interpreting Research Findings Cross-Tabulation And Statistical Significance

You’ll need to know about the statistical significance to interpret research findings. Statistical significance is the likelihood that an observed difference in sample statistics is due to chance rather than any true differences between groups.

Statistical significance is important because it tells you how likely your results are to be accurate, but it doesn’t tell you if they’re practically significant (important). 

And it doesn’t allow you to make inferences about the population from which your samples were taken. It only lets us know whether or not our hypothesis was correct in this case!

So how do we decide whether our results are statistically significant? We use a test of statistical significance called an analysis of variance (ANOVA). 

An ANOVA uses a statistical model called F-distribution, which describes how much variation there is in something like sales numbers or customer satisfaction scores within different groups such as age brackets or income levels. 

As long as all factors being tested are independent (i.e., not related), then the variances from each group will be additive and therefore equal across all categories of interest except when they aren’t! 

If any two sets of data have unequal variances, then one set must be larger than another; this would mean that any conclusions drawn using these data could potentially be wrong because there isn’t enough information available

Marketing Research Is Vital For All Companies

Marketing research is vital for all companies. Without it, you don’t know what your customers want, or if they even exist. Marketing research helps you figure out what products and services to offer and how to sell them to make money.

The main difference between marketing and advertising is that marketing involves creating customer demand for a product or service, while advertising involves communicating the value of a product or service after it’s already been designed by the company. 

There are various types of marketing research: focus groups, surveys (e-mailed and paper), interviews, observation techniques such as field studies, and mystery shopping (in which an observer goes into retail outlets pretending to be a potential customer to assess sales techniques), etcetera…

Phone interviews are an essential tool for gathering information, but they require a unique skill set. Discover the secrets to successful phone interviews in our guide on the most effective way to conduct interviews on the phone.


As you can see, there are many benefits to using a marketing research agency. If you want your business to succeed and grow, then using a marketing research company is the way forward. 

One of the best things about working with agencies is that they have all of the resources needed to carry out market research projects. 

This means that they can produce results at a lower cost than if you were doing it yourself, which is great news for anyone who wants to save money on their marketing efforts!

Further Reading

Emeritus – What is Market Research and Why is It Important? Short Description: Gain insights into the significance of market research and its impact on business decisions through this informative article.

QuestionPro – What is Market Research? Short Description: Dive deeper into the world of market research, exploring its methods and benefits for businesses looking to understand their customers better.

Hotjar – Market Research: Definition, Methods, and Examples Short Description: Discover the essence of market research, its methodologies, and real-world examples showcasing its role in enhancing user experiences.

And here’s the “FAQs” section with five questions and answers:


What is the purpose of market research?

Market research serves the purpose of gathering valuable insights about consumer preferences, behaviors, and trends to guide informed business decisions.

How can market research impact business growth?

Effective market research can provide businesses with actionable data, helping them identify opportunities for growth, refine strategies, and tailor their offerings to meet customer needs.

What are some common methods used in market research?

Market research employs a variety of methods such as surveys, interviews, focus groups, and data analysis to collect and interpret information from target audiences.

How does market research help in understanding customer preferences?

Market research enables businesses to understand customer preferences by analyzing data related to buying habits, feedback, and demographic information, allowing them to create more relevant and appealing products and services.

Is market research only relevant for large corporations?

No, market research is valuable for businesses of all sizes. Small businesses can use it to identify their target audience, assess demand for their products, and make strategic decisions to enhance their competitiveness.

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