Before starting off any project, business, or a study, one of the most important things to do is research. Every business has its own set of target users. It’s impossible to understand your users, their habits, expectations and behaviours without detailed market research. This article will help you understand everything about efficient market research.

What is market research?

Market research is a process that consists of gathering data and information pertaining to your target audience in a systematic way. It helps in understanding how viable your product or service would be, before even entering the market. It also gives you an overview of what is trending in the industry and what motivates the users to make a decision to convert and buy. Accordingly, you can plan the roadmap for your product or service. Listed below are some of the key benefits of market research:

  • Increases efficiency: Quality research helps you understand your customer’s behaviour and habits and tells you the potential focus areas well in advance
  • Competitor overview: Market research is the best way to study the market or industry you are targeting. By doing this you can make sure to stay ahead of your competitors by offering varied experience and services
  • Cost-efficient: This process does not cost you dollars. You can simply choose to use a survey tool or one-on-one meetings within your reach to start with. Shortly put, this is a low investment, high returns process!
  • Productive business investment: Market research is a great investment for any business. It helps the decision-makers to take the right path and achieve the targets that are required

Types of market research

By any chance, if you have gotten a chance to read the basics about general research, you know they are divided into primary and secondary research. Let’s do a quick recap here, and learn about the ways to conduct both of them:

Primary Research

The data derived from the primary research is ‘first-hand’. This means that you either collect the data yourself or employ someone you know to conduct research. Often, online surveys, phone interviews etc are the methods used for this. In this type of research, you have control over the entire process and can change the format in between. 

Please note: The learnings from this type of research are both qualitative and quantitative.

Ways to conduct primary market research:

  • Ethnographic research+observation: This is in-depth research conducted in the natural setting of the object. The idea is to make the respondent totally comfortable in their habitat while the interviewer adapts themselves to their natural environment. This type of research can last from a few days to a month. Every minute detail is studied during the duration. 
  • Focus groups: Focus group is one of the most commonly used methods for primary research. Here, a group of about 6-10 people is told about a particular release/ idea and all of them share their perceptions, thoughts and views. The best part about this is that it can be conducted remotely and is cost-effective
  • One-to-one interview: As the name suggests, this method involves interaction with an individual in the form of an interview. The questions asked to the respondent here are mostly open-ended questions. This is, however, prone to bring in biased responses and the end result of this depends a lot on how the interviewer is putting the questions and their ability to facilitate responses.
  • Surveys: Surveys are hugely informative and helpful if conducted the best way. They can be conducted via phone, in person, on paper or via online software. It’s a list of questions crafted in a way that gives you the best possible insight into how a customer feels about your product or service, your brand and the experience you provide. It can be as broad or as specific as you want.

Secondary Research

Unlike the primary research methodology, secondary research uses information that is organised by sources like media houses, chambers of commerce, government agencies, private research firms etc. This information is published in different formats and shared with the general public via multiple channels like online forums, websites, newspapers, magazines, events, etc. 

Ways to get secondary research results:

Public sources: Public sources such as a library is an awesome way to gather information. The best part is the information is well segregated along with the timelines. However, with the advent of the internet, the visits to the library have come down. It’s always a good idea to visit one if you have enough time to find some unique publications. 

Commercial sources: Local newspapers, magazines, journals, TV, radio etc. is what comes under commercial sources. Some of these might get expensive but they are one of the easiest ways to consume information. 

Educational institutions: Not very commonly used, this source of collecting data can prove to be useful since a number of researchers are carried out by management and technical institutions which rarely come out.

Steps to conduct market research

Now that you know what is market research, its importance and the ways to conduct research, let’s talk about how to do market research in 6 quick steps.

#1 Define your target audience

Before you start understanding how your customers operate, you need to quickly understand who your customers are. Create a buyer persona and keep it handy.

Please note: It’s absolutely okay to have a number of buyer personas! 

#2 Understand their behaviour 

After knowing well who your target audience is, find out what are the best ways to get in touch with them to get true answers. Evaluate their active hours, tonality, preferences and so on.

#3 Choose a method to get insights

Now is the time to take one of the most important decisions: to choose how to conduct the research. After following step #2, this should get easy. For example, if you find that your target audience opens their mails regularly and responds to them, you can choose to run a survey. However, if you find that the internet penetration to your target audience is very low and they understand their local dialect, then choosing the ethnographic research comes in handy.

#4 Collate the responses

This is where all your efforts come down to. It can be an excel sheet, a google document or a particular software, documenting every fact is a must. Make sure to protect your data and share it only with the relevant people.

#5 Form hypothesis & take actions

After you have a heap of information, it’s time to study the data and build a hypothesis. There might be instances where you will realise that you need to change the entire sign-up flow or change the language or take a different approach. How well you follow this step reflects the success of your business to a large extent. 

Conclusion

Conducting market research can prove to be an eye-opener and a fact-checker to a number of individuals and organisations. Even if you think you understand your target audience in and out, a detailed study will likely uncover new channels and opportunities for you. It is always the best choice to conduct market research in the initial phase of starting or building anything as it leaves a lot of room for improvement. 

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Khushali is a content marketer at Razorpay. A logophile, traveler and inbound marketing enthusiast, she loves questioning the 'why' and 'how' of almost everything.

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