Market research is typically classified into four main categories: primary, secondary, quantitative, and qualitative. However, with advancements in technology shaping modern market research, we can now further refine and classify these research types into individual processes, helping brands gather data that are more detailed and precise.
For instance, rather than relying on primary research from surveys or focus groups, we can get much of the same information through brand research or competitor analysis.
Let’s discuss the key types of market research – core types and further classifications - that you need to be aware of to pick the best approach for your business.
Main categories of market research
I. Primary Research
II. Secondary Research
Primary research in consumer research refers to the process of gathering original data directly from consumers or target market segments for the purpose of conducting a study or analysis. It involves collecting new and firsthand information that has not been previously published or explored.
Primary research is conducted by the researchers themselves or research teams, and it typically involves various methods of data collection, such as surveys, interviews, observations, focus groups, experiments, or field studies. These methods allow researchers to directly interact with consumers, gather their opinions, attitudes, behaviors, and preferences, and obtain specific information relevant to their research objectives.
Advantages of primary research in consumer research include
- Control over data collection: Researchers have control over the design, structure, and content of the research instruments, ensuring that the data collected is relevant and specific to their research needs.
- Fresh and current data: Primary research provides up-to-date information since it is collected directly from consumers at a given point in time, allowing researchers to capture the latest trends, preferences, or market dynamics.
- Customization: Researchers can tailor their data collection methods and instruments to their specific research objectives, ensuring the collection of precise and focused information.
- In-depth insights: Primary research enables researchers to gain deeper insights into consumer behavior, motivations, and preferences, providing a more comprehensive understanding of the target audience.
- Originality: Since primary research involves collecting new data, it offers the opportunity to contribute original knowledge and findings to the field of consumer research.
Secondary research in consumer research involves the use of existing data and information that has already been collected by someone else or for a different purpose. It involves analyzing and synthesizing data from various sources, such as published reports, academic literature, industry studies, government publications, market research databases, and online sources.
Secondary research serves as a valuable resource for researchers to gain insights into consumer behavior, market trends, industry statistics, and other relevant information. It is often used to support and complement primary research findings or as a starting point for exploring a research topic.
Some common examples of secondary research in consumer research include:
- Market reports and industry publications: Analyzing market research reports, industry journals, and trade publications to understand market trends, consumer preferences, competitive landscapes, and industry-specific information.
- Online sources and social media: Mining data from online platforms, social media platforms, forums, or review websites to gather consumer opinions, sentiment analysis, or real-time feedback on products, services, or brands.
- Syndicated research: Utilizing data from syndicated research studies conducted by market research firms or organizations that provide comprehensive data on consumer behavior, market trends, or specific industries.
Have a look: Sentiment Analysis: The Ultimate Guide
Advantages of secondary research in consumer research include
- Cost and time efficiency: Secondary research eliminates the need for primary data collection, reducing costs and time associated with conducting surveys, interviews, or experiments.
- Broad perspective: Secondary research provides a broader view by incorporating a wide range of sources, allowing researchers to examine multiple perspectives and gain a comprehensive understanding of the research topic.
- Historical data: Secondary research often includes historical data, enabling researchers to analyze trends and changes in consumer behavior over time.
The Essential Types of Market Research
Brand research is a valuable tool for understanding and shaping a company's brand identity, enabling businesses to make informed decisions that resonate with their target audience.
It focuses on the images, narratives, and characteristics people associate with the brand. This research type applies at various stages of a business's lifecycle, including brand creation, new product launches, and re-branding efforts.
Brand research can be conducted by analyzing competitor strengths and weaknesses, conducting focus groups and interviews to gauge emotional associations with brands, and utilizing market research surveys to identify differentiating features and benefits. The insights gathered are then translated into consumer language that elicits emotional connections.
Competitive analysis enables brands to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their competitors in the marketplace, providing valuable insights to gain a competitive edge.
Whether you are just starting, entering a new market, or assessing the health of your business, conducting a competitive analysis is invaluable. To perform a competitive analysis, you can start by selecting key competitors and examining various aspects, such as their marketing strategies, customer perceptions, revenue or sales volume, and more.
While secondary sources like articles, references, and advertising materials can provide valuable competitive information, primary research methods like mystery shopping and focus groups offer additional insights into customer service quality and current consumer opinions.
Usability testing is vital for understanding how customers interact with your products in real-time, whether they are physical goods like vacuum cleaners or digital assets such as websites and apps. This information can help businesses improve the overall customer experience.
The appropriate time to utilize usability testing is during the initial stages of prototyping or beta versions. You can identify and address potential issues or bugs before the official launch, minimizing the risk of flawed products on store shelves or reduced sales due to poor functionality.
Usability testing encompasses various tests, depending on whether you examine physical or digital products. Here are some examples:
- Journey testing involves observing customers' experiences on apps or websites and closely monitoring their performance. This type of study can be conducted online.
- Eye-tracking studies track where people's gaze is directed. Typically, they are carried out on websites and apps, but they can also be conducted in-store to analyze customers' visual focus during shopping.
- Click tracking analyzes users' website activity to evaluate the linking structure and navigation flow.
Consumer insights research goes beyond providing basic information about customers and their behaviors, delving into the reasons behind customer behavior. It helps you anticipate consumer needs, drive innovation, tailor marketing efforts, and solve business challenges.
Various market research methods, including interviews, ethnography, survey research, social monitoring, and customer journey research, can be utilized to conduct consumer insights research (based on your industry and target market). Consumer insights research enables brands to understand important characteristics such as purchase habits, interests, hobbies, passions, personal and professional information, and media and advertising consumption patterns. These valuable insights provide the foundation for effective marketing strategies and customer-centric decision-making.
Product development market research leverages customer insights to guide the entire process of creating or enhancing a product, service, or app and bringing it to market.
It can help minimize the risk of product failure at different stages:
- Conception: Market research identifies market opportunities, uncovers customer challenges, and helps fill existing gaps.
- Formation: Market researchers assist in transforming ideas into testable concepts, offering guidance on pricing strategies, advertising and packaging tests, and value proposition development.
- Continuous improvement and market expansion: Market research helps refine the product based on customer feedback and identifies opportunities to introduce it to new markets.
Research on product development includes presenting product concepts to focus groups for feedback, conducting interviews to understand customer pain points, or performing user testing to evaluate user interactions with apps or websites.
Businesses must ensure that their media efforts effectively resonate with consumers regarding message, style, and tone. For instance, conducting A/B tests enables advertising teams to decide which campaign route to pursue. Brands can assess various elements such as advertising channels, ad format, color scheme, font size, logo placement, and more.
Qualitative research can be valuable in evaluating initial reactions to media executions among a small audience. In contrast, quantitative research scores different media aspects, highlighting what works well, what is irrelevant, and what needs improvement.
By combining qualitative and quantitative research, brands can refine their media campaigns and optimize their effectiveness.
Conducting surveys that present customers with choices between products with distinct characteristics and price ranges (commonly done through conjoint analysis) can provide insights into which features hold the most value for your target audience and what they are willing to pay.
Another way is to perform A/B tests with customized plans, such as tiered pricing that limits particular features or pricing scaled according to specific consumer demographics.
When paired with basic research on your competitors' pricing, these essential insights can give you a competitive advantage in deciding the pricing of your products and services.
Automating Market Research
With the helped of an automated consumer research platform, brands can conduct brand research by collecting brand perception data, likability, engagement levels, and purchase intent, to name a few - by analysing the sentiment of the consumer’s feedback. Emotion AI technologies such as facial coding and voice AI provide insights into the subconscious reactions to brand elements and colours,aelping businesses understand the impact of their brand on consumers.
Decode's eye tracking and facial coding capabilities enable businesses to conduct automated usability testing. It can track user gaze patterns, analyze facial expressions, and capture feedback to identify usability issues, improve user experience, and optimize product interfaces.
Consumer Insights Research
Decode serves as a valuable tool for consumer insights research. It allows businesses to collect and analyze large volumes of qualitative and quantitative data, including surveys, feedback, and social media conversations. The platform provides in-depth insights into consumer preferences, behaviors, and motivations, helping businesses understand their target audience better.
Consumer research platforms can revolutionise product development by gathering customer feedback and preferences. It allows businesses to test prototypes, collect data on user experiences, and analyze feedback using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. These insights guide product improvements and innovations.
Automated consumer research platforms can automate pricing research by gathering data on consumer perceptions, price sensitivity, and competitor pricing. It helps businesses identify optimal pricing strategies, understand consumer willingness to pay, and evaluate market demand, ensuring pricing decisions align with market dynamics.
Businesses can automate media research by tracking media coverage, sentiment analysis of articles, and social media conversations. It provides insights into the effectiveness of media campaigns, brand perception, and identifies key trends and influencers.
Choosing the right approach for your business
Knowing when to employ each of the various market research types outlined above depends on the type of concern your business is facing.
For instance, if awareness is the goal, the appropriate research types would be media research or consumer usage research. If the goal is acquisition, concept testing, usability testing, and pricing research are ideal. For retention, customer satisfaction research or shopper insights will be useful.
These examples should give you an idea of choosing the right approach for your business. However, brands can find it difficult to conduct multiple studies simultaneously with traditional research methods alone or with inefficient market research technology.
Pro tip: Choose a market research platform that can do most of the heavy lifting for you!
Decode, as an integrated DIY consumer research platform, offers various advanced Emotion AI-led features such as facial coding, eye tracking, and voice AI. The platform enables the automation of both qualitative and quantitative research, ensuring teams get real-time insights into customer feedback and insights. Robust platforms like Decode, for instance, offer a simple and intuitive interface, ensuring a complete DIY experience. You can also leverage eye tracking, facial coding, and voice analysis technologies to gather unbiased insights without compromising turnaround time.
Other nifty specs include a fully customizable survey builder, an online native panel, conducting live interviews and focus groups, and much more.
Why don't you sign up for a free-trial and experience he ease of Decode, yourself.