MARKETING RESEARCH PRIMER
Why Do Research
Great ideas pop up every day; new product features and offerings, refined messaging and pricing concepts, exploring new markets.
Will the new feature create value for the end-user?
Will the business value outweigh the complexity of implementation?
Will you see the impact in an acceptable time frame?
Does your audience even want this?
Are you reinventing the wheel?
Research minimizes the risk in your decision-making. The more information you compile, the lower your risk and the stronger your business case. Knowing the basics of market research is the first step towards understanding the business context of your objective, framing the research project, and getting actionable results. The right research can be the difference between a failed product launch and a timely course correction that saves your initiative.
Companies that understand their consumers understand the cycle to innovate, optimize, and monitor their products, services, and experiences. They seek to understand if an innovation will work at scale. They ask, is this helpful, relevant, or unique? Insights drawn from market research before you implement a new offering lead to reduced risk and better business decisions.
Qualitative vs. Quantitative
At a high level, research disciplines consider primary and secondary research. Primary research is information collected by you or your research partner. Secondary research is the gathering, consolidation, and summarizing of data and research that already exists. Both are critical to providing accurate context and valuable insights.
Primary research includes two types of research, qualitative and quantitative.
Qualitative research explores and collects unstructured information, summarizing the findings into themes.
When we execute qualitative research, we center the work around a discussion guide. This document outlines the subjects to discuss, providing the moderator with a skeleton of the subject matter. This offers the moderator flexibility as a structured questionnaire does not constrain them. We conduct qualitative research in a variety of formats, both online and offline.
These formats include but certainly aren't limited to:
A small group of people (6-10) that share a common set of characteristics (demographics, attitudes, etc.) and participate in a discussion led by a moderator.
In-Depth Interviews (IDI's)
An unstructured personal interview with a single respondent, conducted by an interviewer.
Bulletin Boards and Online Journals
Online research through a message board. A moderator posts questions or tasks and members respond to the moderator's prompts.
Quantitative research is the gathering of structured, numerical data and uses statistical analysis to make sense of it.
Surveys are at the heart of quantitative research. They involve a statistically large number of interviews with respondents, using pre-designed questionnaires. We conduct surveys online, in person, and over the phone.
The number of participants required for a survey is based on several factors, including:
Who is relevant to business purposes? How difficult are they to reach? This is a cost driver, so no need to go too high if not required.
How much rigor is required to ensure action? Is directional information good enough for iteration? Or, do you need to convince the board to invest millions?
Some analysis requires more participants to be valid mathematically.
Context is Everything
When is the best time to conduct research? It’s not a question of when but where. Where you are in the product life cycle will dictate the shape and framing of your research. At every stage in the product life cycle, market research is there to minimize risk.
Market research can:
Keep you focused on your target consumers
Help you prioritize what is important
Help you determine the optimal options
Provide competitive insight
Size up opportunities
Help you stay ahead of a changing marketplace
First, forecast where you are and where you’ll be in the product life cycle. What do you need the research for? Will the insights be available in time for product launch or package design? What decisions have already been made? The more completely you can explain the business purpose and fit it into the overall context, the better the outcome.
When defining your business purpose, be sure it is action-oriented, will directly affect the company, and never begins with “understand”. A business purpose is the reason for the research in the first place. Investing in research to understand a hypothesis is not worth the time and money. A business purpose should always be attached to a verb – like increase sales.
Next, consider the external factors that give the project context. The better you frame your research, the better the data. The better the data, the better the decision-making. At MMR Research, we always try to consider:
What made this an issue now?
What happens if we act or don’t act?
What will we do if...?
Who will be reading the report?
Is there an impact to the decision if there is a delay?
Based on past evidence and experience, what do we expect?
These considerations will dictate the design and delivery of the research. The biggest mistake you can make is not providing enough context to reach an accurate conclusion.
You can never have too much context - it all impacts the business purpose and can be used to formulate the true focus needs of the research.
Our team of researchers is highly experienced in reducing risk across industries and verticals. We deliver focused, trustworthy insights and actionable recommendations that drive business decisions. Our approach allows us to design and deliver optimal research solutions that are custom-tailored to your business goal.
Over the last 20 years, we have seen the research industry evolve. New methodologies, new systems, and new technology make research more accessible than ever before. One thing hasn't changed: the best way to drive action with confidence is to understand why you need the information.