7 common types of market research

When you have questions about your customers or competitors, market research is a great way to find answers. But there are a number of paths you can go down, and each one will give you a different piece of the puzzle.

Below are seven frequently used types of market research. Which one should you use? That depends on the information you need and your specific business goals. We’ll get into all of that in this article. But first, let’s define market research and explore all the different ways it can be helpful.

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A little background on market research

Market research is the process of gathering information from your target market to determine whether your products, services, and business are viable.

There are two main ways to gather information from your target market: primary market research and secondary market research.

Primary market research involves going directly to sources to gather information (or hiring an external company to do the gathering for you) based on specific parameters. You can conduct primary market research via many different methods, such as surveys or questionnaires, focus groups, one-on-one interviews, public polls, and more.

Secondary market research involves using external sources of data (which other researchers or organizations have captured) to draw conclusions about the questions you’re trying to answer.

Both types of research can offer invaluable information that could help you determine whether your new products, services, or business lines will be a success.

The importance of market research

Why should you conduct market research? If you do it right, it could benefit you by providing

  • Direct insights from your customers and prospects: If you’re conducting primary market research, you can hear directly from the people your business serves and learn how they feel about what you have to offer. This information can be instrumental in building product, pricing, and marketing strategies.
  • Helpful information from your target demographic: Primary and secondary market research can provide insights about your target market personas and help you learn more about their likes, dislikes, needs, and challenges. You can use this data to inform the direction of your business.
  • Reliable data for decision-making: Market research provides you with actionable data that can help you make better decisions. You don’t need to rely on your gut or your feelings when you have market research to support you. Better decision-making can lead to increased customer loyalty, higher revenues, and less attrition.

Depending on the business challenges you’re trying to solve, there are many different types of market research you can use to get the information you need to move forward.

Types of market research

1. Customer decision journey

This type of market research is a good option to undertake if your business has trouble closing the sale but has lots of people interested in what it has to offer. When you have an understanding of why, when, and how customers make the decision to buy from you or a competitor, you can tweak your marketing, product, and pricing strategies to better meet their needs.

Jeevan Balani at Accela Coach says that by surveying consumers for a particular category of products or for a specific brand, you can determine several things about their decision journey: 

  • Their motivation for purchasing your product or service
  • How they decide between competing products or brands
  • Their unmet needs with existing products on the market

“These insights can inform a company on what channels to use to market to their consumers, what new features to build into their products, and how they can differentiate themselves from competitors,” Balani says.

Pro Tip

Jotform lets you create free online surveys to conduct market research with ease.

2. Pricing

Pricing market research is essential if you plan on releasing new products or services or you’re trying to determine whether or not to change the price of your existing offerings. The data you gain from this type of research will help you set a price that customers will accept and will maximize profits for the company.

Whether you’re deciding on a price for a new product or optimizing the price for an existing product, pricing research helps determine the price elasticity of a product based on a given customer segment and set of features. 

Balani explains that you can get to know which features and capabilities a customer is willing to pay a premium for and which types of customers are more price sensitive. “You can then create different pricing plans based on who a customer is (e.g., student or professional), and what features you’re including (e.g., unlimited use vs limited use).”

3. Competitive analysis

Competitive analysis is something that every business at any stage — from new to established — should conduct on a regular basis. It not only helps you determine your position in the market, but it also enables you to understand how customers perceive you compared to your competitors. You can’t create a business strategy in a vacuum, which is why it’s so important to understand the other organizations that operate in your sphere.

Reviewing publicly available information about a competitor (e.g., their website, third-party review sites) can tell you a lot. “Combining this info with interviews of their previous customers can give you great insight into how your company’s products and services compare,” says Balani.

For example, Balani notes that in a B2B environment, you can benchmark the effectiveness of your sales team and customer service staff, and track how your Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) compares to the competition. “This can be used to prioritize strategic initiatives to close the gaps between you and your competition, and double down on areas where your company is stronger.”

4. Brand awareness

Brand awareness is the level of familiarity consumers have with your brand or product(s). Consider conducting this type of market research if you’re establishing your brand or shifting the direction of an existing brand. It’s also important to conduct brand awareness research if you’re considering entering a new market or you’re up against a new competitor in your existing space.

According to Brian Cairns, three types of brand awareness are typically measured through market research, each indicating a different degree of purchase intent:

  • Aided brand awareness. Have you heard of brand X? This is a general guide and is the least predictive of purchase.
  • Unaided brand awareness. What make is this car? This is a more specific measure of a customer’s consideration set, the subset of brands they evaluate when making a purchase decision.
  • Top of mind. What is the first brand you think of when considering kitchenware? This is the most specific and best predictor of purchase.

5. Marketing message testing

From campaigns to slogans, the words your business uses to promote itself matter. Conduct marketing message testing if you’re planning to commit significant resources to a particular campaign or you’re launching a new product or series of products.

You should also use this type of market research if you’re considering shifting the branding of your business and want to confirm the new messaging will resonate with your target audience.

To ensure your marketing message and method of delivery will be effective, Cairns suggests exposing someone in your target market to your marketing communications within the context of other “dummy” messages — to represent the marketing noise most people deal with every day. 

“To test, step one is asking the person to recall your message,” Cairns says. “Step two, assuming they were able to recall it, is asking to what degree the message motivated them to take action.”

6. Market segmentation

Not everyone in your target audience should get the same messaging. Learning more about the demographic, geographic, psychographic, and behavioral characteristics of your audience members can help you offer more personalized experiences.

Nick Galov at Review42 says that researching market segmentation is important, as it provides valuable data on customer demographics, needs, values, attitudes, and behaviors. As you better define target groups, you’re able to further develop your marketing strategy. “You can then tailor your message and positioning for the different segments you’ve identified.”

“You can then tailor your message and positioning for the different segments you’ve identified,” says Galov. Market segmentation can lead to increased loyalty from customers as they see your business caters specifically to their needs.

7. Product development

Jaykishan Panchal at E2M Solutions says product development research is used when introducing new products, concepts, or brands, or adding a new product line to an existing product suite. It can also be useful for modifying existing products or exploring new product verticals.

This research will help you answer several questions:

  • What do customers need?
  • Which customer needs aren’t currently being met?
  • How do we improve the existing product or introduce a new product?
  • What type of customer will be interested in a new or modified product?
  • Are people aware of the products currently available in the market?
  • Are people satisfied with existing products?

There are different ways to conduct product development market research — such as through surveys, focus groups, and interviews — depending on the goal of the research and the stage of product development.

For example, an online survey is a great way to gather data in the conception stage of product development to help you evaluate new ideas. Once the product is in the prototype stage, a focus group may be more fruitful.

Support for all types of market research from Jotform

Whether you’re conducting research for brand awareness, competitive analysis, or anything else, Jotform can support your business with surveys, polls, forms, and questionnaires. Just choose a market research template, customize the text, visuals, and design based on your needs, and share it with your target audience using email, a link, or a QR code, or by embedding it on your website.And if you’re looking for more help in your market research journey, check out our comprehensive guide on how to perform market research.

Net Promoter®, NPS®, NPS Prism®, and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., NICE Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld. Net Promoter ScoreSM and Net Promoter SystemSM are service marks of Bain & Company, Inc., NICE Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.

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