How to Identify and Build Customer Personas with Market Research

How to Identify and Build Customer Personas with Market Research

It is critical for businesses to be able to identify and cater to their customer personas, as these entities are not the same across businesses, regardless if the businesses share the same industry or niche. 

Customer personas place a business’s customers into specific, collective archetypes, the kinds that help avoid targeting the wrong people in marketing campaigns. But customer personas can help b businesses achieve much more than identifying and targeting the correct consumers.

As a matter of fact, 93% of businesses that exceed lead and revenue goals segment their target market by customer personas. 56% of companies developed higher quality leads by using personas.

This market research guide explores the notions behind customer personas, their importance and how market research — particularly surveys — help businesses identify and construct their consumer personas. 

Understanding Customer Personas

Also called buyer personas, marketing personas and audience personas, customer personas are a form of customer segmentation, but a far more granular subset, as they represent individual people

A customer persona is a detailed description of a member in a business’s target market, i..e, the group of people most likely to buy from them. This persona is not a real customer, but a fictional character who possesses all the traits of a target market segment. 

Building these personas is the more concentrated practice of market segmentation — the process of categorizing a target market into smaller, more defined customer segments. However, customer personas are not the same as customer segments.

Customer segmentation refers to dividing a target market into different sets of customers. These sets inform on a group’s demographics, geographical location and some aspects of their customer buying behavior. Segments help businesses understand the makeup of their target market as different sets of groups.  

On the contrary, a customer persona refers to defining individual customers within the segments discovered during customer segmentation. Customers are assigned fictional characters that represent a typical customer in a market segment; they are assigned a granular depiction, one that includes various specifications for each persona.

After establishing a few customer personas, a business can then categorize its leads, prospects and customers into particular customer personas. This is especially useful for businesses with hundreds or thousands of clients and prospects. 

The Key Aspects of Customer Personas 

A buyer persona is formed as a profile of a customer, therefore including demographic and psychographic traits, along with other detailed characteristics. This includes their values, behaviors, goals and other defined categories. 

The following enumerates the key factors of customer personas so that businesses can understand them thoroughly and easily form their own:

  1. Demographic details
    1. This includes age, gender, income, marital status, location, race, ethnicity, number of children (if any), etc.
  2. Customer behavior
    1. This includes all the actions and behavioral patterns of how customers shop, consume and discard products.
  3. Pain Points & Objections
    1. Paint points involve the challenges that customers typically face, how they feel about them and how a business can help them overcome or bypass these challenges. 
    2. Objections include frequent dislikes and concerns in regards to a business, its products, services and experiences.  
  4. Workstyle
    1. This involves their industry, position, salary, area of responsibility, decision-making authority.
  5. Lifestyle 
    1. This concerns what customers and leads do in their spare time, what they enjoy doing, their hobbies. whether they own a vehicle, etc.
  6. Personality
    1. This is a snapshot that includes determining whether customers are competitive, emotional, logical, outgoing, people-oriented, how quickly they make decisions, etc.
  7. Goals
    1. This explains what they hope to do or achieve. Are they more career-focused and want to impress their boss and colleagues? Are they interested in saving money or time? 
    2. It also addresses what would make them purchase from a business in relation to their goals. 
  8. Information Consumption
    1. This regards how customers prefer to receive and consume information, such as doing internet searches, scrolling on social media, talking with people, reading newspapers, watching various broadcasts, listening to podcasts, reading magazines, etc.
  9. Designated Marketing Message
    1. Composed of a few sentences, it outlines how a business helps their customer personas relieve themselves of their pain points and meet their needs.
  10. Identity
    1. This includes a name and a stock photo to humanize and visualize the persona, since it is meant to represent a real person. 

The Importance of Identifying Customer Personas

Buyer personas are important for businesses on a number of different fronts. All of these bring different kinds of value across departments.

First off, these personas give businesses a comprehensive view of hypothetical customers, one that is far more concentrated and precise than a market segment. Their key factors such as their goals, motivations and lifestyles helps businesses form better targeted marketing campaigns and messaging.

In fact, 90% of companies that use customer personas were able to create a clearer understanding of their target market. In addition, 24% of companies gained more leads by identifying their personas.

These entities help guide numerous business strategies, such as brand voice, product development (such as in customer development, for example), social media campaigns, advertisements and more. 

Given that marketing personas form the basis and style of a number of business activities, they align various departments, such as marketing, sales, product development and customer support, by giving them a concrete profile on ideal customers. This way, these departments can strategize to satisfy these personas accordingly.

Identifying personas can make a business more competitive and avoid product pitfalls. This is because persona-building involves establishing and addressing customer pain points and objections. These factors help businesses understand what’s bothering customers, what they dislike about current products in their niche and mainly, what would make them leave a competitor and switch to their brand. 

Thus, product developers can refer to personas when forming product roadmaps, as they help them discover and prioritize changes to product offerings based on customer needs.

Marketers can identify and prioritize promotional activities to use in digital ads, remarketing and retargeting efforts with buyer personas. Content marketers also benefit from personas, as they help guide thor copy and build a content strategy relevant to customers. 

These personas are useful for sales teams as well, given that they allow sales employees to understand the needs and pain points of their prospects, enabling them to be more prepared and better versed in dealing with prospects' concerns. 

All in all, customer personas help a business understand its customers at deeper levels, in turn allowing them to better empathize and serve them, while improving their own processes with better alignment across departments. 

How Market Research Helps Build Customer Personas

Firstly, market research helps build these profiles with the critical preliminary process of market segmentation. The importance of market research also extends to building specific personas themselves. 

First off, there are various market research techniques that businesses can incorporate to learn more about their target market. Secondary resources are often used in the early stages of learning about a particular target market. While secondary research helps form the bedrock and key insights on customer needs and behaviors, it cannot address specific concerns that businesses have, let alone form personas that are unique to a business. 

Therefore, a business must always conduct primary market research. There are many means of conducting firsthand market research; surveys provide the most simple yet potent method to collect such research.

This is because surveys allow businesses to study the exact people who fall under specific demographics, geographies and even behavioral traits, should the online survey platform allow it. In this way, market researchers can learn about their desired populations only, further segmenting them and using their data to identify and build personas

Surveys provide an easy method of gaining a wide swath of insights and can be based on any campaign or sub-campaign. When it comes to forming buyer personas, they allow market researchers to gather information on all the factors that make up a bury persona. 

Nobody likes taking long surveys, as such, researchers can design surveys on different factors of the personas in their process. They can also create follow-up questions on a particular topic to unlock deeper insights

Surveys allow market researchers to quickly draw responses and even provide a completion time, depending on the online survey platform. They also grant researchers different data viewing and exporting options in order to analyze their data to their preferred method. 

Surveys can uncover key trends and patterns crucial to the makeup of a customer persona. They also allow businesses to gain access to thousands of respondents. 

The following presents just some of the insights that surveys can effectively provide:

  1. The backgrounds of customers, including their lifestyle, workstyle and demographics
  2. The challenges and hurdles they deal with
  3. Their interests and hobbies
  4. What they seek in a product or service
  5. What they dislike or try to avoid
  6. Their goals and needs and how a business can help attain them for customers
  7. How a business’s solution alleviates their challenges

How to Create Surveys that Identify and Build Customer Personas

Creating surveys for the purpose of developing customer personas can be difficult, even for those with some familiarity of market segmentation and building personas. 

The correct online survey platform should relieve this process with functionalities that allow researchers to screen respondents, create questionnaires and deploy surveys.

The following lists the necessary steps to create surveys to identify and build customer personas:

  1. Determine the main purpose and needs of the survey campaign.
    1. Decide on the main needs of your campaign.
    2. Pinpoint the unknowns of your buyer personas. Do you need to understand them better, or do you need to create new ones entirely?
    3. Does your business seek to form a more personal connection with its customers? Or do you need to understand their problems more clearly, to ideate solutions?
  2. Assign your survey to specific target populations.
    1. First consider who you need to take part in your survey: existing customers, website visitors, your general target market or a specific segment from it?
    2. Finding who you need to involve in survey research can also help narrow down the purpose of the campaign in Step 1.
  3. Narrow down the premise and setup of your survey.
    1. Although similar to Step 1, this step involves taking the purpose of your survey and using it to settle on a persona subtopic, or several, such as customer goals, objections, pain points and buying behaviors.
    2. If you have some of this information on your personas, consider whether you need to explore new topics to build the persona further or gain more information on existing aspects.
  4. Form the questionnaire.
    1. Begin with general questions and make them more specific.
    2. Consider using advanced skip logic to route respondents to a relevant follow-up question to the previous question.
    3. Use a variety of question types to make the survey more engaging and avoid survey fatigue
    4. Some questions will need more specific answers, so consider using both multiple-choice, multiple-selection and open-ended questions.
  5. Send out the survey to its intended respondents.
    1. Don’t forget to include a thank you section to the survey, along with an intro that briefly explains its purpose and the importance of the respondent’s participation.
    2. Assure that the platform you use allows for randomization and the random device engagement (RDE) method.
  6. Analyze your survey results.
    1. Organize them into a document that lays out patterns and common findings.
    2. Filter the findings into a customer persona profile or profiles, if you suspect the presence of more than one, or traits that apply to partly established personas.
  7. Put together your marketing personas based on your survey research.
    1. You can use the data you reaped from your survey campaign into existing personas or create new ones. Additionally, you can add another aspect to an existing persona if you haven’t already. For example, their buying behavior, if you haven’t formed this aspect in previous persona-building studies. 
    2. Consider if you have enough information on each persona. If you need considerably more, run another survey and ask questions specific to the missing gaps on your persona(s).

Creating the Most Effective Marketing Campaigns

Mapping out a plan for effective marketing campaigns requires knowledge about your customer base. In order to form successful marketing and sales campaigns, businesses must be attuned to their customers to make informed decisions.

Customer personas allow businesses to do just that, as well as align all team members on all their customer-facing efforts, from the support team to the product team. With these personas, businesses can even designate an upcoming campaign or sub-campaign to particular personas. This way, they can jumpstart a campaign with targeting already set.

Survey research provides businesses with ample data and insights, depending on how they set up their questionnaire and how often they deploy surveys. Surveys are also strong tools to use for forming customer personas, allowing market researchers to gain a deep read of their customers on multiple factors.

Aside from asking relevant questions, using the correct online survey platform is vital for building buyer personas. Such a platform should offer advanced skip logic to direct respondents to relevant questions, allow for a multitude of questions and pre-selected answer ranges, deploy surveys to a vast network of users in their natural digital environments by using the random device engagement sampling method and be easy to use.

When researchers are equipped with a strong online survey platform, they can take their customer persona-building campaigns to new heights.

How Surveys Influence Customer Buying Behavior

How Surveys Influence Customer Buying Behavior

All businesses must examine their customer buying behavior in order to survive, not least if they seek to flourish. This is notably due to the direct effect this behavior has on patronage, such as sales, site visits, in-store visits, intent to purchase, customer loyalty and more.

Thus, all businesses ought to keep a close eye on their customers’ buying behaviors. There are a number of ways to do this. Market research techniques offer the most data-driven approach to understand these behaviors and a business’s target market at large. 

Surveys, in particular, offer quick access into the minds of consumers, allowing businesses to study them at their whim and procure intelligence on their many facets, such as their sentiments, opinions and buying behavior.

But did you know, aside from studying customer buying behavior, surveys can also influence it? In this way, the surveys themselves act as marketing and advertising vehicles that allure customers to specific brands.  

This article explores the concept of customer buying behavior, its importance, its four types and more, along with how surveys alone can influence it. 

Understanding Customer Buying Behavior

As its name implies, this is a kind of customer behavior, one that is especially concerned with how customers buy, along with the actions and behaviors they take part in before purchasing.

Customer buying behavior refers to the ways in which a target market, the customers most likely to purchase from a business, acts when shopping for a product. Customer buying behavior takes into account the entire customer journey — from discovery, to nurturing, to browsing, to purchasing and possibly repurchasing.

This “behavior,” or rather, set of behaviors is shaped by personal and aided factors, along with external and environmental factors such as social climates, issues and occurrences. All of these play a role in driving customer perceptions of a brand, thereby driving their buying decisions, whether they are rational or irrational.

Buying behaviors take place both on and offline before customers make a purchase. 

Given that customer buying behavior encompasses a wide breadth of interactions, such as searching for a product on a search engine and discovering a brand that sells it (SEO and SEM), engaging with a brand’s social media or reading marketing collateral, marketers have plenty of environments to observe their customer buying behaviors

As such, marketers and market researchers study customer buying behavior to better produce marketing initiatives that influence customers to make purchases.

The Importance of Customer Buying Behavior for Businesses

This phenomenon is critical for businesses to study and especially to influence. When a brand has enough sway over its target market, it will generate more revenue, customer loyalty and a longer customer lifetime value (CLV).

When businesses fully grasp the customer buying behavior of their target market, they can intelligently conceive and carry out different marketing campaigns. In this way, understanding customer buying behavior not only guides marketing efforts, but helps avoid missteps, errors and wasting time and resources.    

It is critical to examine buying behaviors, as they are not stagnant. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 48.7% of customers changed their buying behaviors, switching their purchasing preferences to the digital space. That is because they replaced products that they regularly bought at physical stores with competitors' online shops.

Additionally, in the wake of COVID-19 click and collect sales grew in the US by 60.4%, attesting to the popularity of buying items on the internet, however merging internet purchases with physical pick-ups, that is, at a store or retail hub location. This comes as a rather 

Customers also change their buying behaviors in terms of brand switching. This has been documented during the pandemic, as 36% of consumers tried a new product brand in the midst of COVID, while 25% of customers switched to a private-label brand. 

73% of consumers who have switched brands will continue using their products regularly, which means that they will either use the new brands alongside the brands they’ve used before, or completely replace the old brands with the new one(s)

Thus, all businesses should expect their target market to either switch or try their competitors’ products and services at some point. In this way, studying and influencing customer buying behavior largely affects customer retention and loyalty.

When businesses have a solid understanding of their target market’s buying behaviors, they can produce messaging that is better targeted, thus resonating with certain market segments. This helps improve brand equity and will generally leave customers with a better impression of a business. 

Additionally, it allows companies to understand when customers typically make purchases so that companies can target their messaging accordingly and reach consumers when they are most likely to shop. For example, some businesses may observe that customers buy during the weekends or on the evenings of weekday nights. Thus, it would be apt to incorporate a new sales banner or social post during those times.

All in all, paying heed to customer shopping behaviors helps businesses on several fronts.

The Key Influences on Customer Buying Behavior

As aforesaid, there are various factors at play when it comes to influencing customer buying behavior. First off, there are the external factors, such as current events, social and political issues and other emotionally evoking happenings

In 2018, a Harvard professor reported that emotion is one of the biggest drivers of buying behaviors and decisions in general. Thus, brands ought to study their customers’ emotions, particularly their responses to current issues. 

Some customer segments may be inclined to buy from socially responsible companies: companies with business models that focus on social change via philanthropic, charitable or activism-based activities. Others may have a buying behavior influenced by such companies. 

But there will always be customers who gravitate towards a brand that supports a cause or idea that they too care about. Thus, it is crucial to understand the key influences of customer buying behavior.

Aside from the way companies present themselves in relation to external issues, there are three other key influences on customer buying. The three other key components are: 

  1. Rational considerations of the product and service. These include:
    1. Price, quality, and convenience 
    2. Mental or cognitive factors such as product utility and value
  2. Irrational considerations such as feelings and desires. These include:
    1. Emotional, aka affective factors such as irrational considerations, which include personal beliefs
  3. Behavioral aspects such as
    1. Buying patterns
    2. Preferences based on routines and habits

The 4 Main Types of Customer Buying Behaviors

When customers make purchases, their buying behaviors almost always fall into at least one of four categories. These categories classify a wide range of situations that can occur in similar ways based on the behavioral aspects of the scenarios

The following explains the four main types of customer buying behaviors:

  1. Complex buying behavior
    1. The most typical buying behavior
    2. This usually occurs when buyers make big purchases, such as a new vehicle or real estate.
    3. This type of behavior includes a high level of research and prudence before choosing a product.
    4. As such, this kind of behavior involves long considerations before customers make any purchase.
    5. This behavior stems from an instance in which a purchase will have a significant impact on a customer’s life, especially when the purchase involves risks.  
  2. Habitual buying behavior
    1. This refers to customers who buy the same product repeatedly.
    2. Such customers manifest a high level of product loyalty.
    3. This involves brand loyalty, such as buying from the same bread company during each shopping trip or online visit.
    4. Consumers who engage in habitual buying rarely research alternative products of brands.
    5. They don’t look for similar brands or products as they are used to buying a particular kind (or kinds). Thus, they exhibit the most customer loyalty. 
  3. Variety seeking buying behavior
    1. This behavior stands in opposition to habitual buying behavior.
    2. Consumers with this buying behavior look for variety because they have yet to find their favorite product.
    3. This kind of behavior takes shape when customers seek novelty in their would-be, go-to products.
    4. For example, when customers try different hair-dying brands before settling on one.
    5. Customers with this buying behavior carry little to no brand loyalty. 
  4. Dissonance reducing buying behavior
    1. This occurs when customers are afraid to make the wrong buying decisions.
    2. This behavior stems from a fear of buyer’s remorse.
    3. It is especially prevalent in situations where customers cannot return items should they not be satisfied, or when returning products is too difficult, such as in the case of a faraway store or expensive return shipping.
    4. This behavior comes about when customers’ have a bad past experience with a particular product. 
    5. This often occurs when customers spend more time comparing different aspects of a product rather than comparing different product brands. 

How Surveys Influence Customer Buying Behavior

Although there are many ways businesses can study customer buying behavior, they can also take part in activities that influence their customers’ buying habits. There is also a means that offers businesses with a twofold prowess: being able to study customer buying actions and influence customer behavior as well.  

The solution that offers this dual prowess is a market research survey. Surveys give businesses and market researchers access into the minds of their target market. There is a vast amount of surveys and broader survey research methods.

Businesses can run survey campaigns for all 6 of the main types of research. As such, businesses can probe their customers’ buying behaviors by deploying surveys to their target market online. They can also send surveys to specific segments of their target market.

Surveys have the ability to reveal major aspects of consumer opinions and sentiments, thereby allowing businesses to examine their buying behaviors. This is because surveys allow businesses to ask their respondents virtually anything, allowing them to better deliver their marketing messaging, images, advertising and other campaigns.

Thus, by studying customer behavior through surveys, businesses can make more informed decisions, the kind that can allow them to produce more effective marketing campaigns. 

However, since surveys offer a dual power, their ability also extends to influencing customer buying. 

Several years ago, Harvard ran a study to discover how surveys can affect customer behavior. The results of the survey study bear good news for businesses; as it turned out, customers that were surveyed were more than as likely to open new accounts with businesses.

In addition, this study discovered that the customers who were surveyed were less than half as likely to renege on their patronage and were even more profitable than the customers who weren’t surveyed

This study reveals that surveys have the power to present a brand in a positive light, or at the very least, bring brand awareness to a brand that target customers may otherwise not have heard of. 

Thus, businesses that wish to influence their customers’ purchasing behaviors ought to conduct surveys. They must bear in mind that in order to influence their customers via surveying them, the surveys must mention the business by name. Companies must paint their brands in as positive a light as they possibly can. This includes making light of the fact that they support causes that their customers care about.

The more surveys that businesses run to study buying behaviors, the better they can present themselves in upcoming surveys to influence their customers. 

Creating the Strongest Behavioral-Influencing Campaigns

Surveys are an excellent approach to reaping intelligence on customer buying behavior, as well as influencing this behavior. However, in order to maximize both efforts, businesses must use the proper online survey platform

All online survey tools are not built with the same dashboards, capabilities and interfaces. Thus, market researchers should research the available online survey software before deciding on one platform to run all of their market research campaigns. 

Given that these platforms offer a primary means of research, they must be chosen carefully. The most convenient online survey platforms will offer various capabilities, ease of use, deployment across a wide network of digital properties, including websites and apps, along with artificial intelligence and machine learning to stave off faulty answers and poor data quality.  

Moreover, such a platform should offer global support, so that businesses can rely on experts to guide them with their surveys at any point of the day. A survey platform of this caliber will make it easy to both examine and influence buying behaviors

Market Research Vs. User Research: Which Does Your Business Need?

Market Research Vs. User Research: Which Does Your Business Need?

Market research vs. user research: which is more important? This is the question many businesses must contend with. One thing is for certain; a business needs to conduct research in order to identify viable opportunities, latent threats and customer sentiments and needs.

In today’s age of evolving digital technologies, customer needs have also become more demanding — 63% of consumers expect businesses to know their needs and expectations, while 58% of customers will switch businesses due to an unsatisfying customer experience.

Businesses must therefore be discerning on the research they decide to use, whether it comes from in-house or external providers. Usually, combining both kinds is necessary in order to conduct both primary and secondary research.

Market research and user research apply both; additionally, both of them can be used within the 6 main types of research.

This article provides insights when facing the market research vs. user research debate so that you can determine the most apt kind of research for your business.

Defining Market Research

Market research is a term that encompasses several processes and methods for extracting information about a market. Specifically, it denotes the practice of collecting, analyzing, interpreting and consolidating data on your customers and industry at large.

This includes gathering data and information on your competitors, target market and your own products, services and experiences. As such, it refers to a holistic approach to gathering research for your business, as it relates to your business and its overall niches and industry.

Conducting market research is essential for understanding your target market — the segment of customers most likely to buy from you. Additionally, it allows you to make continuous improvements to keep up with changes in customer opinions, attitudes, behaviors and demands.

Aside from enlightening your business on its CX, market research allows you to understand the inner workings of your entire field, from your direct competitors to those not within your niche, to innovations and much more. 

The Importance of Conducting Market Research

Performing market research is crucial for businesses big and small, for the reasons stated above and several others. First off, market research entails gathering secondary data from virtually all sources that pertain to your business and its encompassing industry.

From checking your competitors’ digital properties, to keeping tabs on their ads and social media, along with turning to trade publications, news, statistics and market research websites, it allows you to stay informed on all the ins and outs of your industry.

Then, there’s the customer side. Market research ensures a satisfying and friction-free customer experience by studying the concerns of your customers. This goes beyond studying secondary source trends and statistics.

Instead, primary research is a large component of the process. By conducting a consumer survey, interviews, focus groups, field research or running experimental research, you will gain a deep understanding of your customers. There are other methods of performing primary research, all of which fall under market research.

By studying your customers, you gain the imperative knowledge for catering to them, along with steering clear of their aversions. As such, you can avoid issues that tarnish your brand’s reputation along with those that trigger customers to patronize your competitors.

You can also run market research campaigns on your own products and services, to see how your target market truly feels about you. This practice can also help you discover what’s missing in your industry, allowing you to innovate quicker. 

Continuously running market research campaigns will thus guarantee you stay well-informed on all the concerns, needs and opportunities of your business and the overall market.

The Pros and Cons of Market Research

While invaluable for businesses who wish to not merely stay afloat but to become and remain competitive, market research also carries a few drawbacks. Businesses and researchers ought to be aware of both the benefits and pitfalls of market research.  

The Pros

  1. Allows you to stay abreast of all changes, behaviors and innovations within your industry.
  2. Enables you to conduct market segmentation to discover the segments making up your target market. 
  3. Grants you insight on all of your target markets’ needs, attitudes, aversions and sentiments.
  4. Helps you brainstorm and strategize more effectively, as you are equipped with data.
  5. Limits risks and liabilities.
  6. Propels higher sales.
  7. Measures viability of new products and services.
  8. Helps you find the gaps and limits in your industry, ideal for creating new products and offerings.
  9. Finds new markets and niches you can explore and eventually serve.
  10. Supports all decision-making processes.

The Cons

  1. The total sum of all the research making up market research can be expensive.
  2. It forms a long and winding process, which can make certain campaigns feel boundless.
  3. It requires keeping track of ongoing changes, as such, certain sources may not be as relevant and accurate of the industry.
  4. There are biases present in many sources of information:
    1. Primary research: survey bias, lack of field research to form conclusions, dishonest interviews, etc. 
    2. Secondary research: biases in secondary publications, outdated content rebranded as new (via date changes but no updates)

Defining User Research

User research comprises far more than usability testing. Also called design research, user research aims to study the users at the center of the design process of your products and experiences. As such, it involves examining the various needs, concerns and pain points of your target users.

This kind of research is primarily useful for product designers and experience producers, who use the insights from user research to make educated decisions for decisions. With this form of research, designers avoid or reduce product glitches, gaps and producing things with scant market demand.  

Like market research, it relies on a wide range of methods and processes in order to gain the information the designers and product managers seek. The various components that form user research can thus be used to discover design opportunities and crucial information to guide the design process.

User research involves conducting ethnographic studies via interviews or performing user testing, quantitative research on the ROI of your products and UX designs and surveying your target market. The latter involves a wide range of topics, such as existing product satisfaction surveys, surveys on your product ideas, surveys on competitor products and many more. 

Other user research methods and tactics include:

  1. Accessibility evaluations to ensure an inclusive design of your product.
  2. Studying customer journey maps, essential to understanding your customer journeys, a major aspect of digital CX (customer experience) or UX. 
  3. Studying website analytics to understand traffic, bounce rates and other metrics to learn which content engages and which requires improvement. 
  4. Evaluate information architecture via card sorting so that you assure your design is structured logically. 
  5. Conducting contextual inquiries via field research (in-store observations, observing product testers) and digital observations (chats, a customer experience survey)

The Importance of Conducting User Research

User research is of the utmost importance when it comes to design strategy, as it functions as a foundation for it, along with a continuous source of insights to strengthen it. It equips project managers, designers, markets and business owners themselves with key data to buttress your design ideas and decisions. 

This kind of research allows you to pinpoint the best candidates for using your product, as well as the members of your market segments who would be most likely to engage with a digital asset. In turn, this aids your marketing strategy, as you’ll understand which segments to target your marketing efforts. 

User research can foster this activity, as creating a successful marketing strategy relies on avoiding the mistake of marketing to everyone. As such, you cannot target all the segments of your target market in the same way. You’ll need to create different messaging towards each segment, some of which require marketing entirely different products and experiences. 

User research thus forms the bedrock of a productive marketing strategy.

Moreover, user research forms the basis of a product-design cycle. While you may be confident in a product idea, design or upgrade, it is useless if no one else has a need for it or finds it difficult to use. Thus, user research assures that there is both demand and like its name implies, usability, within your product. 

It avoids the further design, planning, development and expenditure of resources on an unwanted or faulty product or experience idea.

It also grants you insights into who the users themselves are, the context in which they’ll use your product or experience and the problem your product/experience solves. Additionally, it helps you understand all of their needs from your business, especially in relation to products and experiences.

Essentially, product success hinges on user research.

The Pros and Cons of User Research

While necessary to conduct user research presents several deficiencies as well. Researchers and business owners should comb through both the advantages and pitfalls of user research before they set out on conducting it.  

The Pros

  1. Without UX research, your design is left with nothing but assumptions and intuitions.
  2. Forms the initial steps of producing an entirely new product/experience or innovating on an existing one.
  3. Contextualizes the use of your products, such as the environments they are used in and the problems they help solve.
  4. Gives you deeper insights into your site users and customers. 
  5. Ensures you create products that your target market desires.
  6. Helps you avoid usability issues and glitches.
  7. Saves you both time and money on flawed products or those that your target market doesn’t need.
  8. Allows you to understand what your users don’t use your products/experiences for.
  9. Ensures you evaluate your design with data reflecting the needs and behaviors of your users.
  10. Lets you understand the impact of your design on your target market.

The Cons

  1. Users don’t always remember everything they do and use a product for. 
  2. User research data is complex and thus requires plenty of time to conduct, consolidate and analyze.
  3. The risk of researching the wrong audience, as survey respondents and other study participants may be dishonest about using a particular product or experience.
  4. Confidentiality is not assured, as users may share screenshots of your products for competitors to see. This occurs in user testing and experimental research. 

Market Research Vs User Research Faceoff

Aside from delving into the key specifics and of these two forms of research, the needs they help fill along with their flaws, it is useful to understand the key facts that separate them. The following graph shows the key differentiators between these forms of research.

Market ResearchUser Research
FocusCustomers, products and the market at largeProduct needs, usage
Key componentsdemographic, behavioral, economic, and statistical information Information on product needs, fits, uses, user movements, mechanisms
Sample sizeLargerSmaller
ThemeWhat people buyHow people use a product
InsightsTouch upon broader topicsDeeper insights on less topics
Quantitative/ QualitativeBothqualitative
GoalMeasure industry needs and trends, customers and competitors to release viable offeringsMeasure and improve the user experience

Which Method Does Your Business Need?

Market research vs. user research may appear to be something of a showdown, a battle in which only one form of research must be chosen. But when it comes to conducting either form of research, there is no battle or face-off.

Not to be anticlimactic but there is no winner in this “showdown” — which is not to say you’ll need all the types of research available, as aforementioned in the introduction. For example, some businesses may require correlational research, while some may only require causal research.

However, when it comes to market research vs. user research, there is no either-or. All businesses, even B2B businesses must conduct both forms of research. 

This is due to various reasons. 

Concerning the latter, there is a lot of overlap in these forms of research. For example, both heavily rely on using surveys to reap key insights from a target market. Both also involve studying the product and user experience. Both involve carrying out primary and secondary research.

As for the latter, although a B2B business may not offer any products, it will always rely on digital customer experience. It is virtually impossible to exist as a B2B business — or virtually any kind — without a website. Many such businesses also invest in social media and content marketing. As such, they’ll need to understand user experiences.

In summary, businesses can achieve success by conducting both market research and user research; the two exist hand in hand, with one buttressing the other. A strong online survey platform can plan, support and fully execute both kinds of research. As such, you’ll need to choose an online survey provider wisely.

The Complete Guide to Market Research Techniques

The Complete Guide to Market Research Techniques

If you intend to conduct market research, you'll need to be well versed in market research techniques. These methods will help you carry out a sufficient market research campaign, allowing you to better serve your customers and steer your business toward.

But when you are facing a concept as broad as market research, it is rather challenging to know where to begin and how to conduct the various forms of research. 

This complete guide to market research techniques will help lessen this challenge so that you can stride confidently into all your research needs.

Defining Market Research

Like several aspects of business, market research is not bound by one concept; rather it is an umbrella term that encompasses a wide array of practices. 

Market research is the process of gathering information about your target market (the people most willing and likely to buy from a business), segmenting your buyer personas (market segmentation) and amassing knowledge on your competitors.

This category of research allows businesses to gain insights into the quantifiable aspects of their industry, along with the opinions and attitudes of past, current, potential and churned customers. 

The ultimate end goal of market research is to learn how successful your product or service is and/or will be within your industry, niche and most importantly, within your target market.

Primary Vs Secondary Research Research

The chief divider of market research involves the method of researcher participation, aka, the way the research is conducted. 

Primary research denotes an active form of research, in that researchers conduct the research themselves. This signifies that the information they are seeking has not yet been collected, or, that the research they need has been gathered, but they seek to gain their own, firsthand data.

As such, primary research involves using primary data, that is, the data that a researcher would extract themselves.

On the contrary, secondary research entails research that has already been conducted and (usually) has been made available. With this research category, the researchers aren’t required to amass their own intelligence; rather it involves aggregating knowledge that has already been collected and passed on by others.

As such, this kind of research largely involves summarizing, synthesizing and scrutinizing data and other forms of intelligence. Secondary research often involves studying the primary research that others have already conducted and packaged in their chosen form.

It is important to incorporate both styles of research for a comprehensive market research campaign. This is because there are going to be subjects that you cannot study simply through one form of research. For example, your competitors aren’t going to publish the primary studies that depict them in a negative light, no matter how accurate they are. 

Another example is your own set of customers; secondary research alone is not going to provide an adequate amount of data on them. There may not even be any data on your particular customer segment.

Primary Market Research Techniques

Here are a few techniques for completing primary market research. Researchers need not attempt all of these techniques, as some will be more useful and easier to execute than others. It all depends on your preferences and goals.

  1. Interviews: One of the more intimate methods, interviews can be managed over the phone or in person.
  2. Focus Groups: A more interactive form of interviews, this technique gathers data from a group of about 6-10 participants. Focus groups study subject matter experts. Using a moderator, these groups aim to incite discussion among the participants. This is a good method to perform to learn about a specific segment of your target market. Focus groups rely on open-ended, broad and qualitative research questions.
  3. Field Research: This is an observational method on subjects in their natural environment. To use this method, researchers do not interfere with the outcome or behavior of a situation. This technique grants direct observation of people and their interactions. Ex: An electronics brand seeks to observe how customers interact with a new line of products. They may do field research on in-store customers to study this. 
  4. Surveys: Online surveys are the best distribution method and allow you to study any topic. A strong online survey tool will enable you to set granular demographics requirements, ask a wide style of questions (multiple-selection, single selection, ratings, etc), add advanced skip logic, add media files and use multiple audiences per survey. Surveys can take many forms; business and consumer surveys alone form macro surveys that include their own survey types. 
  5. Test Marketing: This technique involves testing the usage and opinions of a new product by selling it to a small segment of one’s target market. For example, software brands test-market by using the “beta” versions of new features/products on a small group of likely customers. This method helps predict how a new product will fare in a larger market. 

Secondary Market Research Techniques

Secondary market research techniques require using sources specific to your industry and niche. While some sources may be general, you’ll need to gather intelligence most pertinent to your target market — or at least your industry. Here are a few citations to use for secondary research.

  1. Government Resources: The government collates massive data on citizens; this data is free and can be found on a number of government websites.
    1. The Census Bureau: Provides a portrait of the American economy, market sizes, populations, demographics and more. It includes the American FactFinder tool, which finds demographic, economic, social, household, and other data on geographic regions.
    2. The U.S. Small Business Administration: Captures statistics on economic matters such as employment, salary, income, sales and more. The SizeUp tool allows businesses to compare themselves against competitors. 
    3. The U.S Department of Commerce: With offices scattered across the US, the U.S. Department of Commerce generates data on industries and their products and services.
      1. The Bureau of Economic Analysis, which is a part of this department, creates economic reports on income, expenditures, and even savings data on a quarterly basis. This site shows the trends in product/service demand based on spending.
  2. Enterprise Sources: These resources are not free, but offer invaluable insight into particular trades and subsectors. 
    1. Trade Associations: Perfect for studying your industry, they’re made up of groups of businesses that cater to specific subsectors. Use the following to find your industry association.  
      1. Directory of Associations
      2. Encyclopedia of Associations 
      3. National Trade and Professional Associations Directory
      4. Professional Associations Directory 
  3. Research Associations: Composed of research analysts, these associations to be independent, although some are affiliated with trade associations. These organizations provide businesses with granular reports on specific subsectors of an industry. They include:
    1. Forrester: Research in the consumer business and tech sectors.
    2. Statista: Statistics, reports, infographics & more on 170 industries and 150+ countries.
    3. Gartner: Research for senior leaders with business insights, advice and tools.
    4. IBISWorld: Industry reports by sector and country.
    5. Mintel: Market intelligence across industries and countries.
    6. Dun & Bradstreet: Data, analytics, and commercial insights for businesses with 120 million business records on over 1,000 industries.
  4. Industry Blogs and Content-Oriented Websites: Each industry has online publications dedicated to reporting on them. These are useful for the latest updates, trends and breaking news, the kind that a major report or downloadable asset may not provide. Here are a few examples across different industries.
    1. Ars Technica: A website covering news and commentary on the technology, science and politics space.
    2. The Business of Fashion: News and intelligence on the fashion industry.
    3. Grocery Drive: News that focuses on the grocery and ecommerce spaces.
    4. Premium Beauty News: Markets, trends, laws, new products and other news within the cosmetics industry worldwide.
    5. Realtor Magazine: News surrounding the real estate industry.
  5. Educational Institutions: Colleges and universities have research departments that study a wide range of business data. These insights are not free but involve heavy-duty market research from faculty and students. They include:
    1. Graduate student projects
    2. Faculty-based projects
  6. SEO and SEM Reporting: SEO is critical to growing your business online, as your target market won’t purchase from your business if they don’t find it. SEO/SEM sites help you gather keyword research to learn the most relevant to your niche.
    1. SEMrush: For SEO, PPC, content, social media and competitive research. 
    2. Moz: For rankings, keywords and link testing.
    3. ahrefs: For rankings, site audits and keywords.
    4. Google Keyword Planner: For finding keywords, tied with Google Ads.
    5. Screaming Frog: A site crawler for technical SEO site audits.

Quantitative Research vs Qualitative Research

Another crucial market research division is that of quantitative and qualitative research. Unlike primary and secondary research, which can exist without one another, quantitative and qualitative research are used in complementation.

This means you would often use both in your research campaigns.

Quantitative research is marked by measurable data that quantifies the opinions, attitudes and experiences that respondents report. It collects numerical data for producing statistics, finding prevalence and identifying patterns. 

The goal of quantitative research is to test a theory or hypothesis. Another common objective is to measure opinions in regards to a particular research topic. Quantitative research is also used to find causal relationships between variables, predict outcomes and create generalizations on broad populations.

Computing an instance or phenomenon takes precedence in this form of research, rather than gathering the reasons and motivations behind it. This kind of research works out the “who” and “what,” of a research subject.

Qualitative research stands in contrast with quantitative research, as a descriptive form of research. This form of research inquires into the depths of an attitude, opinion or phenomenon. Instead of delving into the statistical aspects around a research subject, which is known as the “what,” it works to find the reasoning behind it. 

As such, this research doesn’t seek to describe a situation, opinion or occurrence; rather it focuses on establishing the “why” behind it. 

Qualitative research was designed to take place in natural environments, i.e., places in which research participants can provide thorough answers. This environment can take place on or offline.

This form of research relies on using psychological, ethnographic and sociological approaches to study a target market. The design of a qualitative study evolves (along with the participants it studies).

In this form of research, there is no such thing as a single reality; rather it is changeable and subjective. It is highly interpretive, as it doesn't involve simply adding or crunching numbers.

Quantitative Market Research Techniques

Quantitative research involves using methods that collate measurable data that can be encapsulated in graphs, charts, tables and other visualizations. Here are a few techniques for gathering this kind of data:

  1. Experiments: Researchers can conduct experiments on products, such as producing beta versions, as tech companies do. They can also do A/B testing on digital experiences such as digital ads, emails and even on-site experiences. Additionally, researchers can run experiments in-store to test customer satisfaction with employee service and product layouts.
  2. Observations: Part of field research (as mentioned under primary research), researchers can observe customer behavior and occurrences in natural environments such as in-store behaviors. Observations can also exist online, for example, by using session replay tools found in analytics software.
  3. Statistics and other Published Resources: Researchers can garner quantitative data by studying secondary research. The technique involves looking at statistics websites, along with other data sources such as infographics and reports. This is a good starting point when dealing with quantitative data; it can also be used to compare findings between past and present data.
  4. Surveys: Perfect for discovering the “what” with multiple choice and multiple selection questions. Matrix questions help find the intensity of a phenomenon. There are swaths of different survey types you can implement, including macro ones like business surveys and consumer surveys, along with specific surveys such as the Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey or the Employee Satisfaction Survey

Qualitative Market Research Techniques

Quantitative research techniques necessitate being able to understand opinions in more depth to uncover motivations, reasonings and consumers’ general psyche. These methods do not require quantifying any findings. Instead, they require using exploratory and open-ended questions; the kind that fully reveal the bedrock of consumers’ attitudes. 

Here are a few techniques:

  1. Focus groups: These spur natural discussions by incorporating a small group of people with a moderator who prompts various conversations. Focus groups consist of people who share demographic attributes to study a target market or a segment of it. Unlike interviews, which are one-on-one, focus groups allow multiple people to speak, mimicking natural discourse and therefore having the participants influence each other. 
  2. Unstructured interviews: Unstructured interviews are in-depth interviews in which there are no premeditated questions. Instead, the interviewer asks open-ended questions that relate to the research topic. This way, the conversation runs like a natural exchange. The interviewer would keep questions relevant to both the research topic and the participant’s experiences. 
  3. Textual and visual analyses: A form of secondary research, researchers can draw analyses from qualitative research documents already available. This including looking at trade publications or research publications that focus on various consumers and other demographics. 
  4. Case Studies: This technique uses thorough investigations on a participant, a group, an event or a community. It merges various sources such as interviews, observations and surveys. Researchers analyze the data from these sources and put together the case study document. This is used in clinical medicine, but can be applied to numerous other industries, including the general business vertical. This method uses both information from the past (retrospective) along with present and everyday manners. 
  5. Surveys: Surveys can be every bit as qualitative as they are quantitative. In a qualitative survey, you would use open-ended questions. These often dovetail to quantitative questions by going more in-depth on them. Thus, you would need to use skip logic, so that if a respondent replies in one way, they would get rerouted to the appropriate follow-up question. Like with quantitative surveys, qualitative surveys can be applied to macro concepts like in cross-sectional surveys or for more specific ones, such as with community feedback surveys.

Other Forms of Market Research Techniques

Aside from the above two major types of market research classifications, there are several other major kinds of research techniques. Here are a few vital examples:

Retrospective Research

This research studies past events to see if or how they contributed to a current topic of interest. Also called historical research, this study inspects historical data. It falls under cohort studies, which follow a group of participants bound by a similar trait. This research uses observational studies that determine how often a phenomenon occurs within a targeted population. Techniques include:

  • Survey panels
  • Longitudinal surveys
  • Interviews

Cross-Sectional Research

A cross-sectional study collects research on a particular population at one fixed point in time, essentially serving as a snapshot (aka cross-section) of a studied population. This type of survey does not require using a survey panel as this method follows a panel over several points in time. It is contrary to longitudinal studies, since they study participants at ongoing frequencies. Instead, it seeks to gain an overall portrait of a phenomenon during its time of study. Techniques include:

  • Field research (especially recent studies)
  • Interviews
  • Surveys (Ex: community feedback surveys)

Prospective Research

Prospective research aims to predict the likelihood of a future event or issue. It is focused on outcomes and can also determine relationships between variables. A prospective study usually involves investigating a cohort of subjects over a long period. This research tends to be experimental in nature, as it seeks to uncover relationships between variables. Techniques include:

  • Experiments 
  • Trials
  • Longitudinal Surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Survey panels

Wading the Waters of Market Research

While this guide covers the most pertinent and useful forms of market research technique, there are still more to explore. That is because certain techniques, such as survey research methods have many forms and subsets of methods that brands can apply to their campaigns. A strong research campaign will guide you deeper into the many techniques available, some are tried and true, while others are newer.

When you fortify your secondary research with a strong primary research tool, your campaign will be on the right track towards unique insights for all your business and market research needs.

How to Conduct Exploratory Research for Your Early Research Needs

How to Conduct Exploratory Research for Your Early Research Needs

Exploratory research is one of the main types of general and survey research. It works to investigate an issue, occurrence or phenomenon that is not clearly defined.

The most preliminary form of research, exploratory precedes descriptive research, another early survey research campaign.

As such, market researchers and virtually all other researchers need to incorporate exploratory research in their market research campaigns, as they would be remiss to not fully comprehend a problem before probing further into it or attempting to fix it. 

This article examines exploratory research, what makes it up, how to conduct it, how it differs from the other main forms of research and the kinds of surveys to use to carry out this research.

Defining Exploratory Research

Exploratory research is defined as an initial form of research that studies a hypothetical or theoretical idea, that is, one which has not yet been fully developed, let alone proven.

As such, this research begins with a researcher’s idea about something within their sphere of study; for example, they’ve noticed interest around their brand has fallen in a particular quarter. 

The researcher will thus use exploratory research to gain a better understanding of this unexplored idea, prove that it exists in significant ways/amounts and study other issues surrounding it.

The issues and other details that they discover can be carried over as the focus for future research campaigns, namely descriptive research, as the next logical type of research.

Exploratory research is defined as a research used to investigate a problem which is not clearly defined. It is conducted to have a better understanding of the existing problem, but will not provide conclusive results.

Also called grounded theory approach or interpretive research, exploratory research helps answer questions like the “what,” “why” and “how.”

The Key Aspects of Exploratory Research

Now that we have established the core meaning and function of exploratory research, it is critical to understand its makeup. This form of research has various qualities researchers ought to look into, to better understand its characteristics.

The following enumerates the key features of this research:

  1. The initial form of research around a particular subject of study.
  2. Lays the groundwork about a study for future research.
  3. Investigates an issue that is not fully defined.
  4. Gathers information that can be explored in more depth in descriptive research.
  5. Exists in two forms: Via a new topic or via a new angle
    1. A new topic is usually unexpected and provides startling findings.
    2. A new angle arises from different ways of looking at things, either from a theoretical perspective or a new way of measuring something.
  6. Enables a researcher to answer foundational questions such as: What is the problem? What is the purpose of the research? What topics should be studied?
  7. Exploratory research uses unstructured studies.
  8. Involves forming a few theories which can support its findings to make it easier for the researcher to assess them.
  9. Typically involves yielding qualitative research.
  10. Can produce quantitative research that can be used to generalize larger samples in certain cases, such as through the use of experiments and quantitative surveys.

Why Your Business Needs Exploratory Research

Businesses need exploratory research for a variety of reasons. Firstly, this research method uncovers details and facts about a murky subject — the kinds that a business hasn’t previously known about. 

It sets the foundation for understanding a problem, occurrence or phenomenon by finding its basic properties. This ensures that a business finds the right information (such as the variables) which can be further studied in descriptive, correlational and experimental research.  

Although it rarely provides enough insights to make conclusive business decisions, it forms the basis of a research issue on which businesses can set up objectives and requirements for continual studies. 

After all, a company cannot conduct further research around a topic, without assuredly knowing about its existence and certain characteristics that warrant further exploration.

With exploratory research, businesses extract:

  • The groundwork for other types of research
  • Key facts about matters critical to their business
  • Opinions from their target market
  • The existence of specific market segments (via market segmentation)
  • An understanding what is worth pursuing for survey studies and other research 

Exploratory Research Survey Examples

  1. The qualitative survey
    1. Helps answer the what, why and how with open-ended questions.
    2. Extracts key high-level information in depth. 
  2. The cross-sectional survey
    1. Studies a particular population at one particular point in time.
    2. Can help form a hypothesis of for example, shopping behavior during a seasonal campaign.   
  3. The customer experience (CX) survey
    1. Finds foundational insights on customers’ CX.
    2. Finds glitches and other issues in a customer journey that a business was not aware of.
  4. The employee feedback survey
    1. Finds unknown employee sentiment around various areas of business.
    2. Useful during mergers, acquisitions, growth spurts or simple quarterly reviews.
  5. The business survey
    1. For general inquiries, understanding the high level details.
    2. Although it can be used for other forms of research, this survey can help identify a problem.

How Exploratory Research Differs from Correlational, Exploratory and Experimental Research

Exploratory research differs significantly from the other main types of research methods such as correlational research and experimental research.

However, exploratory research is often conflated with descriptive research. Although both forms of research are conducted in the early stages of the entire research process, they are not the same, as they bear key differing qualities.

Exploratory research provides the foundation, hypothesis or discovery about a problem the researcher suspects is present. Thus, it is the very first form of research required to conduct over an unstudied or unknown topic. 

Descriptive research, on the other hand, is predicated on describing something already established, discovered or suspected in exploratory research. Thus descriptive research follows exploratory research in the overall research process. It describes characteristics, functions, occurrences, frequencies and other required key facts before the researcher moves to correlational or experimental research.

Descriptive research, as opposed to exploratory research, is conclusive. It is predominantly quantitative and fixed on creating statistics. It is also rigid and structured, while exploratory research is flexible and unstructured. 

Correlational research differs from exploratory research in that it is one of the latter forms or research, whereas exploratory is the most preliminary kind. 

It processes well-established information that exploratory and descriptive research have found. Its primary function is to uncover relationships among variables to see how one may affect another or others. 

The results of correlational research can be used to make predictions of future events from present insights.

Experimental research contrasts with exploratory research, in that it is also one of the latter forms of research, if not the very final. Unlike exploratory research, experimental research is far less observational or passive. Rather, as its name hints at, it is highly experimental, as it uses a scientific approach on two sets of variables.

Using a scientific research design, it forms experiments to find cause-and-effect relationships between defined variables. Also called hypothesis testing or a deductive research method, itis conducted in a controlled environment so that variables can be measured, calculated and then compared. .

Experimental research involves manipulating variables to come to a conclusion or finding. It helps find conclusions to an original subject of research or answers to a previously discovered problem in exploratory research. 

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Exploratory Research

Exploratory research offers several benefits for researchers and businesses. However, as with all other research methods, there are a few setbacks to this type of research. 

The Advantages

  1. Enables further research on an established issue.
  2. Unstructured, allowing the researcher to be flexible in their study.
  3. A low-cost form of research.
  4. Allows researchers to decide whether a topic is worth studying further or not.
  5. Can save valuable time, money and resources, if a discovered topic is deemed unnecessary for further research.
  6. Helps researchers in the early stages of discovering the cause of a problem.
  7. Points researchers to an objective or signals researchers to avoid some.

The Disadvantages

  1. Qualitative data, the main kind of data derived from exploratory research, can be easy to misinterpret when generalizing a population.
  2. Although it steers further research, it is inconclusive. 
  3. Although it can be used in different survey sampling methods, it usually involves using a smaller sampling pool, making it inept at generalizing populations.
  4. When collected via secondary sources, the data may be outdated and thus not fully accurate with the present.

How to Conduct Exploratory Research

This form of research is known to be unstructured, so there are no hard and fast rules on how to conduct it, as long as it adheres to its key aspects. The following explains the basic universal approach for conducting exploratory research.

  1. Identify the problem: The core of the research, this may take a few brainstorming sessions.
    1. Accrue secondary research that relates to your suspected problem, issue or phenomenon.
    2. Conduct a basic survey to see if there is any truth to your identified issue.
  2. Create the hypothesis: If there are no prior studies or the problem is not fully under control or has a workaround form a hypothesis based on research from the previous step.
  3. Conduct further research: Continue researching to see if there is any truth to the existence of the problem and its possible solution/hypothesis.
    1. Conduct surveys, focus groups, interviews and more secondary research.
    2. Decide whether the subject at large and its hypothesis are worth delving into further in descriptive research.

Excelling in Exploratory Research

Exploratory research forms the building blocks of an overall research project, as it constructs the groundwork of a research subject that will later be explored (in descriptive research), tested (in correlational research) and manipulated in (experimental research).

As a researcher, perhaps there will be times that you won’t need to conduct much exploratory research. This is true in cases where you have some familiarity with a subject or are certain of its existence in your business, in which case, you can proceed to descriptive or experimental research. 

In any case, you need to be fully aware of a problem or other phenomenon before conducting any further research on it. This is where exploratory research excels.

In order to be skillful in exploratory research, you need to turn to several resources, such as secondary research, case studies, literature within your industry/niche and finally, surveys. Although surveys ask for specifics, they too are invaluable for conducting exploratory research, as they help uncover the what, giving credence to any suspicions you may have had prior to endeavoring in research.

As such, using a potent online survey platform will assist, guide and launch the key tool in your exploratory research.

Frequently asked questions

What is exploratory research?

Exploratory research is conducted on ideas that are not fully developed. Researchers usually start brainstorming an idea that lies within their specialization and develop it into a broader concept.

What are the key features of exploratory research?

The key features of exploratory research include the initial research on a specific topic, laying the foundation of the research topic, investigating the issue, and collecting information that supports descriptive research.

Why is exploratory research important for businesses?

Exploratory research is vital for businesses, as it helps them understand the root causes of their problems and find ways to solve them. As a result, businesses find the correct information and access appropriate resources to develop the chosen idea. It can also help enterprises to set up objectives for continual development studies.

What kind of surveys can you make with exploratory research?

Exploratory research can help you conduct:
Qualitative surveys – brilliant for gathering in-depth information and open-ended questions
Cross-sectional surveys – suitable for studying a sample size of a particular demographic at a time
Employee feedback surveys – help understand how employees feel about the workplace and their work

What is the difference between exploratory research and experimental research?

Exploratory research takes an idea and develops it further. But experimental research is far less observational as it uses a scientific approach to test two sets of variables.

The Complete Guide to Mastering the 6 Most Critical Types of Research for Any Research Endeavor

The Complete Guide to Mastering the 6 Most Critical Types of Research for Any Research Endeavor

types of research

Understanding the six most critical types of research is an absolute must for market researchers and general researchers alike. 

The world of research is ever-expanding as new technologies evolve, new techniques for obtaining data arise and more secondary sources become available to the public.

However, the six chief types of research remain as the foremost processes for conducting investigations. They refer to specific types of research which include more than merely using a method of study.

This guide explains the six prominent types of research, when to use each, how they benefit business and more.

Defining the Major Types of Research

For the purpose of general research, a major type of research does not refer to conducting studies on a designated topic of choice (for example, sales research).

So what defines a “major” type of research?

When categorizing research into several key varieties, a “type of research'' refers to a particular form of research that can examine virtually any topic and its variables, thorough particular means and approaches. These approaches involve using distinct components such as methods, processes and frequencies particular to one kind of research.

These components form the core of the research type, making it feasible to differentiate from others. Each variety of research is also bound by a unique purpose. This purpose is not thematic, as it can be applied to all kinds of subjects of study.

Despite operating through different approaches and methods, some forms of research share several features, including the purpose of the study/ the kind of results it seeks to some extent. 

The Need to Understand the Different Types of Research

Whether you operate under a B2C or a B2B business, either as a business owner or market researcher, you ought to verse yourself in the different types of research. This includes being able to distinguish between them and not confusing one for another. 

Before you tackle any area of concern to investigate for your research needs, you need to assure you’re setting your research project up for success. In order to form an effective research campaign, you’ll need to be methodical. 

This means you’ll need to tend to several concerns to build a successful campaign. This involves organizing your topic of study and inquiries into a particular variety of research. 

Doing so will ensure you apply the correct market research techniques and methods, the kinds that best suit the inquiries and needs of your topic of research, thus, best tending to your concerns.

When you use the correct type of research for your study, you’ll be able to understand it more thoroughly and thereby find more fitting changes and solutions. This is especially true when your area of study is a problem you would like to minimize or reverse. 

Using the correct form of research will also ensure that you are measuring and observing the correct elements and by way of a frequency best suited towards your research issue. 

Moreover, when you employ the proper type of research, it is far less likely to come upon errors and gaps that require answers. Thus, there is less of a need to start again or switch to a different type of research.

All of these areas of importance would be impossible to fulfill if you do not become familiar with them and are not able to tell them apart.  

The following explains the six most critical types of research.

Exploratory Research

What it is: Used to reveal facts and details around a topic with little to no research, exploratory research forms the foundation of the research process. It identifies a topic, be it an issue or a phenomenon with scant details and seeks to find its basic properties. 

As such, it finds the correct variables the researcher needs in order to begin the study, understand its basic elements and form a hypothesis. The key issue at hand, its variables and its hypothesis are used for further research. 

Essentially, this kind of research forms the premise of a research campaign, assuring that the variables and other components are indeed what the researcher needs to study in the next steps (other types of research). 

Stage in the research process: The very first

Conclusive? No

How it benefits a business: Before a business can explore an issue in-depth, it needs to decide on a specific topic, the existing problem within the topic and its key variables. This ensures the business is equipped to enter the next research stage (type) and that it does not have any extraneous variables or concerns that do not contribute to solving the problem. 

Descriptive Research

What it is: This type of research is premised on describing a phenomenon, behavior or problem discovered in an earlier stage of research, usually in exploratory research, although it can also be focused around that which was discovered in explanatory research. 

Descriptive research describes the nuances of a population, a variable or occurrence that a researcher requires further study on. Its objective centers on finding previously unknown facts or extracting more details on facets with fewer details.

It focuses on the what, how, when and where of a study rather than on the why.

Stage in the research process: The early portion of the middle stage 

Conclusive? Yes

How it benefits a business: It is crucial for a business to understand a phenomenon and its variables in a full or close-to-full context. This type of research helps a business do just that, as it finds all the key details about a phenomenon that a business may not have known about before conducting the research. 

What’s more is that, as a primarily quantitative form of research, it is apt for creating statistics. Being statistically-oriented allows this form of research to be conclusive, although it is considered to be in the early mid-stages of an entire research project.

These statistics are not simply key for internal resource purposes, but they provide a differentiating ingredient for your content. A strong content marketing strategy relies on putting out original insights; the data you derive from descriptive research is as original as it gets. This can be accomplished when you opt for a primary method (such as survey research).

Explanatory Research

What it is: Explanatory research is based on research that explains the already established aspects in a research campaign. It fills in the gaps and connects the dots from exploratory and descriptive research.

This type of research is unique in that it can be conducted either prior to or after descriptive research. As such, it rests in the early to mid-stages of the overall research process. 

Like descriptive research, it works to shine a light on the various details that make up a research subject of study. However, contrary to descriptive research, it does not simply seek to describe, but rather to explain.

Thus, this research category falls under qualitative research. It helps find the why of a problem or phenomenon. It is not conclusive. 

Stage in the research process: Early to mid-stages (can be performed before or after descriptive research, depending on a business’s needs). 

Conclusive? No

How it benefits a business: It benefits a business in that it seeks to go beyond describing a subject of study. Rather, it plunges into a subject in greater depth, finding the kinds of insights that descriptive research cannot.

Additionally, it is flexible. It can be conducted following exploratory research and either before or after descriptive research, the only research of its kind to offer this benefit.

This research involves studying an important aspect that is studied in the later stages of the entire process, that of cause and effect. Explanatory research studies cause and effect relationships so as to explain their scope and nature, a critical precursor for correlational and causal research. 

Correlational Research 

What it is: Correlational research is a study into the relationship between two variables. Inspecting precisely two variables, this type of research seeks to discover and render the relationship between variables suspected of relating in some way.

This research seeks to make sense out of the variables identified in earlier stages of research. Although correlational research is not sufficient to conclude on cause and effect relationships, it is necessary to conduct to find whether a relationship between variables exists to begin with.  

An observational form of research, it is non-experimental; there is no controlling or manipulation of the variables involved.  

The relationship between the variables can be either positive, negative or zero (nonexistent). 

Stage in the research process: Middle stage 

Conclusive? No

How it benefits a business: Being able to determine if there is a positive, negative or zero correlation between two variables allows researchers to know how to move on to the next step: finding a cause and effect relationship between the variables. 

A zero correlation informs a business that there's no need to further study the relationship between two particular variables, saving the business money and time. A negative or positive correlation dictates that further research is needed to discover whether there is cause and effect relationship.

Either way, the results derived from this type of research are highly influential on the next steps a business decides to take in their research process: whether to end it, continue and how. 

Above all, it reveals how two variables relate to one other, giving a business a clearer picture of the environment they operate within, whether the variables concern sales figures, impressions or something more abstract like customer loyalty. 

Causal Research 

What it is: Causal research is founded on the undertaking of determining cause and effect relationships. As such, it involves conducting experiments and testing markets in a controlled setting. It is more scientific than any of the previous types of research.

This kind of research uses the findings from correlational and explanatory research in an attempt to unearth causal relationships. Since correlation does not equal causation, causal research studies whether the variables with a negative or positive correlation have any effect on the other variable(s) in the study.

Causal research has two objectives: finding which variable forms the cause and which makes up the effect, and understanding the relationship of the causal variables after the effect occurs. 

Stage in the research process: Late-final stage 

Conclusive? Yes

How it benefits a business: Often the final form of research, causal research is critical to complete the entire process. It involves conducting both secondary and primary research, the latter of which is experimental.

As such, this research type does not only observe, rather it investigates the variables themselves, manipulating them and controlling them as needed. This is crucial for a business in that it not only analyzes, but proves the existence of a causal relationship, along with how the effect manifests.

Thus, this research is not only conclusive, as it finds the most important result that a business or market researcher seeks: a proven answer to their hypothesis. This allows researchers to close off the research process, or conduct further experimental research if they so choose.

Experimental Research 

What it is: Experimental research vigorously follows a scientific research design. It is entirely scientific, more so than causal research, as it nearly, if not fully implements the scientific method towards finding a solution.

The final stage of the research process, this kind of research uses all the information from the previous stages to conduct an experiment to test a hypothesis. It can also follow causal research; causal research itself is a kind of experimental research.

Researchers can conduct further experiments on the variables they found causal relationships for, in that they can test how to reverse an unwanted correlation, or minimize it to some degree. Or, further experiments can show a business how to reap more benefits from a desired correlation.

Stage in the research process: Final stage 

Conclusive? Yes

How it benefits a business: Experimental research proves or disproves a hypothesis; as such, it is the final stage in the research process. It is the most scientific kind, leaving little to no room for errors, intuition or bias.

It can be used to accommodate causal research, digging further into a discovered cause and effect relationship. This is especially important for a business, as while it is critical to know whether a causal relationship exists, understanding how to move forward with this knowledge is of the essence.

Experimental research allows brands to test discovered causal relationships further, finding much-needed solutions. For example, a brand may want to learn how to reduce an unwanted correlation or to increase a needed correlation. Moreover, conducting further experiments can show brands how to gain a desired causal relationship sooner.

Complementing Your Research

In summary, there are six major types of research. A market researcher must consider these carefully before setting up their market research campaign. In order to build a comprehensive and effective study, you need to be able to organize your research.

To begin this endeavor, you need to classify your research topic(s) under a particular campaign, such as advertising, for example. Following this, you need to create a smooth and educated process. Thus, you need to follow the research process by way of the 6 dominant forms of research that this guide explains.

Doing so will ensure you conduct a comprehensive research campaign, one that leaves little to discover, except for possible future events, In order to complement your research, you need to conduct effective surveys for research campaigns. These allow you to understand your target market or target population. Even in experimental research, conducting surveys helps fill in the cracks and find answers to the unknown. Understanding your respondents, i.e., customers is paramount for a business. The proper online survey tool does not solely compliment a business or research endeavor, it completes it.

Frequently asked questions

Why is it important for marketers to understand different types of research?

Your business may cater to unique customer segments, including people of different ages and interests. This is why it's important for any business owner and marketer to use the right kind of research methodology for their research campaign. The correct type of research enables you to understand the data more thoroughly and find more fitting changes and solutions.

What are the 6 most critical types of research?

The six critical types of research include exploratory research, descriptive research, explanatory research, correlational research, and causal research.

How do you get accurate information for your research campaigns?

To get accurate information for your research campaigns, it is essential that you make effective survey questions that enable you to understand your customers on a deeper level. Even if your research is experimental, it is necessary to complement it by conducting surveys to help fill in the gaps.

What is conclusive research and which research methods are conclusive?

Conclusive research tends to be quantitative in nature and helps marketers reach a decision. Experimental research, causal research, and descriptive research are all conclusive as they require data-sets analyzed to help reach a conclusion.

Why is exploratory research the first step in a research campaign?

Before a business can conduct an in-depth study on a particular topic or its customers, it is important first to understand the existing problem and how the research can help fix it. This information can form the trajectory for the business to enter the next research stage and make it clear what kind of research to conduct next.

Market Research Survey: The Complete Guide

Market Research Survey: The Complete Guide

market research surveyMarket research is a broad category of research, encompassing a concerted effort to collect information about an industry and its target market. 

This process involves gathering primary (self-conducted) and secondary (information already researched and made available) sources, to fully assess how a business will fare within a particular market and audience.

A market research survey is typically a source of primary information that businesses can use as part of their market research campaigns. It can also exist as a secondary source, in which case, its studies and results are published online or in a print publication.

This article will take a close look at the market research survey, so that you can use it to the optimum benefit for your business.

What Can you Achieve with Market Research?

A market research survey, as its name entails, is used for research purposes. Before we dive into all the aspects of this survey, it is apt to learn how you can use market research to your full advantage.

Market research is critical for a variety of purposes, including marketing, advertising, and branding campaigns. 

Aside from providing data-based support for these macro purposes, market research gains you invaluable insight into particular markets. For example, you may consider running a research campaign for the retail market. Market research will help you gather all the relevant information pertaining to this specific market.

Aside from retail, you can conduct market research in a number of verticals, including ecommerce, technology, real estate and many others.

There are plenty of other applications for market research. Here are some of the ways to use market research to your advantage:

  • Observe data to prepare for challenges in advance
  • Gauge the demand for your product or service
  • Learn key market trends and staples
  • Discover how your competitors are winning or losing
  • Uncover your target market’s desires, preferences, aversions and thoughts

The final point is remarkably crucial for market research and for generally keeping your business afloat. And so, we’ll now dig deep into the market research survey, as this tool is especially useful for this purpose.

Defining a Market Research Survey

This tool is the most commonly used market research method — and for good reason. A market research survey allows you to gather data on your target market. Moreover, it allows businesses to do so by accessing any insights they need, as long as they form corresponding questions to their investigation.

Surveys have a far-reaching history, as they date back to ancient civilizations such as Greece and Rome. There was a surge in survey use in 1930s America, in which the government sought to understand the economic and social state of the nation.

Surveys have taken up a variety of forms, including analog forms, such as paper and mail-in formats

Telephone surveys were the medium of choice for survey research during the 1960s-90s. But, as technological advancements would have it, those have declined in usefulness as well.

In the present day, surveys are conducted online, particularly through the use of designated software platforms. This type of software has paved the way for easy access to primary research. 

Businesses can use online survey software and tools and to carry out all their survey research (save for creating the screener and questions). Many such tools available both allow you to build surveys along with deploying them. 

To reiterate, market research surveys are powerful tools, in that they empower businesses to ask any question they choose to better understand their market and consumer base. They also can offer key insights into competitors. 

The Components of a Market Research Survey

market research survey

This tool contains two major components: the screener and the questionnaire. These form the bulk of the insights your primary research will gather.

There are also two auxiliary components to incorporate to make your survey research successful. These include the call-out (introduction) and the thank you message (conclusion).

Unlike the essential components, the need to use these will vary based on your survey deployment method and campaign. For example, an emailed survey won’t require a call-out, as the email itself serves this purpose.

A web or mobile survey, on the other hand, will need a call-out to get the attention of your respondents. 

Here is a break-down of each component, beginning with the essential elements:

  1. The screener: Designed as a set of questions (like the questionnaire), this is the first stage of taking the survey. The screening questions are designed to determine whether a respondent is qualified to take the survey. You can set all the conditions for qualified participants.
    1. These conditions often deal with demographics, which is incredibly important, as you would need to first and foremost, survey your target market. The screener will ensure it is only your target market that takes part in the survey.
    2. The screener is often comprised of 2-3 questions.
  2. The questionnaire: The heart of the survey, the questionnaire is composed of a set of questions, which can be open-ended or close-ended. They can also exist in the form of ratings (starts or numbers).
    1. The questionnaire should ask all the necessary questions you need for a particular campaign or sub-campaign. Or, if used in a preliminary stage of your market research, they can deal with questions particularly designed to segment your target market.
  3. The call-out (introduction): A call-out introduces the survey to respondents in a number of ways. This element is the first the respondents will get in their survey experience.
    1. If respondents are contacted via email, the call-out is in the email’s body, inviting participants to take it, listing why it’s important, its length and what it’s used for.
    2. If the survey exists within a website (either as a banner, or button), the call-out is the clickable element itself (the button/banner to the survey). It too should explain the survey to respondents.
    3. If the survey is on a website/app, the call-out has to be visible and attractive enough for users to notice it and click on it.
  4. The thank you message (conclusion): When respondents complete the survey, this message should pop up to thank them for their participation.
    1. The survey often routes users to another page with a thank you message. 
    2. It’s important, as it lets participants know that their survey has in fact been submitted.

How to Create a Market Research Survey

how to create a market research survey
Given that there is much you can uncover with a market research survey, and many applications to use it for, it may be difficult to begin creating one. After all, you would need to tether it to the appropriate campaign to reap the most benefits out of it. You would also need to define its purpose. 

Here are a few steps to take into consideration when starting on a market research survey project.

Step 1: Find a topic your business needs to learn more about.

This is particularly important if it is a topic that has little to no secondary sources. In this case, opting for a survey is the best way to learn more about it firsthand, from the people who matter most: your target market. Pay attention to any problems your business may experience, as surveys should help resolve them. 

Step 2: Consider the topic in regards to your target market

When you’ve narrowed down a problem or two, think about your target market. Do you know who constitutes it? If yes, tailor your survey topic into a subtopic that they’ll be most likely to respond to. For example, if your target market is middle-aged men who watch sports, consider whether your problem/topic will be relevant to them.

If you don’t know your target market, you should conduct some secondary research about it first, then perform market segmentation (surveys can help on this front too).

Step 3: Find the larger application of the survey campaign

Now that you’ve settled on a topic/problem and decided on whether it’s fitting for your target market, consider what the parent campaign of the survey would be. Let’s hypothetically say your topic is related to a product. Would a survey on that topic benefit a branding campaign like finding your next slogan? Would it be better suited to settle on a theme for an advertising campaign? 

Once you find the most appropriate application or macro campaign to house the survey, your market research will be organized and your survey will be better set up for success.

Step 4: Calculate your margin of error

A margin of error, in simple terms, is a measurement of how effective your survey will be. Expressed as a percentage, it measures the difference between survey results and the population value.

You need to measure this unit, as surveys represent a large group of people, but are made up of a much smaller group. Therefore, the larger the margin of error, the less accurate the opinions of the survey represent an entire population. 

Step 5: Create your survey(s)

Now that you’ve calculated the margin of error, start creating your campaign. Decide on how many surveys you would need, in regard to your margin of error and your market research needs. 

Start with a broader topic and get more specific in each question. Or, create multiple surveys focused on different but closely related subtopics to your main topic.

Send out your surveys through a trusted survey platform. 

Questions to Ask for Various Campaigns

The steps laid out above are part of a simple procedure in developing a market research survey. However, there is much more to these steps, especially that of creating the survey. 

Namely, you would need the correct set of questions, as they are the lifeblood of a survey. With so many different survey research campaigns and purposes, brainstorming questions can seem almost counterintuitive. 

To avoid information overload and any confusion that creating a survey may incite, review the below question examples. They are organized per campaign type, so you can discern which questions are most suitable for which corresponding research purpose.

Questions for Branding

Branding campaigns include efforts that build the identity of your business; this includes gathering data-backed ideas on logos, imagery, messaging and core themes surrounding your brand. You can use these when embarking on a new campaign, revamping an existing one or when you’re looking to change your brand’s reputation and style.

  1. Which of these brands do you know?
  2. What do you like most/least about this brand?
  3. Which idea is more important? (Use an idea behind setting up your brand’s image/style)
  4. Which images do you find the most inspiring? (To compare images you’ll use in your marketing/ definitive to your brand)
  5. What do you like about [brand]? (Can be open-ended)

Questions for Advertising

Using market research for advertising will help you obtain ideas for new advertising campaigns, testing already established campaign ideas and predicting the success of new ones.

  1. How would you rate the motivating power of this ad?
  2. Which of the following ads resonate the most with you?
  3. Do you remember this ad? (Name and image/video of a popular ad within your industry)
  4. How do you feel after watching this ad?
  5. What kind of use do you think this product/service produces?

Questions for Comparing Yourself with Competitors 

Studying your competitors is often associated with secondary research, but you can gain intelligence on this topic through your own survey research. The great thing about surveys is that you don’t have to focus on one competitor when managing these surveys.

  1. How often do you use this product/service?
  2. Which brand do you use for this product/service? (Include one open-ended answer).
  3. Which of the following products (same kind, different brand) do you find the most useful?
  4. What about [competitor product] would you like to see change?
  5. Which brand has improved your life? (Include one open-ended question).

Questions for Market Segmentation

This application is possibly the most challenging, as it involves understanding who your target market already is, then further segmenting it. We understand coming to terms with your target market first, before narrowing it any further down.

Here is how to segment your target market; you’ll notice that the questions are much more granular than the typical questions associated with each topic. (Ex: demographics typically ask for race, age, gender, income, etc).

  1. Demographic segmentation: Which of the following groups do you identify with most closely? (It can involve anything from music, to shopping habits, to lifestyle choices)
  2. Geographic segmentation: Which of the following areas do you typically spend time in to make physical purchases?
  3. Psychographic segmentation: How do you feel about retailers who test their products on animals?
  4. Behavioral segmentation: How often do you buy this kind of product?
  5. Sentimental segmentation: How do the following [practices, images, actions] make you feel?

Securing the Most Benefits Out of Your Market Research Survey

As we can deduce from this guide, the market research survey is a critical tool for market research. There is so much to discover about your industry, competitors and chiefly, your customers. But before making any hasty decisions, it is vital to peruse all your research documents, not just the primary research ones, such as surveys.

When you combine primary and secondary research sources, you’re setting up any business move for greater success. 

That’s because market research involves studying more than one source. It may appear daunting, but with the right tools, you can design better products, innovate on existing products, appeal to a wider audience and gain more revenue from your marketing efforts. 

Thus, pair your market research survey with other research means for a lucrative market research campaign. Knowledge truly is power. 

Frequently asked questions

What is a market research survey?

A market research survey is a survey used for conducting primary market research and is the most commonly used market research method. Market research surveys help you understand your target market, gathering data necessary to make informed decisions on content creation, product development, and more.

What are the components of a market research survey?

There are 4 major components in a market research survey. First, we have the callout to get digital visitors to participate in a survey. Next is the screener which determines who is eligible to take the survey based on their demographics information and answers to screening questions. Then, there is the questionnaire—-- this is the heart of the survey, containing a set of open-ended or closed-ended questions. Lastly, there’s the callout. This introduces the survey to respondents. Next, there’s the thank you message. This acts as the conclusion to the survey.

How can you create a market research survey?

Creating a market research survey starts with identifying the topics your business needs to learn more about. Next, you consider topics within the context of your target market and find the larger application of the survey campaign. Calculate your margin of error and then create your survey using online software.

What types of questions should you ask on your market research survey?

You can ask branding related questions to gather information on how your identity of your business is perceived. You can also ask questions that spark ideas for new advertising campaigns. To supplement your secondary research on competitors, ask questions about your business’s place in the industry. Questions can also be used for market segmentation. These are questions on demographic, geographic, psychographic, behavioral and sentimental topics.

How can you get the most benefits out of your market research survey?

You can get the most out of your market research survey by using the correct online survey platform-- one with specific audience targeting for real consumers, radius targeting and quality screening questions-- you’ll get relevant answers from the right audience.

How to Build Effective Survey Studies for Valuable Market Research 

How to Build Effective Survey Studies for Valuable Market Research 

Survey research is an invaluable approach to primary research for any market research campaign. Effective survey studies allow you to observe virtually any topic as it relates to your target market, including a specific segment of your target market. 

But with so many types of survey research campaigns and survey studies, it can be challenging to decide on how to pursue and form a survey study. After all, the goal with any data collection campaign is to extract data that is as accurate and reliable for your research needs. 

This article expounds on how to build effective surveys from the ground up so you can proceed with your survey research with knowledge and ease of mind.

Finding the Macro-Application for Survey Studies

Every survey needs a purpose. Say you have a burning curiosity about your customer base. When tackling survey research, connect this curiosity to a more general-purpose for your business or institution (if you are a market researcher outside the business sphere). 

Surveys can be applied to a vast number of macro-applications, i.e., the applications dealing with some category in the business or research sectors. First, find the most important topics (or said curiosities) that you would like to see your survey address. Then, categorize them in one of the following macro-applications:

  1. General Marketing: Marketing involves all the activities needed to promote a business. Marketing market research exists to help businesses gauge their campaign efficacy and better understand their customers. If you choose this application, consider how you can gain insights more deeply by choosing a subdiscipline within marketing. 
  2. Advertising: Deploying sponsored messages to grow demand and elicit purchases, advertising is used to influence customer behavior. This involves prompting existing customers to make further purchases or acquire new customers. Surveys can be used to see which advertising messages are the most resonant and which ads spawn the most interest. Researchers can ask questions centered on comparing full ads, or parts of an ad such as the imagery, a video snippet or the copy. 
  3. Branding: This discipline involves creating a reputation, an image and a set of associations around a brand. Branding helps brands differentiate themselves from one another, along with establishing a style that a company is easily remembered by. Businesses can tie their surveys to branding by creating surveys to test new logos, slogans, a unique value proposition, content ideas (for example, if a company that sells electronics seeks to attach lifestyle content to its branding) and more. 
  4. Market Segmentation: This macro-application refers to studying customers closely by dividing a target market into smaller segments. After all, a target market includes all the customers most likely to buy from a particular business, but it is not solely defined by one group. At their core, business surveys are designed to understand customers to a T. With this said, researchers can form personal questions about their target market’s habits, lifestyles, preferences and more to distill them into several segments. From there, marketers can adopt different marketing campaigns for each segment. 
  5. PR: Public Relations, or PR, as it is commonly referred to, aims to control the distribution and spread of information about a company (or individual) and the public. Its goal is to control the narrative of a business or organization to gain positive public perception. Surveys can help on this front in that researchers can design questions on how well respondents know a business and their general thoughts on its operations, products, experiences, performance, etc. Researchers can also test out press release ideas and pitches through these surveys. 

Turning to Secondary Research

After filtering your curiosities and questions into a specific macro-application, you need to find all the available information surrounding this application as it relates to your survey subject. This means, before setting up your survey, researchers ought to turn to secondary research. 

This is because you wouldn’t want to forego key data already conducted and made available. If you do, you’ll ask redundant questions, wasting both time, money and your survey on matters you could have found from secondary sources. 

There are various secondary resources available online. These include webzines, trade publications, news sites and statistics websites. Additionally, research departments in universities launch their results online, which is especially if they cover your sector. You will need to visit these but the ones that study your particular industry and niche. is an efficient secondary source, as it covers timely reports across a gamut of industries. 

Scrutinizing your competitors' digital properties is also a useful way to understand your target market, as it is shared (otherwise they wouldn’t be your competitors). B2B businesses in particular often publish reports on their industry, which often covers customer insights. 

Researchers should collate and carefully organize the key and auxiliary findings they’ve gathered. To do this, creating a document to store all the information is necessary. The insights in the document will help in putting together surveys. 

Preparing Preliminary Questions

After you’ve chosen a macro-application and gathered secondary information on it in relation to your industry and target market, you can advance to the preliminary question stage.

In this stage of building effective surveys, you should revisit some of the original curiosities and questions you wished to inquire of your target market. The most practical way to move forward is to cross-reference these original questions with the document of secondary research information. 

Here is what to consider when doing so:

  • Does any of the information you’ve found from conducting secondary research answer any of your original inquiries? If so, you won’t need to use the same questions in your surveys, unless you would like to extend the information from those questions. Perhaps the information you gathered answers only part of your question, or only about one segment of your target market.
  • In these cases, it is apt to use the original question in your survey planning as a preliminary question. You can also evolve questions to make them veer in a slightly different, but not altogether different direction. 
  • Continue cross-referencing until you’ve gathered at least 10 questions you would like to see answered by your target market. 
  • Do any of them intertwine or focus on a similar topic? If so, consider grouping questions together, to determine if they’ll require being used in one or multiple surveys. 
  • When you’ve put together your preliminary questions, it’s time to contemplate the kind of study you’ll need to employ.

Choosing a Methodical Form of Survey Studies 

Survey research entails much more than simply launching surveys through an online survey provider and waiting for results to pile in. Rather, it requires a more methodical approach, one with a particular timeframe and pipeline.  

There are several forms of survey studies that are time-dependent. The following explains them:

  1. Retrospective Studies: Also called historical research, a retrospective study gathers data on occurrences that have already happened. As such, respondents discuss their past opinions, happenings and other memories in these surveys. 
  2. Cross-Sectional Studies: A study in which research that gathers research about a targeted population at one fixed point in time. This type of survey research method is known as being a snapshot of a studied population.
  3. Longitudinal Studies: A study that gathers data on the same set of respondents over a period of time. This kind of research grants researchers the ability to closely examine the trajectories of their subjects over time (weeks to decades).
  4. Prospective Studies: A longitudinal cohort survey study that gathers data from similar respondents with a few dissimilar factors to determine how those factors affect a particular outcome. 

Identifying the Correct Survey Research Method

After choosing the most suitable time-based survey study method, you need to identify another research method to carry out your survey studies. This kind of method deals primarily with the observational style and type of analysis you’ll need to conduct from your survey studies. 

There are many different forms of survey research in this regard. The following lists the chief three such methods.


  1. Descriptive Research: This form of survey research is planned in advance and designed to extract data that can then be used for making statistical inferences on a target market. Aa such, it is considered conclusive and requires conducting quantitative survey studies.

  2. Exploratory Research: This kind of survey study is critical for the marketing and strategy aspects of a business. As opposed to gathering quantitative research, it focuses on discovering new ideas and insights, especially those pertaining to a target market and industry demands. In online surveys, exploratory research is often conducted via open-ended questions. This research method is qualitative, seeking to further grow a business and define company goals.
  3. Causal Research: Also quantitative and planned beforehand like descriptive research, this form is therefore deemed conclusive. Casual research seeks to discover the cause and effect between variables. It isn’t a form of observational research, as descriptive research is, however, as it sets to determine causal relationships via experimenting. 

Opting for the Proper Survey Type for Your Survey Studies

When you have a steady strategy of the research methods your survey studies will apply, it’s time to adopt the proper survey type(s) for your survey study needs. Various survey types can be applied to different survey research methods.

In this regard, you can opt for survey types with your chosen research methods in a mix and match fashion. This is because different survey types are flexible; they have the potential to satisfy a bevy of research methods, including both time-based and analysis-based methods. The deciding factor for the survey types you implement is dependent on the subject of your study.

The following lists the different types of surveys to use in your studies. Several have their own sub-types of surveys.

  1. Customer Satisfaction Surveys: 
      1. Gauge customer satisfaction with products, services, experiences & more.
      2. Includes the following subtypes: Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys, Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) surveys, Customer Effort Score (CES), Visual RAtings surveys and custom surveys.
  2. Event Evaluation Surveys:
      1. Evaluate the experience and performance of participants in an event within the eyes of attendees.
      2. Can exist in print form (distributed at the event) or in online surveys.
  3. Brand Awareness Surveys:
      1. Measure how well your target market knows about your brand, along with providing opinions on its key features (logos, reputation, efficiency,etc.)
      2. Ideal for branding campaigns and before employing survey studies on advertising.
  4. Lead Generation Surveys:
      1. Purposed to gain contact information from your target market and reveal the types of individuals who make up your target market.
      2. Great for market segmentation and early research (before other survey types).
  5. Job Satisfaction Surveys:
      1. Used to understand how members of your target market feel about their jobs, a critical force in their identities and whether they can afford your product/service. 
      2. Helps you learn which respondents are more satisfied with work/ income, thereby revealing which segment is more likely to spend.
  6. Employee Feedback Surveys:
      1. Used in businesses for internal purposes surrounding their own employees.
      2. Helps understand current pain points, successful and poor management styles, best HR incentives and how to improve processes and communication.
  7. Consumer Loyalty Surveys:
    1. Calculates how many and if members of your target market are loyal to your brand and your competitors.
    2. Helps brands reap customer loyalty.

Crafting the Questions for Survey Studies

Once you’ve chosen the most fitting survey types to use in your studies, you can finally move on to the survey itself. A sturdy online survey platform will allow you to get creative, granular and analytical with your survey production.

First, create a specific list of demographics and behavioral characteristics you will need to examine in your survey studies. Preset these requirements in the screening section of your survey tool. You should set quotas to assure you’re obtaining the appropriate respondents in your survey. 

Next, consolidate your preliminary questions with the new ones you’ve come up with while identifying the correct research methods. These oftentimes influence the kinds of questions you’ll need to ask. This also requires organization, as certain questions will belong on different surveys.

If you’re struggling to form relevant and useful questions, read our guide on writing survey questions. When you’ve come up with questions, considering adding layers to your survey. For example, a particular answer that one respondent answers with may require a different follow-up question than that which another respondent answers with.

Sometimes, this requires creating different question paths for different types of answers. You can achieve this by applying advanced skip logic into your survey. Your online survey tool of choice should allow you to add media files (images, GIFs, video snippets) to make your survey more engaging.

Remember to keep your surveys so as to avoid survey attrition. Now that you’ve come up with the questionnaire questions, review your entire survey. Make sure you’re asking the questions that will help flesh out your survey studies.

Once you do that, you’re ready to launch your survey.

Other Considerations for Survey Studies 

There are several things you need to consider for your survey studies, most of which are dependent on the online survey platform you use. These involve ease of use, respondent capacity, publisher networks (where the surveys will be deployed) and many more user experience (UX) capabilities. 

For example, in the aforementioned survey types section, there are dozens of surveys you can form for both research and business purposes. It is key to use a platform that can provide structures and elements for all, or at least for the kinds you need. 

As for ease of use, assess the difficulty in using an online survey tool. A strong survey platform allows you to make a survey in three easy steps. When you thoroughly vet a survey platform, you can objectively decide which is best for your survey studies. 

Frequently asked questions

What is survey research?

Survey research is the process of performing research through the use of surveys. After the survey data is collected from respondents, it is analyzed in order to draw conclusions about the topic at hand.

What are some of the macro applications of surveys?

Surveys can be used to understand many broad aspects of business or research including general marketing, advertising, branding, market segmentation, and public relations.

What is secondary research?

Secondary research is the process of gathering information that has already been conducted and is made available for collecting and studying.

What is descriptive survey research?

Descriptive research is conducted to explain the characteristics of a sampling pool or a study of an issue. It is a form of survey research that is performed by conducting quantitative surveys in order to extract data that can be used to make statistical inferences.

What is exploratory survey research?

Exploratory research is the earliest form of research conducted around a subject. It is used in order to identify new ideas and insights, particularly about a problem not clearly defined for further studies, such as descriptive research. It is done by conducting qualitative studies in order to gain new information about the subject.

The Complete Guide to Qualitative Market Research

The Complete Guide to Qualitative Market Research

qualitative market research Qualitative research is one of the most prominent research methods in the ever-increasing research sphere. Running counter to quantitative research, qualitative research encompasses a distinct set of differentiating qualities (no pun intended). These attributes prove that these two methods ought not to be used interchangeably.

So what exactly is qualitative research? At a glance, this type of research method seeks to gather in-depth data about a phenomenon without focusing on numerical data or on quantities.

But there is much more to this kind of study method. Learn holistically about qualitative market research with this complete guide.

What Defines & Makes Up Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research is centered around experiences, ideas and opinions. As such, it does not focus on statistical or quantitative outcomes. Instead, it seeks out an in-depth understanding of an issue, occurrence or phenomenon.

Thus, this research method zeroes in on the “what” and more importantly, the “why” of a research subject. (Unlike quantitative research, which focuses on the “how much”).

Here are some of the applications of qualitative research:

  • Understanding an issue in greater depth

  • Finding the reason behind an occurrence (whether it’s desirable or undesirable)

  • Uncovering trends in target market opinions

  • Forming educated solutions to address customer/studied subject concerns

  • Discovering the causes of certain actions

Qualitative research generally relies on a smaller sample size in order to get a deep read of happenings, causes and motivations. This kind of research method functions through the usage of open-ended and exploratory questions.

Understanding the “why” behind an issue is then used to make decisions on how to resolve the issue or how to improve on an existing productive situation.

Qualitative data must occur in natural environments. This denotes a kind of environment in which participants discuss their opinions at length and at ease, which researchers use to gain deeper knowledge and form inferences around a topic.

Prior to the internet, this kind of research was conducted in-person, but with the advent of the internet and innovations in market research, qualitative data has been collected online. The digital space can also serve as a natural environment.

The Five Main Types of Qualitative Research

Just as with quantitative research, there is not a single approach to conducting qualitative research. On the contrary, there are five main varieties of performing qualitative research. Aside from their methodology, these sub-categories also seek different types of answers and conclusions.

types of qualitative market research

1. Narrative Research

This research is used to form a cohesive story, or narrative, by way of consolidating several events from a small group of people. It involves running in-depth interviews and reading up on documents featuring similar actions as a means of theme-searching.

The point of this is to discover how one narrative is shaped by larger contextual influences. Interviews should be conducted for weeks to months and sometimes even for years. The narrative that the researcher uncovers does not have to be presented in sequential order.

Instead, it should be projected as one with defined themes that attempt to reconcile inconsistent stories. This method can highlight the research study’s ongoing challenges and hardships, which can be used to make any improvements.

2. Ethnographic Research

The most common qualitative research method, ethnography relies on entrenching oneself in various participant environments to extract challenges, goals, themes and cultures.

As the name suggests, it involves taking an ethnographic approach to research, meaning that researchers would experience an environment themselves to draw research. Using this firsthand observation, the researcher would not need to then rely on interviews or surveys.

This approach may seem to be far-fetched where market research is concerned, but it is doable. For example, you’d like to see the effectiveness or frustration that customers face when using your product. Since you can’t follow them home, you can request videos that show them using it. Many big brands have call-outs on their websites (ex: on product pages) for their customers to send in videos of their interactions with the products.

3. Phenomenological Research

This qualitative method entails researchers having to probe a phenomenon or event by bringing lived experiences to light and then interpreting them. In order to achieve this, researchers use several methods in combination.

These include conducting surveys, interviews and utilizing secondary research such as available documents and videos on the studied phenomenon. Additionally, as in ethnographic research, phenomenological research involves visiting places to collect research.

These will help you understand how your participants view your subject of examination. In turn, you will gain insight into the participants’ motivations.

In this research type, you would conduct between 5 and 25 surveys or interviews, then peruse them for themes. Once again, you would scrutinize experiences and sentiment over numerical data.

4. Grounded Theory Research

In contrast to phenomenological research, which seeks to fully form the core of an issue, grounded theory attempts to find explanations (the why) behind an issue. To achieve this, researchers use interviews, surveys and secondary research to form a theory around the issue/occurrence.

The sample of this study tends to be on the larger side, at 20-60 participants. Data extracted from this type of research is interpreted to determine the reasoning behind, for example, heavy usage of or frustration with a product. These types of studies help a business innovate an existing product by getting into the weeds of how it’s used.

5. Action Research

action research

This type of research involves researchers and participants working collaboratively to bring theory to practice. Also called participatory research, collaborative inquiry, emancipatory research and action learning, this method entails the act of “learning by doing.”

This means a group of researchers come together to find and address a problem, resolve it and then study the success of their endeavors. If they underperformed or their outcomes don’t satisfy their expectations, they would then reattempt the process.

In action research, a researcher spends a considerable amount of time on collecting, analyzing, and presenting data in an ongoing, periodic process. This involves researchers coming up with their own surveys and interviews around a subject matter, then presenting their findings to one another to draw conclusions and solutions.

They would put into practice the means to improve a situation and continue measuring their success throughout the process.

Examples of Questions for Qualitative Research

When working within the capacity of any of the above research types, it’s crucial to ask the right questions. Here you’ll find the questions you can use when conducting each of the five types of qualitative research.

Bear in mind that some of these questions will appear to be similar in nature; some are even interchangeable. That is normal, as researchers may search for the same answers, but apply a different approach in their research method.

In any case, all of the below features questions that fit within the larger qualitative research framework.

Learn more about asking insightful market research questions. Here are a few examples of the questions within the five categories:

1. How do people who witnessed domestic violence understand its effects in their own relationships?

    Variable: Views of domestic violence on one’s own relationships

    Demographic: People in relationships, who’ve witnessed domestic violence

    Qualitative Research Type: Narrative

2. What are the lived experiences of working-class Americans between the ages of 20 and 40?

    Variable: Experiences and views of a working-class background

    Demographic: Working-class Americans ages 20-40

    Qualitative Research Type: Narrative

3. How do Asian Americans experience reaching out to address mental health concerns?

    Variable: The experiences in seeking out care for mental health

    Demographic: Asian Americans seeking help for mental health

    Qualitative Research Type: Ethnographic

4. What do you enjoy about this product or service?

    Variable: The positive experiences of using a particular product/service

    Demographic: The target market of a product or service

    Qualitative Research Type: Ethnographic

5. How have people who have experienced poverty changed their shopping habits when they entered the middle (or higher) class?

    Variable: The changes or stagnation in shopping habits

    Demographic: those who experienced poverty, but climbed the social ladder

    Qualitative Research Type: Phenomenological

6. What was it like when you had a negative online shopping experience?

    Variable: unpleasant shopping experiences

    Demographic: a group that is most likely to shop at a particular online store

    Qualitative Research Type: Phenomenological

7. What influences managers in private sectors to seek further professional advancement?

    Variable: Motivation for seniority

    Demographic: Managers in the private sector

    Qualitative Research Type: Grounded Theory

8. How do women in third world countries set up financial independence?

    Variable: Efforts at reaching financial independence

    Demographic: Women in third-world countries

    Qualitative Research Type: Grounded Theory

9. What impact does collaborative working have on the UX optimization efforts of a telecommunications company?

    Variable: effects of collaboration on the UX of a telecommunications company

    Demographic: workers in the telecommunications space

    Qualitative Research Type: Action Research

10. What strategies can marketing managers use to improve the reach of millennial customers?

    Variable: Strategies to improve millennial reach and their outcomes

    Demographic: Marketing managers

    Qualitative Research Type: Action Research

When to Use the Research and How to Analyze It

The qualitative research method has specific use cases. You ought to consider which is best for your particular business, which includes your strategy, your marketing and other facets.

The core of qualitative research is to understand a phenomenon (a problem, an inadequacy, and a slew of other occurrences) including its causes, its motivations, its goals and its solutions. Researchers do this by observing smaller portions of a population.

Researchers should use this form of research whenever you need to get the gist of a particular occurrence or event. It is particularly useful for studying how your target market experiences certain situations and how it feels about them.

There are several more specific ways that elucidate why this research style is valuable if not completely necessary. Here are some of the most crucial ways this method of research is vital:

  • Helps brands see the emotional connections customers have with them

  • Allows brands to find gaps in customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX)

  • Enables brands to create experiences that are more tailored to their target market

  • Helps businesses understand how they can improve on their product, service or CX

  • Finds experiences that customers had that highlight sensitive topics/language for them

  • Shows businesses how customers compare them to their competitors

  • Identifies possible solutions and innovations based on customer attitudes and experiences

To analyze qualitative research, you should first identify your subject of study and decide on the type of research you need to conduct based on the five types of research that fall under the qualitative category.

Then, brainstorm several questions that you can use to form the base of your studies. During the process make sure to jot down (either digitally or otherwise) your observations. For example, record interviews and store surveys in an organized database.

Make sure you ask open-ended questions in surveys, interviews, focus groups, et al. Aggregate secondary research such as government database documents, articles in your niche,  images,  videos and more.

Search for patterns or similarities within your findings. When you group them together and organize them by demographics, you can start drawing conclusions and proposing solutions.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Qualitative Research

Qualitative research can be extraordinarily beneficial. But as with other aspects of research and beyond, it too comes with a set of drawbacks. As a business owner, marketer or market researcher, you should know both the pros and cons. Here are some notable ones:


  1. More intimate understanding of context and causation: besides understanding “what” in a granular way, you also learn the “why” and “how” of a particular situation.

  2. Understanding key experiences: Open-ended questions lead to unique answers, exposing things numerical-based surveys can’t answer.

  3. A foundation of deep insights: The design of the study is made to understand how customers relate to particular occurrences, events, ideas and products.

  4. Context-driven: Finding insights on motivation and past behaviors allows researchers to understand what their target market needs and what it tries to avoid.

  5. No need to find and create the correct measuring units: Open-ended questions don’t require a scale, a number range or any other measuring tools — one less thing to worry about.

  6. Smaller sample size: Smaller sample sizes allow researchers to study responses more thoroughly to form more accurate hypotheses and conclusions.

  7. Inspirational: The responses received can also help researchers form new studies.

  8. Flexible and detail-oriented: Since questions aren’t based on scales and other units, you can ask more creative and in-depth questions. Questions focus on details and subtleties for robust insights.


  1. Relies on researcher experience: It relies on the researchers’ experience; not all are familiar with industry topics.

  2. Not statistically representative: Only collects perspective-based research; does not provide statistical representation. Only comparisons, not measurements can be executed.

  3. Difficult to make copies of data.  Individual perspectives make it hard to replicate findings, making it it more difficult to form conclusions.

  4. More likely to have researcher bias: Both conscious or subconscious of the researcher can affect the data. The conclusions they draw can thus be influenced by their bias. (This can be avoided by using controls in data collection.

The Final Word

Market research is a wide-spanning undertaking. It has a wide swath of aspects, practices and applications. As such, researchers should know its main categories and qualitative research is one such category of significance.

As opposed to quantitative research, which has four methods, qualitative research has five — not all of which will be of use to your particular market research needs. In any case, this type of research involves imbuing as much context and particularities around a phenomenon as possible.

As such, researchers should create questions more specific to the aforementioned examples of this article. That is because those are more encompassing, generalized questions that researchers can attempt to answer after conducting all of their research and parsing of the findings.

But prior to that, researchers should ask several related questions around a particular topic and tailor those questions as best as possible to the target audience.

Frequently asked questions

What is qualitative research?

Qualitative research is a type of research that is conducted to gain deep or unexpected insights rather than focusing on numeral or quantitative data.

Why is qualitative research conducted?

Qualitative research is conducted to find the “why” of the research subject, rather than the “what’ of that subject. For example, qualitative research might be conducted to understand an issue more deeply, to understand why something is happening, or to learn how to address a target market’s concerns.

What is narrative research?

Narrative research is a type of research that is used to create an in-depth story about a phenomenon or event. It is conducted by interviewing a small group of people who were directly involved in the event.

How is ethnographic research conducted?

When conducting ethnographic research, the researchers use firsthand observations of an environment to more deeply understand the goals, challenges, or opinions of the target audience.

What is action research?

Action research is a type of qualitative research in which researchers and participants collaborate to better understand a phenomenon. Together the group works to find and solve the problem by gathering information on an ongoing and evolving basis.

The Complete Guide to Quantitative Market Research

The Complete Guide to Quantitative Market Research

Quantitative research is a chief category in the research sphere, along with qualitative research. An encompassing aspect of market research, it can include both primary and secondary methods of extracting data. 

Although used interchangeably with qualitative research, quantitative research is a distinct process that should not be confused with its counterpart. In fact, it is the opposite of qualitative research.

Let’s navigate through the waters of quantitative research in this complete guide.

What Defines & Makes Up Quantitative Research?

As its name suggests, quantitative research is the process of aggregating quantitative, or numerical data for research purposes. This data is used for a number of applications. These include:

  • Quantifying opinions, behaviors, attitudes and problems
  • Making generalizations
  • Forming predictions
  • Discovering patterns
  • Determining averages
  • Testing relationships

Quantitative research generally relies on a larger sample size in order to quantify any issue or variable. In order to achieve this, this research method involves using mathematical and statistical means. 

This type of research answers the “what” and the “how much” of a subject within a research endeavor. As it forms generalizations, this type of method involves surveying a larger population, using measurable data and processing all the data first and then analyzing it from a statistical standpoint.

The Four Main Types of Quantitative Research

There are four main ways to perform quantitative research. Aside from their methodology, these sub-categories also seek different types of answers and conclusions.

1. Descriptive Research

This is used to determine the state of variables. It describes the situation and environment surrounding a variable or topic. As such, it is used for arranging comparisons, outlining sample characteristics, overlooking emerging trends and confirming existing phenomena.

The data is collected by way of observation. Descriptive Research is used to form a hypothesis, but only after having aggregated all the necessary data.

2. Correlational Research

This research method is used to examine the relationships between different subjects and variables. Analyzing relationships is necessary to either test a hypothesis or a prediction. Because this research focuses on relationships between fixed variables, other outlying variables are not part of the investigation.

Correlational research is in direct opposition to experimental research, as none of the studied variables are manipulated. Correlations can be either positive or negative, with different degrees of the relationship’s strength.

3. Experimental Research

This method is used for finding whether there is a cause and effect relationship among variables. This kind of research relies on the scientific method. Unlike correlational research, experimental research involves manipulating variables.

Researchers would manipulate a variable to uncover its effect on another one. This method is frequently referred to as true experimentation, as no experimental undertaking leaves all variables unchanged; at least one must be influenced in some way. 

This includes manipulating, randomizing or reverting back a variable. The variables are then measured, calculated and compared.

4. Survey Research

The final research method is crucial to understanding behavior. In market research, it is often used to acclimate a brand with its target market’s desires, needs, points of contention and behaviors.

Surveys allow researchers to ask pointed questions to either discover their target audience or get a granular sense of their opinions. As such, they can be conducted within one group or many, for the sake of comparison.

Instead of turning to survey panels, which are likely to have skewed or biased results, researchers should use a random sample of people. A non-panel-based survey will garner more respondents that aren’t motivated by professional compensation.

Surveys can be administered by mail,  in-person, on the phone, or digitally. The latter has even more options: online surveys, third-party surveys, emails and in-app.

Examples of Questions for Quantitative Research

Survey research has a far larger scope of questions than do the other three types, as researchers can ask practically anything to conduct their studies. However, there are some best practices in survey questionnaires, such as focusing on your industry, your product and the desires of customers.

Learn more about asking insightful market research questions. Here are a few examples of quantitative research questions in the three other categories.

  1. Is working from home the best option to improve productivity for employees with long commutes?Variable: Working from home and in-office
    Demographic: Employees with long commutes
    Quantitative Research Type: Experimental
  2. How has the coronavirus changed employment for white-collar workers?
    Variable: Employment types and statuses
    Demographic: White-collar workers
    Quantitative Research Type: Experimental
  3. How often do working people travel for a holiday?
    Variable: Amount of times respondents travel during a holiday
    Demographic: working people
    Quantitative Research Type: Descriptive
  4. How much would you pay for a subscription to an entertainment magazine?
    Variable: payments for a magazine subscription
    Demographic: women aged 14-44, those interested in celebrities
    Quantitative Research Type: Descriptive
  5. What is the difference in smartphone usage between Millennials and senior citizens?
    Variable: Time spent on using a smartphone
    Demographic: Millennials and seniors
    Quantitative Research Type: Correlational
  6. Does the leadership style of car shop owners predict the job satisfaction of car salespeople?
    Variable: Leadership style and job satisfaction
    Demographic: Car shop employers and salespeople
    Quantitative Research Type: Correlational 

When to Use Quantitative Research and How to Analyze It

The quantitative research method has specific use cases. You ought to consider which is best for your particular business, which includes your strategy, your marketing and other facets.

The core of quantitative research is to quantify a phenomenon (a problem, an inadequacy, and a slew of other occurrences) and understand its prevalence. Researchers do this by observing large portions of a population.

You should use this form of research whenever you need to be presented with the state of things at a higher level, or from a bird’s eye view. This Is because this type of research can identify links between various factors, look for correlations and discover cause and effect relationships.

Researchers can then use the results of their findings to form predictions. This is useful in market research when launching a new product, brainstorming product ideas or innovations or growing a customer base.

To analyze this research, it should first be made quantifiable and objective. Researchers should pin down the scales and units of measurements in their various studies. Then, they should organize them into easily interpretable formats.

For example, once you gather the numerical data, you can enter it into a spreadsheet. Thereafter, you can organize it by desegregating it into graphs, charts and tables. Finally, you should draw data-based conclusions from your study. You can also do further sleuthing via advanced analytics.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Quantitative Research

Quantitative research has a bevy of benefits; it also has some hindrances. You should peruse both the positive and negative qualities of this research type before setting out on any major research project. The following may help you choose one form of research over the other, or use aspects of both.


  1. Larger sample pools: the larger the group of respondents, the more accurate are the results.
  2. Highly structured: Surveys, questionnaires, and other tools for recording numerical data
  3. Focused: The design of the study is determined before it begins
  4. Theory-based: Research tests a theory to provide support/proof
  5. Designed to Be Analyzed: Numbers/statistics exist as tables, charts, figures and other non-textual forms for easy analysis.
  6. Objective: Steering clear of bias as the research is separated from the data & only objective responses are sought.
  7. Direct comparisons of results: The study can be set in different cultural environments, times or different groups of participants with a statistical comparison of results.


  1. Focuses solely on numbers: This can be limiting as researchers may overlook other data and larger themes.
  2. Superficial Representations: It cannot adequately describe complex concepts (ex: feelings, opinions) it only shows the numbers behind them. 
  3. Several factors can invalidate results: A hypothesis and a model for collecting/ analyzing required; any mistake can lead to bias and inaccurate illustrations.
  4. Erred Structure: If any data is missing or if measurements are not clear, biases easily take precedence.

The Final Word on Quantitative Research

Market research is far too encompassing to fully complete, especially in a limited amount of time. To tackle market research, begin with a research method. Quantitative research is often a good starting point, as it shows you the existence of a problem by way of quantifying it.

Aside from confirming the existence, it can help confirm a hypothesis, find correlations and prove cause and effect relationships. A hard set of data can also help you make educated predictions.

While the three types of quantitative research methods are useful, they do have several disadvantages. The fourth one, ie, survey research helps fill in the gaps and inadequacies of numerical limitations. Interestingly enough, they too can be a source of hard data and numbers. 

Either way, market research is sure to benefit from incorporating surveys as part of the processes.

Frequently asked questions

What is quantitative market research?

Quantitative market research utilizes the techniques of quantitative research in order to better understand the target market. In quantitative research, the information gathered from surveys and questionnaires is converted into numerical values so it can be easily analyzed.

What types of questions do quantitative research answer?

Quantitative research seeks to define “what” and “how much.” It is used for identifying patterns, making predictions, establishing averages, and quantifying opinions, attitudes or behaviors.

What are the four main types of quantitative research?

The four main types of quantitative research are survey research, correlational research, descriptive research, and experimental research.

What type of surveys are used for quantitative research?

Quantitative surveys are best suited for quantitative research. In this type of survey, there are no open-ended questions, and all responses can be assigned a numerical value. In most cases, a quantitative survey is distributed to a large and random sample of individuals.

Why are large sample sizes important when conducting quantitative research?

A small sample size can lead to inaccurate results. The larger the sample size (i.e. the group of individuals who receive the survey), the more likely it is that the results will be statistically significant and accurate.