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What are the different types of market research?

Worldwide revenue of market research exceeded $73 billion US dollars last year alone. With so many businesses investing in market research, it’s hard to track just how many different types of market research exist. It’s even harder to pick and choose which research best serves your business, too.

Understanding the different types of market research is not difficult. Knowing the differences between each type can make it easier to conduct the best research for your business, too. Read this guide for a simple, effective breakdown to help you discover the best market research techniques for your business.

Primary research

Of the various market research techniques at your disposal, primary research is most common. It’s easily adaptive, offering valuable, actionable first-party data. The biggest benefit to conducting primary research is that you own it.

This ownership means it’s your data, so you’re not paying another company for this information. It also entitles you to the privacy and security of said data (assuming it falls under certain data security protections). As long as you conduct this research with consent and transparency, it belongs to your company.

There are common types of primary research you can implement formally or informally. These include:

  • Focus groups
  • Interviews
  • Polls
  • Surveys

You can easily bolster your marketing strategy with targeted market research. The data generated from analyzing any of this research is about your specific customer base. You’ll gain access to firm, reliable information critical to your customer’s overall experience.

Conducting this particular type of market research is pretty simple, too, making it more cost-effective. Putting out surveys and polls online through platforms like Survey Monkey and Twitter creates opportunities for precise feedback. Consider other channels like email newsletters, as well.

Secondary research

Secondary research involves collecting data from existing sources within your market. You’re not generating polls, surveys, etc., which makes this data second or third-party data. These sources may be for free, or you may have to pay for them, but they are often readily available.

  • Articles
  • E-books
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • White papers

Resources like those listed above give you a bigger look into your industry. Whereas first-party data is specifically about customers, secondary research covers broader trends. You can uncover information about competitors, statistical patterns, and other insights.

Identifying how the competition operates reveals opportunities to improve your own business. When coupled with primary research, it’s easier to identify gaps in your offerings. Filling the gaps competitors leave allows you to offer something unique, strengthening your brand identity.

Qualitative research

Another valuable market research technique is qualitative in nature. This isn’t statistically measurable data but a broader scope of understanding behavior and preference. With this type of market research, you can ask bigger questions, such as:

  • Why did you buy our products or services?
  • How do you think our offerings compare to the competition?
  • What do you like about our offerings and why?
  • Where do you think we could improve our offerings and why?

These are ideal questions to help you understand the individual within your target market. When you ask open-ended questions, you can discover where and why customers trust your brand. Using consumer thoughts and feelings allows you to market on a personal level, too.

If you launch a new product, qualitative research can provide invaluable customer feedback. If your product falls short of consumer expectations, this type of research can show you. Addressing these perceived issues becomes simpler, too.

Quantitative research

Where quality information offers you room for innovation, quantitative research sparks action. This type of market research is all about data collection and analysis. This can be primary or secondary, just like qualitative data.

Quantifiable data is empirical, meaning it’s all about facts and figures. This is the hard, measurable data used for benchmarks and projections. Quantitative research can be:

  • Pageviews
  • Number of followers
  • Number of impressions or clicks
  • Subscribers
  • Pageviews
  • Clickthroughs
  • Bounce rate

You can use quantitative data to assess strengths and weaknesses in finer detail. Your marketing strategy can target more accurately, on more personalized levels. With quantified data, you’ll get the clearest picture of your ideal client, making it easier to create buyer personas.

If you’re worried about the success of certain strategies, this data also gives you a method for tracking performance. Setting benchmarks helps justify ad spend (especially if the data shows success).

Applying different types of market research

With a better understanding of market research techniques, it’s time to start investigating your customers and industry. You can’t get ahead in business without the knowledge of consumers. Whether it’s your brand positioning, ROI on ad impressions, or the number of followers, research offers vital information.

Connecting with your consumers starts with data, but it doesn’t end there. Market research is useless if not applied to sales and marketing strategies. The real value lies in how you choose to employ any market research.

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Amanda Hoyer
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Degreed in Psychology and English, Amanda fell into copywriting and blogging when she discovered an innate gift for narrative…
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