Types of market research

Market research is all about filling the gaps
in what you know and getting answers to any questions you may have. Ultimately, you want
to be in a position to make the best decision you possibly can. So what sort of information are we talking
about? There are two main sorts of information. First,
there are numbers and statistics. This is known as quantitative research. This is all about finding out things such
as the size of the market you are operating in. What is the value of the market? How many
items are sold? Or if you are in the business to business market, how many contracts are
available to bid for? How many customers are there? How many are likely to buy your product
or service? You’ll want to know how many businesses are
already competing in this market and what market share they each have? You’ll also want to know how fast or how slow
the market is growing – after all, if it’s static or declining, you may decide it is
not the place to be. Some of this information is available from
published reports. There’s more about the various sources of this type of information
in other sections of this guide. Check it out. Sometimes the published data won’t give you
enough detailed information. In this case you may want to conduct your own research
using surveys or questionnaires. For example, if your business is designing
websites, you may want to conduct a short survey with local businesses to find out how
many of them have a website and how often they change the design. If you are going to run an agency for temporary
teaching staff, you may want to survey schools in the area to find out how many temporary
staff they need and how often they need them. The second sort of information is qualitative
research. This is based on attitudes and opinions and is used to find out what your target customers
think and feel about your idea or product or service. You can gather qualitative data through in-depth
interviews with individuals or by having focus groups with several customers taking part
in a discussion. In this case you are finding out how people
feel about different aspects of your product or service – for example, the price, or the
packaging, or the offer. You may want to find out where people would
expect to buy and also what their reasons are for choosing one product or supplier over
another. Again there’s more about how to do this sort
of research in other sections of this guide. You can find out what sort of questions to
use and how to structure your research. Both types of research – quantitative and
qualitative – provide valuable information. Ideally you’ll want to use a mix to get a
reliable picture of the market. Remember you’re gathering information to help
you make a better decision, so keep focused and be realistic.

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