Market research describes an organization’s process of gathering and interpreting data that ultimately provides valuable insight into their customers, their stance in relationship to competitors, and their industry as a whole. Market research has been made more accessible by big data—that is, the exponential increase in the amount of information generated by consumers and businesses at every touch point.
As an essential marketing tactic, market research serves a variety of purposes, including the following:
- To identify unexplored or underexplored opportunities for growth.
- To examine the effectiveness of current marketing initiatives.
- To aid in research and development of new products and services.
- To accurately identify the market position and help management pinpoint steps taken to gain competitive advantages.
- To better understand the consumer’s needs and expectations to deliver improved customer experiences.
- To identify weak spots in marketing campaigns and troubleshoot steps to correct them.
- To start conversations with stakeholders both internally and externally.
Market research can be as broad as comparing year-over-year ROI for marketing initiatives or as specific as examining how each individual campaign performs based on variables like demographics or geography.
To conduct market research, marketing managers and researchers start by working together to define the problem, the methodology, and the objectives. Often, market research is completed by reaching out to customers and partners using traditional methods like personal interviews, telephone calls, email questionnaires, or even hard-copy mailings.
Once they receive feedback, researchers couple the responses with their own secondary research. Gathering secondary research involves the mining of information stored internally, such as data points on financial statements, sales sheets, or inventory records. Secondary research can also be external if the research question warrants big-picture perspective, like data pulled from publicly accessible research reports, government agencies, or industry publications.
IMA has compiled a list of research vendors for your convenience.