We explain what market research is, its objectives and classification. Also, what are its features, applications and more.
What is market research?
Market research consists of an analysis of the behavior of the environment and of the consumers of a specific market segment . Its objective is to offer a comprehensive and detailed understanding of the available resources, the strengths and weaknesses of a company or organization that operates in said market.
It is usually part of the usual procedures of marketing , to the point of constituting today a discipline in itself. Its development is due to the fact that the contemporary industrial and business world is highly competitive.
To achieve its objectives, it draws on knowledge from the most different sciences and fields of knowledge. Among them are psychology , anthropology , economics , statistics, communication sciences , among others.
History of market research
The birth of this field of study is usually located in the United States in the 1920s.
It is linked to the so-called Golden Age of broadcasting , which unleashed an advertising war in various commercial niches in the country.
Initially , it was about street survey mechanisms regarding the consumption of visual advertising in magazines and newspapers .
As the advertising field grew in diversity and complexity, new tools such as the telephone survey were brought in . Currently there are resources as innovative as the monitoring of online activity .
Objectives of market research
All market research aims to carry out a complete and exhaustive analysis of the essential elements of a market niche. With this information, it allows a given company to make the ideal decisions when it comes to investing in its marketing strategies.
Market research represents a diverse, complete and accurate approach to the behavior of a target market. This is based on its specific characteristics.
Classification of market research
Market research can be of various types depending on its nature, for example:
- Qualitative investigations . Dedicated to exploration, they determine the main characteristics of the human component of the market, such as tastes, preferences, attitudes, etc. For this, it is based on geographical, demographic, psychological, etc. of theconsuming population . It is particularly useful as a starting point for future research, as it limits and narrows the field of study.
- Quantitative investigations. Provides information representative of the market niche. It allows projections regarding the consumer universe, offering answers closer to reality, regarding what happens, how it happens, how much, where, etc. Its primary language is numerical and statistics its main tool.
- Field investigations. Focused on the objective description (in hard data and also percentages) of the behavior of the market, or on the verification of consumption hypotheses, allowing the explanation of certain phenomena. It is the "scientific" aspect of market research, basically.
- Cabinet investigations. It is known by that name to those that collect the internal and external data of the company, as well as the previous studies regarding the niche. They produce a documentary collection that can either facilitate or trigger other types of investigations.
- Operational investigations. Focused on decision making and the application of segments and mathematical tools for the description, solution and definition of specific problems regarding the market niche and, especially, the operation of the company.
- advertising research. Those that deal with the path of advertising information within the market niche, its effectiveness , its perception by the consumer and its effectiveness. It focuses on the communicative model that is applied to the promotion of the company's goods and services, as well as its monitoring within the mass media.
Market research process
To develop market research, the following basic steps are considered:
- Define and discover the problem. Propose what needs must be answered and how.
- Design the investigation. Attending to the needs determined by understanding and stating the nature of the problem.
- Data collection or sampling. Analysis of a representative sample or of a staging of the content of the problem, if applicable.
- Data analysis and processing. Application of methodologies, theoretical frameworks and conceptual tools, such as mathematics , for example.
- Conclusions and report writing. Understanding of what was obtained and projection of possible and eventual solutions based on what was collected.
Why is market research important?
The value of market research lies in its usefulness when making strategic decisions or planning a marketing campaign. They may even offer the chance to get to know the target niche before deciding to invest in your farm.
It is a diagnostic tool . As in other segments of human activity, it allows proper planning and reveals valuable information for all types of undertakings .
How is market research applied?
From the business point of view, market research is necessary for the formulation of strategies in the following areas:
- Consumer analysis. Motivations , uses, attitudes, traditions, typologies and lifestyles, image and brand positioning, general and specific satisfaction.
- Advertising effectiveness. Advertising pre-tests and post- tests , advertising tracking , analysis of communication tools in general.
- Product analysis. Concept testing, price sensitivity, packaging, product, brand and multi-concept-multi-attribute tests.
- Commercial studies. Areas of influence, image of commercial establishments, behavior of the buyer in situ , distribution channels, points of sale.
- Media. Audience in the media, effectiveness of media, formats and content, social media and institutional studies.
- Monitoring and control. Application of the results to the company and verification of the changes obtained, if applicable.
Fundamental elements of market research
All market research pays attention to the various factors of a given market environment, considered in three main areas:
- Customers. Everything related to the buyers of the goods or services offered within the market niche, as well as their consumption behavior, their preferences, their cultural qualities, etc.
- Competitors. Everything related to competition, that is, to the performance of rival companies in the niche, from the most objective point of view possible.
- Market. Everything related to the local nature of the niche, related to its historical development, with its geographical, economic characteristics, etc.; all independent of business behavior.
Tools used by market research
The tools of an investigation will be defined by their nature and by the method in which it will specifically address the problem, some of the most frequent are:
- Surveys. Held in person, by telephone or by other electronic means, these are more or less private meetings with different typical consumers in a random selection, to find out their opinions and consumption habits.
- Focus groups. Also called focal techniques or focus groups, these are discussion sessions regarding consumption between an interviewer and various interviewees, chosen based on their consumption tendencies.
- Mystery Shopper. It is a consumption infiltration technique, in which an interviewer poses as a client in order to collect information that would otherwise be inaccessible.
- On-site observation. An impartial and neutral observer is located in a consumer environment to gather information as objective as possible regarding the commercial behavior of a brand or an establishment.
Common Marketing Research Mistakes
Some of the most common errors when facing this type of investigation are:
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- Rely only on secondary sources, that is, on the content already published and on the available bibliography, without going to the real thing.
- Use only online resources, as online and offline consumer behavior is often radically different.
- Interview only the immediate social environment, thus distorting the data received since it is based on an initial bias.