For Newbies-Two types of Market Research

This blog has primarily been written for Market Research Professionals such as myself, but it appears to be showing up when people search for the different types of market research.  Since my previous post about two different types of market research isn’t appropriate for a newbie question, here it is the information which newbies to market research may be looking for.  Those of you who are experts, please feel free to comment and make any corrections, or skip it.

The term Market Research encompasses a lot of things.  If you are being asked for two different types of market research in a class, the answers your teacher might be looking for could be “primary” and “secondary.”  The question also might be asking for the two different types of “primary” research – qualitative and quantitative.  It can also be referring to the two main different types of qualitative research.  Explanations of each are below – you will have to figure out what is appropriate based on the way your particular teacher asked the question.

Primary market research is when you (the client, i.e., the person or organization who is going to use the information) decides what questions to ask, and then work out a way to ask them.  There are lots of ways to collect data for primary market research- it can be done online, in person, on the telephone or via mail.  Your decision should be based on how you can best reach your respondents (those who you want to ask questions of) and what you want to do.

Another crucial decision when conducting primary market research, is whether to conduct qualitative or quantitative research.  You can mix and match technique (qual/quant) with medium (online, telephone, in person) – there are innovative ways that have been developed to do almost anything.   The Qual/Quant decision should be based on the nature of your questions and the answers you need.   Here’s a way to tell them apart – if you want to use statistics and say “blank” percent of people said that KKKK OR more people liked RRRR than SSSS  OR people rated concept WWW higher than concept TTTT – then your question is quantitative in nature.  If you are content with saying “It seems that the key to why people liked concept WWW is the last line.” OR “People got very excited when shown BBBB because they really resonated with the idea of UUUU” OR “Concept development in this area needs to take in to account people’s needs for  FFFF, RRRR, and JJJJ”  then your method should be qualitative.  (One of my personal pet peeves is people who try to combine them both without really knowing the limitations of both. Take it with a grain of salt if someone shows you an average from a focus group.)

Within qualitative there are two basic types – individual interviews (also known as depth interviews) and group interviews (also known as focus groups, but also can be known as dyads, triads, or mini-groups.)  To decide between them, you need to think about whether the group interaction will be useful (such as in some special projective techniques) or whether the group interaction will cause influence that is not useful (for example, since ads are usually viewed when people are alone, showing people alternative new ads is usually done one on one.)

Secondary market research is when someone else has taken responsibility for the data collection and the client or end user doesn’t (usually) get any input.  This can refer to data such as sales data or prescription data, or to surveys done on a syndicated/subscription basis or published surveys used as promotional efforts.  IMS, Wolters Klouwer, IRI and Nielsen are some big names in the area that collects data on sales and prescriptions.  NPD collects consumer purchase data in categories like restaurants and clothing.   Another type of data like that is census data (available free online from the government) which is used for identifying where to put retail stores.  For health issues, there are government surveys such as NHANES that are also free.

Some companies make a business of conducting surveys and selling them to companies on a subscription basis. There are many but some big names include companies Gallup, Datamonitor and Decision Resources.  Also, a company may be trying to get attention and may do a study and provide some of results for free in order to get publicity.  Another category of data you can access is completed by stock analysts who sometimes issue reports that can be useful if you have access to them. Google is a great source, but a good information specialist at a specialized library or firm knows about sources that you will have trouble finding on Google.

Even if you are going to do primary research it is a good idea to check out secondary data – it usually makes you smarter so you ask better questions.  Sometimes it can be good enough and save you money.


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