Are you confused or sceptical about what market research can offer? In part one of her series on market research for small firms — I'm a small business: why do I need to do market research? — Julia Whitehead, director of Ask Joe Public, explained why market research is important. In part two, she reveals how to use market research successfully
Quantitative research is driven by statistical data. So, for example, if you want to find out what proportion of the market claim they would buy your product, then quantitative research is what you need to do.
There are many different types of quantitative research, although broadly this approach is questionnaire-based and consists of closed-ended questions generally with a five-point scale on whether you agree or disagree with the statement.
The other type of research is qualitative research, which is often conducted with smaller samples of people and uses questioning techniques that are open-ended and interviews that are usually longer in duration. Qualitative research doesn't provide you with figures, but will enable you to get under the skin of what people feel and why.
Qualitative research is more often done face-to-face although internet-based research is becoming more popular. The most popular form of qualitative research is focus groups or group discussions. These are groups of between six and eight people and they are used to explore their opinions about products, brands and services.
Qualitative research can be used on its own, when you do not require statistics, but can also be used in advance of a quantitative research to help decide what questions need to be asked in the survey. Finally, qualitative and quantitative can be used alongside each other with qualitative providing an extra depth of understanding to the quantitative data.
Before you begin a market research project it is important that you write a research brief. A research brief will include:
If you are employing a research agency or consultant, give potential suppliers your research brief and invite them to respond with a proposal outlining the type of research and methodology they would recommend. Ask around for recommendations and consult industry bodies to find the right agencies to approach. The more background information that you can provide them with, the better equipped they are to provide you with a constructive and appropriate response. Your shortlist for pitching should not be more than about three agencies or consultants.