Market research doesn’t have to be a pesky phone call during dinner; many of your customers would love to tell you what they think (if you’re willing to listen).
This post will outline how to ask the right questions to ensure your market research effort helps you with the planning and development of your business. The consideration of questionnaire design and its mix of qualitative and quantitative data collection will easily give you the insights you need to grow your business.
How to Conduct Market Research
Conducting market research can be as simple as posting a series of designs on your Facebook page and asking people to vote for which they like the most, to more in depth methods such as emailing your recent customers with 5 questions about their experience with you. It can also be quite complex, by designing a multiple page survey through a survey interface and sending it out across multiple networks to measure attitudes and perceptions about the category you operate in.
Our first post on the Wise Up Marketing Blog was 5 Steps to host your own Census! (Or Market Research for Small Business), after being unnaturally excited by completing the 2011 Census. Here we explored 5 steps from defining your problem to designing your questionnaire. We followed up a week later with the post Turning Surveys into Solutions which gave an overview of how to analyse your responses and turn the data into answers for your marketing questions.
On reflecting on those two posts, I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to define your problem before you start. Market research is like detective work, you have a hunch but you need to collect all the clues before you know if you are right; you might even end up finding a whole new case to work on.
What is Qualitative Data?
Qualitative data are the answers we collect from our market research that are open ended. They are the responses we get in the respondent’s own words, not constricted by scales or structure. Qualitative data gives us the “why”, not the statistics and numbers.
We use qualitative research to gain insights into people’s attitudes, perceptions, behaviours and motivations. We collect qualitative data by asking open ended questions
E.g. ”What do you think?” “Tell me about a time….” “Explain why…”
We often need to use explorative techniques to draw out more information from respondents, as such qualitative data is best collected in face to face interviews, focus groups and (the dreaded) phone interviews.
Although it is not common to see open ended text boxes on surveys we all complete;
E.g “Use this space to tell us any other thoughts”, “Is there anything else you would like to add”, “Describe why you like the first design”
It is not possible for us to “flesh out” those answers or clarify comments that seem more valuable. Most small business will not have the time or resources to run face to face market research and we don’t recommend attempting your own phone interviews. We recommend however still including open ended questions in your survey, with strong prompts;
e.g. describe; in your words; what do you think about; if you could have any feature
What is Quantitative Data?
When we told you qualitative data was not the statistics and numbers we held back telling you that is precisely what quantitative data is. Quantitative data tells us “how many” people think, feel or act in a particular way.
We collect quantitative data as part of our market research by asking closed questions that limit the way in which people can respond. These may be yes or no (dichotomous), multiple choice, rankings or rating scales.
These answers give you the “hard facts” and statistics and also allow you to compare different groups of people directly against each other:
e.g. 30% of Men liked our new design vs 20% of women
With quantitative data it is important to ensure you get a large volume of responses, as we use these responses to make generalisations. You don’t want to change your strategy because 80% of respondents didn’t like your product range, if only 5 people responded.
Market research is a marketing activity that can be undertaken for free, costing you just your time, but the benefits of getting to know your target market ensures your products and services are meeting their wants and needs; and that can lead to a more profitable and efficient business.
Until next week, Q is for Qualitative and Quantitative data and also Questions; do you have any you’d like answered? Drop me an email at Maryanne@wiseupmarketing.com.au
P.s. This will be the last post for the year; we will come back to the A-Z of Marketing with the letter R on January 12. Have a happy and healthy break, see you in 2012.