The Step-by-Step Guide to Market Research 

The Step-by-Step Guide to Market Research: How-Tos, Types, Templates

How-tos, Types and Templates

So you’re about to start a business. Awesome!

Before you start selling your product or service, though, it’s important to know what your customers want, what your competition is doing, and what trends you’ll need to keep up with. 

The foundation of any successful business is the right data—collected through proper research. For example, Subway wouldn’t have worked as a fast-food chain offering subs, wraps and salads in an area that didn’t appreciate fresh food options. 

Without a strategy, you run the risk of wasting money and resources on things that don’t work. This is where market research helps you.

The what and why of market research

Market research is the process of gathering information about your target audience and their needs, wants, and preferences. It’s a critical part of developing a product or service that people are going to want to buy.

Why do new entrepreneurs need market research? You’re probably familiar with the saying “fail faster”. The beauty of market research analysis is it allows you to fail faster by helping you avoid mistakes in your product development process that could cost you later on down the road.

If you have an idea for a business—whether it’s a physical product or an online store—you need to know if there’s even a chance it could work. 

When should you do market research?

There’s no bad time to perform market research. You can conduct it at any point in the lifecycle of your business. This can be as simple as doing surveys or interviews with people who already use your product or service, or as complex as gathering data from a number of sources: social media posts, search engine results or third-party data aggregators.

There’s a ton of data sources available, both offline and online. At the very start, it’s crucial to determine which of these you’ll need. Do you require internal data like sales figures, publicly available external data, or both? Identifying your data requirements early on will guide you plan your research timeline, especially if you’re generating data through first-hand collection.

On the other end, there are digital metrics and third-party data. If you want to know how many people are searching for “vegan sandwiches” on Google every day, you can’t just ask them directly—you have to look at the search engine results themselves. There are plenty of digital mediums that can provide valuable analytics and insights as the demand for market research continues to grow.

One way to truly maximise this opportunity is with a specialist digital performance partner like Bring Performance. 

Finding the right type of market research

There are three main types of market research: primary, secondary, and exploratory.

Primary market research is the original source of information about a market. It can use in-person interviews, surveys or focus groups. 

Secondary research involves looking at existing data to answer your questions. You’ll most commonly do it when you want to know how many people in your target market use a certain product or service. 

Exploratory research investigates problems that haven’t yet been defined. It should usually occur before primary or secondary research begins, to give you an idea of what kind of information you need to gather using the other two types.

The market research process simplified

A quick Google search will show you many ways to do market research, but the process is always pretty simple.

Identify your research goals.

Before you can start gathering data, you need to have a sense of what you’re looking for. List the specific problems or questions that your market research should answer.

A few questions you can ask: Are people in our target demographic aware of our product? Do they see value in it? What are their pain points? If they aren’t using our product, what alternatives do they use and why?

Determine your methodology.

Your methodology is the overall approach you take in conducting your research. Think of it as the structural framework for market research.

Write down everything that you need to know or accomplish in order to reach the goals that you defined in step 1. You can choose from different market research methods or customise them to your requirements. From there, start designing your research instrument. This could be a survey questionnaire with a dashboard for your collected insights, for instance.

Gather and organise data.

Now it’s time to actually start collecting data. As previously mentioned, you can either collect it directly from individuals or from research existing publications, studies and digital white papers.

Remember to keep track of all the information so you don’t get overwhelmed. Create a template and categorise your findings to help you review the data more easily.

Create a strategy.

After completing your market research, it’s time to analyse your findings and make decisions based on what you’ve learned. Data has zero value if you collect it but don’t use it. 

If you’ve gained new insights into customers’ online shopping behaviours, for example, this information can inform your decisions about which products to feature on your Home page. It can also tell you where buttons should lead your website visitors for optimal conversions.

Do follow-up research if necessary.

If you want to strengthen your brand positioning, you could do a follow-up on your initial market research. This will allow you to improve your strategy based on performance—how well your product was received, how attractive your materials are to customers, and other valuable information. You can apply this information to create a better pricing structure, a new promotion plan or improved market messaging.

How long is market research good for?

The short answer: it depends.

If you’re operating in a rapidly changing industry or one where new products are constantly being introduced, you’ll want to conduct research into your customers’ needs and preferences. Changes in these could have an impact on how they view your offerings, as well as how likely they are to spend money on them.

For other industries, like healthcare or education, it’s not as necessary to do regular market research updates. However, even in these cases, it’s still important to keep tabs on what’s happening in the world at large, since it could have an effect on your customers’ spending habits.

Templates to make your life easier

It can be challenging to start your market research process. These templates can help you, no matter what industry you’re in.

1. SWOT Analysis

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Identifying these four aspects can help you position your business better.

Check out some great SWOT analysis templates here.

2. Poster’s Five Forces

These are the five forces that drive competition in an industry:
1. Rivalry from existing competitors in your industry
2. Threat of new entrants into your industry
3. Bargaining power your suppliers have with you as the buyer
4. Bargaining power your buyers have in relation to you as the seller
5. Threat of substitute products or services that could replace yours

These are all excellent areas to explore in your market research.

3. PESTEL Analysis

PESTEL stands for political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal factors—all of the external forces that affect your business and its ability to thrive in the marketplace.

Now you’re all set

Exploration is what market research is all about. You can discover a world of data, insights and consumer behaviour. Use this guide to help you start getting the right actionable data, to make better decisions about your product, customer service and marketing strategies. 

You can do your own market research or hire an industry expert to assist. Like Bring Performance. We can help you to get the vital insights you need into your market and your customers’ needs, while assessing the strength of your existing platforms.

With over 25 years of industry experience, we sift through data to provide valuable actionable insights for successful campaign execution. It’s a quick and easy process for you. Simply book a short discovery call and our experts can help you identify what your business needs to increase your online market share.



About the Author

Matt Hodgson

Matt Hodgson is a distinguished SEO and digital marketing specialist with over 25 years of experience, focusing on enhancing online visibility and organic search performance. With a deep-rooted background in digital media and technology, Matt excels in developing and implementing comprehensive SEO strategies, including keyword research, on-page optimisation, and content planning. His expertise extends to leveraging data analytics for refining search strategies, ensuring alignment with broader business objectives. Renowned for his strategic approach and ability to foster client relationships, Matt’s passion and competitive spirit drive him to consistently deliver exceptional results in search marketing.

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