What is Market Research?

Market research is so crucial to a successful marketing strategy and business. After all, if you don’t know who your market are, what they want and what their motivations for buying are, how do you expect to make sales? There are many different types of market research methods and today we’ll look at some of our favourites.

But first, let’s look at some of the benefits of conducting market research. By researching your markets needs and wants, you can:

  • Create products that your customers want
  • Offer services they will use
  • Predict how your business will grow
  • Determining the viability of a product or service
  • Forecast future sales
  • And most importantly, provide them with the value they are worthy of getting

You can use market research to find out vital information on your current market, target market and your competitors. Determine what it is you wish to find out and use that to decide which type of market research would be good for your company.

So if you want to understand customer satisfaction, a quick, easy to complete online survey would be perfect. Or if you want to know how you stack up against your competition, then a mystery shop is ideal.

Market research is either qualitative or quantitative, primary or secondary research.


Qualitative vs quantitative

Qualitative research is open ended. It is recorded in words and gives more in-depth insights into a topic. You can draw conclusions and find common themes by using this method to inform you about the market.

Quantitative research can be categorised and shown in numbers, a table or on a graph. Statistical analysis can be applied to this data to help you draw conclusions about your market.

As a rule of thumb, if you want to know a little about a lot, go quantitative, whereas if you want to know a lot about a little, qualitative will give you that.


types of market research, charts and graphs


Primary vs secondary research

Primary research is research which is carried out by yourself and secondary research is analysing data from exercises that have been carried out by somebody else.


Our top 7 types of market research:

Data/secondary research

Data research is a fantastic way to understand your market, trends and even your competitors. It is typically more cost effective than primary research too. It can provide accurate information about your customers, market and competitors.

Analysing large-scale datasets can give you insights as to:

  • What parts of the sales pipeline need attention
  • Why people like certain products
  • What their motivations are for buying
  • Why competitors are succeeding
  • Expected market populations
  • What types of marketing are already working
  • Where your sales are coming from
  • and so much more.

Take a look at our data research range here.



Easily get opinions from your current or target market on a range of subjects. This allows your market to give their opinions and show what needs they have and what gaps there are in the market. Surveys are totally customisable and can be conducted online or in the comfort of their own home.

By conducting surveys you can gather information on your customers, their experiences with the company, things they would like to see from the company, feedback on previous purchases,

See more on our parent surveys, staff surveys or student surveys by clicking the corresponding links.


Customer segmentation

One of our favourite types of market research is customer segmentation. This is where you segment customers based on different variables. It could be by:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Income
  • Spending habits
  • Products/services they’re interested in
  • and many more

This can give you an idea of who your customers are and what products/services they might be interested in next. By segmenting your audience/customers you can target them separately and make sure they’re only receiving relevant information from you.


1-2-1 Interviews

These can be online, over the phone or in person. Interviews can be structured, unstructured or semi-structured. Structured interviews have set questions, you ask every participant the exact same questions. Unstructured interviews allow you to alter the questions to fit the individual’s situations, none of the questions are pre-determined. Semi-structured interviews are a mix of the two, so some of the questions are pre-determined.

Another type of interview is a focus group. A focus group is where a selected group of people will come together to answer your questions. You can observe more natural feedback in all types of interviews than some other research methods.


Mystery Shopping

This is where an undercover third-party will visit your setting or go through the sales process to see what it is like for the customer. You could use mystery shopping to find out information on your competitors, their sales process, quality of customer service and much more.

You may wish to use a mystery shopper to:

  • Monitor your staff’s performance
  • Identify any gaps in your staff’s training
  • Identify competitor’s pricing and any additional benefits included
  • Get the customer experience of a competitor’s product
  • See what things could be improved for competitors with regards to customer experience, layout of a store or website, accessibility etc.



Want to know more about mystery shopping? Click here.


This is a fun way to quickly get an idea of your markets wants and needs. A poll is a singular question on which people vote can vote for an answer. You can post a poll on social media and get responses fast. Rather than having to wait for results, you can see in real time what peoples opinions are.

You could use a poll to find out:

  • What type of content they want to see
  • What features should be included in your next product
  • How they would react in certain situations
  • How much they’d be willing to pay for a product
  • What values are important to them
  • The demographics of your audience

…the possibilities are endless!


Secondary Research

Secondary research is research that has been carried out by other people. For example, you could use government records, scientific studies, published datasets, reports and more. Secondary research could be found online, in journals or in libraries. A good website for finding statistics is Statista. When conducting secondary research, make sure the source is reliable and the studies are replicable.



Can I do market research myself?

Of course you can. There are a range of tools both free and for a small fee that will allow you to collect the best information. However, your customers will never be totally honest with you, whereas they would be with a third party. Similarly, to maximise the effectiveness you need to ask the questions that gather the data you need. Experts in this area are relatively inexpensive compared to in other areas and asking the wrong questions will negate the value of the entire exercises. Similarly, companies such as ourselves have access to a wide range of data already, potentially saving the time and effort of fieldwork altogether.


Other types of market research

Whilst these are some of our favourite types of market research, there are so many more. What types of market research have you already tried and which types would you like to use in your business? We’d love to know your thoughts down in the comments.



Have a query about market research for your setting? Have a chat with the friendly MTM team.