5 Reasons to Hire a Market Research Expert
Whether you're starting a brand new business, launching an innovative product or service, or re-positioning your organization or brand, market research must play a critical role in establishing your overall brand strategyReach Your Target Market
Why does market research require both knowledge and experience?
In these days of do-it-yourself-everything, it can be tempting to dash off a quick email questionnaire or SurveyMonkey poll and hope for the best. However, when considering brand tracking studies or custom research, working with a proven market research expert can ensure reliable outcomes and actionable insights.
Because there are hundreds of tools on the market to help you collect insights from social media, an advertising campaign, and website conversion metrics, choosing and integrating the data with your brand tracking data or customer segments requires experience to calibrate appropriately.
Understanding what to focus on and what to avoid is the product of experience in working with a significant number of marketers in various segments over time, helping them measure and achieve brand growth.
How do you design a market research study to meet your objective?
Market research professional services firms can help you better define and articulate your particular problem and related goals. As well as recommend and execute the best methodology to obtain the insights you are seeking. Typically, you’ll find that one of the following six primary or secondary methods will fit your particular situation best:
- Secondary Market Research. Although the internet is full of statistics and data, seemingly free, collecting the correct existing data can be challenging. For example, census data appears straightforward, but an expert will consider error rates, nuisances in category definitions, and handling “unclassified” responses.
- Online Surveys. If you want to measure something quantitatively and have a large sample, you may want to consider conducting a survey. These are useful for brand tracking to collect key metrics like brand awareness and loyalty. Online surveys are also ideal for concept testing and market segmentation studies. An expert can help you select the right type of survey, target audience and advise on sample size needed while informing you on the time and resources required to conduct a meaningful survey effort.
- Focus Groups. These groups typically involve a smaller number of people bouncing ideas or answers to questions off one another. They work well for qualitative research, sometimes helping to set the stage for a larger survey later or as a follow-up to issues that arise on a prior quantitative survey.
- Interviews. Like focus groups, interviews are one-on-one opportunities to explore a subject matter in more depth. They work well for generating brand perceptions, strengths and weaknesses, and collecting product ideas or reactions. However, they will not provide quantitative information.
- Experiments or Trials. Typically, this methodology involves testing one or more factors in a controlled situation. Consider concept testing at early product development stages or discrete choice modeling when attempting to focus a product feature set in the market place. Another example would be a company could test two pop-up windows on the same landing page to see which one generates more email registrations.
- Observation. In some cases, you may want to have third-party observers watch individuals as they try your product, move through your store, or browse your website. Recording and analyzing this information can reveal information that’s much different than self-reported data.
Asking survey questions in the right way
Whether you decide to conduct an online survey for brand tracking or ad-hoc research, a set of focus groups, or trials, you’ll need to develop an effective questionnaire design. A market-research-expert can help you ask the right questions in the right way and in the best order. Regardless of methodology, you’ll have a limited amount of time to collect your data, so you’ll want to make sure every question counts.
An expert can help you determine how much of your questionnaire should focus on collecting exploratory information and how many questions should focus on testing a particular hypothesis.
Exploratory questions work well in focus groups, interviews, and perhaps as open-ended survey questions. More formal, standardized questions must be asked in a way that can be statistically analyzed. In this case, it’s essential to consider the wording and the order of the questions. Provide complete definitions and explanations where needed. You want to ensure that each respondent is interpreting the question in essentially the same way so that the aggregate results provide an accurate reflection of the answer.
How to define your market research sample audience
Once you know what questions you want to ask, the next step is defining your sample. This can be somewhat tricky in market research because you’ll need a representative sample that reflects your target population accurately enough to make your findings useful.
An expert can help you refine your selection method, sample structure, and direction for analyzing and interpreting your findings. Sample designs can vary widely from simple to complex, depending on the level of precision you require based on your overall research goals. The more precision you need, the more complex the sampling becomes.
Also, a market research expert can help you decide if you require a proportionally representative sample or a sample that is disproportionate to collect enough data from smaller segments. Many sample frames are designed to protect against sampling bias or other research targeting and fielding errors.
Each type of sampling strategy carries with it advantages and disadvantages. For example, cluster sampling is quick and easy but could be expensive if a cluster is large and generates a higher number of sampling errors. On the other hand, judgment sampling might work well for case studies and examples but would be biased. Systematic sampling would be more accurate but could be quite expensive if sample members are not conveniently located.
What to know about compiling your data
After you’ve completed your market research data collection, the real analytical work begins. It’s essential to understand how to edit, clean, and weigh your data in a way that will provide useful information to your organization. It’s time to make smarter business decisions by convert all those numbers and answers into actionable insights.
By relying on a market research expert, you’ll know that the post-research steps were completed accurately and in a way that will generate reliable results. You are probably keenly aware there is a product available if not dozens for each of the following steps, which you should still rely on an expert to perform:
- Check questionnaires. It’s important to go through all the submitted data and eliminate incomplete or invalid questionnaires. These may include ones where individuals failed to follow instructions, did not complete all the questions, submitted the answers after a deadline, or did not meet respondent qualifications.
- Edit answers. Experts will go through the surveys and edit answers that are difficult to read, inconsistent, or unclear.
- Code answers. If the questions are not already coded, an expert will go through and assign alpha or numeric codes so that reports can be generated correctly.
- Transcribe open-ended questions. If general comments or open-ended questions are included, those need to be transcribed so the results can be analyzed.
- Adjust statistical scales. In some cases, you may need to weight answers or transform answers, so they are measured on a consistent scale.
- Select analysis strategy. Several data analysis strategies are available and were probably selected during the design phase. However, at this point, final considerations should be taken into account and details settled.
Analysis and Reporting: What you should expect from a market research expert…
This final stage of market research serves as the bridge between all those questions, numbers, and statistics, and the critical business decisions you make as a result. Without this final step that brings out your research’s key insights and how those insights will help you reach your initial goals, you have nothing.
A market research expert will help you pull out relevant conclusions from your research and organize it to be both compelling and convincing. This will ensure you deliver the right message to your management team and key stakeholders. The final market research report should have an easy-to-reference table of contents so that specific information can be found quickly and an executive summary that highlights the most important overarching themes.
For those who want the nitty-gritty details, you should provide the company’s background, target audience information, objectives, and goals of the company. If you have a qualitative section in your research, summarize these results first, focusing on what questions were answered through the research and related conclusions and necessary actions.
Move onto the details of any quantitative research and the quantitative data analysis findings, how they were conducted, and the results and conclusions found.
Market research can be a powerful tool in helping any business launch itself, introduce new products or services to the marketplace, or track brand health metrics. However, the time and investment can be significant, and it’s wise to work with an insights professional who can bring a level of experience to the table that will ensure reliable results that can be used to accomplish your overall business and insights goals.
Jim Whaley is CEO of OvationMR and frequently posts on The Standard Ovation and other Industry Blogs.
Ovation MR is a global provider of first-party data for those seeking solutions that require both brand tracking and custom research data for informed business decisions. Ovation MR is a leader in delivering insights and reliable data across a variety of industry sectors around the globe consistently for market research professionals and management consultants. Visit: https://www.ovationmr.com
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