The upward spiraling development in market trends that seems to change the entrepreneurial landscape overnight has enhanced the gambit of opportunities available to modern entrepreneurs.
Whether it presents as a chance to tap into an undiscovered audience or diversifying existing offerings to enter new market segments, the emergence of new opportunities on the horizon is enough to get your blood pumping; especially when there are growth milestones to achieve!
However, before one gets too far ahead of themselves, thoroughly vetting said opportunities is, well, an educated way of taking decisions that may impact the business’s growth trajectory.
Given the intensity of the race to dominate the field in question, you must employ every tool at your disposal that can give you an advantage in reaching your desired milestones. One of these profound tools is a research report that is compiled during the last stages of a market survey.
By effectively presenting game-changing findings from your survey, a well-structured research report acts as a resource that helps you seize the day by beating competitors and securing unparalleled success.
Research Reports and their Role as the Road to Business Milestones
Clearly stated, a research report is a tool that presents the conclusions of your market research in a digestible, easy-to-understand format. By making available arranged and compiled data in an organized form, research reports help you extract value from your surveys so that you can reach accurate conclusions regarding your study’s objectives.
A research report can be as simple as a summary PDF or Word document with supporting research reference details or a sophisticated multi-stakeholder dashboard reporting portal that is interactive and can be filtered and queried to allow the user to take deeper dives into the data.
Pursuing an inquiry into trends dominating the market is a mammoth task. As such, research reports are apparatuses that make the job at hand easier by simplifying the logistics of your investigation.
Deploying research analysis methods such as descriptive and inferential statistics are essential to building your research report by categorizing, organizing, correlating, simplifying, modeling, and forecasting your data findings.
Let’s say, for instance, that you have spent several months recruiting and interviewing panelists for a study on how consumer behavior has been impacted by the prevalence of Covid-19 and its accompanying social distancing lockdowns.
Assume that your study parameters include statistical information on the increase or decrease in expenditure your respondents have experienced, qualitative input outlining the emotional impact on your participants of being restricted to shopping online, as well as demographical details of all the people who have consented to answer your questions.
In such a scenario, you’ll notice that your computer is crowded with hundreds of files containing raw data towards the end of your market survey. If not properly labeled and categorized, these files will resemble nothing less than a confusing jumble of numbers and sentences that will make no sense when you sit down to draw inferences from the information you have acquired.
Approaching a study with the notion that your final step will entail compiling a report will compel you to follow a structured research method right from the start. When you keep in mind that ultimately you will assemble your findings under specific themes in your research report, you will save your raw data in easily accessible forms.
When you systematically collate the data in a research report, you’ll also discover connections and correlations between attributes and categories. Before you start putting your report together, you’ll most likely be reviewing individual data sets in isolation.
For example, step into the shoes of a chocolate factory owner and picture that you are researching whether your recently launched vanilla fudge line is well received.
In your study, if you have chosen an online sample with a target population of both men and women, you might decide to interview each gender together without initially tracking the variations in each subgroup.
Due to this, you probably won’t notice how both subgroups fare compared to each other until you start analyzing them for your research report.
You may be surprised to later discover when analyzed in light of each other, the data set indicates how one gender has liked the product significantly more than the other. This observation may be a significant finding, leading you to explore why one group of respondents has stated a certain preference while the other has not.
With this in mind, you can design and conduct another study to reach the root cause behind why the item on offer was treated differently by male and female client populations.
Attributes of Thoughtfully Designed Research Reports
Research reports are the culmination of market surveys or online focus groups you have conducted through unrelenting effort and often a hefty investment of time and money.
Not wanting all your effort to go to waste, you must ensure that your report is effective in its presentation of the data. This ensures that your report is readable, analyzable, and capable of dictating the steps you should take, based on your findings, to take your business to the next level.
Keep in mind that while most market surveys are conducted to harness information for business owners themselves, you can choose to publish your findings for your clients.
For instance, imagine that you are a multinational company that is striving for more equality when it comes to hiring for vacancies in your offices across the world. In this case, you can conduct market research to derive the percentage of employees you have recruited from marginalized communities over the past year. Your results can be shared with your customers to increase their trust in you as an equal opportunity employer.
In this specific regard, i.e. sharing your findings on a large scale with your clients, it is even more crucial for your research report to be properly organized so that it leaves a positive impact on those who will study it and formulate an opinion about your brand on its findings.
Hence, to compile your data, adhere to the following four principles which according to Samuel A. Livingston from the Educational Testing Service are key components of an enviable report:
- Focus – this pertains to the idea that your objective must be clearly mentioned in your report. You should also not go off on a tangent but ensure that the analysis you pen down is relevant to your inquiry’s goals.
- Accuracy – this refers to the fact that fabricated information should not be presented in your report. False claims can compromise your credibility with your readers.
- Clarity – this indicates the understanding that your report should be readable. As such, your readers shouldn’t be confused about what they’re reviewing.
- Conciseness – this highlights the concept that your report should be to the point. A verbose account is anticipated as a waste of time.
Beginning your write-up with an executive summary tops the list of research report best practices. Published as a short passage right at the start of your report, this summary provides a brief description of your study objectives and the conclusions you have reached.
In doing so, it gives the reader an inclination of what is to follow so that they are prepared for the content in-store and are not in for any surprises later on.
You can also amp up the quality of your report by briefly discussing your methodological framework in the initial sections. By highlighting which research tools and methods you have employed, you will be able to help readers understand how raw data was formally analyzed and transformed into meaningful information.
Another terrific trait you can incorporate in your research report is the use of visual aids. There are a plethora of publications that have suggested humans as visual beings. Long, wordy sentences might not be able to attract and retain the average reader’s attention as well as a pictorial or visual representation of the same data.
Graphs/charts, diagrams, and photographs are just a few examples of visual aids you can rely on for your report. Graphical representation of information effectively highlights correlations between data sets through diagrams, making it easy for the reader to understand the connections.
For example, let’s say that you’re checking for differences in soft drink consumption habits among teenagers and middle-aged people.
Comprehending these differences will be easy if they are represented through data sets standing next to each other in the shape of two bars rising from a graph’s x-axis. The comparison will be harder to acknowledge if it is reviewed in lengthy paragraphs that warrant more attention that you’re able to give at the moment.
As a business owner, you naturally want to undertake endeavors to help your business fast-track its growth and improve profitability. Such endeavors always include a strategic attempt at conducting market research.
However, said market research would be deemed incomplete without a research report concluding the findings in a logical manner, preventing you from deriving decisive conclusions for the investigation.
OvationMR is a global provider of first-party data for those seeking solutions that require information for informed business decisions.
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