Understanding Types of Research Design

A look at different types of research design, and how selecting one will depend on your insight goals

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Market Research » Understanding Types of Research Design

In early 2018, Tarte, the American beauty empire, launched a new line of makeup foundations. With 15 captivating cosmetic products to choose from, Tarte had every reason to celebrate. However, their excitement was short-lived as they faced a wave of backlash from dissatisfied customers. The problem? The foundation shades failed to cater to darker skin tones, leaving people of color feeling excluded. This setback prompted Tarte to take immediate action. They reevaluated their manufacturing process, learned from their mistakes, and relaunched the foundations with an impressive range of 50 shades that perfectly matched all skin tones.


This incident serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of conducting thorough research before product launches. By identifying gaps in the market and understanding customer demands, businesses can ensure inclusivity and success in competitive markets.


But research without a strategy is like diving into an ocean without knowing where to go. It’s crucial to embark on extensive market research, guided by the right research design, to gain meaningful insights that shape informed decisions. At Tarte, this lesson was learned the hard way, but it ultimately led to a stronger and more inclusive product portfolio.

Types of research design


Unleash the Power of Research Design


Embark on a breathtaking journey into the realm of research design and witness its transformative capabilities firsthand. Serving as the very backbone of your investigative strategy, research design acts as a compass, guiding you towards invaluable customer insights that can revolutionize your business landscape.


An array of research design options awaits your exploration, each holding the potential to unlock a wealth of knowledge. Imagine this scenario: your sales experience a sudden dip after an initial surge in popularity. Mere acknowledgment of the decline won’t suffice – you crave a deeper understanding of the underlying factors at play. By skillfully selecting the most fitting design, you’ll unearth a treasure trove of insights that shed light on the precise reasons behind this setback, empowering you to make targeted changes and reignite your company’s growth.


Research design empowers you to methodically collect and analyze data, paving the way for astute decision-making and unveiling a coherent tapestry of actionable insights. Consider leveraging the power of generative AI tools in your design, data cleaning, and analysis processes to augment your ability to get more reach with your time and thought processes. Allow research design to act as your guiding compass, propelling you forward as you navigate the ever-evolving market and unlock unprecedented opportunities for triumph.

Types of research design for marketing



Research Approaches


In research, two main frameworks exist, quantitative and qualitative data analysis.


Quantitative studies gather statistical information, while qualitative investigations collect non-numerical, subjective data. Most research combines inferences made through both approaches to ensure that the research aim is fulfilled effectively.


Once you determine which research approach they are going with, they can select the type of research design that best fits their study.



Types of Research Design


There are three main types of research design, including:



Descriptive Research Design


Studies limiting themselves to explaining a scenario without analyzing the reasons behind observations benefit from this type of research design.


Descriptive research is usually statistical, as businesses employ it to study supply and demand trends associated with them. Descriptive research is conducted through surveys and questionnaires to help a company interpret how it is performing.


This type of research design can give you demographics-level awareness of your venture’s performance.


Suppose your brand sells hair accessories. A survey of your consumer base can describe which groups of people buy your products the most. To be sure of your findings, commit to conducting a longitudinal study, which focuses on surveying a population for lengthy periods. Note which trends have remained consistent over the months.


For instance, your survey’s findings reveal that middle-aged women between 40 and 55 are your most frequent customers. Now, you can use this knowledge to your advantage by creating more items tailored for this age group.


Rest assured, when your committed clientele sees that you are customizing products to prioritize their needs, they will return to your brand time and again.



Exploratory Research Design



Descriptive research gives you the facts, and that may be enough if you want to track your performance. If you want to analyze the facts, you should conduct an exploratory study.


The exploratory research design helps you don your detective’s hat and figure out the ‘why’ to the ‘what.’


Let’s elaborate.


As discussed previously, you recognize that your sales are dropping in a scenario. Just acknowledging this observation won’t be sufficient. Naturally, you will want to know where you went wrong or what decision you made that drove your customers away.


Your course of action in this situation, therefore, should be turning to explorative data collection methods such as in-depth qualitative interviews where you have detailed conversations with focus groups in an attempt to ask your clients why they are no longer supporting your products.


Perhaps, in the course of this discussion, you will learn that your customer service representatives are rude and dismissive towards customers. Knowing this will lead you to perform a case analysis where you can observe said representatives’ behavior. You will identify areas in which service personnel can improve customer retention and get back into your customers’ good book.




Causal Research Design


As a business owner, you want to make sure that you’re making innovative decisions.


Remember, regardless of what you’re offering; the market is extremely competitive. It’s easy for customers to get bored of your services and pledge their allegiance to another brand that seems more creative and convenient to work with.


The causal research design operates through experimentation, which is a good technique to integrate into your market research to elevate your portfolio and beat the competition. You can conduct experiments by manipulating variables and analyzing the impact of different customer experience elements.


Suppose you run a fast-food franchise that wants to win over customers with its signature cheeseburger.


With hundreds of other restaurants offering this delicious delicacy, it can be hard to stand out and bag all the customers who are big on burgers. However, you can succeed in reaching this milestone with a little experimentation.


To study causation here, leveraging conjoint analysis can help you can change up the packaging of your products. Address all relevant factors, including color schemes and the material used for wrapping the burgers.


Additionally, you can also modify your promotional approach. Come up with witty one-liners to print on billboards and start a social media challenge where you give acknowledgments to locations where your franchise makes the most sales.


Once you have administered these changes, see if they affect your cheeseburger sales. If the latter skyrocket, your experiment has succeeded and proved that marketing your product was the ingredient needed to improve your franchise’s performance.


If you want your business to do well, research is crucial.


Whether you are setting your company up for the first time, monitoring its progress periodically, or making an effort to help it climb to new heights, you need to study the market in which your organization operates. This way, you’ll know what your customers want and be able to live up to their expectations.


However, research is not effective if it isn’t based on a suitable design. A research design is defined as a strategy undertaken while conducting a study. It’s the blueprint that helps you identify the questions you need to ask when conducting your market investigation. There are different types of research designs. Choose one that will give you the best insights into specific situations affecting your company’s performance.




Jim Whaley

Jim Whaley



Jim Whaley is a business leader, market research expert, and writer. He posts frequently on The Standard Ovation and other industry blogs.

OvationMR is a global provider of first-party data for those seeking solutions that require information for informed business decisions.

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