As many fans of courtroom dramas may know, there’s a general rule among lawyers: never ask a question you don’t already know the answer to. In a sense, your company should use the same rule: never put a product on the market without knowing how well it will sell.
How do you know if a product will perform well? You conduct thorough marketing research. There are plenty of methods and different ways of market research you could use, so the best place to start is learning about your options.
What Are the Two Main Methods of Market Research?
There are many methods to conduct market research, but they fall under two main categories: questioning and observing. Questioning methods include any situation when you’re asking someone questions about your product or service. That could include surveys, interviews, and focus groups, for example.
Observing, on the other hand, involves watching a consumer actually use or potentially purchase your product. Observational studies and field trials would both fall under that category.
Both questioning and observing methods have the potential to bring you valuable insight into your product and how it will be received when it officially hits the shelves. Of course, those are just general categories. To find out how to put questioning or observing market research into action, let’s explore the different types of marketing research methods that are most popular.
Different Types of Marketing Research Methods
Market research is a critical part of your go-to-market process, and choosing the right research method will allow you to get the data you need to protect your bottom line. Consider these top types of marketing research methods to determine the best fit for your product and your point in the development process.
Surveys are the most widely used market research method, and this is no surprise. They’re cost-effective and allow you to gather data from a broad number of people in a short amount of time. You can also cater surveys at just about any point in your product’s development cycle: getting feedback on your general idea or concept, evaluating your finished product, assessing your packaging, evaluating your marketing campaigns, pricing, and more.
You’ll get even more from your surveys if you use advanced AI surveys. AI automatically further refines your survey questions, uses subjects’ responses to inform questions for future respondents, and boils down all the data into usable details.
Another type of questioning market research method is conducting one-on-one interviews with consumers in your target demographic. These interviews are less directed than a survey. The interviewer starts off by asking a few questions, but the core of the interview should be an open-ended discussion of the product and the consumer’s opinions on it.
Interviews can give you more in-depth insights than most surveys. They are, however, very time-consuming and costly, and it can be difficult to compile the information gained from all your interviews into usable conclusions.
A focus group is similar to an interview because it’s an open-ended discussion. The difference, though, is that the conversation is among a group of consumers with a moderator only stepping in every so often to direct the conversation toward a particular topic.
While a focus group can be a more efficient way of getting similar information from an interview because you’re “interviewing” several people at once, it has another interesting twist. Group members are likely to influence each other’s opinions, which could skew your results. But it could also reflect the peer pressure that happens in the market.
Stepping away from the “questioning” types of market research, observation studies are rather different. In this type of research, you actually give a consumer access to your product or service and observe their reactions and how they use it. This can be highly valuable, but it’s only practical for later stages in your development cycle after you have at least a prototype of your product.
A field trial is a type of market research that is usually done as a final testing before the product officially launches. In field trials, you make your product or service available in small select markets to see how it performs. You may try a few different options to see which performs better as well, like two types of packaging.
Pro Tip: Getting the Best of Multiple Different Market Research Techniques
Surveys and interviews are highly popular methods for market research but they each have their limitations. If you know where to look, though, you can get the best of both worlds with an AI survey.
AI surveys use open-ended survey questions rather than strictly multiple-choice questions, and they’re able to digest those open responses in a quantifiable way. These surveys can also “go with the flow” in a sense, by using past consumers’ survey responses to influence future consumers’ surveys. They might, for example, pull the most common responses for certain questions and ask a consumer if they agree or disagree.
At the end of the survey, an AI survey can take all these open-ended responses and distill them into practical, actionable data to guide your go-to-market process. You get the accessibility, cost-effectiveness, and quantified data of a survey with the in-depth and open-ended insights of an interview.
Starting Your Market Research Process
Market research is a critical way to protect your bottom line in the essential gamble that is a new product launch, and understanding your options can help you to choose the right research methods for your needs. To get started with a powerful yet accessible AI survey, learn more about our technology or request a demo today.