Surveys and focus groups are used to gather data about potential customer and clients as well as the competition in the market your business is in. There are many ways to gather this data and then analyze it to facilitate business decisions. This process of gathering and analyzing data is called market research. Although it can be expensive, market research that is properly executed can greatly improve a business’ chance of success. Market research can be broken down into primary research and secondary research.
Primary vs Secondary Research
Primary research is generally more expensive, and takes longer to conduct, but is more conclusive and is essential to get answers to specific questions. Secondary research involves collecting data from reports already published by reputable sources. This type of research is less expensive because it is easily accessible to everyone. Magazines, newspapers, and computer websites are all examples of secondary research sources.
Qualitative vs Quantitative Research
Primary research can be further broken down into qualitative and quantitative research. Qualitative usually refers to small target groups where the data gained provides direction but not predictions. Quantitative research on the other hand provides a more statistical type of data that can then be analyzed to predict future trends and patterns.
Surveys are a quantitative form of primary market research. They are a simple way to collect data by phone, email or regular mail through a postal service. To make a survey, be sure to use simple but specific questions, targeting a specific audience of potential customers or clients. Survey costs can be minimalized by having a current employee design the survey and analyze the data. Costs will obviously vary depending on the size and method of survey with email surveys the least expensive due to the lack of postage and printing costs.
Focus groups are a qualitative form of primary market research, involving a small group of chosen people that meet specific criteria. This pre-screened group are then asked to participate in discussions of relevant topics lead by a moderator who can record the discussion while guiding participants to share the reasons for their opinions. The cost of focus groups can be exorbitant though, since it is advisable to use experienced, objective moderators and hold the focus group outside of the workplace.
Market research involving surveys and focus groups is necessary in today’s competitive business world. The research can range from inexpensive, informal and simple strategies for small businesses to costly, time consuming, and complicated experiences for large conglomerates. Regardless of the size and scope of the research, the methods are similar.