Market Surveys

surveys

This article/post is another one I wrote specifically for someone I met on Freelanced.  The problem is I wrote it and he used/sold it, but never paid me for it.  I learned a valuable lesson the hard way.  So, here is the article…

One of the best forms of market research is the survey.  It is the best because it is simple, can be inexpensive, and designed to obtain the specific data needed for analysis.  Surveys can be employed to ask questions, to identify customer satisfaction, to gauge the introduction of a new product, or simply to collect quantitative data.

An effective survey design is both artistic and scientific, asking the right questions to gather the correct type of data that is needed for research. For example, if charts are an integral part of the research to be reported, questions asked should require numerical answers.  On the other hand, if the research to be reported requires customer feedback including comments and observations, the survey must consist of open-ended questions that encourage opinions in the form of written words.

If your report on the research is an annual or repetitive event, make sure the questions are kept consistent to keep interpretations of the questions from changing.  In annual reports, consumers like to see comparative data so they can visualize changes.  If the questions change, even slightly, the data may be skewed significantly.

To be able to compare marketing trends between demographics in your report, add a category to the survey so those who are completing the surveys must identify what country, region or other category they represent, with the choice of responses in this category based on the demographics to be compared.  If this is planned for ahead in the design of the survey, the charts and graphs in the final reports will easily be able to reflect this important differentiation.

To ensure other members of the company are in the loop, especially in the case of a new product that they might be affected by, be sure to get their opinions on what they would like to learn from the survey by suggesting questions to be included.  Also get them to sign off on their approval of the basic concepts of the survey before the final draft is started to avoid possible misconceptions later.

Lastly, test the survey out on family members, friends, and co-workers to see how long it takes them to complete it, and then edit the final draft of the survey quite ruthlessly, keeping the questions both simple and direct, since a drop in the response rate is almost guaranteed to happen if the survey consists of more than forty questions or takes longer than 10 minutes to complete.

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Market Research

market research

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

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

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.

Conclusion

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.

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