How to do market research – and why your business needs it

Understanding the needs of your customers is the key to your business’ success. And the way to gain this valuable information is with market research. It’s nothing new, but there are a great range of tools and tricks you can use to gain a deeper understanding of your customers.

The following guide will take you through the process.

  1. Types of market research 

Primary research
Primary research provides first hand information on your customers, such as the challenges they face and their awareness of your brand.

Primary research can include:

  • Interviews – telephone or face-to-face
  • Surveys – online or by email
  • Questionnaires – online or by email
  • Focus groups, comprising a sample of your customer persona (see more on this below)

Secondary Research
Secondary research is where you analyse data and public records, already published, such as market statistics, trend reports and your business’ sales data.

Secondary research can be a great place to start. It can help you identify competitors and your targeted demographic, but relying on other people’s research won’t give you the full picture. This is why it’s so important to carry out primary research.

  1. Define your customer persona

Before you get stuck into primary market research you need to create a customer persona. This is a fictional representation of your ideal customer, and will help you understand who to market your products and services to.

Things to take into consideration when creating customer personas include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Job title
  • Marital status
  • Family size
  • Income
  • Daily challenges
  • Hobbies
  1. Finding research participants

Ok, you’ve decided who your ideal customer is, but how do you reach them, and how many should you speak to? Marketing software company Hubspot recommends 10 participants per customer persona.

It’s a good idea to use a mix of participants, so some who have bought your product or used your services, those who have been to a competitor, and a few who haven’t bought anything.

While it’s easier to recruit your own customers, carrying out market research on a wider audience will help you get a more balanced view.

It’s also a good idea to offer an incentive to motivate people to take part. This could for example be a giveaway, discounted product, or exchange of services.

If you decide to do an email campaign or online survey, there are a number of companies that offer templates and marketing tools – as well as access to global consumers. Mailchimp is great for creating email campaigns that will reach your audience, while Survey Monkey will help you design a survey, pick the right questions and reach the right audience.


If you decide to do your own research, there are a number of ways to find participants:

  • Compile a list of customers who made a recent purchase from you
  • Compile a list of customers who have engaged with your business, or follow you on social, but haven’t made a purchase
  • Put out a request for participants on social media. This is a good way to reach potential customers, who haven’t bought from you yet – and find out why
  • Explore your network – contact colleagues, employees, former employees, friends and family to let them know you doing a study. And get them to ask their friends and family.
  1. Asking the right questions

The golden rule of market research is to ask open questions, which will avoid yes/no answers.

Questions could include:

  • What factors do you consider when purchasing this product or service?
  • What do you like or dislike about current products or services currently on the market?
  • What areas would you suggest for improvement?
  • What is the appropriate price for a product or service?

Done well, market research can offer a mine of information about your customers that will create new leads and deeper engagement.

For more sound advice on your marketing get in touch to find out how we can help


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