Question: What types of marketing research should I conduct? 

 Answer: There are four main types of marketing research: primary, secondary, quantitative and qualitative

Each of these types have benefits and limitiations and may be used to answer a wide range of marketing questions.  Within each category there are subsets as well.

Types of Marketing Research:

Primary Research – This is new research conducted to answer your specific questions. You may do it yourself or hire a research company to collect data directly from the source. If done well, it is most relevant to your unique question.  However it is often expensive to conduct a primary study.

Secondary Research is information from studies conducted by others, like governments. While not specific to your project, this research often helps answer broad questions market size and current market conditions.

Quantitative Research – It is all about numbers and figures. Quantitative research explicitly specifies what is measured and how it is measured in order to uncover and quantify opinions, attitudes, and behaviors. Data is collected in a structured consistent manner.

Qualitative Research – Is particularly helpful for exploratory research (e.g. during the pilot stage of a research project, for example). It is primarily used to discover and gain an understanding of individual experiences, thoughts, opinions, and trends.

Marketing Research Tools

Focus groups –  Are a qualitative tool, ideal for exploratory research to identify issues and themes to be explored in more detail in quantative studies.  A sample of participants that represent your target market are brought together (based on demographics and characteristics). A facilitator asks questions and guides the conversation.  The results are not projectionable and may impacted by differnt types of bia including:

  • Acquiescence bias (the desire to say yes to please the interviewer)
  • Dominance bias (stronger participants can alter the results from less dominant participants)
  • Researcher bias (where the research leads or impacts the participant responses indirectly). 

One to one interviews – This method is conducted directly between an interview and another participant, where there is a two-way conversation happening between each member on research topics. Often, the interviewer will prompt discussion by asking a series of open-ended questions. Depending on the number of interviews conducted the results may be projecitonalable but may still be subject to some bias. 

Surveys – A survey is a list of open and closed-ended questions that are put together and sent to a participant digitally — either by email or through a survey software that collects the answers automatically. Survey questions can vary and using the right survey question for your goals is important — 

Looking for more information on this topic?

Check out Lorraine’s interview with Allison Knott about affordable marketing research tools.