Data drives marketing. Understanding consumer engagement, customer retention, and growth optimization through accurate, insightful marketing research drives business. Although much has changed in the move to online enterprise, marketing research is still conducted in the physical and digital world. To understand the impact of marketing data on organizational tactics, it helps to explore the research methods employed to gather this information. There are two fundamental types of marketing research:
- primary Marketing Research
- Secondary Marketing Research.
Primary Marketing Research or Field research
In primary marketing research, data is gathered from original studies performed by the organization. Conducting primary research to test a new concept or gather customer insight is common. Studies typically include focus groups, in-person or phone interviews, and surveys.
Primary marketing research, also known as field research, is the first hand gathering of new data from primary sources for a specific purpose related to the business conducting the analysis. Large corporations may have their in-house marketing department design and conduct primary research in the field to gather primary source data. However, the majority of primary marketing research is contracted out to third-party marketing agencies that conduct surveys, focus groups, and interviews on the company’s behalf.
The best primary research results come from a well-defined research plan and can be of immense value, but are also very time-consuming to collect and come with a much higher price point than secondary research.
Focus groups, conducted correctly, produce a vast amount of valuable, qualitative primary source data from a specified target audience. Focus groups involve meeting with groups of rigorously selected individuals. Trained facilitators guide participants through discussions that are carefully crafted to elicit honest, natural opinions and perspectives. The business or hired marketing research organization conducting the focus group must first establish a target audience for the research and then choose participants who are representative of several segments of this market. The goal is usually to produce a group of representative individuals within this target audience.
Focus groups are an invaluable primary research tool for marketers and business leaders.
As a method of primary marketing research, interviews can take on a wide variety of forms, but most are simple one-on-one discussions to elicit qualitative source data from the individual rather than a group. Interviews can take place in person, over the phone, or over the Internet.
Surveys are often conducted online, over the phone, or in person and can be used to further investigate the findings of focus groups or individual interview observations. Surveys are an effective way to accomplish this.
User groups tend to be composed of individuals who share similar interest, goals, or concerns rather than a group of people from a larger, more diverse demographic. Furthermore, unlike moderated focus groups, these user groups often meet regularly to discuss their experiences with a particular software or product while researchers take note of their concerns or praise.
A test market is a group of individuals used in primary marketing research to represent a larger target audience. However, lack of exposure to mainstream media consumption can also be a driving factor in test market research. An audience that hasn’t been exposed to any particular biases that may have been created by advertising campaigns will provide impartial feedback that can be used to gauge a clearer understanding of consumer response in the mass market.
Secondary Research or Desk Research
As previously discussed, business entities will conduct primary marketing research to gather specific, highly targeted information. However, secondary research can provide valuable insight much faster at a dramatically lower cost since it is pulled from pre-existing data. Companies can extrapolate data for their own business from research entities collecting industry data.
Sources of Secondary Marketing Research
Competitor benchmarks are arguably the most valuable, practical, and widely used source of secondary marketing research data in the world today. At its core, benchmarking measures specific growth metrics or key performance indicators and compares them to other businesses in the industry. Benchmarking is fundamentally a core principle of business.
A business can examine the finances of similar companies in their field through publications issued by industry association organizations. Competitor benchmarks are very useful, allowing companies to identify ways to reduce cost, increase efficiency, and improve allocation of operational resources.
Since internal sales data is often easily accessible to researchers, it provides an important self-evaluation tool for the organization and market research. Not only can sales data help you assess profitability of an organization’s product or services, but it can also help to segment customers, discover trends, and compare competitive sales data when available. Because sales numbers are already accessible and relevant, it can provide useful data for any future marketing endeavour.
Government Publications and Statistics
There are countless legal publications, government-created data sources, and statistics published by the state that can serve as useful secondary data for business. Additionally, statistics from organizations like Data.gov, the World Bank, and the Pew Research Center can provide valuable secondary data.
Internal sales numbers are self-generated, and government publications are publicly accessible, but organizations can also purchase commercial data from established market research corporation. Secondary marketing research involves organizations using existing source data and can be a great starting point. Businesses often opt for an exploration of less expensive secondary data to form new ideas before exploring primary marketing research options.