|These resources have been assembled as guidance for those wishing to understand
more thoroughly the process of conducting market research, students or those conducting
small projects without the support of an independent agency. More resources, the
professional 'Code of Conduct' and professional development guidance is available on the MRS website however
if you cannot find what you are looking for please contact us and we will be happy to
point you in the right direction.
What is market research?
You may need information on all sorts of areas, such as:-
- Who is buying my product?
- What do they think of it?
- What else are they buying?
- Who are my competitors?
- What is my market share?
- What new product opportunities exist for my product?
There are lots and lots of questions!
Market research can make an invaluable contribution to any company's business. Research
can never be a substitute for management decisions, but it is an aid to making better,
informed decisions. It contributes to the understanding of markets, products, consumers
and therefore to the development of overall business strategy.
Market research is a body of techniques that provide information to assist
decision-making in business. It supports judgement and experience by providing a better
basis of fact. The overriding purpose is to reduce risk and thus increase the
likelihood of success.
The history of market research
Research has a long history - reputedly it's beginnings go back to1879, when an
American advertising agency, N. W Ayer & Son undertook a nationwide market survey into
grain production. The objective of this study was to develop an advertising campaign for
their client's agricultural machinery. At that time, this was a totally different approach
to investigating a company marketing problems. In 1932, George Gallup conducted the first
scientific political poll And market research was given its first official definition by
the US Department of Commerce. Since then, the drive to understand consumer behaviour has
resulted in the development of many techniques in qualitative research.
A considered design methodology is essential in any market research project and Exodus
Market Research uses a range of techniques when designing projects. You can see all of the
market research techniques that we employ and when they are used on our services page.
Read more about our techniques
If you are considering conducting some research you will have to think about some
crucial issues in order that you ensure that the information produced by your research is
Read more about the issues you
need to consider...
If you would like some help with designing a questionnaire or advice on research issues
please feel free to contact us. Our initial consultation on any research matter is always
free and we are always happy to help. So even if you don't use our services at this time
then we hope that we can put you on the right path and perhaps use us in the future.
How to contact us...
If you define 'research' as the collecting of information or data to help you to make a
decision, it is a fact that most people conduct some form of research whilst carrying out
their work responsibilities. This could simply be a discussion with a colleague about a
project or a telephone conversation with a supplier, and is often done without consciously
realising that you're actually doing 'research'.
However, there are more structured programmes of research, which involve careful
consideration to what needs to be asked, and providing some formal mechanism for getting
the data or feedback. Such mechanisms could be a group discussion or a postal
questionnaire. This type of 'formal' research can provide a valuable insight for
If you plan to conduct a research exercise yourself without the support of an
independent research agency (although such support does have the advantage of lending your
research credibility, impartiality and can be significantly more productive on issues that
are sensitive to the research audience), there are several key issues that you should
consider before you begin.
Determining the best research methodology
What is the best way to collect the information you require? Would it be better to
speak to people face-to-face, or can the research be conducted remotely, say via the
telephone or an electronic or postal questionnaire? To determine the best approach, you
need to consider the people that you are researching and the subject matter of the
research. You also need to think about the research audience - will a sample suffice or is
a census required? And if a sample is to be chosen, how many should be included and what
should their characteristics be to ensure they reflect the demographics of the research
population? There are statistical formulae that can help you to identify the optimum
sample size to ensure that you do not waste time or money on a sample that is bigger than
required, and is not so small that the results you obtain are no longer statistically
valid or meaningful. You can see a range of services that we employ and explanations of
their use on our services page.
Questionnaire or topic guide design
These documents are key to obtaining accurate and usable data. In the case of a
questionnaire, it is important that careful consideration is given to the order of
questions to be asked and the phrasing of such questions to ensure that they are not open
to misinterpretation. Questions can be open-ended or closed. Open-ended questions (where
the respondent has to write in their answer) should be kept to the bare minimum - too many
and perhaps you should be conducting an interview or group discussion to get your data. In
addition, open-ended questions can involve complex and timely analysis, although they are
excellent for providing anecdotal quotations to support an argument.
Data processing & analysis
Once you have conducted your research, you need to think about how you're going to
process and analyse your data. There are specialist research analysis software packages
available, but depending upon the complexity of the research and your own requirements, it
is possible to do some basic analysis using a spreadsheet package. One of the key factors
at this stage will be time - once the data has been captured, it needs to be analysed,
reported and acted upon quickly: opinions and perceptions can go out of date very quickly!
It is also important to remain completely impartial when conducting the analysis stage -
over-highlighting points that strengthen a hidden agenda or mirror your own personal
opinion may lead to a biased report on which incorrect business decisions could be taken.
Exodus Market Research provides high quality professional research services to a range
of clients on a whole project basis or as a modular service. To find out more visit our project-planning page to see how we can help.
How to contact us...
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