Exodus Market Research
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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 and services...

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 reliable.

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...

Research Guidelines

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 decision-making.

Conducting research

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...