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All About The Market Research Definition

The definition of market research is not complicated but is sometimes hard to grasp without proper explanation. It is a means for a business to expand by researching the market that it is involved in. For example, if a poster manufacturing company wants to expand, it will conduct market research that will examine opportunities for the expansion and any problems that may arise from it. It is about examining data and using it to ensure that your business it the best that it can possibly be.

Market research isn’t something that should be taken lightly though. It can be an integral part of a business’ success and a means of achieving a great deal of expansion. Therefore, to properly understand it, it must be broken down into stages that can be followed by another, whether a business student or a professional just starting out in a new company. They can be explained like this:


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Primary research is the research that is conducted either by yourself or by someone you employ to do it. It is used to gather two basic types of information – explanatory and specific. Both cannot work without the other. Explanatory research is often used for identifying problems which can then be solved using specific research. For example, explanatory would be used in a focus group scenario and would focus on open ended questions to get information directly from consumers about products and any problems they may have with them or any suggestions for improvements that they can think of.

In contrast, specific research is used to help solve some of the problems that may be found during explanatory research. Specific research is much more formal than explanatory research and is intent with finding out very specific things from respondents. Specific research is more expensive than explanatory research as more time and effort must be put into questions because the aim is to try to present solutions to problems rather than simply identifying them and collecting that information for later use. However, both are vital in market research as they are so effective at finding out areas where a company may be vulnerable and presenting solutions to fixing that vulnerability.

Secondary research is different to primary research in a couple of different ways. Firstly, it doesn’t cost as much; whilst primary research involves either you or another member of your company going out and arranging focus groups or writing questionnaires, with secondary research this is all done for you. Secondly, it often gives more information about the people who may want to use your product or buy from you than they would otherwise give in a survey situation.

This means that you can build a profile of your consumers without it costing as much. However, it should be made clear that secondary research has pitfalls as well. Whereas the explanatory research of primary research allows you to find out about potential weaknesses in your business model or general issues with your business, which can then be solved through specific research, secondary research does not provide any of those luxuries. Secondary research is simply raw data collected by outside bodies such as the government or other commercial bodies. It can be applicable to your situation, but it may also not be. You will have to shift through what could be useless data to find something of value.

However, secondary data can be extraordinarily useful for targeting potential customers. As stated earlier, it can be used to build a profile of your consumer – where they live, their age, what they like, what they don’t like etc. This type of profiling was used highly effectively by the Republican Party in both the 2014 race for the United States Senate and the 2016 US Presidential election. By using secondary research provided by the government, the Republicans were able to target voters with almost pin point accuracy and use that to shape their campaign. Techniques such as this are vital for when you are planning an advertising campaign or for when you are planning on rebranding or relaunching your product. Therefore, market research is so important - because it gives you the greatest weapon of all to fight and win against business opponents; knowledge. This is the type of thing that can be learned by knowing the market research definition.

Once you understand what market research is, the questions you should be asking is – how do you put it into practise? Knowledge is power but knowing how to use that knowledge is just as important as having it in the first place.

  • Use it to frame your advertising. Advertising is key to any business and once you have market research, whether primary or secondary, you should know the strengths and weaknesses of your business. Therefore, use advertising to show off you strengthens and try to turn your weaknesses into strengths. It will also help you to tune into the exact demographic that most appreciates your product or service.
  • Rectify any mistakes you have made in the past. With market research you can find out what may have turned certain consumers away from you or off your product. Use it to fix those mistakes.
  • Help to guide future ventures. Once you have information provided by market research you can help it to guide the future of your company. Whilst it isn’t exactly an all-seeing oracle that can predict the future, it will certainly help with knowing how to further advance your company and endeavour to make it grow and become more profitable.
  • Reflection. Market research can help reflect on how far you company has come and be able to analyse not just the future of the company but also its past. It will help you understand it far better than you have done previously.

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