Market Research. Do You Need It?

Market Research. Do You Need It

Uncovering The Mystery Behind Market Research.

What is market research?

Market research is the practice of digging for, and uncovering ‘truth’, about any given topic, geographic location or target audience.  Market research explores and probes, digging further to unearth the ‘why’s and ‘hows’.  Simply put, market research is the process of discovery.

Why do companies need to do market research?

Companies must do market research because, as a colleague of mine once said, marketing without doing research is pure hearsay.  Some might even go as far as calling marketing without research, heresy.

How effective is market research?

Market Research - start-up growth expertMarket research is as effective as the methodology and the researcher involved.  Those who are consummate professionals and are respectful of the process of uncovering truth, rather than leading to confirm a pre-supposed hypothesis, will lead the marketing team to a place of opportunity for designing, developing and manufacturing a product that fits the needs of the marketplace, which ultimately leads to consumer demand and ultimately increased market-share.

What are the different types of market research?

There are a variety of market research methodologies with new thoughts and ideas of different ways of getting at the truth – Most people are familiar with focus groups where 6-8 individuals are recruited to share discussions on a topic for typically 90 mins.

The research team, and often clients, will watch from the back room and suggest additional areas for the moderator to probe.  Other methodologies include everything from one-to-one (IDI) interviews, researcher-guided shopalongs, self-guided shopsalongs with a small pocket video camera, surveys, on-going panel participation, in-home ethnographic studies such as a “closet-audit” where a researcher goes on a journey through a respondent’s closet to understand the whys and the hows of the clothing present, attitudes to fashion, shopping, etc.

What are the processes involved in doing market research?

There are several steps and those can further be broken out into additional steps, but in general the process looks like this:  Client/Marketer makes a decision to conduct market research, a research firm/advertising agency planning department etc., is hired on to manage the process and field the research.  First and most important next step is identifying the research goals/objectives.

It is important to get this step right, because as we researchers in the industry like to say, ‘garbage in – garbage out’.  At this time the research team is beginning to make their recommendations on the methodology that will be used, in order to get the best outcome and meet the research objectives.  Once the objectives are set, the research team develops a screener to identify the ideal respondents for the study, the client must sign-off, and agree to this document.  At this time, the research team would have also suggested an incentive fee that is intended to act as payment for the respondent ‘s time for participating in the study.

The research team typically, then hires a recruiting to firm to fill the responsibility of getting the agreed upon respondents, in the right place/market at the right time.  The research team, then drafts the discussion guide and sends to the client for input.  Once completed the discussion guide is then distributed to all concerned.  With confirmation that the recruiting has been completed, the moderator/researcher goes into the field and begins the research process.  At the completion of the research, a top-line or summary report is created by the researcher and presented to the clients, often times accompanied with edited video clips from the field.

How long does market research take?

This varies.  Some research projects are in the field for just a weekend, while others can be in the field for months.  The scope of the project and goals will impact the length of time.

What is the cost of doing market research?

Again, here, costs vary based on the methodology.  You can conduct a 10-person self-guided qualitative shopping study for $12,000 or conduct a 5-market, 60 hour- 1 hour guided retail clothing shopalongs for $25,000 and still yet an in-home ethnographic food study across 5 markets for $60,000.

How often should market research be done?

Some research projects are done annually or twice annually in the case of a brand tracking study where it’s fielded to get a handle on the overall brand impression, awareness, likely to continue to do business, refer etc. etc.  Any of a variety of questions that the marketer wants to keep track of can be included in a tracking study.  Research should always be done when there is a new product to be developed, a new line being introduced, etc.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Market research should and must hold a seat at the corporate table for any company.  Research is the platform that allows the consumer’s voice to be heard and as researchers, we compile, tabulate and synthesize that voice so that it is clear and understood by the marketers.  By listening to the voice of the consumer, marketers increase their opportunity to get it right the first time.

About the Author

Faith James is Chief Brand Development Officer at JCPR and has over 18+ years in the marketing, advertising and research industry.  She is a Riva trained and certified moderator and has conducted a host of research project for clients ranging from apparel, cognac, technology, food and many more. She can be reached at 612-205-6526 or


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