How Can Market Research Help a Business?

market research report on a tablet

Market research can help a business in a number of ways. It works as a true investment for an organization.

Conducting market research ensures a higher chance of business success, reduces risk in your strategy and helps your product and services match the needs of your customers or potential customers.

However, there are still a number of businesses and organizations who decide not to use it.

They feel as though they know the answers, their perspective is the only one that matters, or they fear the results.

While other businesses have tried to use market research but did not use the right market research supplier to extract insights and action items from the results.

Whatever the case may be, market research can help a business in a lot of ways.

Below, the experts at Drive Research shared some of the best ways businesses can grow by using data-driven insights. Some you may be familiar with, while others may be a surprise that a market research company can assist you with.

Surveys, Surveys, Surveys

When you promote your business with market research, surveys are right up there as one of the best ways to do so. Whether they’re for ad concepts, customer satisfaction, or employee wellness, surveys have you covered. 

1. Employee Surveys

A recent study found that only 20% of employees are actively engaged while at work. That’s pretty low! 

Therefore employee surveys are critical for every organization and are one of the most common types of market research. 

Even successful companies use employee surveys, even if they think every employee loves their job and everything is perfect… there’s always room for improvement, right? Just like how every employee always has room for improvement?

Employee engagement studies are used to establish a baseline and understand what can be improved with the employee experience (i.e., how satisfaction has changed, work environment, compensation, benefits, work engagement, and more). 

The results can be used as a benchmark to compare future results or to compare to national, industry-specific, or company size benchmarks. That’s right. We can gather employee data for one organization and compare it to the entire industry.

Typically, important takeaways we share are factors that drive employee engagement for your specific organization, top improvement areas, top success areas, and how satisfaction has changed in the past year and why. 

Recommended Reading: Using a Third Party for Employee Surveys

2. DEI Surveys

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are becoming an even more important facet of company culture.

DEI surveys are similar to employee surveys, but think of this as focusing on a specific piece of the employee experience. These surveys are used to better understand areas where an organization is strong and weak in regards to its DEI efforts. 

There is a specific set of recommended questions to use to measure DEI within an organization in a survey.

Learn more about how to conduct a Diversity and Inclusion survey, along with example questions. 

3. Ad Testing Surveys

Wondering how well your ad performs with a target audience? Or if they would like to see any changes made before the ad is published? Ad testing surveys are popular because they are effective. 

Ad concept testing questions can cover topics like reviewing an ad and clicking on parts of the image to leave detailed feedback, asking about specific offers about an ad to measure ad-recall, measuring how the ad performs on different brand metrics and selecting which ad rendition is liked most and why.

For more insight on this type of market research, watch the video below.

4. Visitor Intercept Surveys

Nothing tells you more about the visitor experience than an intercept survey done right. While providing valuable information regarding advertising and marketing ROI, visitor intercept surveys also give you an idea of who’s visiting and why. 

Gathering unique, custom data from visitor intercept surveys will allow you to set yourself apart from other destinations of interest.

A market research firm will have the expertise to ensure your visitor intercept survey is carried out properly, from start to finish.

5. Guest Satisfaction Surveys

This is specific to our friends in the travel and tourism space.

Each guest that leaves your hotel or place of lodging is a source of information and potential improvement.

If you’re not asking each guest to provide feedback on their stay, that’s a missed opportunity. Providing guests with a channel to give feedback such as a guest satisfaction survey, right after their stay is a great way to get insight while their trip is still fresh in their minds.

Oftentimes, guests may have an issue with their room or accommodations but simply forget to share with staff at the time.

The solution? Ensure they tell you at the end of their stay with a guest satisfaction survey, and not Google when they write their review.

Testing 1, 2, 3…

Much of the importance of market research lies in the ability to test out a concept. Able to be conducted in a number of different ways, concept testing provides researchers with user insight. 

Here are a few examples of just that.

6. Ad Testing Interviews

Want to take ad testing a step further? Enter ad testing interviews. Rather than using a survey, an ad testing interview involves talking one-on-one with the target audience for the ad. 

The number of participants for these studies typically ranges between 8 to 24 interviews. These ad testing interviews usually last between 25 to 45 minutes, depending on how many ads are tested. 

Ad testing interviews start with learning more about the goals and objectives of the study.

After this, a market research team will develop a list of questions, recruit interview participants based on the target audience for the ad, conduct the interviews, and then report on the findings. 

7. Product Concept Testing 

At some point, every business looks to launch new products, services, or ads to its customers.

To take the guesswork out of this development, businesses can leverage concept testing research. Product concept testing allows a business to present a product, service, or ad concept in any stage of development (written description, marketing materials, a physical prototype, etc.) to a target audience. 

By getting the concept in front of potential customers, a business can collect valuable feedback that ultimately helps improve or validate the concept.

Concept testing can take the form of quantitative or qualitative research such as online surveys, focus groups, in-depth interviews, or in-home usage tests (IHUTs). 

Recommended Reading: 5 Tips When Testing a New Concept

Eyes On the Customer 

Market research places heavy emphasis on consumers, for good reason. Facts can be learned about this audience through segmentation or customer satisfaction practices. 

8. Customer Satisfaction Surveys

Another area where you never want to make assumptions is customer satisfaction.

The best way to ensure customers are happy is by directly seeking their feedback. A periodic online customer satisfaction (CSAT) survey provides customers with an opportunity to share their experience with a business’s products and services. 

It is extremely helpful for a business to understand both how satisfied customers are and what is driving their satisfaction (or lack thereof).

Establishing a routine for distributing CSAT surveys is also imperative to track trends over time and the impact of events. Customers may also appreciate the engagement from the business as a sign of continuous improvement and truly listening to their constituents.

To learn more, here is a video where we discuss the value of collecting continuous customer feedback.

9. Customer Segmentation 

Some businesses have a mix of customers with distinct needs and preferences but lack an understanding of what these subgroups actually look like.

This is a situation in which segmentation research may prove useful. Customer segmentation uses advanced statistical techniques to group individuals into mutually exclusive segments. 

The purpose is to make individuals within each segment as similar as possible but individuals between segments as dissimilar as possible.

A typical end result can be 3 to 5 customer segments for a business. Once segments are identified, the business can finely tune marketing efforts to each segment for optimal effectiveness.

Don’t Forget the Data

Data sorting and quality checks are an essential part of market research. After all, there is no use for faulty data. With the above techniques, you can rest easy knowing data is clean.

10. Data Coding

Does your organization receive a constant influx of online reviews or testimonials? Maybe you’re in the hospitality industry, and you’re on the receiving end of hundreds of guest satisfaction surveys. Either way, there’s a good chance you’re getting a lot of raw data. 

This is where the importance of market research comes in. 

If that's the case, you probably don’t have the time to sift through each and every response. That's where a market research firm comes in, coding like responses together to paint a bigger picture of what your customers and guests are saying.

11. Data Quality Checks

Every successful market research study relies on data quality. Enforcing data quality checks is very important because all of the benefits market research can provide are wasted if the data collected is not authenticated.  

Data quality measures exist across the entirety of any study however, we’ll focus on what steps you can take for an online survey since it’s by far the most popular market research study for most industries. 

Two data quality checks you can add to your online survey include:

  1. reCAPTCHA
  2. Red-herring questions

Both help to eliminate invalid responses before respondents complete the survey. This not only increases the validity of the data but also saves time at the end of the study.  

The first measure is to install a reCAPTCHA to the beginning of your survey.

reCAPTCHA is a security page that respondents have to pass by asking them to select the images within a pictured grid of a certain object. This removes any bots or automated services from taking your survey.   

The second check is including red-herring questions in your survey. Red-herrings ensure respondents are reading and answering each question seriously. 

They ask something completely unrelated to the topic and are generally placed halfway through the survey. They can ask any question with an easy answer. For example, a red-herring could ask respondents to “Enter the number between 4 and 6.” 

Red-herrings are also included in grid questions to prevent respondents from “straight-lining” selections.

For instance, respondents would be asked to “Select option 2 for this row” in a question grid. Respondents that don’t select option 2 are not reading the questions or text truthfully and will be disqualified from proceeding.

We feel data quality checks are a necessary action in market research because it validates the findings we report to you. We want you to feel a sense of security knowing the responses collected were genuine.   

Read All About It

Market research reports are based on the client’s needs and project type. No matter the style of report, the common goal is for it to relay the information in a clear and concise fashion. 

12. Reporting Options 

Understanding the results and reporting from the market research data is critical to making informed decisions. However, this is not always easy as budgets and time constraints are not very flexible. 

While budgets and time factor heavily in most of our client’s decisions, determining what reporting style is best may include several factors.

For example, some may have the means to afford a topline or comprehensive market research report but they are more comfortable analyzing the data themselves. 

Take a look at the options in the comparison table below.  

differences in market research reporting

We know great outcomes are possible in all reports! Don’t feel discouraged if you have a tight budget.

Several of our clients have had small budgets and the more economical reports gave them tremendous feedback and ideas to move forward. While the reporting equation is different for everyone, it all adds up to equal success.

13. Market Analysis Reports 

A fair amount of our clients want to invest in market research to better understand the current demographic environment in a certain market or markets. They feel the best way to obtain this data is to ask demographic questions to their custom survey.  

This way is valid, however, they will have to use a fair percentage of their survey question budget on information that can be obtained elsewhere. This is where the value of a market analysis report can be utilized. 

A market analysis report includes valid and reliable data from a third party of any and all markets across a plethora of demographics. For example, it can tell you what percentage of females in Los Angeles County are organic grocery shoppers. 

A custom research study cannot offer this much detail and provide it in a fast turnaround time as well. Market analysis reports can be retrieved almost immediately after you make the request. Also, it is affordable and allows you to ask more unique questions in your survey to get the most out of your question budget. 

Market analyses are often a critical component for most studies. Therefore, obtaining a complete picture of the demographic market is a top priority. A market analysis is an underutilized tool that can provide you with complete and instant market data for a low cost.     

It’s All About Branding 

Brading kind of is everything when it comes to the way consumers view your business. 

For example, up to 73% of consumers prefer to shop from brands that personalize the shopping experience. 

One of the best market research tools around, brand awareness studies can significantly improve business for a client. Obtaining actionable feedback through research tactics is used to improve brand image for companies. 

14. Brand Equity Studies 

Does the average target consumer know your brand exists? What do they think your brand represents? How do they perceive your brand?

These are important questions that, once tied together, show just exactly what kind of equity there is in your brand. 

With a market research firm, there’s the benefit of neutrality. We’re Switzerland.

We ask the questions without the intent of leading or baiting respondents to answer in any given way. That way, you know the results are real.

Recommended Reading: 7 Steps to Measure Brand Awareness and Brand Equity

15. Measure Brand Image and Awareness

Any business at the local, regional, national, or global level stands to benefit from understanding its awareness and perception in the market.

This is often conducted through an image and awareness (I&A) survey. Measuring brand awareness informs a business what work needs to be done to reach more of its target audience.

Knowing brand image shows a business the general sentiment toward its brand (positive, neutral, negative) as well as top-of-mind associations. 

After identifying its brand awareness and image, a business can take informed actions to improve its positioning in the market. These metrics become even more insightful when compared to the awareness and perception of a business’s competitors.

The Other (But Just As Good) Stuff

From mystery shopping to competitive assessment to interviewing, market research techniques are all used for the same purpose: to boost business growth. 

Keep on reading to see other actions you can take to promote your business with market research, according to our trusty team. 

16. Company Leadership Interviews 

Want to take employee research a step further? Enter leadership feedback surveys or interviews.

These typically take between 30 to 45 minutes to complete, and the list of questions is customized to the unique needs of an organization. 

Usually, company leadership interviews are used when an organization sees a lot of growth or faces a turning point (i.e., opening a new office/branch, offering new products/services, entering a new industry/product line). 

The key benefit of using a third-party research team to facilitate these leadership interviews is the guarantee that each leader feels they can speak freely and openly about the topics discussed. 

17. Mystery Shopping

By itself, knowing how your brand or product is viewed by consumers is simply not enough. In today’s fiercely competitive consumer landscape, you need to know how you stack up against the competition either in-store or online. 

A market research firm can dive deep into the mind of a recruited shopper to better understand how products and brands are perceived as a consumer goes through the buying process.

Does the packaging stick out? Where is it on the shelf? Is it several pages in on the website? Those are the kind of questions that we ask and answer.

18. Net Promoter Score (NPS) 

NPS or Net Promoter Score is something all companies and organizations crave to know. NPS is a critical component in understanding customer satisfaction and should be measured whenever possible because it provides a snapshot of all of your customers. 

By asking customers how likely they would be to recommend a product, service, or brand to a friend or colleague, companies can determine how many of them are promoters, passives, and detractors. 

NPS is asked using a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 is not at all likely to recommend, and 10 is very likely to recommend. The scale categorizations are: 

  1. Promoters: 9 or 10
  2. Passives: 7 or 8
  3. Detractors: 6 or below

To calculate NPS, subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. Scores can range from -100 to +100. Better scores are positive as worse scores are negative.

Adding NPS to your next customer survey is very easy to implement and manage. The results can be tracked over time, shared in marketing materials, and benchmarked against competitors. 

19. New Product Development Studies 

New product development studies are an important part of market research because the data can tell you so much about your concept, product, competitive environment, and/or targeted market. 

A new product development study can examine a variety of areas including: 

  • Consumer perceptions and behaviors 
  • Ad/marketing testing 
  • Product/concept feasibility
  • Product positioning 

Online surveys, focus groups, IHUTs, and shelf testing are all available methodologies to use depending on your product and project scope. Each can provide valuable quantitative and qualitative data that can help chart a successful path forward for your product. 

New product development studies will help you better craft your product’s design, marketing, etc. They are designed to mitigate risk and provide you with a great deal of confidence! This is why market research is a must for any new product or service.  

20. Assess Competitors 

One of the best ways to use market research to help a business is by conducting a competitive assessment. Optimizing your internal processes and offerings is important, but it means little without understanding your competition in the market.

The solution is something known as a competitive assessment, competitive analysis, or competitive audit. This research is most often completed through mystery shopping and secondary research to achieve a holistic view of competitors. 

The goals may be varied but may include documenting processes, understanding the scope of offerings, evaluating experiences with employees, etc.

With competitive intelligence in hand, a business can see exactly how its own offerings stack up. From there, it is easier to pinpoint internal areas for adjustments.

21. Qualitative Recruitment

No matter the research project, they almost always have one requirement: participants. 

Our team is experienced in finding top-notch participants utilizing a step-by-step recruitment process:

  1. a pre-qualification screener
  2. choosing the "best of the best" from a large pool of pre-qualified - not the "first come first serve" approach other firms may take. 
  3. a re-screening phone call to confirm qualification 
  4. a thorough confirmation process to ensure participants are engaged 

Our high-touch qualitative recruitment process leads to an overall higher quality participant and better data quality for your project.

22. Managing Participants 

Some firms believe their work stops after the participant is onboarded into the project. However, this often leads to high drop-off and low response rates.

Our systematic and thorough process following recruitment results in a higher show rate than other firms. 

Where other firms may provide participants with a 1-800 number with a code phrase to mention, we provide participants with a single point-of-contact.

Participants are able to call, text, or email when they have a question. This avoids the frustration of reaching a call center representative who is working on tens of projects, and in turn, may not be the most knowledgeable. 

23. Screener Writing 

With our knowledge of best practices in market research, our team has the experience to know what questions you should ask to reach your target audience. Ultimately, your participant quality is only as good as the vetting in your screener. 

Recommended Reading: What is a Recruitment Screener?


Final Thoughts 

Although market research benefits are endless, we decided to put together the most common attributes is that it helps businesses understand their customers, test new products or services before launch, guide marketing messaging, and benchmarks performance.

Benefit 1: Understanding Your Customers

At its core, market research is about understanding customers since the entire process is built around asking questions and listening to responses.

This is the single most important benefit of using Voice of Customer (VoC) market research and surveys. Through these projects, you better understand who your customers are, where they are located, and why they buy.

Market research helps your business profile and segment your customers based on age, gender, ZIP Code, household income, household make-up, ethnicity, and many other demographics. Arguably more important than the what is the why.

Understanding your customers is about understanding the motivations behind behaviors. Why do they buy your product or service? Why aren't they likely to recommend your company? Why do they prefer to buy in-store versus online? All of these questions about your customers can be answered through market research.

You may here the extremes from customers anecdotally: why they are very happy or very unhappy, but market research weeds out everyone in between to give you a representative view of your customer base.

Benefit 2: Testing a New Product or Service

As you grow your company, you'll likely have to offer new products and services. But you might be unsure about which products or services would carry the most appeal and be most successful.

Or which markets to launch into. Market research can guide you down the right path.

Product testing, concept testing, and new product development are common types of market research. Organizations come to market research suppliers to help them.

This may involve a concept test online survey or an in-home usage test (IHUT) of some actual test products. An outside consultant can offer expertise and an objective point of view on the outcomes.

Benefit 3: Guiding Your Marketing Messaging

When it comes to your product or service, what differentiates your company from other organizations?

What are the largest benefits of your product and ultimately what is the number one reason customers buy from you?

Most companies would love to quantify this information but cannot without market research or customer surveys. Knowing this information is vital for your marketing campaign.

If you know the top 3 reasons customers buy it becomes easy to integrate this messaging into your SEM, SEO, blogs, banner ads, email campaigns, television commercials, radio ads, and even newspaper ads.

The market research results can be reflected in your marketing strategy so the campaigns resonate with your audiences. Why? It's a bit like having that crystal ball.

Benefit 4: Benchmarking Performance

Lastly, market research should never be considered a one-and-done project. It should never be a one-off project. The largest benefit of market research is the ability to benchmark performance year-over-year. It needs to be a continual effort.

When it comes to market research and surveys, it will answer a lot of questions for your business but also raise many others. Our market research supplier recommends setting up key performance indicators (KPIs) to track with market research year-over-year.

These metrics should include:

  • Net promoter score (NPS)
  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT)
  • Customer effort score (CES)
  • Likelihood to switch (LTS)
  • Unaided and aided awareness
  • Perception score

Contact Drive Research

Drive Research is a full-service market research company. Our team specializes in qualitative and quantitative methodologies to deliver custom, unique insights for our clients. Whether it be designing, programming, and fielding a survey or just data cleaning - we can help. 

You can contact our team in 1 of 4 ways:

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

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