Market Research for Manufacturers | How the Survey Process Works?

If you are thinking about running a market research project for your manufacturing company, make sure you do it right. Rather than just quickly throwing together a survey make sure you and your team have thought through the objectives and what you want to get from the market research efforts.

Ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What do you want to learn from the market research?
  2. What are your expectations of the market research?
  3. How would you like to use the results to guide next steps?

Once you have a clear vision on the end goal of the market research, you can circle back to designing a process and designing questions to address those goals. It's a bit like looking into the future. When the market research is complete and the report is drafted, ask yourself: "What do I want to read in the report? What answers do I need to help me do my job better?"

Use this insightful 2 component process to uncover insights for your manufacturing company.

The outline below is intended to give your manufacturing company an inside look at how a market research project might work using a 2-step approach.


Manufacturing companies often come to Drive Research to obtain answers from their market. Both customers and non-customers alike. This data helps the organization take next steps with operations, marketing, and strategy.

Market research provides manufacturers with the necessary data to better understand the market and target customers. The market research is often focused on awareness, perception, satisfaction, likelihood to consider, differentiators, and other competitive data. The findings from the market research guide the client with fact-based and evidence-based decisions to inform digital and traditional strategies.

Common Approach

To get a 360 degree picture of your objectives, Drive Research typically recommends a combination of qualitative and quantitative market research for manufacturing companies. This may include something like qualitative in-depth interviews (IDIs) conducted via phone with key account customers or even wish-list clients and (2) a quantitative online survey sent to all contacts or customers in an in-house database. Manufacturers often have sales databases of contacts with can be an excellent pool to survey. This list typically encompasses more than just customers.

Step 1: Qualitative Interviews

As a first step, Drive Research utilizes the feedback obtained from the kickoff meeting to create a draft interview guide document in Word. The interview document may undergo as many edits as needed to finalize before interviews begin. Once the interview guide is finalized recruitment and scheduling for the interviews will begin.

This document will address the key objectives of the study including questions recommended by our survey team based on past industry project experience as well as customized questions for the needs of the client.

Drive Research will conduct one-on-one interviews with 8+ contacts for the manufacturing company who are deemed key accounts or wish list companies. Each will last approximately 30 minutes. Ultimately, the findings from this exploratory research will be used to help guide the questions and targeting for the follow-up email survey.

It will also provide a wealth of in-depth insights from key accounts to add to the findings from the online survey data in the next step. Interviewees are typically offered $75 to $200 which can be accepted or donated to a charity of their choice.

Watch our 60-second explainer video on Drive Research.

Step 2: Quantitative Email Survey

Following the interviews, Drive Research will develop a draft survey document in Word. The survey document can undergo as many edits as needed to finalize before online programming begins.

Once the online survey document is finalized, it will be programmed into online survey software and tested. The survey will be PC, mobile, and tablet-friendly. The test link will also be sent to the client for review so the team can view the survey as if they were a respondent participating.

The online survey is expected to take 5 minutes to complete and typically includes up to 25 questions, including up to 2 to 3 open-ended questions. Open-ended questions are free text responses with no button selections for respondents. These open-ended questions are proofed, categorized, and coded in the final report and take considerable time to read through and analyze.

Drive Research utilizes the manufacturing company's email list for the survey. It is recommended a pre-awareness email be sent to the database 1-week prior to the survey invitation. This email should explain the importance of feedback, introduce Drive Research, and set the table for a strong response rate. Drive Research passes the manufacturer a template language to utilize.

After internal testing, Drive Research will run a soft-launch of invitations to a small sample of contacts (about 10 responses). This soft-launch ensures the process is working correctly and respondents are comprehending questions as needed. Once fieldwork begins, the client will be provided a passcode protected survey link which tabulates customer data in real-time. The client can check-in on survey results 24/7 throughout the fieldwork.

Additional survey completes increases reliability and allows more flexibility in analysis to run cross-tabs and comparisons. It is expected the response rate to the survey will range between 2% and 20%. To further boost response rates, Drive Research may budget hours for reminder telephone calls targeted to non-responders. It is recommended some type of raffle be offered to encourage participation.

Report and Debrief

As a final step, the market research company compiles a comprehensive report which analyzes all of the feedback and data. The report is grouped into a themed executive summary with recommendations and action items. Other deliverables include a question-by-question breakdown of the data, an infographic, respondent persona(s), and an Excel CSV file of all data.

It is important to spend the majority of your time on the analysis and interpretation of the data. What is done as far as next steps and action items is where the true value of market research lies. Use the market research to inform marketing decisions, refine your message, change the marketing channels you use for outreach, etc.

Contact Drive Research

Drive Research is a market research firm who works with manufacturing companies across the country. Our team is located in Upstate New York and our services include a full-range of qualitative and quantitative market research.

Learn more about our market research services here. Or contact us below.

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

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