8 questions to ask market research

8 Questions You Should Ask Before Conducting Research

#1. What does a research company need to know from me?
If your business has questions that need answering you may have made the same decision that a lot of businesses do: turning to market research to get those answers. However, for companies that have never done market research before, it may be difficult to know what they need to do in order to get the best possible results.

Start with an internal discussion of what problems your business may be facing. You don’t need to know exactly how you will address those questions through research – that’s where the provider will come in. Also think about what goals you are hoping to achieve with your research results and who in your organization will need to use these results. Talk with stakeholders within your organization to see what’s on their wish list to know. These points will allow the researchers to choose a research methodology that will fit your needs. Furthermore, letting your research provider know what kind of budget you are working with will help them operate within your means.

#2. Who is my target population?
Determining your target population or respondent group (those who will be providing you with answers – such as current or potential customers, employees, or other stakeholder groups) is crucial to gathering actionable results that answer the research objectives. The target respondent is often determined by thinking critically about what hurdle your business is trying to overcome. For example, if you wanted to determine customer satisfaction for a line of winter tires, you might want to survey only those with a vehicle.

Your target audience may be quite general (all Canadians, for example) or quite specific. If you’re unsure of who your target audience is, our team of research executives can help you pin-point exactly who you should be talking to. For example, our SaskWatch Research™ Panel has over 100 profile questions to ensure your survey is taken by exactly who you want to reach.

#3. What are quotas and do I need them?
Quotas are partitions of the population that are created to make sure that your research is representative of the population you’re trying to survey. For example, if you want to get an idea about what Canadians think about a certain topic, you would want to have about half of the people answering to be male and half female in order to match demographics. The most common quotas are based on age, gender, and region.

Setting quotas helps you to make sure that the research results that you get are applicable to the population at large. This extra step allows you to make accurate forecasts about things like market share or uptake of a new product.

#4. What approach should I take?
What kind of research methods you utilize depends on what kind of answers you’re looking for. If the questions you want to ask start with ‘how many, how often, what, and where,’ then chances are you will want to use a method of quantitative research. This type of research is intended to be statistically reflective of the market, and will give you quantitative statistics that you can extrapolate to a larger population.

If your question is about ‘why’ or ‘how,’ you might want to utilize a qualitative research method. Qualitative research employs methods, such as focus groups and in-depth interviews, allow you to dig deeper, but with fewer respondents. These exploratory research methods more fully uncover respondents’ perceptions, experiences and feelings, and add additional context to quantitative results.

The division between qualitative and quantitative research is frequently blurred. Often, a comprehensive research project will involve more than one type of research to answer various objectives.

#5. How much data should be collected?
This question depends heavily on what kind of budget you are working with, however, spending more is not necessarily better. Depending on what your objective is, impactful research can be done on a relatively minimal budget. Think about how much detail you need in order to make whatever business decisions you’re trying to make. Are you looking to understand if your customers are satisfied with a certain product? Measuring a potential customer’s perception and barriers? Determining the awareness of your brand on a local scale? Whatever the need, it is crucial that enough respondents are obtained to ensure your results are statistically valid. However, paying more to get extremely accurate results when the organization is not able to take action on them means wasted budget. An experienced research provider can guide you to making these decisions and recommend an effective methodology.

#6. How long will it take?
How long your research takes depends on what type of research you are wanting to conduct, how many people you want to reach, and what method you would like to use (telephone takes longer than online, for example). It also depends on how clear you are with your research objectives. Your research provider will provide you timeline at the beginning of your project so that you are able to plan accordingly.

However, there are options if you are in a crunch for time. For example, Insightrix offers a monthly OnTopic™ omnibus survey. OnTopic™ surveys are great if you only have a few questions to ask and have a tight deadline on the data needed. Your questions will be combined with other omnibus clients and is given as one single survey to our panelists. OnTopic™ has a one week turnaround, giving you faster access to the answers you’ve been looking for.

#7. How will I be kept aware of the progress of my research?
Your project will be assigned a project manager that will keep you informed on the status of your research. This is your primary point of contact and this individual will be the one to inform you if any complications should arise.

Especially if your research project has a long field window, you may want to monitor the results as interviews are taking place. Topline reporting allows clients to monitor the results of each survey the moment the responses are collected. The results ideally include user-friendly features that display counts, percentages, and graphs for each question, offering the ability to share these topline results within your organization.

#8. What kind of results will I receive?
Research results don’t mean much if they are indecipherable. Depending on the needs of your business, there are many different types of deliverables that can be provided at the end of your research project, such as written reports in Word, PowerPoint reports, detailed tables, in-person presentations, infographics, to name a few.

With individuals at all levels in an organization becoming shorter and shorter on time, a concise reporting style is essential. Sharp analysis, visually-engaging presentations, structured narrative, and succinct summaries as well as infographics that “pop” and engaging videos will engage stakeholders with the story your data is trying to tell.