What is Market Research?

For some people, the term “research” conjures up images of scientists in laboratories studying furry little animals and conducting chemistry experiments. The term “marketing research” is often associated with telephone surveys or people standing at the exits of the local mall to “just ask you a few questions.” These latter examples of marketing research are only a small fraction of what market research comprises.

In essence, marketing research yields relevant, accurate, and timely information about customers, members, and/or stakeholders and plays a critical role in managerial decision making. By knowing what customers, members, and/or stakeholders think, do, and want, organizations can put their marketing research results to creative use and make better decisions.

Market research involves asking questions, listening to, and observing customers, members, and/or stakeholders. The methods used in market research include quantitative (e.g., surveys) and qualitative research (e.g., focus groups, in-depth interviews). There is, however, a very wide range of techniques that are used, including mystery shopping, online communities, ethnography, facial expression analysis, social media monitoring and analysis, and literature reviews, among others.

The methods used in market research are based on a variety of disciplines such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, business/marketing, and statistics. The method that is chosen will deliver the best research design given the time and budget limitations.