Notes on Market Research

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Status: ON-GOING

I’m currently in market research (MR) by accident.

Research in general has been a fascinating endeavor for me, if exhausting most of the time. MR, in particular, is an interesting field which shapes our society for better and worse.

The notes below are raw, unabridged. I will polish them when I find time.


Market Research is the process of understanding your business and the intended recepients of its products and/or services, by gathering and analyzing data, and making insights on them on a specific market. Through MR, companies can plan their resources to satisfy the needs of the market at the right time. We do MR to make better decisions. As with many things in life, good information reduces risk. Thus, MR is also about risk management.

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6 Cs of MR

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Product life cycle

Consider how MR playes a role in providing information in this cycle.

  1. Development: Identify needs and gaps; address “pain points”; spot unmet needs
  2. Launch: Test and improve to optimize the launch offer, e.g., features, pack, pricing, ads.
  3. Expansion & Expansion: Measure the impact of tactical activity, e.g., advertising, promotion, distribution, price changes, competitor activity, loyalty
  4. Decline: monitor to give an early warning of the need for change;
  5. Rejuvenation: identify, develop, and test options; realigning to a changed market; replacing with innovations
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Demand cycle

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Broad research classification

There are many ways to do research; and there is no one way. In fact, we use a combination of these methods in practice.

But it’s helpful to determined first how each one differs from another, so we can better decide what approach/es to use.

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Primary vs Secondary Research

Primary research is done by you or on your behalf, which then generates data to address a specific problem, usually for a specific client. Cost varies depending on the needs of the client.

Secondary research relies on data that’s already available, whether from external or internal source/s. They’re usually free, or at least more affordable. It answers the research problem without the need for primary research. Secondary research, by getting a bird’s eyeview of the marketplace, helps define the problem.

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Qualitative (Qual) vs Quantitative (Quant) Research

Qualitative research is all about exploring opinions and behaviors. Priority is depth of understanding. It involves a small number of respondents.

The researcher, most of the time, is also the interviewer.

Examples include focus group discussions (FGD), depth interviews, and observations/ethnography.

Qual investigates habitual behavior where people need help to articulate why they do what they do. It is used to generate ideas by asking only a niche market.

Quantitative research focuses on measuring opinions and behaviors. Priority is robust representation of the population. It involves larger numbers of respondents.

Here, researcher is not the interviewer.

Examples include face-to-face interviews, telephone/mobile interviews, and panel diary.

Quant is used when greater confidence is needed in the validity of results, i.e., in generalization to the population. It identifies the most important groups from a broad population, rather than going in depth of understanding.

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Key Research Methodologies

exploratory research - flexible, unstructured research; used to establish research priorities - e.g.: FGD, case analysis, secondary data analysis

descriptive research - answers who what where when how; surveys - e.g.: panels, longitudinal studies (research over a period of time)

causal research - measure relationships, such as if x then y - e.g.: test market, before-after with control group

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  1. usage and attitude - measures what people do and what people feel/think

    • determines penetration/incidence of product/service usage
    • conducted using random sample
    • tackles 5Ps: {product, promotion, price, place, people}
      • used in order to get a comprehensive understanding of the market
      • but you may use only select few, especially if you don’t need some Ps
    • keep research objectives focused
    • long questionnaires give poor quality data
    • consider income/target market, brand usage
    • make sure you understand the key objectives to have a more focused method; discussed on the onset
  2. ad testing - test or compare ads to measure their likely effectiveness

    • spot for areas to improve
    • evaluate content before they are put in production
    • possible KPI: appeal, relevance, uniqueness, credibility, cut through (has it been seen), persuasion, main message taken out
    • be very clear on the key business outcome expected (great brief)
    • it’s okay to include other potential users if incidence is small (less than 30%)
    • define the key message in ‘consumer speak’
      • what is the SINGLE most interesting thing the advert is intended to convey to make the consumer choose this brand rather than its competitors
  3. product testing - used to collect qualitative consumption/usage behavior, preference, and reactions on a product

    • involves consumers using or consuming products, and collecting reaction
    • innovation (new product good enough for the market), renovation (consumers reaction to a change in existing product), benchmarking (compare with competitors)
    • key considerations:
      • test location - done in a central location (cafe, hotel, house, etc)
      • approach - depends on objective, number of test products, budget, client sophistication
      • test products - need at least 20% buffer samples (for disqualified respondents); control product (benchmark) is used?
      • blind (unbranded) or identified (branded)
      • action standards
  4. tracking - continuous research, minimal change in the questionnaire drastically

    • monitors changes in the market place
    • what are the plans and strategies for brand?
    • strengths and weaknesses?
    • primary target audience?
    • what is your market position?
    • ultimate objective of tracking? is it to understand brand or comms?
    • who are your competitors?
    • ensure consistency - confident that changes you report are real changes in the market, and not caused y changes in how you are conducting research
    • sample size: rolling data means that any one respondent’s answers will be used not just in reporting one week, but in rpeorting 4/6/8 consecutive weeks
  5. omnibus - serving several purposes at once; comprising several items/categories

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Questionnaire Design

Not really sure how incentives work in our FW (if any), pero how would you tell that to respondents? Like in the beginning of the questionnaires?

Open or Pre-coded

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Probability Sampling

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Non-probability Sampling



Qualitative is rooted in psychology, cultural anthropology, sociology.

Qualitative Research is a field of inquiry that crosscuts disciplines and subject matters. It investigates the why and how of decision making. Qualitative Research is concerned with understanding perceptions and motivations through non-directive interviewing.

Brand Equity - what the brand stands for; value power imagery; how consumers perceive brand

Brand salience - being remembered by consumers

Sample accurately reflects the characteristics of the population.

SOV (share of voice) - measures the investment in your placement; share in the noise

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