Market Research – Benefits, Methods and Analysis

Market Research is an exhaustive organized process where informative and relevant data is collected for a market/ product or a service. This data is used to study and analyse current market scenario and build future projections which can be used for business planning and strategic moves.

Market Research: Benefits

– Assists in future planning of the business. E.g.

  • Should the company expand its product line
  • Will the product be profitable

– Makes Decision Process easier

– Gives factual information (thus breaking business myths/ and individual perceptions)

– Reduces risks

– Assists in identifying competitive edge

Small or big all enterprises can and should take strategic decisions after conducting a market research in the related field.

Market Research: Methods

There are broadly two types of research

1. Quantitative Research

In this process numerical data is generated which measures the market’s phenomena and demands. This is used for statistical analysis using various mathematical and computational techniques. It quantifies attitudes/opinions/behaviour on a sample and is then extrapolated for the full sample. This is usually conducted through surveys and questionnaire.

2. Qualitative Research

In this more insights and understanding is measured for the topic. It explores various options and gathers opinions. This kind of data is collected through interviews, group discussions etc. The insights are then used to explore various business decisions.

Market Research: Analysis

This is the trickiest part as data collected has to be strategically used in gaining intellectual analysis. Business experts and market research analysts are very well acquainted to do this work.

It is very exhaustive work and various techniques & tools are used to get useful conclusions. Interestingly the same data can be used to make different inferences depending on the research needs and goals. Some common data analysis types are briefed –

Data mining – this technique focuses on modeling and discovery of knowledge discovery for predictive purposes. This method is not useful for descriptive purposes.

Business Intelligence – this technique focuses on business related information covering data analysis that relies on data aggregation.

Statistical applications – it can be

  • Descriptive statistics
  • Exploratory data analysis also called EDA (discover new features)
  • Confirmatory data analysis also known as CDA (confirms the existing hypotheses about the data)
  • Predictive analytics focuses on application of statistical models for predictive forecasting or classification e.g. market growth in 2022- with data available for 2015
  • Text analytics uses statistical, linguistic, & other methods to pull out data and classify the information received from text sources.

This analysis is then constructively used in the business planning bringing a profitable inclination towards the decisions taken. Business planning plays a major role which reflects the survival of the business.

Eye-Tracking For Marketing Research

Ever watched a TV commercial and not known what it was advertising? Sometimes we can see the same advertisement day after day and even become familiar with the advertisement’s narrative content. Yet when asked what the advertisement is trying to sell, we are at a loss. The question is why is the commercial failing so badly?

One way to answer this question is to run a marketing research study and simply ask respondents why they didn’t or couldn’t engage with the branding message in the advertisement. This might provide an answer. However, research has shown that visual attention is complex and involves both conscious and unconscious impulses. Because visual attention often depends upon unconscious impulses, respondents may not really understand their own visual behaviour. This can lead respondents to give rationalizations for their patterns of visual attention that are, in fact, quite wrong. This is a serious problem as, in marketing research, a wrong answer is often much worse than no answer at all.

You may well have heard of eye-tracking for marketing research. When used in a marketing research study, eye-tracking can give important insights into viewers’ engagement with marketing material through visual behaviour analysis. At a very basic level, visual behaviour analysis allows the marketing researcher to see through the eyes of the customer and to determine the customer’s focus of attention at any given point in time. The hope is that by conducting visual behaviour analysis, we can spot potential problems with the marketing material before the campaign is launched.

What can visual behavior analysis tell us that we don’t already know? Marketing professionals rely upon marketing research to garner insights into customer opinions and behaviour. This data is often interpreted with the aid of empathic skills, intuition and experience. However, eye-tracking gives a more direct access to the viewer’s thought processes through visual behaviour analysis. This is important as eye-tracking is not merely about viewers’ eye-gaze patterns: visual behaviour analysis helps us understand what the viewer is thinking. When we watch a viewer’s eye-gaze pattern over an advertisement, we gain an understanding of the viewer’s thought processes. What they are looking at and why? Are they paying attention to the key branding visuals? What is the link between attention to branding visuals and the ability of the viewer to recall branding information at a later date? Do the viewers read textual information? If so, how much of the text do they read?

These are just some of the generic insights offered by visual behaviour analysis. However, when we combine visual behaviour data with contextual information relating to the advertisement, the respondents’ demographic data and the respondents’ self-reported data, it is possible to build up a rich picture of the viewers’ overall engagement with the advertisement in terms of both behaviour and underlying opinions. This data helps us to better understand the viewer. It helps us determine what marketing messages work for viewers and what marketing messages leave them cold. As part of a multi-modal marketing research study, eye-tracking allows us to determine if the viewers ‘get’ our marketing message. If the viewer does ‘get it’, eye-tracking studies will tell us why and if the viewer doesn’t ‘get it’, the visual behaviour analysis will give us the data we need to determine why the advertisement has failed.

Eye-tracking involves three important steps. These are:-

The study – for the results of the eye-tracking study to be valid, the study itself must be performed using a rigorous research methodology. What this means is that the study should be performed in a scientific manner. This is often a point of confusion as some people claim that eye-tracking is not a science but rather qualitative and subjective. This is both true and false. It is true that eye-tracking data can be analysed in a qualitative way. The analysts can draw subjective inferences from the eye-tracking data. However, the validity of these inferences depends upon the validity of the data upon which they are founded. In order for the data to be valid, it must be collected in a scientific fashion. Failure to do so will not only lead to validity problems with the data but will seriously undermine the validity of any inferences drawn from the data.

The Analysis – at its most basic level, eye-tracking data reduces to a series of ‘point of regard’ co-ordinates. For screen based test media, this can be a data file containing time-stamped screen co-ordinates of the tracking subject’s eye-gaze. This data needs to be analysed to gain useful insights from the study. What can be done? Well there are many useful eye-tracking metrics. For instance, it is possible to track every glance test subjects make on the product as and when it appears on the screen. To do this, the product visuals are tracked within the advertisement and intersected with the test subjects’ point of regard co-ordinates. This will allow the analyst to quantify the test subjects’ focus of attention on the product and monitor their level of attention over time. Basically, if a metric involves viewer’s focus on attention to media visuals, it can be used.

The interpretation – provided the eye-tracking data has been collected in a valid way and processed so as to produce useful information, the eye-tracking analyst will provide you with a rigorous set of data and metrics relating to the viewer’s engagement with the advertisement and highlight potential problem areas. The eye-tracking data will be complemented with test subjects’ self-reported data. Respondents will be questioned about problem areas within the media and their overall level of recall of branding information will be assessed. Where retention of key marketing messages is wanting, the analyst will review the respondents’ eye-tracking data to try to discover what went wrong.

Consider the benefits of running eye-tacking studies against prospective marketing campaigns before they are launched. The visual behaviour analysis could identify problems with a campaign which could be corrected before the campaign begins. This has the potential to make campaigns more effective and allow you to avoid the situation where viewers are watching your advertisement with little idea of what you are trying to sell.

Market Research Axioms – If You Remember Anything Remember This

The value of a strong questionnaire design when complemented by the task of high quality sample development is not fully appreciated. Often these two essential building blocks of market research are relegated to the back of the line on research projects.

Research Axiom One: You can never fully recover from a poorly written questionnaire.

o No manipulation of the variables, regardless of how cleverly done
o No amount of analysis, regardless of how brilliant
o No degree of insightful interpretation, regardless of intellectual prowess
Nothing can save you from a poor research foundation. The building will collapse like a house of cards!

If there is one part of the research process that I know, it is questionnaire design. It is a task repeatedly given insufficient time and attention. Clients and research professional alike often underestimate the time it will take to develop a truly well structured and concise instrument.

What amazes me most? Project leaders relegate this task to a status depicted by the attitude of: “Once the questionnaire is done we can get on with the important stuff, like analysis and reporting.” The assumption that analysis work is the essence of the research and the expectation that interpreting the results is where the mastery of research ultimately lies is a mystery to me.

Have we not pounded the concept of garbage-in garbage-out into our heads? Can new internet tools substitute for critical thinking and the hard work of aligning the research instrument to the purpose of the study to answer the business questions that sponsors paid to learn?

If this seems like a bit of a rant, well I guess I am guilty. My own research-on-research including the use of a 25-point questionnaire audit system has shown me that even well healed researchers are less diligent about quality than one would hope. Research is not only science it is a craft [perhaps an art] and if the proper fundamentals are not applied the product is less than artful.

I will end this part of my ranting with an analogy [but don’t be surprised to hear more on this topic]. If you have not studied and then practiced writing poetry, would you expect to publish a book of poems simply because your marketing department asked you to? Designing a good quality research instrument probably takes less talent than being a good poet, but it’s close.

Wait, not so fast, we are not done, there is another mistake from which you cannot fully recover. A poor questionnaire design is one possible fatal mistake, but not the only one. Good solid sample development is also necessary. Here is another Research Axiom worth your consideration.

Research Axiom Two: You can never fully recover from a sample that lacks validity; and once again:

o No manipulation of the variables, regardless of how cleverly done
o No amount of analysis, regardless of how brilliant
o No degree of insightful interpretation, regardless of intellectual prowess
Nothing can save you from a poorly developed sample!

The value of sample development is also underappreciated, as are the skills related to creating a valid sample. Project managers, research analysts, and all those who lose sleep over the quality of the sample sources they have available and who work hard to provide the best possible sample for each research project they conduct, are worth their weight in gold.

With numerous challenges to good sample development always hovering over us, if the research team conducting the study does not pay close attention to this critically important task the chances of deriving useful results are likely to diminish rapidly. One of the worst situations to be in, is standing in front of a room full of executives and presenting the research implications when from off in the far corner an executive vice president (EVP) asks you, “Are you sure about that finding? Who were these respondents? They don’t appear to have any knowledge about the market or our products.”

If you can definitively reply, “We believe the respondents in this sample are qualified” and then give a crisp response about the quality control (QC) steps used to verify the validity of the sample, you have saved the day. If on the other hand, you hesitate and cannot defend the validity of the sample, you have lost your audience – there is nothing more they want to hear from you because in their minds the voice of the respondents do not reflect the people they are trying to reach – the day ends badly.

If you do not care about the quality of the research you conduct, well shame on you, but at least recognize that a sample of good quality is a necessity for self-preservation – enough said.