Charting a course to marketing success often begins with solid research. Lots and lots of it. But which type of research should be used for a given product, brand, or campaign? The possibilities fall into two basic categories.
Secondary research is, as its name implies, a follow up process. The sought-after data already exists. Interested parties need only pluck it from the infosphere and spin it into gold. Included in this group is published information such as reports, white papers, statistics, test results, and the like. All that’s needed is computer, a library card, and twenty gallons of coffee.
The other, broader category is primary research. Within this group is a wide range of possibilities, all of which are original, first time efforts. The primary option is exercised by do-it-yourselfers hunting for unique data. Included in this distinguished category is the following honored trio:
The Survey – This go-to of marketing research provides direct answers to a framework of pre-determined questions. It’s important to note that the survey is available in many flavors. It may be a little card dropped into your shopping bag, a questionnaire slumbering in your inbox, or anything in between. An effective survey always has these — a sufficiently large sample and amply funding. Skimpy samples and feeble funding render the survey useless.
The Interview – First cousin to the survey, the interview establishes a direct, one-on-one interchange of information. The beauty of this method is its variability. An interview may be rigidly structured to elicit specific responses to a battery of probing questions. Or it can be loosely or even non-structured, generating a spontaneous exchange of ideas flying every which way. With the latter, you never know what you’ll get – which makes it a bounty or a bust, depending on the results.
Experimentation and Testing – A well-traveled category that offers a rare, hands-on experience to eager test subjects. Often, this method takes the form of product sampling. The test-drive, taste test (a.k.a. free food on the fly), and product comparisons are among the most popular manifestations. When it comes to consumer reactions, this is the most accurate predictor of future buyer satisfaction … or the dreaded thumbs down. If you have any questions or comments about market research, or about any other brand-related topic, feel free to send them our way.