How To Conduct Your Own Basic Market Research

Blue O'Connor
International Trade Research Adviser | Business West
1st February 2018

In a world of big data, statistics, insights, reports and other information, the thought of conducting market research for your own business can seem overwhelming. 

Do not fear! This blog is here to guide you through the process of conducting some basic market research.

1. Create a Market Research Brief

First things first, you will need to create a market research brief. This document will stop you from going off tangent and will form the structure of your eventual market research report. 

Your brief should answer the following questions:

a) What is the purpose of your market research? 

b) What is the geographical and industry scope of your research? 

c) What questions will your research answer? 

Here is an example for a fictitious start-up business who want to start selling premium, organic dog food in the UK. 

a) What is the purpose of your market research?

To determine whether or not we should start our business. 

b) What is the geographical and industry scope of your research? 

Limited to the UK only and the dog food market.

c) What questions will your research answer? 

  • What is the value of the pet food market in the UK?
  • What is the current growth of the pet food market in the UK?
  • What is the forecasted value and growth of the UK pet market? 
  • Where do our potential customers buy dog food?
  • What retailers sell dog food? 
  • Who distributes dog food to retailers? 
  • Who are the main competitors and what is their Unique Selling Point (USP)?

The above is just an example, as your personal brief should elicit the answers your business needs answering right now. 

2. Conduct your Market Research

There are two types of market research; primary research and secondary research. 

Primary research involves gathering new data directly from the consumer or potential customer. Activities such as questionnaires, interviews, focus groups and surveys fall under the remit of primary research.

Secondary research uses data that already exists. There are two types. Firstly, you can buy readymade reports from companies such as Euromonitor International. Secondly, you can conduct desk-based research, which involves gathering existing data that has already been produced. 

What type of research you conduct is entirely your choice. If your resources are limited then you will most likely go down the path of desk based (secondary) research. 

However, online surveys can be created using sites such as Survey Monkey and they allow you to gather your own primary research data in a simple manner. 

In terms of reference for this blog, we will focus on desk based (secondary) research. 

3. Surf the Web without Drowning

Once you begin your secondary research, you will notice that it is rather easy to digress from the question you are trying to answer. 

Google’s search engine is a great place to start but consider local search engines like ‘Baidu’ if you are conducting research on the Chinese market. 

Surfing the internet can you lead you down many rabbit holes so utilizing the Pareto law (80:20) will save you wasting time trying to find that last 20% of information. The Pareto law (also known as the 80/20 rule) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In terms of internet research, 20% of the resources will provide 80% of your content.  

4. Resources and Websites

The internet provides us with a wealth of information and at times, misinformation. It is best practice to use material from credible sources. Here are the Business West Research Team’s top 3 sites:

The Business West International Research Team has exclusive commercial access to data and reports produced by Euromonitor International, Orbis Bureau Van Dijk and order organisations in order to complete specific reports for clients enrolled on the “Export for Growth” and “Extend your Global Reach” programmes.

5. Conclusions and Action

Once your research is complete, you should be able to answer your original questions, form conclusions and set the actions you need to take next.  Be sure to write up a formal report and use your original market research brief to form the structure of your document. 

For further information, please contact Business West and/or sign up to our newsletter. 

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