The Ultimate Guide to Market Research: Types, Benefits, and Real-World Examples





Today's consumers hold a lot of power when making purchase decisions. With a quick inquiry in a search engine or search bar within a social media platform, they can access genuine reviews from their peers without relying on sales reps.

Considering this shift in consumer behavior, adjusting your marketing strategy so it caters to the modern-day buying process is essential. To achieve this, you must thoroughly understand your target audience, the market you operate in, and the factors influencing their decision-making.

This is where market research can be leveraged so you stay current with your audience and industry. 

Article Overview

In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about how to conduct market research, including:

  • Why market research is essential for understanding your target audience, the market you operate in, and factors influencing decision-making
  • What are the different types of market research, such as primary and secondary market research
  • How to collect information about your customers and target market to determine the success of a new or existing product, improve your brand, and communicate your company's value
  • Real-world examples of companies leveraging market research
Schedule your Free Market Research Consultation with Fratzke
Schedule your Free Market Research Consultation with Fratzke

What is market research?

Market research is a necessary process that involves collecting and documenting information about your target market and customers. This helps you determine the success of a new product, improve an existing one, or understand how your brand is perceived. You can then turn this research into profits by  developing marketing strategies and campaigns to effectively communicate your company's value.

While market research can provide insights into various aspects of an industry, it is not a crystal ball that can predict everything about your customers. Market researchers typically explore multiple areas of the market, which can take several weeks or even months to get a complete picture of the business landscape.

Even by researching just one of those areas, you can gain better insights into who your buyers are and what unique value proposition you can offer them that no other business currently provides.

Of course, you can simply use your industry experience and existing customer insights to make sound judgment calls. However, it's important to note that market research provides additional benefits beyond these strategies. There are two things to consider:

  1. Your competitors also have experienced individuals in the industry and a customer base. Your immediate resources may equal those of your competition's immediate resources. Seeking a larger sample size for answers can provide a better edge.
  2. Your brand's customers do not represent the entire market's attitudes, only those who are attracted to your brand.

The market research services industry is experiencing rapid growth, indicating a strong interest in market research as we enter 2024. The market is expected to grow from approximately $75 billion in 2021 to $90.79 billion in 2025, with a compound annual growth rate of 5%. 

Your competitors have highly skilled individuals within the industry, meaning your available personnel resources are likely similar to those of your competitors. So what are you going to do to get ahead?

You’re going to do thorough market research, which is why seeking answers from a larger sample size is essential. Remember that your customers represent only a portion of the market already attracted to your brand, and their attitudes may not necessarily reflect those of the entire market. You could be leaving money on the table by leaving out untapped customers.

Why do market research?

Market research helps you meet your buyers where they are. Understanding your buyer's problems, pain points, and desired outcomes is invaluable as our world becomes increasingly noisy and demanding. This knowledge will help you tailor your product or service to appeal to them naturally. 

What’s even better is when you're ready to grow your business, market research can also guide you in developing an effective market expansion strategy.

Market research provides valuable insights into factors that impact your profits and can help you to :

What can market research help your brand with?
What can market research help your brand with?
  • Identify where your target audience and current customers are conducting their product or service research
  • Determine which competitors your target audience looks to for information, options, or purchases
  • Keep up with the latest trends in your industry and understand what your buyers are interested in
  • Understand who makes up your market and what challenges they are facing
  • Determine what influences purchases and conversions among your target audience
  • Analyze consumer attitudes about a particular topic, pain, product, or brand
  • Assess the demand for the business initiatives you're investing in
  • Identify unaddressed or underserved customer needs that can be turned into selling opportunities
  • Understand consumer attitudes about pricing for your product or service.

Market research provides valuable information from a larger sample size of your target audience, enabling you to obtain accurate consumer attitudes. By eliminating any bias or assumptions you have about your target audience, you can make better business decisions based on the bigger picture. 

As you delve deeper into your market research, you will come across two types of research: primary and secondary market research. Simply put, think of two umbrellas beneath market research - one for primary and one for secondary research. In the next section, we will discuss the difference between these two types of research. That way, if you work with a market who wants to use them, you’ll be ready with an understanding of how they can each benefit your business.

Primary vs. Secondary Research

Both primary and secondary research are conducted to collect actionable information on your product. That information can then be divided into two types: qualitative and quantitative research. Qualitative research focuses on public opinion and aims to determine how the market feels about the products currently available. On the other hand, quantitative research seeks to identify relevant trends in the data gathered from public records. 

Let's take a closer look at these two types.

Primary Research vs Secondary Research
Primary Research vs Secondary Research

Primary Research

Primary research involves gathering first-hand information about your market and its customers. It can be leveraged to segment your market and create focused buyer personas. Generally, primary market research can be categorized into exploratory and specific studies.

Exploratory Primary Research

This type of primary market research is not focused on measuring customer trends; instead, it is focused on identifying potential problems worth addressing as a team. It is usually conducted as an initial step before any specific research is done and may involve conducting open-ended interviews or surveys with a small group of people.

Specific Primary Research

After conducting exploratory research, businesses may conduct specific primary research to explore issues or opportunities they have identified as necessary. Specific research involves targeting a smaller or more precise audience segment and asking questions aimed at solving a suspected problem. Specific primary research reveals problems that are unique to your audience so you can then offer a unique (and valuable) solution.

Secondary Research

Secondary research refers to collecting and analyzing data that has already been published or made available in public records. This may include market statistics, trend reports, sales data, and industry content you already can access. Secondary research really shines when you go to your competitors. The most commonly used sources of secondary market research include:

  • Public sources
  • Commercial sources
  • Internal sources

Public Sources

When conducting secondary market research, the first and most accessible sources of information are usually free. That’s right–these public sources are free and at your fingertips so there’s no reason for you to not be checking them out and leveraging them for your own gain.

One of the most common types of public sources is government statistics. According to Entrepreneur, two examples of public market data in the United States are the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor & Statistics. These sources offer helpful information about the state of various industries nationwide including:

Commercial Sources

Research agencies such as Pew, Fratzke, Gartner, or Forrester often provide market reports containing industry insights from their own in-depth studies. These reports usually come at a cost if you want to download and obtain the information, but these agencies are experts at what they do, so the research is most likely valuable.

Internal Sources

Internal sources of market data can include average revenue per sale, customer retention rates, and other data on the health of old and new accounts. They are often overlooked when it comes to conducting market research because of how specific the data is; however, these sources can be valuable as they provide information on the organization's historical data.

By analyzing this information, you can gain insights into what your customers want now. In addition to these broad categories, there are various ways to conduct market research. Let’s talk about them.  

Types of Market Research

  1. Interviews (in-person or remote)
  2. Focus Groups
  3. Product/ Service Use Research
  4. Observation-Based Research
  5. Buyer Persona Research
  6. Market Segmentation Research
  7. Pricing Research
  8. Competitive Analysis Research
  9. Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty Research
  10. Brand Awareness Research
  11. Campaign Research
11 types of market research
11 types of market research


Interviews can be conducted face-to-face or virtually, allowing for a natural conversation flow while observing the interviewee's body language. By asking questions about themselves, the interviewee can help you create buyer personas, which are made by using information about the ideal customer, such as:

  • Age 
  • Family size 
  • Budget 
  • Job title 
  • Challenges faced at work or in life 

And other aspects of their lifestyle. This buyer profile can shape your entire marketing strategy, from the features you add to your product to the content you publish on your website. Your target audience will feel that the marketing was made just for them and will be drawn to your product or service.

Focus Groups

Focus groups are market research involving a few carefully selected individuals who can test your product, watch a demonstration, offer feedback, and answer specific questions. This research can inspire ideas for product differentiation or highlight the unique features of your product or brand that set it apart from others in the market.  This is a great market research option to gain specific feedback, which you can use to improve your services.

Product/Service Use Research

Product or service usage research provides valuable insights into how and why your target audience uses your product or service.  This research can help in various ways including:

  •  Identifying specific features of your offering that appeal to your audience. 
  • Allowing you to assess the usability of your product or service for your target audience. 

According to a report published in 2020, usability testing was rated the most effective method for discovering user insights, with a score of 8.7 out of 10. In comparison, digital analytics scored 7.7, and user surveys scored 6.4.

Observation-Based Research

Observation-based research is a process that involves observing how your target audience members use your product or service. The way that you intended your product or service to be used may not be the actual way that it is used. Observation-based research helps you understand what works well in terms of customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX), what problems they face, and which aspects of your product or service can be improved to make it easier for them to use.

Buyer Persona Research

To better understand how your potential customers make purchasing decisions in your industry, it is essential to know who they are. This is where buyer persona research comes in handy. Buyer or marketing personas are fictional yet generalized representations of your ideal customers. They give you someone to whom you want your marketing efforts to empathize and move, even though they don’t really exist. 

Gathering survey data and additional research to correctly identify your buyer personas will help you to visualize your audience so you can streamline your communications and inform marketing strategy. Key characteristics to include in a buyer persona are:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Job title(s)
  • Job titles
  • Family size
  • Income
  • Major challenges
Customer Persona Example
Customer Persona Example

Market Segmentation Research

Market segmentation research enables you to classify your target audience into various groups or segments based on specific and defining characteristics. This method allows you to understand their needs, pain points, expectations, and goals more effectively.

Pricing Research

Pricing research can provide valuable insights about the prices of similar products or services in your market. It can help you understand what your target audience expects to pay for your offerings and what would be a reasonable price for you to set. Correct pricing is important because if you set it too high, consumers will go to your cheaper competitor; but if you set it too low, your consumers may become suspicious of your product or service and still end up with your competitor. This information allows you to develop a solid pricing strategy aligning with your business goals and objectives. 

Competitive Analysis

Competitive analyses are incredibly valuable as they provide a deep understanding of your market and industry competition. Through these analyses, you can gain insights like: 

  • What works well in your industry 
  • What your target audience is already interested in regarding products like yours
  • Which competitors you should work to keep up with and surpass 
  • How you can differentiate yourself from the competition

Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty Research

Understanding customer satisfaction and loyalty is crucial to encouraging repeat business and identifying what drives customers to return (such as loyalty programs, rewards, and exceptional customer service). Researching this area will help you determine the most effective methods to keep your customers coming back again and again. If you have a CRM system, consider further utilizing automated customer feedback surveys to improve your understanding of their needs and preferences.

Brand Awareness Research

Brand awareness research helps you understand the level of familiarity your target audience has with your brand. It provides insights into your audience members' perceptions and associations when they think about your business.This type of research reveals what they believe your brand represents. This information is valuable for developing effective marketing strategies, improving your brand's reputation, and increasing customer loyalty.

Campaign Research

To improve your marketing campaigns, you need to research by analyzing the success of your past campaigns among your target audience and current customers. This requires experimentation and thoroughly examining the elements that resonate with your audience. By doing so, you can identify the aspects of your campaigns that matter most to your audience and use them as a guide for future campaigns. 

Now that you understand the different market research categories and types let's look at how to conduct your market research.  Using our expertise and experience, we’ve created a step-by-step guide to conducting market research.

How to Do Market Research (Detailed Roadmap)

  1. Define the problem or objective of the research. 
  2. Determine the type of data needed. 
  3. Identify the sources of data. 
  4. Collect the data. 
  5. Analyze the data. 
  6. Interpret the results. 
  7. Report the findings. 
  8. Take action based on the findings.
Market Research Roadmap
Market Research Roadmap

1. Define the problem or objective of the research

Defining the problem or objective of the research is the first step in conducting market research. This involves identifying the specific issue that the research is trying to address. It is essential to be clear and specific about the research problem or objective, as it will guide the entire research process.

2. Determine the type of data needed

After defining the research problem or objective, the next step is determining the data type needed to address the issue. This involves deciding whether to collect primary or secondary data. Primary data is collected directly from the source, while secondary data is collected from existing sources such as government reports or market research studies.

3. Identify the sources of data

Once the data type has been determined, the next step is identifying the data sources. This involves identifying potential sources of primary and secondary data that can be used to address the research problem or objective. Primary data sources can include surveys, focus groups, and interviews, while secondary data sources can include government reports, industry publications, and academic journals.

4. Collect the data

After identifying the data sources, the next step is to collect the data. This involves designing and implementing a data collection plan consistent with the research problem or objective. The data collection plan should specify the methods and procedures for collecting data, sample size, and sampling method.

5. Analyze the data

Once the data has been collected, the next step is to analyze the data. This involves organizing, summarizing, and interpreting the data to identify patterns, relationships, and trends. The research problem or objective should guide the data analysis process and be conducted using appropriate statistical methods and software.

6. Interpret the results

After analyzing the data, the next step is to interpret the results. This involves drawing conclusions from the data analysis and using the results to address the research problem or objective. It is essential to analyze the results objectively and to avoid making assumptions or drawing conclusions that are not supported by the data.

7. Report the findings

Try identifying common themes to create a story and action items.To make the process easier, use your favorite presentation software to create a report, as it will make it easy to add quotes, diagrams, or call clips.

Feel free to add your flair, but the following outline should help you craft a clear summary:

  • Background: What are your goals, and why did you conduct this study?
  • Participants: Who you talked to? A table works well to break groups down by persona and customer/prospect.
  • Executive Summary: What were the most exciting things you learned? What do you plan to do about it?
  • Key Findings: Identify the key findings using data visualizations and emphasize key points.
  • Recommendations + Action Plan: Your analysis will uncover actionable insights to fuel strategies and campaigns you can run to get your brand in front of buyers earlier and more effectively. Provide your list of priorities, action items, a timeline, and its impact on your business.

8. Take action based on the findings

The final step in conducting market research is to take action based on the findings. This involves using the results to make informed decisions about the marketing strategy, product development, or other business decisions. It is important to use the findings to drive action and to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the action taken continuously.

How to Prepare for Market Research Projects

  1. Identify a persona group to engage
  2. Prepare research questions for your market research participants
  3. List your primary competitors

Identify a persona group to engage

The idea is to use your persona as a reference point for understanding and reaching out to your industry's audience members. Your business might cater to more than one persona, and that's completely acceptable! However, you must be mindful of each persona while strategizing and planning your content and campaigns. 

How to Identify the Right People to Engage for Market Research

When selecting a group on which to conduct market research, it is essential to consider individuals with the same characteristics as your target audience. 

If you need to research multiple target audiences, recruit separate groups for each one. Select people who have recently interacted with you by looking through social media for post interactions or seeing if they’ve made recent purchases from you.

If you are planning to conduct an evaluation, it is recommended that you focus on people who have completed it within the last six months. However, if you have a longer sales cycle or a specific market, you can extend the period up to a year. It is crucial to ask detailed questions during the evaluation, so the participants' experience must be fresh.

Gather a mix of participants

If you want to expand your customer base, you’re going to want to get viewpoints of your product or service from every angle. Consider getting this mix by recruiting individuals who have already purchased your product, those who have bought a competitor's product, and those who haven't purchased anything. While targeting your existing customers may be the easiest option, gathering information from non-customers can help you gain a more balanced market perspective.

We recommend taking the following steps to select a mix of participants:

  1. Create a list of customers who made a recent purchase. This is usually the most accessible group to recruit. If you have a CRM system with list segmentation capabilities, run a report of deals that closed within the past six months and filter it for the characteristics you're looking for. Otherwise, work with your sales team to get them a list of appropriate accounts.
  2. Create a list of customers who were in an active evaluation but didn't make a purchase. You should get a mix of buyers who either purchased from a competitor or decided not to purchase. Again, you can obtain this list from your CRM or your Sales team's system to track deals.
  3. Use social media to call for participants. Try reaching out to people who follow you on social media but decided not to buy from you. Some may be willing to talk to you and explain why they did not purchase your product.
  4. Leverage your network. Spread the word that you're conducting a study to your coworkers, former colleagues, and LinkedIn connections. Even if your direct connections don't qualify, some will likely have a coworker, friend, or family member who does.
  5. Choose an incentive to motivate participants to spend time on your study. If you're on a tight budget, you can reward participants for free by giving them exclusive access to content. 
Related Resources:

Prepare research questions for your market research participants

Preparation is key when conducting research in hopes of gaining productive and informative conversations. This involves creating a discussion guide, whether it is for a focus group, an online survey, or a phone interview. The guide should help you cover all the relevant topics and manage your time efficiently.

The discussion guide should be in an outline format, with an allocated time and open-ended questions for each section. All the questions must be open-ended, as asking closed questions may lead the interviewee to respond with a simple "yes" or "no" answer. You may need more detailed answers to make informed decisions, so be sure to ask follow-up questions as necessary.  Also leave out any leading questions as they may unintentionally influence the interviewee's response, skewing your research results.

List your primary competitors

It's essential to identify your competitors accurately and you may even have some hidden in plain sight.  There are some instances where your company's business division might compete with your main product or service, even though that company's brand might have a different focus. Take a look at Apple:  the company is known primarily for its laptops and mobile devices, but Apple Music competes with Spotify over its music streaming service.

From a content perspective, you might compete with a blog, YouTube channel, or similar publication for inbound website visitors — even though their products don't overlap with yours. An example of this is when a toothpaste company might compete with publications like or Prevention on specific blog topics related to health and hygiene, even though the magazines don't sell oral care products.

Here are a few ways to build your competitor list:

  1. Check your industry quadrant on G2 Crowd: This is a significant first step for secondary market research in some industries. G2 Crowd aggregates user ratings and social data to create "quadrants" that show companies as contenders, leaders, niche players, or high performers in their respective industries. G2 Crowd specializes in digital content, IT services, HR, e-commerce, and related business services.
  2. Download a market report: Companies like Forrester and Gartner offer free and gated market forecasts yearly on the vendors leading their industry. On Forrester's website, for example, you can select "Latest Research" from the navigation bar and browse Forrester's latest material using a variety of criteria to narrow your search. These reports are good assets to save on your computer.
  3. Use social media: Social networks can be excellent company directories if you use the search bar correctly. On LinkedIn, for example, select the search bar and enter the name of the industry you're pursuing. Then, under "More," select "Companies" to narrow your results to the businesses that include this or a similar industry term on their LinkedIn profile.

Identifying Content Competitors

Search engines can be beneficial when it comes to secondary market research. To identify the online publications competing with your business, start with the overarching industry term you identified earlier, and then come up with more specific industry terms that are related to your company . For example, if you run a catering business, you might consider yourself a "food service" company, as well as a vendor in "event catering," "cake catering," "baked goods," and so on.

Once you have this list, follow these steps:

  1. Google it: Running a search on Google for the industry terms that describe your company can be very beneficial. You may come across a mix of product developers, blogs, magazines, and other websites.
  2. Compare your search results against your buyer persona: Remember the persona you created during the primary research stage? You can use it to evaluate whether a publication you found through Google could steal website traffic from you. If the website's content aligns with what your buyer persona would want to see, it is a potential competitor and should be added to your list of competitors.

After a series of similar Google searches for the industry terms you identify with, look for repetition in the website domains that have come up.

When searching, examine the first two or three pages of results. These websites are considered reputable sources of content in your industry and should be monitored closely as you create your collection of videos, reports, web pages, and blog posts.

Make faster, smarter decisions with market research.
Make faster, smarter decisions with market research

Market Research Examples

McDonald's Focus on Customer Feedback and Profiling

McDonald's invests in developing a detailed consumer profile to attract and retain customers, including parents of young children who appreciate the family-friendly atmosphere and menus. The brand seeks feedback from customers through surveys and questionnaires in stores, social media, and its mobile app. It also monitors customer feedback on digital channels.

Nike's Extensive Research and Collaboration for Running Shoes Development

Nike invests heavily in creating running shoes that cater to the needs of its customers, which it determines through extensive market research and customer surveys. The brand goes to great lengths to understand its customers' preferences, such as the type of running surface, the distance they run, and their running style, to develop shoes that meet their specific needs.

In addition to customer surveys, Nike also collaborates with athletes to develop shoes that cater to their specific requirements. This research helps Nike improve its existing running shoe models and innovate new ones, ensuring that the brand stays ahead of the competition.

Disney employs focus groups that specifically cater to children to test out their new characters and ideas.

The Walt Disney Company invests millions of dollars in creating captivating stories tested for their effectiveness with children, the intended audience. Disney executives hold focus groups with preschoolers and kindergartners several times a year to gather their opinions and feedback on TV episodes, Disney characters, and more. 

This market research strategy is effective because children are the ultimate audience that Disney aims to please. The collected feedback helps the company improve existing content to meet the preferences of its audience and ensure continued success as a multi-billion dollar enterprise.

KFC tested its meatless product in specific markets before launching it nationwide.

In 2019, KFC began developing and testing a meatless version of its famous chicken. However, instead of immediately launching the product nationwide, they decided to test it in select stores in the Atlanta, Georgia area. 

This is an innovative and practical approach to market research, as it allows the company to determine the product's sales performance on a smaller scale before committing too many resources to it. If the meatless chicken fails to gain popularity in Georgia, KFC can make the necessary changes to the product before introducing it to the broader market.

Yamaha conducted a survey to determine whether to use knobs or sliding faders on the Montage keyboard.

Yamaha is a Japanese corporation that produces various products, from motorcycles to golf cars to musical instruments. When it began developing its new Montage keyboard, the team was unsure whether to use knobs or sliding faders on the product. 

To address this dilemma, Yamaha used Qualtrics to send a survey to their customers. Within just a few hours, they received 400 responses. By using survey feedback, Yamaha ensured that it was designing a product that would perfectly meet the preferences of its audiences.

The Body Shop used social listening to determine how to reposition brand campaigns based on customer feedback.

The Body Shop is a well-known brand that offers ethically sourced and natural products. They take pride in their core value of sustainability. The Body Shop team tracked conversations to understand the sustainability subtopics that were most important to their audiences. 

They found that their customers cared a lot about refills. Based on this information, the Body Shop team confidently relaunched their Refill Program across 400 stores globally in 2021, with plans to add another 400 in 2022. Market research confirmed that their refill concept was on the right track and also highlighted the need for increased efforts to demonstrate how much the Body Shop cares about its customers' values.



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The Takeaway

Fratzke Consulting offers a comprehensive suite of market research services to help brands gain valuable insights into their target market, competitors, and industry trends. Our expert team utilizes various primary and secondary research methods to gather accurate and unbiased data, including surveys, competitive research, and industry reports. With Fratzke Consulting, you'll have the tools to succeed in today's rapidly evolving business landscape.

Interested in learning more? Book a free audit consultation today.

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