Every market research report begins with data collection, and this stage of the process influences how everything else goes. If you collect high-quality data from relevant sources and use the proper channels, you’ll boost your chances of creating a clear, accurate, and valuable report.
Data collection is at the heart of market research. If you do data collection wrong, the result could be an essentially useless market research report, wasted money, and poorly informed business decisions. Therefore, you need to use the right data collection tools.
The methods you use to gather your data in the early days of the market research will majorly impact the quality of the data and the effectiveness of your research report. This article will look at the best data collection tools available for market research and why they’re so helpful.
Five essential data collection tools for Market Research
Surveys are one of the most versatile and established ways of collecting data. They come in all shapes and sizes but typically follow the same rough pattern — a series of questions aimed at gathering opinions and experiences around a specific thing like a product, marketing campaign, or brand.
One of the best things about surveys is the number of channels they can be shared through:
- In-person paper surveys
- Social media
- Your website
- Mobile message
- In-app surveys
The list is almost endless. You’ve probably encountered the series of buttons in public toilets and areas like airports asking you to rate your experience quickly — that’s a fundamental type of survey aimed more at measuring customer satisfaction than market research.
Surveys can be designed in several ways. More qualitative surveys ask open-ended questions like, “What did you like about this product?” They encourage extended, detailed answers to allow deep dives into the data.
On the quantitative side, surveys may use a Likert scale — a series of points (for example, Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neither Agree nor Disagree, Agree, Strongly Agree). These types of surveys are much more restrictive for the respondent but allow you to gather more numerical data to prove existing hypotheses and create charts and graphs.
Like surveys, interviews are another way of gaining a deep and personal insight into an individual’s experiences and opinions on a topic. Interviews are incredibly qualitative and the only reliable way of getting an individual’s uninterrupted views on a topic in real-time. Interviews allow for the most profound and unfiltered responses of all the data collection methods listed here.
There are many ways to conduct an interview. Some methods are highly structured with a clear set of questions and the interviewer firmly guiding the conversation. Others can be more informal, with the interviewee free to talk about their experience at length without much input. Interviewers need to ensure they don’t nudge the respondent towards specific answers or encourage bias.
In the past, interviews could only be conducted face-to-face, introducing challenges around finding the time, space, and staff to carry them out. Today it’s possible to conduct interviews via phone call or video chat, making it much more manageable. However, these methods risk missing out on the body language cues and subtle gestures that can spark further questions.
3. Focus Groups
Focus groups bring multiple people together to discuss a particular topic (for example, a new product) and share their experiences and thoughts.
Focus groups can be helpful for several reasons — they help you gather multiple opinions at once, promote healthy discussion, and allow you to be more economical with your time and space. The best focus groups bring together people from diverse demographics and backgrounds.
It is vital to make sure one or two more assertive people don’t dominate your focus group. To prevent this, make sure to moderate the group effectively and allow everyone to have their say. At the same time, be mindful of people adapting their opinions to fit the overall group consensus.
Observation is a time-tested method of data collection that, when done right, allows researchers to gather large amounts of unbiased and unfiltered feedback. It works by giving the participant a series of questions or asking them to share their thoughts on something (like a product) in real-time.
During this process, the observer does not interfere with the participant. They watch closely and note the participant’s non-verbal reactions like facial expressions and body language. The idea is that participants’ verbal responses can be influenced by bias and tailored by the person. However, nonverbal behaviour is much less easy to control and may reflect a more honest reaction.
Observation can be an advantageous way of cutting to the root of what a person believes about a product. You should attain your participant’s full consent before the process begins. You should also be careful not to draw overly firm conclusions from the interpretation of their body language — which should be viewed as a guide.
5. Secondary sources
There are several options here, and depending on your market and research purposes, there may be a great deal of data already available. In addition to the primary methods discussed above, researchers can also look at data that others have already collected. Here are some examples of secondary data for market research:
- Government reports. While these are not usually specific to any business needs, they can still be beneficial. Government surveys and reports contain data about income brackets, spending behaviour, customer attitudes, and more. Combined with other data collection activities, this can help you better understand your target market, build more accurate customer profiles, and improve your marketing, among other benefits.
- NGO resources. Non-governmental organisations frequently research a range of subjects. Much of the data they collect is relevant to marketers for similar reasons as government reports.
- Business reports. Other companies, industry groups, and market research organisations regularly create detailed research reports that you may be able to access and use. These often don’t come cheap, but they can provide valuable insights into your target market — essentially doing a lot of your work.
Get regular insights
Keep up to date with the latest insights from our research as well as all our company news in our free monthly newsletter.
Data collection is one of the most important tasks you’ll carry out in your market research efforts. At Kadence, we help companies worldwide with every stage of the research process, including collecting and analysing precisely the correct data. Contact us to find out how we can help you do the same.