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How Should Market Research be Performed?

There is a wide range of alternative research methods for collecting market information.

Generally speaking, there are three choices:

  • Conduct primary (original) market research to address the business' objectives;
  • Research secondary sources of market intelligence (e.g. published reports);
  • Hire consultants and other experts.

In each of these choices, the work may be done either in-house or by external professionals. Where marketing staff have the right expertise considerable savings can sometimes be made from doing research work in-house, particularly if this can be integrated with other sales and marketing activities.

For example, working with a direct sales force to systematically capture information that benefits the sales effort as well as guiding marketing decisions. Given the increased use of online communications with customers, short online surveys can often be used to great effect at very low cost.

Also, in some industries large bodies of data already exist, either in the form of expert market intelligence companies or in various forms of market study which may be purchased. Some of these are listed here.

Where external market research companies are needed most is when the research would be too time-consuming to perform internally, is too complicated, or needs access to specialist resources such as CATI-enabled telephone interviewers.

Whatever the method chosen, however, it is most important that the marketing team invest sufficient time in the project to develop clear research objectives; adequately engage all stakeholders; brief and collaborate with the research agency; and - ultimately - analyzing, disseminating, and acting on the results.

Not recognizing - and planning for - the internal effort needed in these areas is a common cause of disappointment and perceived lack of return from market research investments.









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