The 8 Types Of Market Research—And How To Use Them

Don't fall behind. Learn about the types of market research you need to be doing to stay ahead of the game.

Why market research is so important

“If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.”

Doesn’t sound too threatening if you’ve always been successful, right?


Continuing to do what you’ve always done means you’ll fall behind—and probably fade to darkness—to where all the forgotten brands go.

Take Kodak. They were a major player in photography for decades—remember? When digital photography boomed, Kodak kept doing what they always did. Their business floundered and people forgot about them. Well, everyone apart from Pitbull.

Now, look at Fujifilm, one of Kodak’s biggest competitors. They did the opposite and looked for ways to apply their expertise in film to the technology of the new millennium instead. Their company is still going strong.

The same goes for research. If you’re doing the same old types of market research, speaking to the same old people, and doing the same old tired surveys—you’re already behind.

How do you decide what kind of market research you need to do? It all comes to what you need to know and what your business goals are.

In this article, we’ll explain the various types of market research you can use to solve issues and challenges in your business. We’ll throw you a freebie too and provide some market research tips about when to use each strategy.

Let’s get you ahead of the curve.

The 8 Types of Market Research

Market research can help you solve problems and reduce the risk of making important business decisions. Discover the 8 types of market research you can conduct to identify and solve any business challenges.

  1. 1
    Brand Research

    What it is

    Brand research helps with creating and managing a company’s brand, or identity. A company’s brand is the images, narratives, and characteristics people associate with it.

    When to use it

    Brand research can be used at every stage in a business’s lifecycle, from creation to new product launches and re-branding. There are at least seven types of brand research:

    • Brand advocacy. How many of your customers are willing to recommend your brand?

    • Brand awareness. Does your target market know who you are and consider you a serious option?

    • Brand loyalty. Are you retaining customers?

    • Brand penetration. What is the proportion of your target market using your brand?

    • Brand perception. What do people think of as your company’s identity or differentiating qualities?

    • Brand positioning. What is the best way to differentiate your brand from others in the consumer’s mind and articulate it in a way that resonates?

    • Brand value. How much are people willing to pay for an experience with your brand over another?

    How it’s done

    A researcher will use several types of market research methods to assess your and your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Generally, they will conduct competitor research to get a picture of the overall marketplace. Focus groups and interviews can be used to learn about their emotions and associations with certain brands.

    Market research surveys are useful to determine features and benefits that differentiate you from competitors. These are then translated into emotionally compelling consumer language.

  2. 2
    Campaign Effectiveness

    “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half” — John Wanamaker

    What it is

    This type of market research is designed to evaluate whether your advertising messages are reaching the right people and delivering the desired results. Successful campaign effectiveness research can help you sell more and reduce customer acquisition costs.

    When to use it

    If the folks at market research firm Yankelovich, Inc. are correct, people see up to 5,000 advertising messages each day. That means attention is a scarce resource, so campaign effectiveness research should be used when you need to spend your advertising dollars effectively.

    How it’s done

    Campaign effectiveness research depends on which stage of the campaign you use it in (ideally, it’s all of them!). Quantitative research can be conducted to provide a picture of how your target market views advertising and address weaknesses in the advertising campaign.

  3. 3
    Competitive Analysis

    What it is

    Competitive analysis allows you to assess your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses in the marketplace, providing you with fuel to drive a competitive advantage.

    When to use it

    No business exists in a vacuum—competitive analysis is an integral part of any business and market plan. Whether you’re just getting started, moving into a new market, or doing a health check of your business, a competitive analysis will be invaluable.

    How it’s done

    A researcher will typically choose a few of your main competitors and analyze things like their marketing strategy, customer perceptions, revenue or sales volume, and so on.

    Secondary sources such as articles, references, and advertising are excellent sources of competitive information; however, primary research, such as mystery shopping and focus groups can offer valuable information on customer service and current consumer opinions.

  4. 4
    Consumer Insights

    What it is

    Consumer insights research does more than tell you about who your customers are and what they do. It reveals why customers behave in certain ways and helps you leverage that to meet your business goals.

    When to use it

    Knowing your customers deeply is integral to creating a strategic marketing plan. This type of market research can help you anticipate consumer needs, spark innovation, personalize your marketing, solve business challenges, and more.

    How it’s done

    Consumer insights research should be specific to your business—it’s about getting to know your customers and your target market. Various market research methods can be used, such as interviews, ethnography, survey research, social monitoring, and customer journey research.

    Here are some of the characteristics you should understand through consumer insights research:

    • Purchase habits

    • Interests, hobbies, passions

    • Personal and professional information

    • How they consume media and advertising

  5. 5
    Customer Satisfaction Research

    What it is

    Customer satisfaction research is a type of market research that measures customers’ experiences with products or services, specifically looking at how those meet, exceed, or fail to live up to their expectations.

    When to use it

    Customer satisfaction is a strong indicator of customer retention and overall business performance. Successful customer satisfaction research should help you understand what your customers like, dislike, and feel needs improvement. You can use this type of market research to look at quality and design of products; speed and timeliness of delivery; staff and service reliability, knowledge, friendliness; market price; and value for money.

    How it’s done

    There are several ways to measure customer satisfaction, most commonly using surveys. An NPS or Voice of the Customer Survey can help you measure customer loyalty. Customer Effort Scoring measures how satisfied people are with customer service or problem resolution. CSAT is any survey that measures customer satisfaction, typically measured using Likert Scale surveys. They can be conducted at different points in the customer experience, allowing deeper insight into that moment.

  6. 6
    Customer Segmentation Research

    What it is

    Customer segmentation studies aim to divide markets or customers into smaller groups or personas with similar characteristics to enable targeted marketing. By understanding how people in each category behave, you can understand how each influences revenue.

    When to use it

    As soon as you’re ready to start giving customers individualized experiences. Not every customer in your target market is the same. The more you understand each specific persona, the easier it is to focus on delivering personalized marketing, build loyal relations, price products effectively, and forecast how new products and services will perform in each segment.

    How it’s done

    Market researchers use four characteristics to segment customers.

    • Demographics. Demographic information such as age, gender, family status, education, household income, occupation and so on.

    • Geography. Where people live, from cities and countries to whether they are city dwellers or suburbanites.

    • Psychographics. Socioeconomic status, class, lifestyle, personality traits, generation, interests, hobbies, etc.

    • Behavior. Brand affinity, consumption and shopping habits, spending, etc.

    A researcher will identify your current customers and collect data about them through various market research methods, such as surveys, database research, website analytics, interviews, and focus groups. The aim is to gather as much information as possible.

  7. 7
    Product Development

    What it is

    Market research for product development involves using customer knowledge to inform the entire process of creating or improving a product, service, or app, and bringing it to market.

    When to use it

    Innovation is hard work. A quick Google will tell you that 80 – 95% of new products fail every year. Conducting market research for product and app development helps minimize the risk of a new product or change going bust as it enters the market. There are four stages where you can use market research:

    • Conception. The moment you’re thinking about adding something new, market research can find market opportunities and provide insights into customer challenges or their jobs-to-be-done, so you can find a way to fill the gap.

    • Formation. Once you have an idea, market researchers can help you turn it into a concept that can be tested. You can learn more about strategizing pricing, testing advertising and packaging, value proposition, and so on.

    • Introduction. Market research can help you gauge attitudes towards the product once it’s in the market and adapt your messaging as it rolls out.

    • Keep making the product better or find opportunities to introduce it to new markets.

    How it’s done

    Product development research will utilize different market research methods, depending on the goal of the research. A researcher could present focus groups with product concepts and listen to their opinions, conduct interviews to learn more about their pain points or perform user testing to see how they interact with an app or website.

  8. 8
    Usability Testing

    What it is

    Usability testing is concerned with understanding how customers use your products in real time. It can involve physical products, like a new blender, or digital products like a website or app.

    When to use it

    Usability testing is helpful when you need to detect problems or bugs in early prototypes or beta versions before launching them. It typically costs far less to test a product or service beforehand than to pull a flawed product off the shelves or lose sales because of poor functionality.

    How it’s done

    There are several types of usability tests, which vary based on whether you’re testing a physical or digital product.

    • Journey testing involves observing the customer experience on an app or website and monitoring how they perform. This type of study can be done online.

    • Eye tracking studies monitor where people’s eyes are drawn. Generally, they are conducted on websites and apps, but can also be done in stores to analyze where people look while shopping.

    • Learn ability studies quantify the learning curve over time to see which problems people encounter after repeating the same task.

    • Click tracking follows users’ activity on websites to evaluate the linking structure of a website.

    • Checklist testing involves giving users tasks to perform and recording or asking them to review their experience.

Mixing and matching market research methods

When it comes to market research, no one ever says, “let’s do a survey!”

You need to ask yourself what business challenge or question you’re trying to address. Then select the appropriate market research methods. 

From there, the world of useful data and actionable insights will open to you.

Even better than Narnia.

How you ask is everything.

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