By: Akhil Shahani

You�re launching a new product or service. Is your homework done? Have you studied the market, talked to potential customers and assessed their needs?

Our advice is never to do things by halves. Before you get around to selling your product, make sure you do some market research.

Market Research is a systematic collection and analysis of data about a particular market, competition and environment. There are two main types of market research; one is Primary Research and the other is Secondary Research.

Let�s discuss each of these.

1. Primary Research:

If you want to know the ground reality, then primary research is the key. This process involves designing a research plan, collecting data or information first hand and analyzing results. This method is often a very expensive affair as it involves a great deal of work and is time consuming. The upside is that since the data is straight from the horse�s mouth, it�ll probably present a reasonably accurate picture.

Primary research is further classified into quantitative and qualitative types.

a) Quantitative Research: This type of research involves evaluation of the information by using statistical techniques. Results from a small sample may be used to determine characteristics of large groups. For example, a survey of a certain number of bank account holders to find out what they think of internet banking might provide insight that can be generalized across a wider audience.

Quantitative research comes in many forms and the following are the most popular.

Surveys: This method captures information for you by way of responses to a research tool, such as a questionnaire. The main methods for conducting surveys are mail, phone, online or in person.

Additional delivery options include wireless devices, such as PDAs and cell phones.

Tracking: This helps to monitor the behavior of customers as they engage in regular purchase or information gathering activities. A word of caution! Some customers may see tracking devices as intrusive and have raised concerns about these methods especially if not disclosed to them.

Experiments: You can also undertake experiments to gage how certain changes affect customer behavior. Take the example of a store which has changed its location and the impact that has had on customer traffic.

b) Qualitative Research: Qualitative research provides an explanation of information without the assistance of statistics. This technique is useful while addressing �soft� and intangible issues where emotions play a larger role. Why do you favor a particular brand of soap? Do you buy a certain car purely based on price and technical considerations, or does your personality come into it? What does the new fragrance remind you of?

Some forms of qualitative research are discussed below.

Individual Interviews:
A face to face conversation with a customer will help you gather deeper insight. However, this is an expensive method and not all respondents are comfortable sharing details.

Focus Groups: Here, a group of people are guided through a discussion by a facilitator. Members of the group are encouraged to respond freely and interact with each other. This type of method results in a greater depth of information.

Observational Research: Observing customers as they perform activities can be a very useful research method, especially when they are seen in a natural setting.

2. Secondary Research:

This is by far the most widely used line of attack in market research, where information is accessed from other sources (research reports, consulting firms, published articles and other online & offline sources). Compared to primary research, it is more cost effective and easy to access. On the other hand, the usefulness of this type of research may be limited due to several factors, such as outdated or poorly structured information.

About Author:

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Hi, I am Akhil Shahani, a serial entrepreneur who wants to help you succeed. Over the years I have run many successful businesses & made many mistakes on the way. I have created to help you benefit from all I've learned on my journey. Please visit us & download our special 'Freebie of the Month' as a thank you for your visi

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