by: Fausto Fratelli
Feb 15, 2022
6 min read

7+ Market Research Types (And When to Use Each)


How to Pick the Best Type of Market Research for Your Project

When was the last time you answered a landline telephone or opened your snail mail junk mail? It’s probably been a while, but companies still use both telephone and mail surveys to conduct their market research. 

From launching a product to optimizing your marketing, market research plays an important role in your business’ success. 

In this guide, we’ll cover when and how to use the most common types of market research. Plus, discuss the advantages of mobile market research over traditional methods like focus groups. 

Recommended: How to Harness DIY Research for Better, Faster Insights

Use Cases: When You Need Market Research

Regardless of whether you need a quick gut check or data for something more involved, the reason you need market research is the same. You want to know you are making the right decision and investing time and resources strategically.

Common reasons companies conduct market research include:

  • Brand Tracking. Monitor your brand’s health and performance, or how well your marketing initiatives are performing. Tracking also helps you see how your brand ranks against your competitors. 
  • Concept Testing. Use consumer insights on new product concepts to build better and more profitable products. Concept testing helps identify what your target customers want and need in a product or service.  
  • Creative Testing. Avoid wasting money on a poor ad campaign by testing creative and messaging first. Creative testing helps improve your ad’s relevance and performance and can lower your cost per conversion. 
  • New Business DevelopmentYou can’t launch a new business without understanding the market and your potential customers. Market research helps new businesses tailor their business plans and products or services to meet the needs of their buyers. Research also helps build new client relationships by allowing you to gather primary research prior to a meeting. 
  • New Product Development. Research is essential in product development because it helps avoid launching dud products. Don’t be the next New Coke or Segway. Do your research first. 

Methods: Types of Market Research

Now that we’ve covered when to conduct market research and how it fits into nearly every aspect of your product and business development lifecycle, let’s look at the different types of market research. 

Quantitative vs. Qualitative Market Research

Market research can be divided into two main categories: quantitative and qualitative research. 

Quantitative research helps brands measure or track things with numerical data and statistics. A common quantitative measure for market research is NPS or net promoter score. NPS is a numerical measure of customers’ willingness to recommend a brand’s service or product. 

Qualitative research collects data that cannot be measured. Qualitative research provides insights into consumers’ opinions and motivations.

For example, NPS measures how likely people are to recommend a company’s product or services. Qualitative research uses open-ended questions to identify why. 

Examples of quantitative research questions include:

  • On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate your shopping experience with us? 
  • How likely are you to recommend (product name) to a friend or colleague?
  • How regularly do you travel domestically for vacation?

Examples of qualitative research questions include:

  • Why would you recommend or not recommend this product to a friend? 
  • What did you like about this ad?
  • How do you decide which brand of toothpaste to buy?

Types of Market Research

For both quantitative and qualitative research questions, you have to decide what type of survey or research methods you’ll use to reach your recipients. 

The most common types of market research methods are:

  • Online
  • Phone
  • Mail
  • Focus Groups
  • Mobile

Online Surveys

Online surveys rose in popularity as internet access became more widely available in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Web-based surveys are considerably cheaper than reaching people by mail, phone, or in-person.

But, online surveys are beginning to experience many of the same issues mail surveys face. Most people’s email inboxes overflow with junk mail, just like their postal mailboxes. Cutting through the clutter and finding quality respondents for online surveys is becoming increasingly difficult. 

Phone Surveys

Phone surveys remain a valuable market research tool because they allow for an in-depth conversation between the respondent and the interviewer. They can also help in getting responses to qualitative research requisition.

Phone surveys are one of the more expensive research methods, and as more households ditch their landline phones for mobile phones, research companies struggle to reach the right people. These types of surveys often skew toward older generations as they’re more likely to have a landline phone and be at home. 

Mail Surveys

This old-school method uses pen, paper, and snail-mail. Companies mail surveys for respondents to complete and mail back. These surveys are often tossed directly in the recycling bin with other junk mail. Also, the delay between when someone answers and sends in the survey makes it impossible to ask follow-up questions. 

Focus Groups

Focus groups have been used in advertising and other market research for decades. While they allow for quick collection of qualitative insights, they are prone to bias. If everyone else in the room loves a commercial, the one person who hates it might be less likely to speak up.

It is challenging to keep focus groups representative of the general population and make the environment comfortable enough for everyone to share their opinions. 

Mobile Surveys

Most digital interactions now occur on people’s phones. The rise of mobile research platforms allows companies to quickly deploy market research questions at a fraction of the cost of more traditional research. 

Benefits of mobile research include:

  • Faster deployment
  • Instant Responses
  • Lower costs
  • Asking follow up questions
  • Better demographic targeting

Which research method is the best for me?

Market research is not a one size fits all thing. For the most accurate results, you’ll want to use a mix of different types of research methods.

For example, you can take an agile approach to research where you apply your findings from one step to the next one. Start with a quick mobile survey to decide which questions to include in a focus group or larger survey. 

This type of agile research requires building up a market research toolbox of software and platforms to handle each piece of research.

OnePulse’s mobile platform revolutionizes the way companies conduct research. From an easy-to-use interface to fast results, deploying mobile research has never been simpler.

Create your account today to start sending your market research pulses. 

Why wait to hear what your customer is thinking?