Types and examples or primary market research

Collecting data for research efforts is critical to the success of any product or service you’re launching. From product development to creating an effective go-to-market strategy, market research provides the insights needed to make an informed decision at every stage. To understand new markets, build products and services customers love, and attract them with the right marketing message, more companies are conducting primary market research.  

This article will define and explain the different types of primary market research methods, the difference between primary and secondary market research, and their advantages and challenges. Most importantly, you’ll gain a better understanding of why primary market research is beneficial to your business. 

Primary market research

What is primary market research?

Primary market research is a unique study conducted by yourself to discover the wants and needs of consumers who fit the description of your target market. The process involves approaching your targeted source and asking questions about your product or service. You can do this through different interviewing methods: in-person, phone calls, focus groups, and online surveys. It’s important to note that there’s more to primary market research than just interviewing. 

Before you learn how to conduct primary market research, it’s important to understand the two different types: primary and secondary. The purpose of primary market research is to learn about your target market’s preferences and characteristics to better position your product or service to sell. At the same time, primary market research can also help you identify what type of consumer is not part of your target market. Collect valuable insights from your target audience now. 

Primary vs. secondary market research

So, what’s the difference between primary and secondary market research? With primary market research, you collect the data to meet your business needs. Secondary market research is information that has already been gathered for other purposes but can still be valuable to your business. The main feature differentiating one from the other is customization. 

Primary research is tailored to answer your specific business questions and is directed toward a targeted audience sharing similar characteristics as your potential customers. Secondary research can also answer specific business questions, but it has limitations. The data collected from that audience may not match your targeted audience resulting in skewed information. In other words, if you didn’t collect the data yourself, then it’s second-hand information that won’t be as reliable as data collected from primary research. 

Secondary research can also rely on secondary information. When conducting secondary research, it’s important to fact check those findings. You want to make sure any information you collect comes from a credible and valid source.

The main benefit of secondary market research is that it helps prepare you to conduct primary market research. Through secondary market research, you’ll be able to educate yourself about the industry of a product or service along with its proper terminology. It’s a smart way to keep you focused on the most important details related to the primary market research you plan to launch. 

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Qualitative and quantitative research   

Primary research can be qualitative or quantitative. Qualitative research involves analyzing non-numerical information. It renders explanatory results extracted through observation, interviews, records, surveys, and focus groups. Quantitative research is information collected in numerical data presented in percentages and statistics. Consequently, this kind of research requires different types of collection methods. Online surveys, questionnaires, and database reports from secondary sources make up quantitative research. With most primary market research, conclusive data is usually a combination of both qualitative and quantitative information. 

Types of primary market research

The two main types of primary market research are exploratory research and specific research. With an exploratory study, you are seeking or exploring ways to define a particular issue your business has. An exploratory approach involves loosely-organized interviews with open-ended questions to gather as much information as possible. 

Specific research aligns with the overall focus of primary market research. Researchers get more definitive with their investigation. For example, instead of asking open-ended questions to respondents, the approach for specific research would involve a thorough and detailed analysis of exploratory data. 

Advantages of primary market research 

When conducting primary market research, you’re collecting valuable insights from a targeted audience vs. an all-encompassing pool of respondents. From a targeted audience, you’ll gather relevant information about your business. Above all, the data collected through primary research belongs to you. Here’s a quick list that highlights the advantages of primary market research:  

  • Ownership - You own the data collected through primary research allowing constant and immediate access. Furthermore, you’ll have complete control over who else can access this information. Owning your data will also prove useful for future marketing research– You’ll have a database of information to compare and analyze. 
  • Relevancy - Primary research will be 100% relevant to your business brand, product, or service. The data collected through primary research will address questions based on specific problems you have about your company. Therefore, the results will be directly related to your business concerns.     
  • Focused approach - A targeted system allows you to have complete control over how your primary research is conducted. You’ll be able to customize a target audience, choose an approach, and set your objectives. In the end, you’ll come away with clear and timely data that speaks to your business challenges.  

Key primary market research considerations

For those that are new to conducting primary market research, it’s helpful to know what to expect. Here is a shortlist of some of those considerations: 

  • Cost - Prepare to set aside a budget for primary market research. The data collected becomes proprietary information you can use for years to come. Valuable market information is worth paying for.   
  • Time - Executing different primary research methods will take some methodical planning which requires a lot of time. You can reduce your time on primary research with the right resources.  
  • Use of multiple methods - Marketing research typically requires more than just one method of primary research. It’s best to strategize at least 2 or 3 different methods for optimal results.   

Primary market research methods

Having a solid understanding of the types of primary research marketing methods will help you strategize your approach. You can execute four basic methods: interviews, online surveys, focus groups, and observational research.  

  1. Interviews 

Interviews are question-and-answer conversations. For primary research, conducting an in-depth interview is one of the best ways to explore new concepts for your product or services. Interviews can be conducted by phone or in person. Prepare your questions in advance and keep the interview between 20-30 minutes. In-person interviews will allow you to read body language for a more thorough answer. 

On the other hand, phone interviews may relax the interviewee from any social anxiety. This option might result in a more honest and unguarded answer. That’s why it’s best to use at least two primary market research methods.  

  1. Online surveys

Online surveys are questionnaires submitted through an email invitation, website, or social media. Good online surveys are mobile-friendly to provide convenience for the respondent. If respondents can access online surveys through their smartphone or tablet, they’ll likely engage and answer all of your questions. However, survey completion will take more than accessibility. Questions should be a mix of well-thought out, closed and open-ended questions. Also, each question should provide respondents with an option not to answer. Providing this option will keep them engaged. Otherwise, they may exit the survey altogether.    

  1. Focus groups

Focus groups are a broader and more relaxed version of an in-person interview. It consists of 4-12 people led by a trained moderator engaged in dialogue about a product, service, or concept about a product or service. Focus groups are a form of qualitative marketing research. Participants are typically screened to make sure they fit the characteristics of your target market. The moderator should have questions prepared in advance to ask the participants, much like the interview. Focus groups allow for consumers’ opinions, thoughts, interests, and tastes. This method provides a type of valuable insight you may not otherwise have considered.

  1. Observational research

Observational research involves a more distant approach to primary market research. While a trained observer is involved, there’s no direct interaction between them and the consumer. This method monitors a consumer's reaction to a product or service. It can also be done using cameras. It’s arguably the most authentic way to achieve insights. 

Primary market research examples 

Primary market research is useful when testing and validating a product or service idea. For example, if you plan to introduce a new diet food into the market, conducting primary market research will help you determine and measure consumer demand. Introducing a new brand of Keto cereal, ice cream, or low-calorie potato chip can be tested in a focus group to determine if consumers think it tastes good. Deploying online surveys can determine the demand for such a product as well as its pricing. Read the ultimate guide to market research to get survey design, sampling, and analysis best practices from survey experts.  

Test business concepts with primary market research

In today’s competitive landscape, understanding and staying ahead of consumer needs, behaviors, and trends is critical to making your next product or service launch a success. While secondary research is useful, primary market research ensures you’re getting the most accurate insights to inform decisions and meet your business needs.  When you’re ready, access SurveyMonkey solutions to help you benchmark how consumers perceive your product or service. 

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