Market research is an important thing that we must do if we are planning to open a business or are already running a business, either providing services or manufacturing and selling products.

Market research, in principle, is an effort made to collect information about the market, including understanding the behavior of all related parties such as consumers, customers, partners, and competitors.

On this occasion I will not discuss the theory and methodology of market research in a complicated way, but is more interested in sharing ideas the practical things about market research, such as, why do we need market research? and how we can use market research to support the success of the business we will build or to further develop a business that we already run.

Table of Contents

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Why Do We Need Market Research?

In general, we need market research to fulfill these 2 needs, namely for:

  1. Obtaining the information that we do not know (explorative)
  2. Comparing something (benchmarking) and knowing what kind of position or which choice we should make (decision making)

For more details, I will discuss it below.

  1. Obtaining information that we do not know (explorative). We do this when we do not know something, and we explore the information related to it.

For example, we are looking for ideas about what products are needed by teenage consumers, for example between 15-20 year, who are the cosmetic products users. We need to know a few things like:

  1. What are their habits in using the cosmetic products?
  2. What types of cosmetic products do they use?
  3. What do they like about the current cosmetic products?
  4. What do they dislike about the current cosmetic products?
  5. What brand do they think is the best for a particular type of cosmetics? Why is that?
  6. What types of cosmetics do they need that are not currently in the market?
  7. Why do they need this product?
  8. Have they ever seen similar products that are already available in other places or other countries?
  9. What price for the product should they expect?
  10. Etc.

The questions and information that are explored can be developed continuously according to our need. Therefore, this kind of market research is called explorative research. Because this research is to gather information according to what we need, the data or information we collect in this case is qualitative. So, this kind of research is called qualitative research.

The way to obtain this information is by asking some persons who are named the respondents. Respondents who are asked must be sure to meet the criteria as the target market that we want. For example, if we are planning to make a cosmetic product with a target market for young women, aged between 15-20 years, who have a monthly expenditure of $ 100 for personal care, then we must make sure to find respondents with the appropriate criteria.

After we have selected the right respondents, the next step is to know the way how to ask them. This is related to the interview technique used. There are many interview techniques, and the most used are the techniques called the Focus Group Discussion (FGD) and In-depth interviews.

For more details, I will discuss it below:

Focus Group Discussion (FGD)

It is an interview technique that is widely used to explore information from respondents that are collected simultaneously in one group. Because of that, this technique is called Focus Group Discussion (FGD), which means that the discussion is carried out in a group of respondents and focuses on discussing the prepared topics one by one. So, the topics discussed have been prepared in a material called the Discussion Guide which is the guide for discussion leaders called the Facilitator.

The advantage of this FGD is that it is a dynamic discussion, because it is held together as a group. Generally, the number of discussion participants is between 6-8 people, preferably not more than that because the discussion will be too busy. The role of the facilitator as a discussion guide is particularly important so that the course of the discussion is focused and in accordance with the topics that have been prepared.

The important thing to pay attention to in an FGD is the spontaneous answers of the respondents about something that is being discussed. Then the facilitator is tasked with continuing to dig deeper into the meaning of the answers of these respondents. The atmosphere of the discussion must be made as comfortable as possible for the respondents to be able to provide complete answers without any doubts so that the consumer insights we really need can be obtained.

Usually, this facilitator will also be in charge of making a report or summary of the results of the discussions in this FGD.

In-Depth Interview (IDI)

The interviews conducted in an In-depth interview is like those conducted in a Focus Group Discussion (FGD). The difference is that in-depth interviews are conducted individually with respondents. Generally, this is done to maintain the privacy of the respondent or because this respondent is an important figure whose time is also quite difficult to match with other respondents. So that the interview is conducted separately with each individual respondent.

Well, after we discuss the first reason why we need market research, which is to obtain explorative information, next we will discuss the second need, namely:

  1. Comparing something (benchmarking) and knowing what kind of position or which choice we should make (decision making).

The difference with the conditions which discussed earlier (information exploration), in this condition we already know or have the necessary information, but we want to know more about the comparison (benchmarking) between the information and also in the end we can determine which choices we will make or decision making.

For more details, I will give some illustrations as follows:

For example, we already know the information about the criteria that consumers generally considered in choosing a skin care type cosmetic product. This information can be obtained from research that has been carried out previously as described above, such as from an FGD or an in-depth interview, those criteria are:

  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Does not cause allergies
  • Has a complete range of skin care series
  • Good product stability (not easy to change color and consistency)
  • Has a size that is easy to carry when traveling
  • Attractive packaging
  • An affordable price
  • Available everywhere
  • Has a fresh fragrance
  • Maintain skin moisture
  • Etc.

Well, of the many criteria, for example, we want to know what criteria are important to consumers with various levels, which are the most important in order. To do this, we will ask the respondent to compare the attributes of the criteria.

To do this, there are several techniques that are carried out in the field of market research. I will not discuss it here in detail. However, in general, the method is to shorten the existing list first if it is too long by asking respondents which criteria they think must be met. For example, we ask respondents to choose a maximum of 5 criteria that must be met by a skin care cosmetic product. Then after that we ask them to rank these criteria.

Then, for example, we also know the brands of skin care cosmetic products that are often used by respondents. Then, we will ask respondents to compare the performance of these brands. How to do this?

Again, here I will not discuss in detail, but in general the performance assessment of these products will be based on the criteria that have been selected earlier.

For example, we ask respondents to rank these products for each criterion and the results are as shown in the following illustration:

CriteriaBrand ABrand BBrand C
Suitable for all skin types132
Maintain skin moisture213
Has a complete range of skin care series123
Attractive packaging231
An affordable price123

So, from here we can begin to see which brands consumers prefer.

How do you conclude it?

The simplest way is to see how many scores each brand has. The higher the ranking, the greater the score. For example, like the table below:

RankScore
13
22
31

Then the total score owned by each brand is added up from the number of people who answered 1, 2 or 3 for each criterion assessed. As in the following table:

(X)(Y)(X) x (Y)
CriteriaRankScoreNumber of people who answeredTotal score
Brand ABrand BBrand CBrand ABrand BBrand C
Suitable for all skin types13
22
31
Total Score
Maintain skin moisture13
22
31
Total Score
Has a complete range of skin care series13
22
31
Total Score
Attractive packaging13
22
31
Total Score
An affordable price13
22
31
Total Score

So, from here we can find out which brand has the highest total score for each of the criteria.

Then how do we draw the conclusions which brand is the best? The trick is to look at the total score each brand has for all the criteria.

Of course, to processing data like this is not easy when it is done manually. For this reason, in the market research, data processing activities are carried out using certain program applications such as SPSS, Minitab, and others.

Then, what is the relationship between the results of this market research and decision making?

One of them is like this, if among the brands that are assessed is the brand that we have, so that we can find out which criteria we need to improve to meet the consumer expectations.

Hopefully by now it is clear enough for you about the difference between qualitative research and quantitative research. Once again, this explanation is given in a general and simple manner and is intended to provide basic information regarding the field of market research.

The more details explanation by topic will be publish in other article.

Hope this is useful for you.