Attracting and retaining customers is an important skill in business. Previously, marketers sought to sell products to the masses without considering the needs of the individual. Today’s market focuses on a customer-geared strategy. This consumer centric approach aims to provide customers with a more positive experience and in this way increase loyalty. It also grows the interest of consumers towards that particular brand or product.
How do you know exactly what consumers want? To find out just how to focus attention on consumers’ needs, market research is required. Research is the best way to gain insight into what really matters to your consumers. However, research done incorrectly can provide useless results. Worse still, it can lead you to making bad decisions based on bad results. Good research is research conducted in such a way that it brings meaningful insights that a company can actually use.
What Makes Research Good?
There are many different types of research. However, every bit of research conducted should follow the same rules. Research has to live up to certain characteristics in order to make it truly useful. It is essential that businesses use these characteristics as a base for their research.
- Has a clearly defined purpose
- Is very detailed in its process
- Design is thoroughly planned
- Maintains high ethical standards
- Ensures limitations of the research are made clear
- Contains a strong analysis
- Presents clear and accurate findings
- Provides correct and reasonable conclusions
- Clearly shows the experience and reputation of the research team
How to Achieve Good Research
Good research can be broken down into different steps. In an ideal world, these steps follow an exact sequence called the research process. In the real world however, steps are often done simultaneously, or out of order. Good research sticks to the research process closely in order to ensure the most accurate results. These steps are as follows:
- Clarify the Research Question
Understanding the purpose of your research in the form of a research question is the first step. This helps you determine the reason behind the research, so that you can structure it accordingly. It represents the “why” and the “what” your research entails. For example, your research question could discuss the topic of market segmentation that helps you define your customers into different categories. This topic would have a different research question to trying to find out your market size. Your research question is vital, as it sets the tone for the entire research process.
- Propose the research
Once your research question is determined, you’ll propose your research and its methodology. In your research methodology, you’ll determine what type of research you will be conducting. Your research may cover qualitative or quantitative research.
- Qualitative research is describing data that doesn’t use numbers or figures, but rather focuses on meaning and interpretation.
- Quantitative research data aims to explain, predict or generalise and is measureable.
From this decision, you will decide how you will go about conducting this research. One method you can use to collect data is sampling. It is mostly impossible to ask the entire population for their opinion to use in research. This is why research uses samples. It is simply using a smaller portion of the population with specific similar characteristics that represents the larger population. This sample needs to be accurate, unbiased and precise. This can be done either by random selection, or non-random.
- Design the research project
The research design dictates the data collection and analysis. Here are three different examples of research designs:
- Descriptive studies attempts to answer who, what, when and where questions. This research is useful for business evaluations.
- Case study design refers to a detailed study of a specific research concern. This tests a theory in the real world to gain information surrounding the topic.
- Experimental designs is when researchers change factors to attempt to determine or predict an outcome.
Your research design should always correlate with the purpose of your research. The best results will come from the most relevant design.
- Data collection and preparation
Data is gathered in two different types, which can both be important to the structure of research. These data types are referred to as primary and secondary data.
- Primary data is research done for the specific intents of the particular study. It can include observations, focus groups, interview and surveys.
- Secondary data is doing research using additional information previously collected.
Once all your data collection and preparation is finished, you can start to make sense of it all through analysis.
- Data analysis and interpretation
Data is used to create a number of different types of information. For example, data can be collected to form statistics. These statistics create insights, which lead to better decision making.
The Result of Good Research
Taking all the data you have now acquired and translating it insightful information is the hardest part of research. This is also the most important part, as this information is what can influence decision-making. The outcome of your research is therefore vital to business strategy. You should never attempt to change data in any way. The only way to truly benefit from data is to use it as a learning tool, and a means to change circumstances.
Data collection and interpretation is a long process that takes greater research understanding. This is why many companies chose to outsource information to external companies. While this is beneficial for conserving the time of the business, it is also important that this information be understood by the business. Understanding the basics of research assists businesses in evaluating the expertise of their vendors and the usefulness of their projects.
If you require more information about the research process, contact Genex Insights.