What are the four types of market research?

Updated: Jun 16



Have you ever wondered what market research is and how data is collected? Market research is about interviewing current or potential customers about a product or a service, is businesses learning about the market size, their competitors, market segmentation and more. It is also keeping an open mind and searching for different points of views and emotions behind a product or service, looking at the current or past social behaviors in order to better plan for the future, is finding answers to the who, when, why and the how.


Although there are several other quantitative and qualitative techniques used to collect data (depending on the objective) through primary research, there are four Market Research techniques most commonly used… surveys, in-depth interviews, focus groups and ethnography. These techniques could be used online or offline.


1) Surveys consist of closed ended questions (yes/no answers), or sometimes open-ended questions (meaning cannot be answered with a simple yes or no). Surveys are typically related to social research or used to gather demographic information, they can be delivered electronically which is typical as it saves time and money, or in print copy. Surveys are often popular because they are usually inexpensive and we can use to collect data in shorter time, it is also used to quantify data and for this reason is harder to dig deeper into consumers’ behaviors.

2) In-depth interviews, or also known as IDIs or one-on-ones, is a qualitative technique based on open ended and semi-structured questions. Through in-depth interviews we can reach anywhere from 5 to 50 or more participants across different geographical areas. The most common ways of conducting in-depth interviews are face to face or via telephone, although because of the pandemic we are experiencing face to face might be a limitation in many places. This qualitative technique is used typically to learn more about sensitive topics, when we need to probe more often, or to avoid the influence of other participants in the response group.

3) Focus groups, is a qualitative technique that aids in the research process through face to face, online or telephone methods. This technique is based on open ended, semi-structured questions, and typically lasts from 1 to 2 hours or longer depending on the topic and group. It is conducted by an objective moderator with approximately 6-10 participants. During focus groups, participants could see or hear each other, thus giving room to more interactions and opportunities to influence and be influenced directly or indirectly by other participants.


4) Customer observation or ethnography is a qualitative technique that takes place in the real world, aimed at studying the behavior of the consumers where they are buying or using the product, in their everyday life. The observation could last from an hour to few days or even weeks, depending on the product and the objectives. In addition, there are situations where the researcher observes from a distance with no contact or interaction with the consumer, or where the consumer is constantly interacting with the researcher.


There are several other ways of conducting quantitative and qualitative research, depending on the client's business needs, the timing for the project, and other factors. I hope this article provided a better understanding about four popular techniques applied when conducting research.


If you are wondering how market research might benefit your business, feel free to contact me at admin@infanteconsultingandresearch.com, 970-488-9047 or visit https://www.infanteconsultingandresearch.com/

Natalia Infante Caylor, PhD is the owner of Infante Consulting and Research, and has been conducting qualitative research for nearly ten years, interviewing consumers from different ethnic groups, in English and Spanish across the U.S.


(photo credit: Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash)

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Email: admin@infanteconsultingandresearch.com
Phone: 970-488-9047
Fort Collins, Colorado