The changing world of market research

What is market research? Most definitions include a number of tools designed to capture the opinion of consumers. Focus groups, surveys, polls, interviews – all tools that aim to engage potential customers, find out their opinion, and to then organise that information into some order based on a blend of qualitative and quantitative analysis.

Clearly social media tools are well placed to help with many of these activities, in fact the use of social tools can often allow you to engage in market research that would be impossible or expensive otherwise and the better you know your potential clients, the easier it is to put a proposition together than they will find attractive.

Take the humble survey as a good example. There are many online tools that allow surveys to be designed and managed – surveymonkey.com is a good example. You can design a survey, distribute it using social media tools and track the responses, even sending reminders to people to encourage participation and then analysing the responses.

Of course, you can’t immediately write a survey that is interesting or yields insightful results just because of social media, but you do have access to the tools and the community of people needed to do the research – making sense of the answers may require the services of a researcher with analytical skills.

Polls are much easier for most people. If you have a Facebook or LinkedIn group with members that are already interested in your business, it is very simple to design single question polls that can be answered with a single click. It engages the people within your group and can yield some interesting data for you to explore.

All these tools are out there and are mostly free to use. The imaginative use of some of these devices can create deep insights into what your customers want and expect from you.

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Photo by Piero Fissore licensed under Creative Commons

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