In Guest Blog, Startup Management

Did you know that the term ‘market research’ means different things to different people?

If I speak to someone at a networking event I have to be very clear about where my expertise lies, because they may assume that I do one of two very different things.

I find that this can get rather confusing, so I felt it might be useful to set out what we mean by each.

Market research can mean: Researching the market

What this is: Scoping out the breadth of likely interest in your product or service by gathering data about the wider context in which your business is situated.

Where you get the data: Reports published by others.

Questions this might answer:  Which other businesses are already doing similar things?  Where do they operate?  How many products do they sell?  What is their turnover?

It’s a bit like: Competitor analysis, market analysis.

Type of research: Secondary research


Market research can mean: Research with the market

What this is: Engaging directly with consumers or potential consumers (including members of the public or other businesses) to ask them what they think in response to your key business issues.

Where you get the data: Asking people questions in a structured way.

Questions this might answer:  What do consumers think of your business concept or direction or communications?  Which segments of society are most likely to buy your product or service?  What might put people off buying your product or service?

It’s a bit like: Survey, feedback form, interview, focus group, research, marketing research, evaluation.

Type of research: Primary research

Each of these types of ‘market research’ is a different discipline, demanding a different skillset.  Undoubtedly some individuals will have expertise in both, whereas others are expert in one or the other.

For the record, I am a primary research expert which means that I design, conduct and analyse new research with real people.

At Salient Point we have secondary research skills in the team too, so we are able to offer both services.

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