Market Research Techniques and Data Collection Methods

The value or secondary data

Secondary data is the data is collected by individuals or agencies for purposes other than the study of particular research. For instance, the survey of family food expenditures conducted by a government department could be used by a food manufacturer to evaluate the organization’s total potential market for a new product. Likewise, statistics organized by an organization on farming will prove helpful to organizations, and marketing agricultural suppliers. The collection of secondary data is far cheaper than obtaining primary data. By using the same budget secondary data can yield a great of information more than primary data collection exercise. (Dillon, W.R., Madden, T. and Firtle, N. H., 1994)

The time involved in secondary data collection is relatively less than that primary data collection. Secondary data can play a significant function by improving the researcher’s perception of the marketing difficulty, by making available an option or alternative action that might be pursued. Secondary data can be enormously helpful in defining the population as well as in the organization of the sample to be used. (Joselyn, R. W., 1977)

Primary Data Collection Method

Primary Data Collection Method is data that has been collected for the first time. The data is original and has been gathered for a particular function, or to solve a precise problem. It is a time-consuming and costly method but is more concentrated than secondary research. It can be conducted in several ways.

Quantitative research

Quantitative Research involves the measurement of market data relating to market size, market share, and access, and market growth rates. It can also be used to evaluate consumer approach, contentment, assurance, and other useful market data to understand overall customer behavior in a market. Such techniques are exceptionally powerful as the key audience can be aimed at and observed over time to ascertain the optimal utility of the marketing budget. (Malhotra, N.K. & Birks, D.F., 2006)


This is a technique utilized in quantitative research and the interviews can be Face-to-face Interviews, Telephonic Interviews, or Self-completion surveys

Face-to-face interviews

Face-to-face interviews are generally conducted involving a researcher and a target consumer and the data is assembled by a collective survey. The advantages of this type of interview are that products and pictures can be used and the responses can be emphasized by the use of body language while observing the respondents.

The disadvantages are that these interviews can be costly and can the arrangement and conduction process can take a long time.

Telephone interviews

Since the use of telephones is very common in most countries, this is an ideal way of collecting data from a geologically isolated section. However, the interviews are likely to be very controlled and therefore are short of depth. Telephone interviews are relatively cheaper than face-to-face interviews.

Self-completion surveys

These include Mail surveys and Internet surveys.

Mail surveys generate not more than a 5-10% response and are less popular with the advent of the Internet and telephones, especially call centers.

The Internet survey can be used to collect primary data by asking the visitors on several sites to complete electronic questionnaires. Responses can be augmented by offering incentives such as a free newsletter, or free membership. The automatic collection of important data takes place when visitors sign up for membership. This method is gaining more and more popularity as it is relatively inexpensive compared to other survey methods and the use of graphics and visual aids attracts and motivates the visitors to take the survey due to which random samples can be selected.

This method also comes with its share of disadvantages the visitors taking the survey are not necessarily potential customers and the processing of this method necessitates the accurate knowledge of software to set up the survey. (Green P.E., Tull D.S. and Albaum G., 1993)

Qualitative research

Qualitative Research involves the examination of the characteristics of a market using comprehensive research investigating the background and perspective to arrive at a decision. The two main qualitative methods or Interview techniques are In-depth interviews and Group discussions. (Joselyn R. W., 1977)

In-depth interviews are the chief type of qualitative research in most business marketplaces where an interviewer takes a one-on-one interview to gauge the particular needs and individual opinions of the customer and are tremendously useful for multi-national studies. The feedback is obtained using a survey that assembles the findings of several in-depth interviews conducted for the same study.

Group discussions

Group discussions involve the focus groups as the foundation of customer investigation where numerous consumers are invited to take part in a discussion usually directed by a moderator thereby surveying a topic in-depth or motivating resourceful ideas from partakers. However group discussions are uncommon in business markets, but in technology markets where the end-user may be a consumer, these types of discussions may prove to be successful in comprehending the needs and requirements of customers.

Focus group discussions are characteristically too complex or costly to organize with busy managers but this problem has been taken care of to a certain extent with the increasing number of online techniques. (Joselyn R. W., 1977)

Alternatives to interview methods

Observation or observational research is a method that entails the straight scrutiny of occurrences in their normal situation and is not very reliable but more valid. The chief benefit of observational research is suppleness as the researchers can alter their method or manner of the research when they feel necessary. It additionally gauges behavior straightforwardly and does not describe the intentions.

Ethnography has been known to be the most wide-ranging method of market research and has the potential to provide knowledge on how the standard of living, principles, and traditions control the behavior of people and their choices of buying particular products or services. Days or weeks are spent by ethnographers in observing people, asking them questions, and participating in their everyday activities at their residence, school, place of work, grocery-stores, health clubs, or places of recreation making it the most pricey process of market research. (Green P.E., Tull D.S. and Albaum G, 1993).

Sampling process

The Sampling Process is a compulsory process, which involves defining a population and the definite selection of sample elements. Samples are of various types. (McGivern 2003)

Probability Samples

These entail a samples technique where every member of the population has a known chance of being selected and there is no human judgment involved in the selection process allowing the method to come to reasonable conclusions about the population. (Wright and Crimp, 2000)

  1. Simple random sampling: In this type of sampling approach, some form of lottery-like taking out names from the hat or relying on computer procedures are used. (Kent 2000). In this method of calculation, the sampling error is possible but necessitates a complete and accurate listing of the homogenous population.
  2. Systematic random sampling: This technique creates a rule that determines the selection of the units, thereby removing human judgment (Kent 2003). The names recorded on the sampling frame must be insufficiently random order and no periodicity is in the listing. For example, the application of the fixed interval to a list recorded in a hierarchical way used in the army could produce a biased sample. (Wright and Crimp, 2000)
  3. Stratified random sampling: This technique involves the separation of the populace into strata or groups based on age or sex, from which respondents are chosen indiscriminately resulting in an unbiased selection. Stratified random sampling contains proportionate and disproportionate sampling techniques. One cost-effective way is to divide the sample into Geographic groups (geographic stratification), which consider region and population density and help to draw the sample in more than one way (Wright and Crimp, 2000).

Cluster or area sampling is taken when the population can be divided into exclusive groups, for example, geographic regions, then a random sample of the group is selected (Wright and Crimp, 2000). Cluster samples are typically less efficient as compared to stratified or simple random samples. Yet, they are largely used in large-scale field surveys because they can be economically more efficient (Churchill and Lacobucci, 2005).

Nonprobability samples are those techniques that necessitate the presence of some form of personal opinion in the selection process either by a researcher or field worker and therefore not every member has a fair chance of selection making it less precise even though it is less expensive. Since the sample is not probabilistic, sampling error can be assessed, which means placing bounds on the precision of the research estimate is not possible (Churchill and Lacobucci, 2005).

  1. Convenience sampling This method is picked up based on convenience and uses those members of the populace who are easily contactable and are enthusiastic volunteers making the approach easy and rapid but prone to bias, therefore unpredictable, and is generally used by people instituting novel businesses having incomplete finances.
  2. Judgment sampling In this type of sampling, the sample elements are handicapped when it is expected that they can serve the research purpose and when the researcher is interested in sampling those who can give some perspective on the research question, not a cross-section of opinion (Churchill and Lacobucci, 2005).
  3. Quota sampling: In this type of sampling the populace is divided by important factors of age, earnings, and locality, and settling on an allocation for each faction the researchers interview people of each group or quota making this process rapid and simple. This method may reflect the target population proportion but may not represent the population since there is a reliance on personal judgment rather than selective procedure of the research (Churchill and Iacobucci, 2005).


Churchill, G.A.Jr. & Lacobucci, 2005, ‘Marketing research: Methodological Foundation’ Ohio: Thonson South Western.

Crimp, M & Wright, L.T. (2000), ‘The Marketing Research Process’ 5th Edition, Essex: Pearson Education Limited.

Dillon W.R., Madden T. and Firtle N. H., (1994) ‘Marketing Research in a Research Environment’, 3rd edition, Irwin.

Green P.E., Tull D.S. and Albaum G, (1993) ‘Research methods for marketing decisions’, 5th edition, Prentice Hall, p.136.

Joselyn R. W., (1977) ‘Designing the marketing research’, Petrocellis/Charter, New York, p.15.

Kent R., (2007), ‘Marketing Research: Approaches, Methods and Applications in Europe’, London: Thomson learning.

Malhotra, N.K. & Birks, D.F., (2006) ‘Marketing research: an applied approach’, 2nd Edition, Essex: Pearson Education Limited.

McGivern Y. (2003), ‘The Practice of Market and Social Research: An Introduction’ Essex: Pearson Education Limited.

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