Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Everything You Want to Know About Market Research

Nearly 80% of businesses conduct market research to gather targeted insights into their performance, customers, industry, and competition.

While market research offers a variety of benefits, it can be challenging to identify what research to conduct, and when to ensure you get accurate and actionable data for your business decisions.

To cut through information overload and discover how market research can help you, we are breaking down the basics of market research, including what it is, what you can learn, potential benefits, and how to get started.

What is market research?

Market research is the process of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data about your target market, competitors, and industry. Market research spans a wide range of topics, uncovering insights on various elements that can impact a business. 

Some common subjects of market research include:

  • Customer needs, preferences, and behaviors
  • Market trends, competitors, and growth opportunities
  • Brand awareness, perception, and evaluation amongst competitors
  • Product performance, strengths and weaknesses, and customer evaluations

Why do companies conduct market research?

There is a wealth of insights  and benefits  provided by market research, but at its core, the purpose and value of market research is that it helps you make informed decisions by:

Understanding the Market

Market research provides in-depth insights, allowing companies to better understand the market, identify customers’ needs and preferences, discover how their brand is perceived in the market, and measure the impact of investments and strategies.

Identifying Opportunities

Market research spots untapped opportunities for companies to focus on, including how to improve their brand status, identify new customer bases and markets to sell to, and provide insights to help senior leadership prioritize investment opportunities.

Uncovering Risks

Market research also reveals potential risks that, if ignored, can cause considerable damage. This includes insight into competitors, the impact of major challenges or economic influences (i.e., COVID-19, heightened regulatory concerns), and negative perceptions of the company and its brands.

What types of companies use market research?

All types of businesses use market research, Including B2B (77% of companies), B2C (82%), and B2B2C (83%). 

While they conduct research at similar rates, the types of questions they ask are driven by the unique challenges each type of business faces. For example, over half of B2B companies conducted a market share analysis last year, while B2C and B2B2C companies’ top project was evaluating customer satisfaction.

Find out how Hanover can help collect and analyze the data you need for better business decisions.

What can you learn from market research?

Anything. One of the biggest values of market research is how you can customize your research to gather the insights you need most. Below are some common examples of insights you can learn through market research.

Understand the Market

  • Identify and prioritize markets for exploration and entry.
  • Identify and build in-depth comparative profiles for your biggest competitors in the market.
  • Understand market dynamics and identify potential factors, innovations, and trends that might impact your company.

Optimize Products and Services

  • Generate new product ideas or optimize existing products.
  • Develop an optimized pricing strategy.
  • Evaluate how customers perceive and use your products and services.
  • Identify any sales and service gaps or unmet customer needs.

Strengthen Brand Strategy

  • Measure and track the strength of your brand and competing brands.
  • Measure and improve brand health.
  • Evaluate marketing and sales approaches to align with customer needs and preferences.

Understand Customers

  • Understand the needs and preferences of your target customers.
  • Identify crucial components of the customer experience. including unmet needs, pain points and levels of satisfaction.
  • Differentiate customers into targetable segments based on behavioral, attitudinal, demographic, and psychographic data.

What are the most common market research projects?

The most popular market research projects can vary slightly over time, often reflecting market, economic, and societal shifts that impact company performance. Last year, with a focus on expanding to new markets and obtaining new customers, leading projects were analyzing customer satisfaction and needs, evaluating the market and identifying current and upcoming market trends, and measuring the strength of their brand equity.

This year, with inflation affecting customers’ buying power and increased production and resource costs, companies have expressed increased interest in price sensitivity research, making it the fifth-most common market research project. Increased uncertainty has also prompted companies to evaluate sales and renewal performance with win loss analysis projects increasing by 19%. 


Most Common Research Projects
Top market research projects: 45% market evaluation, 45% customer needs assessment, 43% customer satisfaction, 42% market trend forecast, 37% price sensitivity, 31% win loss analytics.

How do you know you need market research?

With endless possibilities for insights, it can be hard to figure out where to start. To identify the type of market research you need, examine your top business priorities and determine if they could benefit from new data and insights. 

Ask yourself these two questions.

  1. Do you have the information you need to accomplish your goals?
  2. Is that data comprehensive and recent?

If the answer to either is no, your strategies will benefit from updated research insights.

Need help convincing your executive team to invest in market research?

You can find more stats on the use and impact of market research in our recent study.

When should you conduct market research?

Companies usually conduct market research for one of three reasons: In response to a triggering event, to evaluate past performance, or to measure changes over time and quickly respond to declined performance.

Market Research Triggers

There are a variety of triggering events that prompt businesses to conduct research. Some common situations include:

  1. Evaluating the impact of external influences (economic factors, political shifts, etc.,)
  2. Understanding and adjusting to shifting customer needs
  3. Entering new markets
  4. New or increased competition
  5. Developing new products or features
  6. Merging or acquiring a new company

Evaluating Past Performance

In addition to conducting research to inform upcoming strategies or overcome pressing challenges, companies also conduct market research to evaluate the success of recent strategies or determine the reason for recent declines in performance. Market research allows companies to measure performance and identify areas of improvement. This can include anything from evaluating the performance of recent product launches, assessing the impact of recent sales and marketing strategies, or measuring the impact of recent pricing or service changes.

Recurring Assessments

The final instance of market research is recurring research. Companies conduct recurring research to ensure data is relevant, to evaluate performance over time, and to quickly identify and respond to changes in performance. For example, some companies periodically measure their brand health including brand awareness, perception, and evaluation against their competitors. By consistently assessing their brand health, these companies have updated insights into their presence in the industry, how customers evaluate them, and potential threats from competitors.

How often should you conduct market research?

How much research you should conduct depends on your unique business needs and strategies. Often, the amount you conduct is determined by the market research triggers we mention above. If you are launching a new product, breaking into a new market or customer base, or have noticed a decline in performance, you should conduct market research to address these needs as they arise.

Most businesses conduct multiple market research projects a year depending on their needs and resources. Over 80% of companies conduct market research frequently, and 79% conduct at least five market research projects a year.

0 %
of companies conduct market research frequently

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Value of market research

What ROI can you expect from market research?

In addition to successful key initiatives, companies that conduct market research say it provides an ROI of over four times the cost.

Market research ROI: 95% of businesses report a positive ROI from market research and 86% of businesses report an ROI of more than 4x.

What challenges does market research address?

The insights market research provides are directly related to businesses’ biggest challenges. In our State of Market Research report, we asked respondents what their company’s biggest challenges were. In addition, we also asked respondents how their companies have benefited from market research findings. 

We found that the benefits they attributed to market research directly addressed their biggest reported challenges. Even those who did not report having a specific challenge reported market research insights helped them accomplish their goals.

Comparison of companies top challenges and the related benefits of market research.

What are the benefits of effective market research?

There are a variety of benefits of market research depending on the specific research you conduct.

Market research can benefit your company by helping you:

Benefits of market research: 55% says better understand the market, 54% say understand current customers and their needs, 50% say market our business effectively, 49% say identify potential customers and their needs, 47% say find new business opportunities, 44% say improve our brands status in the market, 43% say gather objective opinions about our product, service, or company, 39% say analyze the impact of other market-related challenges, 38% say improve resource allocation decisions, 37% say understand the impact of COVID-19 related challenges, 35% say identify key competitors in our market, 32% say evaluate the ROI on investments, 31% say reduce business risk, and 25% say get C suite buy-in for changes in company strategy.

Companies that leverage market research insights into their strategies are also able to accomplish their goals at a higher rate than those without market research insights.

Companies that conduct market research are:

Companies that conduct market research are 16% more likely to enter an adjacent market, 15% more likely to enter a new market, 13% more likely to increase customer retention, 10% more likely to increase sales, and 4% more likely to launch a new product or service.

Discover how Rheem leveraged customer insights to build its sustainability strategy.

Market research KPIs

Some common KPIs based on the focus of the research can include:


  • Brand recall and recognition
  • Brand perception
  • Brand preference
  • Net promoter score (NPS)


  • Customer retention and churn
  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT)
  • Cost per acquisition


  • Product appeal
  • Willingness to pay
  • Future purchase consideration
  • Post-purchase satisfaction


  • Share of market
  • Competitive benchmarks
  • Total addressable market
  • Market demand

How do you evaluate the success of market research?

Market research is successful if the resulting data is accurate, representative, and informative. Accurate data means the data has been cleaned and is a valid response to the study questions. Representative means that the data reflects the target market and is comprehensive. Finally, informative means the data provides insight and is actionable.

See how market research can help you with these key market research stats.

How to perform market research

What are the common market research methods? 

There are four main types of market research.

Quantitative Data Analysis

Data analytics involves collecting and analyzing large sets of existing data to uncover patterns and predict future outcomes. These data sets can include information like customer behavior data or historical sales data that allows companies to analyze their current performance and model potential scenarios and outcomes. 

By leveraging existing data, data analytics provides companies with an objective view of the situation, allowing them to identify gaps and discern trends.

Quantitative Survey Research

Surveys pose a set of questions to a targeted group of people. The survey measures the opinions, preferences, perceptions, and experiences of a desired audience and can collect self-reported demographic and geographic data. 

With surveys, companies get an aggregate but statistically valid picture that they can leverage to make decisions. Surveys also offer the ability to segment and further analyze the answers to determine key drivers of behaviors.

Qualitative Primary Research

Qualitative research focuses on targeted insights around concepts, opinions, and preferences. Unlike quantitative methods, these market research methodologies leverage a smaller set of data and respondents but allow for more in-depth answers.

There are two common types of qualitative primary research: in-depth Interviews and focus groups.

  1. In-depth Interviews
    In-depth interviews involve one-on-one conversations between interviewers and those from the target audience. The interview follows a pre-determined set of questions, or guide, to reveal sentiment, decision-making processes, and unmet needs.
  2. Focus Groups
    Focus groups are facilitator-led group discussions reveal perceptions of or reception to a concept or idea. While the facilitator guides the meeting, the direction of the conversation is determined by the participants creating organic responses that stem from participant perception and reactions.

Secondary Research

Secondary research, also known as desk research, is leveraging data that already exists to answer questions. It can be used to understand what others in the market are doing, identify potential markets for growth or expansion, or allow companies to compare their organization to others on key performance indicators.

What is the market research process?

There are five stages to the market research process.

  1. Determine your Area of Focus
    To determine the focus of your market research, look at your goals objectively and determine if you have accurate and effective data to accomplish these goals. Once you have identified your goal, the next thing is to determine what you need to learn to support it. This could be anything from external information like market trends and competitors or internal information like customer satisfaction with your brand and offerings.
  2. Select the Right Market Research Method
    Once you know what you want to learn, the next step is identifying the correct method for collecting data. There are four main methodologies for collecting data. The correct type to leverage depends on the answers you are seeking, the information you have, and the information you need to gather. Below is an easy chart that can help you identify which methodology you should be using.

    A chart comparing which market research methodology you should be using.

  3. Gather Your Data
    With your focus and methodology determined, the next step is to start collecting data. Each methodology has its own methods of data collection. Methods like surveys and interviews require researchers to gather feedback data from a select sample of their intended audience. Data analysis and secondary research entail gathering existing internal or external data related to the primary research focus.
  4. Analyze the Results
    Once the data is collected, the next step is to clean and analyze the results. It is essential that data is verified and accessed to ensure the data is valid and is sufficient to provide accurate results. Once the data has been cleaned it should be reviewed for general findings, evaluated against your initial questions, and benchmarked against past performance or competitors.
  5. Leverage Findings to Inform Your Business Strategies
    After conducting your initial research, it’s time to reassess your strategies. Look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that your research has uncovered to see how it might impact your business and existing strategies. Is there a way to enhance your current strategies with the new data? Do you need to alter your strategies and resources to address an uncovered threat? 

Leverage your findings to inform your strategy and determine your next steps, whether they indicate you should stay the course, pivot to tackle a more pressing challenge, or even conduct new research to further understand your recent findings.

Why use both quantitative and qualitative research?

Leveraging both quantitative and qualitative research can provide a more holistic view of a situation. For example, quantitative data analysis offers relevant findings but can sometimes lack context. If it is followed up by qualitative in-depth interviews, companies can gather feedback to understand the factors that lead to the data analysis findings and identify potential solutions or untapped opportunities.

Interviews can help businesses identify customers’ thoughts and opinions and then that feedback can inform a survey that is sent to a wider audience for measurable insights. Companies can also use secondary desktop research to identify market trends and industry benchmarks and combine it with data analysis or surveys to evaluate the company’s performance in the market.

What is a sample in market research?

A sample in research refers to a small but representative group of people whose answers are extrapolated to a larger population.

For example, if a company wants to identify their brand awareness, they will survey a sample of people that have similar characteristics to their target audience. The survey’s findings will then provide a general understanding of how well known the brand is and directions on how to improve their brand’s presence in the market.

Start conducting your own research with this step-by-step guide.

How companies conduct market research

How can you get market research?

There are three main ways companies can get market research insights.

  1. Internal non-dedicated research
    Some companies conduct research with no real dedicated resource, requiring members in the marketing, product, strategy, and business intelligence departments to conduct research themselves. While initially low-cost, this option consumes internal resources and time, can produce incomplete, inaccurate, and biased results, and is often not shared company wide.
  2. Dedicated internal research team
    Some companies are big enough or require extensive market research and have therefore invested in building an internal research department. This option produces more accurate and strategic results than the first option. However, it requires a long-term investment and the amount of research and insights you can collect will be limited depending on the amount and expertise of the analysts employed.
  3. External market research company
    Many companies partner with an external research company to gain access to research experts, technology, and advice for actionable insights. The price for this option depends on the type and amount of research you do, but it can be less of a burden than maintaining an internal department while still providing the value of research expertise.

What are the types of market research firms?

A market research company is a firm that specializes in conducting research. There are a few different types of market research firms based on the services they provide.

  1. Custom research providers
    Custom research companies (like Hanover) design and conduct research centered around client’s unique needs. They often specialize in all four research methodologies to develop research that answers clients’ focus questions and provide findings that connect the data back to the intent of the research.
  2. Syndicated research providers
    Syndicated research companies do not conduct client-specific research. Instead, these companies conduct widespread research to offer data such as industry statistics, current best practices, or recent trends. Businesses can then buy this research to gather perspectives on their performance and identify areas where custom research can help provide more insight.
  3. Self-service platforms
    Self-service companies provide research technology for companies to conduct their own research. It allows companies to design and administer their own research and analyze and assess the results.

Should you use a market research firm?

Market research companies provide valuable benefits, making them an effective partner for your research needs. In addition to the research they provide, they have added benefits like:

  • Removing the influence of preconceived opinions and personal or company bias
  • Access to sophisticated analysis software and research methods
  • Offering expert insights to help design research that results in accurate and relevant findings
  • Offloading time-intensive research and analysis enabling companies to focus internal resources on strategic work
  • Access to expert researchers without having to hire a full-time employees

How much does market research cost?

The cost of market research varies based on how you conduct your research. Conducting research in-house vs hiring a research company might be cheaper (but less effective). The type of methodology you use can affect the cost, for example, in-depth interviews can become quite expensive depending on the incentives you offer to participate. Price can also vary depending on the level of service you need, for example some companies will work with you to identify your focus and mythology, conduct the research, and present findings and recommendations while others will only conduct research and deliver the results.

Don’t make the mistake of focusing on costs by itself. Opting for cheaper or quick research can provide you with skewed data that can do more harm than good.

Good research is worth the investment. Over 85% of companies say market research ROI is over four times the investment. The insights and impact market research provides has also led 69% of businesses to increase their investment in market research this year.

Find out how Baltimore Aircoil successfully entered an international market with targeted insights

What are some tips for making market research effective?

Market research is instrumental in building effective data-driven strategies. But only if done right. As you begin to plan out your market research and business strategies, keep the following tips in mind.

  1. Refresh your data to ensure it is accurate and relevant
  2. Tailor research to your unique needs and challenges
  3. Use the correct methodology to accurately answer your questions
  4. Incorporate research findings into your strategies
  5. Share insights across the company to ensure everyone is operating off the same data
  6. Leverage outside expertise when you need it

By implementing these tips, you can enhance the quality and effectiveness of your market research efforts, enabling data-driven decision-making and strategic planning that aligns with your business objectives.

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