- Market research can be said to be the engine that drives the advertising dollar. Monies spent on advertising is money down the drain unless the customer base is known. Market surveys play a big part in identifying who the customer is for a particular product, and what makes them buy what they buy.
Politicians, government agencies and businesses all survey their markets to keep abreast of what their customers need and want. This article will explore how a market survey is put together and used to gather customer information.
A market survey is designed to provide key bits of information about a customer base, so in a sense they are learning tools in the product creation process. Each question in the survey is designed to elicit a certain piece of information that will aid product designers in delivering a saleable product.
Typically, a business or organization already has a good idea as to who their target customer base is, so survey questions will be specifically designed for this type of customer. Knowledge of the target base's overall lifestyle and habits provides a middle ground from which information can be gathered.
Researchers must then gather a representative sample of the target customer base to ensure that the information obtained is accurate. Unless the customer base in question is unusually small, a sample of 100 respondents will provide the needed representation for the customer base overall.
- There are two general types of information used when marketing a product. One is quantitative information and the other is qualitative. As such, market survey questions are designed to gather either quantitative or qualitative data.
Quantitative data provides specific measures of a population's behavior and habits so survey questions of this type elicit straightforward "yes or no" responses that can be tabulated. Quantitative information also gives marketers a numbers base from which probability measures can be made.
Qualitative data is more along the lines of customer base perspectives and opinions that provide marketers information on why customers buy what they buy. Survey questions in this vein would be more open-ended in an attempt to gather as much input as possible.
Market surveys can take a number of different forms, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Common survey types come in the form of:
- Mail (postal): Response rates for this type vary according to customer base. This is a fairly inexpensive method, but the time factor can be costly as responses can take from weeks to months to come in.
- Web pages: Also inexpensive, this method allows for visual and audio effects when distributing the survey. However, not everyone has Internet access, and there's no control as to who participates in the survey or how many times a respondent replies.
- Personal interviews: This method is more expensive, and can be more costly in terms of where your customer base is located, and how long each interview takes. However, this is most likely the more comprehensive approach in terms of information gathering.
- Email: This can be a costly method depending on mailing lists costs, and the likelihood that spam filters will block the survey from ever reaching the customer. As with web pages, visual and audio elements can be included, and response times are quick.
-Telephone: Costs will vary with this method depending on if the customer base is local or long distance. The prevalence of answering machines, coupled with the negative impact of telemarketing practices makes this a difficult method for obtaining survey information.