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Market research: what, why, and how? Examples and templates. 

In this article we zoom in deeper on what market research is, why it is of importance to businesses and how you can conduct market research using various methodologies.

What is Market Research? 

Market research is the process of collecting, analysing, and interpreting information about a market with the goal of helping businesses make informed decisions regarding their products, services, or marketing strategies. The purpose of market research is to gain insight into the needs, preferences, behaviours, and trends of (potential) customers in a specific market. 

Market research often focuses on one of the following areas: 

  • The customer. These can be both (potential) consumers and (potential) business customers. 

  • The company. This involves conducting research into the products or services that the company wants to offer or already offers. 

  • The direct competition. In this case, market research is used to determine how the company compares to the direct competition. 

  • The industry or branch. To identify patterns and trends in a specific industry or branch. 

Why do companies conduct market research?

There is no doubt that market research is of added value. Five reasons why companies conduct market research are: 

  • Knowledge of the target group. Market research allows businesses to gain an in-depth understanding of their target audience's needs, preferences, attitudes, and behaviours. By conducting market research, companies can develop products and services that fit in seamlessly with their target audience. 

  • Competitor analysis. By conducting market research, businesses can analyse the activities of their competitors. This includes understanding competitors' strengths and weaknesses, their market share, and positioning, among other things. This allows businesses to develop a service or product and marketing strategy that stands out from the competition and gains a competitive advantage. 

  • Identification of opportunities and threats. Market research helps identify opportunities and threats in the market. It enables companies to spot trends and changes in consumer behaviour, allowing them to discover new market opportunities. It also helps companies to identify any threats at an early stage, so that they can respond to changing market conditions in a timely manner. 

  • Optimization of marketing strategies. By conducting campaign research and testing marketing communications, it becomes clear how (potential) customers respond to them. In this way, the communication can be adjusted where necessary, and companies can get more out of their activities. 

  • Risk management in decision-making. Conducting market research prevents big decisions from being made based on assumptions and gut feeling. This allows companies to make informed decisions and significantly reduces the risk of a decision going wrong. This is especially important for major investments, product launches, or expansions into new markets.

Types of market research

With the help of quantitative and qualitative market research, different types of research can be conducted. We explain the most common types of market research for you below. 

Communication and brand research 

These types of surveys relate to the performance of a particular brand and its communications. These can be divided into the following types of research. 

Brand perception & brand research 

Image and brand research focusses on the public's perception of a brand. Through surveys and in-depth interviews, companies can find out how their brand is viewed and what associations their brand evokes. 

Brand Tracking 

Brand tracking is very similar to image and brand research, with the biggest difference being that it keeps an eye on a brand's performance over a longer period. Characteristics such as brand preference and brand awareness play an important role in this. By monitoring performance over a longer period, businesses can monitor branding and marketing efforts. 

Communication research 

With the help of communication research, companies gain insight into how their communication efforts, such as advertisements, newsletters, and promotions are experienced by users from the target group. By responding to these insights, they can adapt to better connect with the target group. 

Campaign research 

Campaign research evaluates the results of marketing campaigns. Among other things, it measures the awareness, engagement, and impact of specific campaigns. These insights can be used to make interim adjustments and to improve the design of future campaigns. 

Innovation research

Market research in this category is often used to investigate whether a new service or product provides added value or how an existing product or service can be improved. 

Market potential and feasibility study 

This study assesses the viability of new products or services in the market. By conducting surveys, interviews, and focus groups, feedback from the target group is collected at an early stage. This helps businesses make informed decisions. 

Usage & Attitude study

Usage and attitude research gauges how consumers use a product and what attitudes they have towards that product. This provides valuable insights for optimizing the user experience. 


This involves various studies such as product tests, packaging research, and taste tests. These help in tailoring products to the preferences and expectations of the users. 

Concept research 

This involves testing a new idea or concept with respondents who fall within the target group. This makes it clear to what extent the concept meets the needs of users. 

Competitor research 

Competitor research analyses the strengths and weaknesses of rival products or services. Thorough competitor research helps companies to develop products or services that can help them stand out from the competition.  


Customer research

Market research for existing or potential customers can take many forms. Below, we discuss the four most common research variants within this category. 

Mystery shopping 

In mystery shopping, respondents are asked to perform work as a mystery guest. The mystery guest uses the store, web shop, or customer service, and then reports her experience. This gives companies insight into how consumers experience their services and provides insight into how they can be improved. 

Customer journey research 

This research tracks a customer's journey when interacting with a company and provides insights at every point of interaction. It identifies critical moments and opportunities for improvement. 

UX Research 

UX research involves various aspects, such as testing prototypes, websites, apps, and running UX benchmarks. It is focused on understanding and optimizing the user experience of digital products. 

Pricing study

Pricing research evaluates customers' perceptions of pricing and determines how pricing strategies affect customer satisfaction. 

Target audience 

Market research within this category is used to get a better picture of the target group. 

Segmentation and persona research 

Persona research is conducted to gain insight into the different segments that make up the target audience. Detailed profiles are then created based on shared characteristics, so that they can be responded to when creating communications. 

Needs assessment 

Needs assessment identifies the specific needs and desires of the target group, for which a wide variety of research methods can be used. It enables companies to develop products and services that meet the target group’s needs. 

Opinion research

Opinion research measures the opinions and attitudes of the target group towards specific topics. It provides insight into what is important to the target audience. 


Satisfaction surveys are often used structurally to gain insight into how existing customers and employees experience the company. 

Customer satisfaction survey 

This survey evaluates customers' overall satisfaction with products, services, and overall experiences with the company. 

Employee satisfaction survey 

Employee satisfaction surveys focus on determining employee satisfaction within the company, which can be done using a variety of methods. 

Primary and secondary market research

Market research can be divided into primary and secondary research. Both types will be described below.

Primary market research 

Primary market research involves collecting data from the target audience that is relevant to the business, i.e., not using external sources. Primary market research can include both qualitative and quantitative methods. 


  • Relevance. Data is collected specifically for research questions that are relevant at that time. 

  • Accuracy. Researchers have full control over the study design and methods used. 


  • Cost and time. Primary research can be more expensive and time-consuming than using existing data. 

  • Potential for bias. When only qualitative methods are used, the results may not be generalizable. 

Secondary Market Research 

Secondary market research uses existing data sources, such as reports, studies, and statistics collected by other parties. It can contain both qualitative and quantitative information. 


  • Cost- and time-efficient. Uses existing sources without the need for new data collection. 

  • Broad overview. Offers a broad view of the market and industry. 


  • Possible obsolescence. Data may not always contain the most up-to-date information. 

  • Limited customization options. Investigators have no control over the original study design, so the consulted studies may not fit well. 

Qualitative and quantitative market research 

Methods used to conduct market research can be divided into quantitative and qualitative methods, which will be described below.

Qualitative market research 

Qualitative market research focuses on in-depth understanding and interpretation of respondents' perceptions, opinions, and motivations. Exploratory methods such as focus groups, interviews and observations are often used for this. 


  • In-depth insight. Provides in-depth, contextual information about consumer behaviour. 

  • Flexibility. Because researchers have live conversations with respondents, they can ask in-depth questions when something interesting is said. As a result, there is more freedom compared to conducting surveys. 


  • Limited generalizability. Qualitative market research is conducted with smaller sample sizes than quantitative market research. Consequently, the results may not be generalizable. 

  • Time-consuming. Conducting interviews, focus groups, and observations is time-consuming. As a result, the costs can increase, or the lead time can be long. 

Quantitative market research 

Quantitative market research collects standardized, measurable data to perform statistical analyses. This includes surveys, experiments, and other structured methods. 


  • Statistical generalizability. Results can often be generalized to the broader population. 

  • Objectivity. Standardized measurements reduce the likelihood of differences in interpretation. 


  • Limited depth. Quantitative data may provide less context and depth compared to qualitative approaches. 

  • Less flexibility. Questions often need to be determined in advance, leaving less room for spontaneous in-depth exploration. 

Overview of market research methods

To be able to conduct market research, data collection is vital. There are various methods you can use to collect data. We explain the most common market research methods for you below. 


Surveys are structured questionnaires that are provided to a group of respondents. 

Advantages of surveys 

  • Efficiency. Surveys allow researchers to quickly collect data from a large group of respondents. This makes it an efficient method for obtaining quantitative information. 

  • Standardized. By using standardized questions, the same questions can be asked of all respondents. This ensures consistency and comparability of data. 

  • Objectivity. In online surveys, there is no direct interaction between interviewer and respondent, which promotes objectivity and reduces the likelihood of being influenced. 

Disadvantages of surveys 

  • Limited insights. The data you collect depends very much on the questions that have been drawn up. The answers generally offer less insight than, for example, interviews or focus groups. 

  • Bias. The wording of questions can lead to bias. Respondents can be influenced by the way questions are asked, which can cause the survey results to paint a distorted picture. 

  • Low response rate. Not all selected respondents respond to surveys, which can lead to biased sampling and results. 


Interviews are structured or semi-structured conversations between researcher(s) and respondent(s). 

Advantages of interviews 

  • In-depth insights. In-depth interviews allow researchers to gain in-depth and detailed insights about the respondents' experiences, thoughts, feelings, and needs. 

  • Flexibility and customizability. In-depth interviews offer flexibility in terms of the interview structure and can be tailored to the individual respondent. The interviewer can respond to the respondent's answers and ask in-depth questions to gain a more comprehensive understanding. 

  • Contextual insights. In-depth interviews allow researchers to gain insight into the context in which users interact with a product, service, or website. By exploring the respondents' personal backgrounds, experiences, and surroundings, in-depth interviews can provide rich and contextual information. This allows companies to better respond to the wishes and needs of the target group during the development process. 

Disadvantages of Interviews 

  • Time-consuming. In-depth interviews typically require more time and resources compared to, for example, sending out a questionnaire. This can be overcome by conducting the interviews online, and using a platform such as User Sense that can takes the preparatory work around recruiting respondents off your hands. 

  • Limited sample size. Due to the intensive nature of in-depth interviews and the need for in-depth interactions with respondents, sample sizes may be limited. As a result, it is often not possible to generalize the results.  

Focus groups 

Focus groups are meetings where a group of participants, usually 6-10 people, discuss a specific topic under the guidance of a moderator. 

Advantages of focus groups 

  • In-depth insights. Similar to in-depth interviews, focus groups provide an opportunity to gain in-depth insights into participants' opinions, experiences, and perceptions. The interactive setting encourages open discussions and the sharing of personal perspectives, allowing researchers to gather valuable information that is difficult to obtain through other research methods. 

  • Synergy and group dynamics. The group dynamics in focus groups can lead to synergy and new insights. Through the interaction between participants, different points of view, ideas, and suggestions are generated. 

  • Fast results and cost efficiency. Focus groups can be organized and conducted relatively quickly, giving researchers quick access to results. 

Disadvantages of focus groups 

  • Influence of dominant participants. In a focus group, dominant participants can control the discussion and influence the opinions of other participants. This can result in an unbalanced contribution and affect the representativeness of the data. 

  • Social desirability and group thinking. The presence of other participants may cause some participants to adjust their opinions or make their answers socially desirable. This can result in biased data and a lack of honest feedback. 

User testing or usability testing 

User testing, also known as usability testing, concerns end users during the actual use of a product, website, or service. Researchers observe user behaviour and collect quantitative and qualitative data. 


  • Real user experience. Instant insight into how users experience a product. 

  • Pain point identification. Reveals specific issues and bottlenecks in the user experience. 


  • Small sample size. User tests usually involve a limited number of users, which can affect generalizability. 

  • Possible observer bias. The presence of researchers can influence user behavior. 

How to choose the right method for market research? 

Each method has its own place and purpose within market research. When choosing the right research methods, several considerations are made. For example, the research questions, the available budget and time, and the desired depth of the collected data can be considered. For a complete picture, the use of various methods is recommended.  


Step-by-step plan for conducting market research

Do you want to conduct your own market research? With this step-by-step plan, we will help you on your way. 

Step 1: Determine the goal and research questions 

Before you begin, you need to be clear about the purpose of the study and the specific question or questions you want to answer. Whether it's understanding customer needs, evaluating the competition, or testing a new product, a clearly formulated research question will help you conduct effective market research. 

Step 2: Define the target audience 

Create a clear profile of what your target audience looks like and consider dividing it into different segments. It is important to do this before you determine the research design, because the target group can influence the preferred research methods. 

Step 3: Choose the research methods 

Select the most appropriate methods for your research. Depending on your goal and research question, you can choose qualitative or quantitative methods, primary or secondary research, or a combination of both. Consider surveys, interviews, focus groups, user testing, online analytics, social media monitoring, or other appropriate methods. 

Step 4: Design the research tool 

Once you've decided which methods you're going to use, design the instrument you'll use to collect data. For surveys, this means formulating clear questions, for interviews, preparing an interview guide, and for focus groups, preparing themes and questions. 

Step 5: Recruit respondents and conduct research 

Recruit respondents to conduct the survey. Make sure you're consistent in giving everyone the same instructions, so that the results are reliable. Be flexible and be prepared to adjust the process if necessary. 

Stap 6: Analyse 

Once collected, analyse the data thoroughly. Make sure to plan your analyses in advance. Use statistical methods for quantitative data, and thematic analysis for qualitative data. Identify patterns, trends, and insights that answer your research question. 

Step 7: Conclusions and recommendations 

Based on the analysis, you draw conclusions. What does the data say about the market, your target audience, and your products or services? Formulate recommendations for strategic decision-making based on the insights you've gained. 

Step 8: Report the results 

Communicate the results of your market research clearly and concisely. Make use of visual elements such as charts and tables to highlight key findings. Present the information in an understandable form for all stakeholders. 

Step 9: Implement and evaluate 

Implement the recommendations in your business strategy and track the effects. Regularly evaluate whether the measures taken are producing the desired results. If necessary, adjust your strategy based on new information or changing market conditions. 

Market research examples and templates 

Conducting market research and looking for a market research example? Then use our sample documents and templates for free. 

Market research sample questions for surveys, interviews, focus groups and user tests 

Market research sample research report 

Market research example

An example of a Dutch company that uses market research effectively is Mijndomein. For example, they conducted a survey among 300 respondents to determine how they compare to direct competitors. Want to know more about this market research? Read our case study.