All About Market Research: How to Gain Insights From Your Competition

When you’re just starting as a business, you’ll have to put in a lot of work to become a strong contender in the market. This involves doing market research that provides crucial insights for outperforming competitors. A solid market research strategy will help you understand your audience, know their problems, and design and frame your products as the perfect solution for their needs.

Even though you may be going up against industry giants or those who have amassed a huge following, it doesn’t mean you don’t stand a chance. There may be problems that your competitors aren’t addressing that you can swoop in to resolve, catering to even more of your target audience’s pain points. Here’s what you need to know about market research and how to improve your chances of success:

Understanding Market Research

To carry out market research, you’ll first need to understand what it is. It is the process of gathering information about your industry, target audience, and competitors to ensure you make well-informed decisions. As a small or new business owner, you’ll need this data when creating a business plan, helping you figure out your goals and where you want to take your venture in a given timeline. 

Bigger companies often enlist a market research firm to gather this data when they plan to introduce a new product to the market. However, these market research firms may miss out on a few relevant and easily solvable problems that an owner can probably solve easily, which can lead to hiccups in the company’s path. Understanding the market as a small business owner can help you conduct low-cost market research by connecting with local networks and subject matter experts to analyze market demand for your products or services. 

Additionally, market research is vital when conducting a market analysis. It is instrumental when starting a new business, developing buyer personas, assessing customer satisfaction, or studying the competitors in an industry.

The Different Types of Market Research

To help you decide your place in the market, consider conducting several types of market research. Doing this will help you understand consumer behavior and the present issues in your industry. By collecting different data types, you’ll have a more comprehensive picture of the market, which you can use to your advantage.

Primary Research 

Also known as first-party data, this is information you gather about your existing customers, potential customers, or your business through direct outreach to those groups. You can collect such information via online surveys, customer interviews, and other similar means. The data you collect is something you own and manage by yourself.

While conducting primary research, you look for data that is general and open-ended but precise enough to solve an existing problem.

Some common ways to gather data for primary research:

-Conduct Interviews (telephone or face-to-face)

-Social Media Surveys

-Focus Groups

-Questionnaires through emails

Secondary Research

Secondary research is existing data that you can use to add more depth and dimension to your research, taken from second-and third-party sources. Second-party data is information that another business or research firm collects about different aspects of the marketplace. These groups have collected first-party data that becomes secondary data when you or another brand leverages their insights. 

For example, a footwear company is now considering a new market for their new sandals. They can contact other companies for secondary data if the customer base is similar (as long as they’re not competitors). For example, the footwear company can request a study on a company’s customers that sells similar merchandise to a similar audience.

Meanwhile, third-party data is information collected by organizations that do not directly connect or relate to the research subjects. It can be likened to associations that carry out their research by surveying members about their customers. They depend on their members to supply the information, giving them unparalleled access to data, although there are also notable quality limitations. 

Your business can conduct secondary research through:

1. Regular government datasets

2. Special government reports

3. Company directories and databases

4. Market research reports

5. Company websites

6. Online communities

7. Academia

8. Trade associations

9. General, business, and trade press

10. Social and search tools

Qualitative Research

As suggested in the name, qualitative research is the gathering of data without a measurable quantity. The data is descriptive and concentrates on understanding human qualities, like behavior and motivations. When you study buyer attitudes, you are carrying out qualitative research.

To conduct qualitative research, one of these methods are typically used:

1. Lifestyle Immersions: Attending a social event where users of the product or service are, and collecting feedback from them.

2. In-depth Interviews: By asking open-ended questions to a group or an individual who is a consumer, the data is gathered through conversation.

3. Online Forums: Members in a panel are brought onto a common platform to discuss a certain topic and the moderator ensures the discussion is driven in the direction of the outcome required.

4. Observations: This method allows the business to analyze from a distance how consumers react to the purchase of the product and the shopping experience.

One of the major advantages of qualitative market research is that it helps you get a better understanding of the “why'' behind your market’s decision-making patterns. It can help you collect detailed information and not just focus on metrics like other methods might, which ensures a complete analysis of the market.

One of the major advantages of qualitative market research is that it helps you get a better understanding of the “why'' behind your market’s decision-making patterns. It can help you collect detailed information and not just focus on metrics like other methods might, which ensures a complete analysis of the market.

Quantitative Research

Unlike qualitative research, quantitative research involves gathering numerical data for statistical purposes. Some examples of this data include industry sales, population figures, number of social media followers, or website visitors.

Businesses generally use quantitative research when they want to get objective, conclusive answers. Often used in the later stages of a research study, it helps answer clear questions about problems that your potential customers may face.

Methods through which you can perform quantitative research are:

1. Questionnaires: They are less time-consuming and easy to answer, which makes it a preferred method. They’re extremely cost-effective when gathering a large sample of data.

2. Interviews: This is a more refined way of conducting research as compared to questionnaires, as they can be modified based on the response of the interviewee. This helps in collecting a more robust data set.

3. Observation: This is the most flexible and inexpensive mode of data collection, as it can be stopped whenever needed. The only downside to this method is the time that goes into observations.

Steps to Perform Market Research

Now that you know the different types of market research, you’ll need to learn how to carry it out. During the process, marketers gather data to examine their target audience.

Determine the Purpose

The first step is to identify what you want to discover. Your purpose may be to understand your target audience’s major pain points and issues you believe your business can help solve. It can also be to create buyer personas or to evaluate attitudes towards a product.

For instance, the physical magazine market has been declining for several years due to the rise of digital publishing. These magazine companies might do market research to understand why their customers have begun pivoting towards online reading and create marketing strategies to take advantage of this new behavior and bring their old customers back. They may also discover that consumers are more likely to buy physical magazines if they came with notable inclusions, allowing them to reposition their product.

Map Your Research Methods

Once you’ve settled on the question you want to answer, it’s time to plot your method of conducting market research and analysis. Fortunately, this is much easier to do in the digital age, as you can quickly collect various insights that can answer your question. 

Data collection is one of the most vital market research components, but it tends to look different for every company. For instance, you may not have enough resources to collect first-party data as a small business, requiring you to depend on second-and third-party sources. However, if you can find angel investors to give you more capital funding, you may have enough funds to collect some of the data yourself.

Carry Out Market Research

If this is your first time doing market research, you’ll want to keep an open mind to determine the method that works best for your goals. You can start by sending out online surveys to understand what your customers are feeling and thinking. Most survey software platforms are either free or cheap like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms, and you can also export the data for easy management. You’ll have a goldmine of first-party data in a few days.

You can also use tools like Google Analytics to carry out online market research without disturbing your customers. Web analytics tools offer many options you can explore, allowing you to track engagement rates and other visitor behavior. You can also use these insights to guide your marketing campaigns, which will now be based on data about your customers’ interests.

Google Analytics can also help you get a clearer picture of the demographics of your website visitors. You can capture data like age and gender under Audience Reports, which can help you tailor your marketing and product releases to these audiences more effectively. You can also learn more about those who have displayed an interest in your brand by looking for insights on your social profiles. If you have a Facebook page for your business, go to the Insights tab, then click on “People” on the left menu to view your fans’ age and gender. You can also look at their country, city, and even language preferences.

A/B testing is crucial to getting an accurate pulse on what your customers respond to best. If you don’t know how your customers will react to a specific product, layout, or option, you can use A/B testing with your online customers to analyze their behavior. A/B testing software or heatmap tools allow you to test different messages, formatting, and calls-to-action across different visitors to your page. Additionally, you can also carry out experiments related to your products to see how they fare, providing a more cost-effective option for determining what changes to make to your website.

Lastly, you’ll also have to look at the audience of your competitors. Using Alexa’s Competitive Keyword Matrix will help you gain access to the keywords that bring your audience to your competitors’ websites and pages. You can integrate these keywords into the content you create to try pulling some of them into your virtual doorstep, ultimately converting them. You can also learn the problems your competitors are addressing and how they meet the needs of customers you currently aren’t serving.

Conduct Market Analysis

Now that you’ve done your market research, it’s time to make sense of the data you gathered. The kind of analysis you’ll conduct depends on the information you have. If you’re studying human qualities like buyer attitudes, you’ll have to deploy qualitative data analysis techniques to understand how the information impacts your business. The same goes for looking at measurable quantities; you’ll have to use quantitative data analysis techniques to understand what the numbers tell you. By using the appropriate analysis techniques, you’ll find themes in otherwise complex data.

Act on What You Know

Finally, you’ll have to take action based on what you’ve learned throughout your market research. What changes will you make to your product and messaging? How will you adjust your services or branding to fit your customers better? It’s essential to be flexible enough to make changes where necessary to stay competitive and up to date with emerging trends that are here to stay.

Key Points To Remember:

- Know the purpose of your research.

- Make a plan before you dive into the research. You should know how much time and effort it would take.

- Pre-determine which method of research you’ll utilize.

- Consider software like Google Analytics to perform primary research.

- Collate the gathered data into an easily understandable format, so you don’t have to struggle reading it at a later stage.

- Make goals and take actions based on the information that you gathered from your research to emerge above your competitors.


As a small business, you can learn a lot from your competition by doing market research. While your resources may be smaller than those of larger companies, you can also benefit from the information they’ve gathered and use it to make informed decisions about your business. By following our guide and with the help of capital funding from angel investors or other funding sources, you’ll have what you need to succeed.

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