Everything you need to know about the techniques of marketing research. There are several important techniques of marketing research.

Marketing research specifies the information required to address these issues; designs the method for collecting information; manages and implements the data collection process; analyses the results; and communicates the findings and their implications.

Marketing research uses a wide range of techniques to collect data on customers and prod­ucts.

Some of the techniques of marketing research are as follows:-


1. Survey Method 2. Observation Method 3. Experimentation 4. Warranty Cards 5. Distributors or Store Audits 6. Pantry Audits 7. Panels/Consumers Panels 8. Use of Mechanical Devices 9. Content Analysis 10. Focus Groups 11. Field Trials.

Techniques of Marketing Research: Survey Method, Observation Method, Experimentation, Content Analysis and a Few Others

Marketing Research Techniques – 7 Important Techniques: Market Survey, Mail Interview, Telephone Interview, Personal Interview and a Few Others

There are several important techniques of marketing research.

We discuss some of them below:

Technique # 1. Market Survey:

Market survey is one of the most widely used MR techniques. Market survey is at times viewed as synonymous with market research. This is erroneous. It has to be understood clearly that market survey is just one of the techniques of MR and is not synonymous with MR. It is just one method of collecting the marketing information required for carrying out a given marketing research task.


It is used if the required data is not available from the company’s internal records and from external published resources. It amounts to original field research work for the purpose of collecting primary data. There are two types of market survey -the census survey and the sample survey.

Steps Involved in a Market Survey:

The steps involved in a market survey are noted below. It is worth mentioning that some of the steps will be applicable to the Marketing Research task as a whole, as well as to the market survey technique.

Steps in a Market Survey Planning the Survey:


i. Problem definition

ii. Selection of the survey method

iii. Sampling

iv. Questionnaire development


v. Pilot survey


i. Selection and training of investigators

ii. Interviewing/collection of data


iii. Supervision

Analysis and Interpretation of Data:

i. Editing

ii. Tabulating, processing (mechanical/manual) and interpreting data


iii. Statistical analysis and interpretation

Report Making:

i. Summarizing findings and recommendations

ii. Report writing


We shall discuss the important ones among these steps in some detail.

Selection of the Survey Method:

Different methods are available for contacting the respondent and collecting data. Interview is the most common method. Different types of interviews can be employed such as personal interview, telephone interview and mail interview depending on the context. The interview may be structured or unstructured, direct or indirect. Sometimes a depth interview, or a qualitative interview is also employed to elicit information.

Technique # 2. Mail Interview:

As per this approach, the questionnaire along with a covering letter explaining the purpose of the study and seeking the respondent’s cooperation is sent to all respondents in the sample. Obviously, this method cannot be used if the respondents are illiterate.

Technique # 3. Telephone Interview:

Another method is the telephone enquiry method. This method of survey is extensively used in developed countries. In India, the scope for employing this method is relatively narrow. It can be used for certain types of products.

Technique # 4. Personal Interview:

The third method is the personal interview. This method is extensively used in surveys. The personal interview method enables better control of the sample and ensures answers from respondents. It also provides for a tactful approach to the respondent since it is based on a person to person talk. But this method is generally costly and time consuming.

Technique # 5. Questionnaire Development:


Questionnaire development is an important part of the market survey job. It is an art that calls for a lot of expertise and resourcefulness on the part of the researcher. The questionnaire should be so structured as to collect all relevant information. It often sets in the framework as well as the tone of the survey. The research data is built up on the framework of the questionnaire. If the questionnaire is faulty, it will generate incorrect information and no amount of analysis and interpretation can set it right. The choice of words in the questionnaire should also be appropriate and should be unequivocally A understood by all respondents.

Nuances of Questionnaire Development:

As a general principle, the questionnaire b, should be as simple as the subject of the survey permits. It should be brief and to the point, forming a logical sequence. Questions should be broken into component parts so as to cover a single idea. Leading and misleading questions should be avoided. Questions which respondents cannot properly answer must also be avoided.

The questions in a survey questionnaire usually belong to one or the other of the following types:

i. Open –ended questions

ii. Closed-ended questions


A Step By Step Approach in Questionnaire Development:

A step by step approach L detailed below could be adopted with advantage in questionnaire development:

i. List all relevant points, exhaustively

ii. Do some informal, trial interviewing

iii. Draft the questionnaire based on the above

iv. Put the questionnaire through a pilot survey for pre testing and perfecting.


v. Develop the final questionnaire based on the pilot survey

Technique # 6. Fieldwork:

Fieldwork calls for a lot of managerial and administrative skills apart from research I skills. Investigators for fieldwork must be recruited with care and then properly trained for the work. Fieldwork should be properly supervised. The time schedule must be adhered to. Responses must be honestly and accurately recorded.

Technique # 7. Panel Research:

As pointed out earlier, panel research is a technique similar to that of the survey, but lit with an essential difference. Whereas the survey technique uses a fresh sample every le time a survey is done, panel research uses the same sample over and over again, for collecting the information.

The market researcher interviews or otherwise gathers data from the same people constituting the panel. In this sense, the panel is a permanent sample of respondents who have agreed to be interviewed at appropriate intervals.

A panel refers to a sample of respondents, who may be individuals, households or firms he from whom information is elicited about their-buying behaviour or other aspects at regular intervals. The panel members maintain a diary and note down details of purchases, ad he exposures, shopping patterns and other features that the researcher is interested in. They send the feedback to the researcher periodically.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Panels:


Panels offer quite a few advantages to the marketing researcher. Changes taking place over time in buyer behaviour can be monitored through panels; changes in buyer lire behaviour can also be related to changes in the marketing mix and analysed. There are the also some disadvantages in the panel research.

Compared with the survey, Panel; so research requires a greater degree of cooperation between the panel and the market les- researcher. The panel has to cooperate not just once, but repeatedly. In practice, it is seen that there are many respondents who are prepared to respond to a survey, but they do not wait to be part of a panel as they do not want to be bothered again and again.

The possibility of refusal/ drop out may necessitate the sample size to be relatively bigger. Also panel research often has to face the conditioning factor. When the respondent is questioned on the subject repeatedly in the panel, his attitude may be influenced and replies conditioned.

In spite of these disadvantages, panel research is resorted to because of the advantage it gives to the researcher in tracing the changes occurring over time. It eliminates the response variation arising from sample size variations. Such an approach is especially useful in experimental marketing research; the panel, in itself, is an experimental design.

Other Specialised Techniques of Marketing Research:

In addition to the established techniques discussed above, quite a few mathematical techniques have been added in recent years to the armory of the market researcher. For example, for the assessment of buyer needs, a variety of specialized techniques – psychometrics, econometrics and computer simulations -are used.


Similarly, for market segmentation, many types of multi-variety statistical methods are used. In the area of product positioning, techniques like market structure analysis and multidimensional scaling are becoming popular. Similarly, a variety of time series and econometric methods are being used in developing product life cycle forecasts. In the area of-

i. Types of Marketing Research

ii.  Techniques of Marketing Research

i. Types of Marketing Research:

May be broadly divided into two types, namely, quantitative research and qualitative research.

1. Quantitative Research:

In quantitative research, an attempt is made to observe or determine statistically the behaviour of different marketing components. It attempts to find out the consumer profile relevant to the marketing problem under study.

It probes them at the conscious level in order to find out, for example, as to what, how much, and from where do they buy and their opinions and reactions towards different components of the marketing mix. The emphasis is on gathering statistics and analyzing them by the application of various statistical techniques.

However, it does not find out as to why a respondent has behaved in the manner he has. In fact, it cannot find it out because for seeking an answer to the ‘Why’ of respondent to probe him/her at the sub-conscious and unconscious levels and in quantitative research no such attempt is made. The quantitative research makes up this deficiency and attempts to complete the information package required for marketing decision making by providing answers to the ‘Why’ of behaviour.

2. Qualitative Research:

Qualitative research attempts to determine as to why a person has behaved in the manner he/she has. It seeks to probe the respondents at their sub­conscious and unconscious levels and uncover reasons, some say motives, for their behaviour which even they do not know at times.

This type of research is often referred to as motivation research. There is a lot of difference of opinion about the use of the term ‘motivation research’ because, it is said, it refers to motives only and excludes other psychological aspects of consumer behaviour which influence buying behaviour.

According to Britt, “the next time you hear motivation research discussed just remember that this phrase really refers to certain psychological measuring techniques”. Qualitative or motivation research, therefore may be defined as research carried out to understand the causative factors of consumer behaviour as embedded in the behavioural aspects of his/her personality. These aspects may include attitudes, assumptions, images, motive, etc.

The rationale of qualitative research is that it helps to develop an understanding of those behavioural forces which influence human behaviour considerably but remain hidden within. These forces are not amenable to appear by quantitative analysis and, therefore, require application of psychological techniques.

Unless the marketer gets answer to the ‘Why’ of consumer behaviour, his information package remains incomplete for decision making. It is for this reason that qualitative research has received wide acceptance in the marketing field notwithstanding stringent criticism both on technical and ethical grounds.

The distinguishing features of quantitative and qualitative researches are basically found in the type of information sought and the techniques used.

In quantitative research, answer are sought to questions which impart understanding about the consumer profile and environmental factors influencing consumer behaviour at the conscious level. In qualitative research, on the other hand, answers are sought to questions which impart understanding about consumer behaviour as conditioned by the sub­conscious and unconscious force working within.

ii. Techniques of Marketing Research:

In terms of research techniques, in quantitative research the emphasis is on direct questioning, quantitative data collection, and their statistical analysis. In qualitative research, on the other hand, psychological techniques of measuring human behaviour are employed. Nevertheless, the basic approaches or methods involved in employing these techniques are, by and large, common in both the researches. These include survey, observation and experiment.

Marketing research procedure is composed of independent but closely interrelated steps such as problem formulation, determining sources of information preparation of data collection form, sample designing, data collection and processing, and report writing.

Marketing research may, however be divided into two types, namely, quantitative and qualitative research. In quantitative research, an attempt is made top statistically determine the behaviour of different components of the marketing-mix. It seeks answers to questions which explain consumer behaviour at the conscious level.

Qualitative research, on the other hand, attempts to determine as to why a person has behaved in the manner he/ she has. It seeks answers to questions which explain consumer behaviour at the subliminal level. For conducting these types of researches survey, observation, and experimentation are three basic techniques. In order to sharpen the research findings of the qualitative research, the techniques of depth interviewing and projective techniques are nowadays usually employed.

For the smooth and orderly conduct of marketing research, people engaged in the research activities are organized. Organising for marketing research involves defining the size and structure of the research team.

The size of the organization is dependent on the corporate philosophy, use of outside agency, types of products and markets, involvement of other departments, availability of resources and the corporate organization structure. In a consumer oriented company, the marketing research, organization, however, enjoys a status at par with other marketing functions and plays a ‘staff role’.

Marketing Research Techniques – 11 Major Techniques: Survey Method, Observation Method, Experimentation, Warranty Cards and a Few Others

The major techniques of conducting marketing research activities are as follows:

1. Survey Method:

This method is based on direct interaction with respondents. In research, surveys are most commonly used and most abused means of collecting primary data.

There are several advantages of using survey method:

(a) It involve least time of the investigator.

(b) It involve least cost of the investigator.

(c) It is a flexible method of data collection.

This method also suffers from several limitations as:

(a) Questions framed for the investigation may be biased or poorly structured.

(b) The interviewers lack proper training for data collection.

(c) The sample may not truly represent the universe.

Survey is a planned effort to collect the desired information from a representative sample of the relevant population. It can also be termed as systematic gathering of data from respondents through questionnaires. The observations here are directly gathered from the respondents. The administration of a questionnaire to an individual or group of individuals is called an interview.

Survey can be done with the help of following methods:

(i) Interview Method:

A conversation between two or more people where question are asked by the interviewer to obtain information from the interviewee is an interview. This method of collecting data includes presentation of oral-verbal stimuli and reply in terms of oral-verbal responses. It can be utilised for personal interviews and, if possible, through telephone interviews.

The prominent methods of data collection is interviewing along with others. It is a two-way systematic conversation between an investigator and an informant, started for acquiring information relevant to a specific study.

It includes not only conversation, but also leaning from the respondent’s gestures, facial expressions and pauses, and his environment. Interviewing needs face-to-face contact or contact over telephone and calls for interviewing skills. It is done by using a structured schedule or an unstructured guide.

(ii) Questionnaire Method:

An important tool used for data collection is a questionnaire. It is a set of questions which are asked from a group of respondents. Respondents records their answers themselves. According to the narrow definition of a questionnaire, it is generally refers to a self-administered process whereby the respondent himself reads the question and records his answers without the assistance of an interviewer.

Questionnaire served as a method of obtaining specific information about a defined problem so that the data, after analysis and interpretation, results in a better appreciation of the problem. A questionnaire form is often referred as schedule, which has to be completed by an interviewer.

The success of collecting data either through the questionnaire method or through the schedule method depends largely on the proper design of the questionnaire. This is a specialised job and requires high degree of skill, experience, through knowledge of the research topic, ability to frame questions and a great deal of patience. There are no hard and fast rules in designing the questionnaire.

(iii) Schedule:

For research, schedule is an instrument which is most frequently used in collecting field data especially where the survey method is employed. It is used in indirect interview. It contains questions and blank tables, which are to be filled in by the investigators themselves after getting information from the respondents.

Outwardly schedule and questionnaire appear to be the same but there is some difference between the two. Schedule is used in direct interview and direct observation and is filled in by the research work himself.

Goode and Hatt define ‘Schedule’ as, “Schedule is that name usually applied to a set of questions which are asked and filled in by an interviewer in a face-to-face situation with another person.”

2. Observation Method:

An activity of a person which senses and assimilates the knowledge of the phenomenon or the recording of data using instrument is termed as observation. The observation method is commonly adopted method especially in studies relating to behavioural sciences. In a way we all observe things around us, but this sort of observation is not scientific observation.

Observation becomes a scientific tool and the method of data collection for the researcher, when it serves a formulated research purpose, is systematically planned and recorded and is subjected to checks and controls on validity and reliability. Under the observation method, the information is sought by way of investigator’s own direct observation without asking from the respondent.

Observation is inclusive of recording the behavioural pattern of people, object and events in a systematic manner to obtain information about the phenomenon of interest. The observer does not question or communicate with the people being observed. Information may be recorded as the events occur or from records of past events. Observational method can either be structured or unstructured, direct or indirect. Moreover, it can be conducted in a natural or contrived environment.

3. Experimentation:

It is inclusive of manipulating the independent variable to determine how it affects the dependent variable. Experiments need one or more experimental groups that are exposed to the experimental treatment(s) and a control group that is not exposed. After the researcher randomly assigns participants to either an experimental group or a control group, it evaluates the dependent variable.

After the experimental groups are exposed to the treatment, the researcher measures the dependent variable again. If participants have been randomly assigned to the different groups, the researcher may infer that any difference in the dependent variable among the groups is due to the effect of the independent variable.

Experimentation can be defined as “A research investigation in which conditions are controlled so that an independent variable can be manipulated to test a hypothesis about a dependent variable. It allows evaluation of causal relationships among variables while all other variables are eliminated or controlled.”

4. Warranty Cards:

A warranty card is a postal sized card, which is placed inside the package of a product, containing a set of questions, along with a request to the consumer to fill it up and post it back to the dealer, usually, warranty cards are used in case of consumer durables to gather information regarding the products.

5. Distributor or Store Audits:

These are carried out by distributors as well as manufacturers through their salesmen at regular intervals. Distributors get the retail stores audited through salesmen and use such information to estimate market size, market share, and seasonal purchasing pattern and so on. The dat. are obtained in such audits not by questioning but by observation.

6. Pantry Audits:

To estimate consumption of the basket of good % at the consumer level, this technique is employed. In this type of audit, the investigator collects an inventory of types, quantities and prices of commodities consumed. Thus, in pantry audit data are recorded from the examination of consumer’s pantry.

7. Panels/Consumer Panels:

This form of data collection method is widely used for syndicated research. A panel is a group of study units (households, retail stores, organisations) that exist overtime and from which data is collected on a regular interval of time. For instance, members of a consumer panel might maintain purchase diaries in which consumers record every purchase in a particular product class.

Measurement of this nature provides longitudinal data and permits analysis of changes in behaviour and/or attitudes. All panels are virtually sponsored by some commercial houses and maintained by some marketing research agency in le form of syndicated research services.

Apart from studying the trends in the market, a panel, can also examine the changes in the market due to manipulation of many marketing mix variables. Still, in order to study such dynamic behaviour of panel members, the researcher would need to adopt proper control on the experiment.

8. Use of Mechanical Devices:

Mechanical devices has been used widely to collect information by way of indirect means. Eye camera, Pupilometric camera, Psycho-galvanometer, Motion picture camera and Audiometer are the principal devices so far developed and routinely used by modern big business houses, mostly in the developed world for the purpose of collecting the required information.

9. Content Analysis:

Content analysis includes analysing the content of documentary materials such as books, magazines, newspapers and the contents of all other verbal materials, which can be either spoken or printed. The analysis of content is a central activity whenever one is concerned with the study of the nature of the verbal materials. For instance, a review of research in any area, involves the analysis of the contents of research articles that have been published.

The analysis may be at a relatively simple level or may be a subtle one. It is at a simple level when we pursue it on the basis of certain characteristic of the document or verbal materials that can be identified and counted (such as on the basis of major scientific concepts in book). It is at a subtle level when researcher makes a study of that attitude, say of the press towards education by future writers.

10. Focus Groups:

Focus groups have been utilised extensively in marketing research. Generally, focus group studies are conducted to evaluate the potential of a new product idea or concept. A focus group comprises several persons, who are led by a trained moderator.

The moderator’s task is to lead the team in generating and exchanging ideas on a particular issue. The process begins by issuing a topic for discussion among participants by the moderator. In such discussions, the moderator’s role will be to silently watch the proceedings and ensure that the discussion is going on as expected.

Still, the moderator needs to intervene to make sure that all individuals in the group participate. Once the focus group’s observations and recommendations are obtained, the information is evaluated by the moderator. This forms the basis for further research.

11. Field Trials:

For testing customer response under real life selling conditions placing a new product in selected stores can assists individual with information regarding product modifications, price adjustments or package improvements. Building rapport (friendly relationship) with local store owners and websites can help small business owners test their products.

Marketing Research Techniques – 3 Popular Techniques: Statistical Tools, Models and Optimisation Routines

The various techniques are classified into:

1. Statistical tools,

2. Models and

3. Optimisation routines.

1. Statistical Tools:

The following are a few statistical techniques being used in marketing research:

(i) Multiple Regression:

A statistical technique for estimating a “best fitting” equation showing how the value of a dependent variable varies with changing values in a number of independent variables. Example – A company can estimate how unit sales are influenced by changes in the level of company advertising expenditures sales force, size, and price.

(ii) Discriminant Analysis:

A statistical technique for classifying object or persons into two or more categories. Example- A large retail chain store can determine the variables which discriminate between successful and unsuccessful store locations.

(iii) Factor Analysis:

A statistical technique used to determine the few underlying dimensions of a larger set of Interco related variables. Example- A broadcast network can reduce a large set of TV programs down to a set of basic program types.

(iv) Cluster Analysis:

A statistical technique for separating objects into a specified number of mutually exclusive groups such that the groups are relatively homogeneous. Example- A marketing researcher might want to classify a miscellaneous set of cities into four groups of similar cities.

(v) Conjoint Analysis:

A statistical technique whereby the ranked preferences of respondents for different offers are decomposed to determine the person’s inferred utility function for each attribute and the relative importance of each attribute. Example – An airline can determine the total utility delivered by different combinations of passenger services.

(vi) Multidimensional Scaling:

A variety of techniques for representing objects as points in a multidimensional space of attributes where their distance from each is a measure of dissimilarity. Example – A computer manufacturer wants to see where brand ‘A’ is positioned in relation to competitive brands.

(vii) Completely Randomised Design:

This is useful when the researcher is investigating the effect of one independent variable. This independent variable need only be a nominal scale, so that it may have many categories. Each category of the nominal independent variable is a treatment. In a completely randomised design, the experimental treatments are assigned to test units on a completely random basis.

(viii) Randomised Block Design:

This design is built upon the principle of combining test units into blocks based on an external criterion variable. These blocks are formed with the anticipation that the test units score on the dependent variable within each block will be more homogenous, in the absence of treatment, than those of test units selected at random from all test units.

The fundamental reason for doing blocking is to allow the researcher to obtain a measure of sampling error smaller than that which could result from a completely randomised design. This occurs because some of the variation in the dependent variable is assigned to the blocking factor, leaving a smaller sampling error.

The parallel between blocking in experimentation and stratification in sampling is the formation of subgroups so that the variable of interest is more homogeneous within the groups than it should be across all groups. The result of this process is a smaller measure of sampling error. The problem is that the number of blocks required in the blocking factor increases as a multiplicative function of the number of categories in the external variables used.

By using more than one external variable the researcher can measure only the overall effect of the blocking factor. The separate effects of the variables defining the blocking factor cannot be isolated. A possible partial solution to this problem is the Latin square design.

(ix) Latin Square Design:

In situations where the researcher wishes to control and measure effects of two extraneous variables, the Latin square design may be used. The rows and columns designate the extraneous variable that are to be controlled and measured. The number of categories of each variables to be controlled exactly equals the number of treatments.

Without this condition we would not have a square design. Another necessary condition relates to the way in which the treatments are assigned to cells of the squares – they are assigned to cells randomly, subject to the restriction that each treatment occurs once in each row and once in each column.

(x) Factorial Design:

The above three design procedures allow for the use of only one independent variable. If we wish to examine two or more independent variables in an experimental situation, we must use a factorial design. A factorial design allows us to measure the separate effects of each variable working alone. These individual effects of each independent variable is called the main effects.

The interaction effects is used to recognise that a number of independent variables working together, often have a total effect greater than the straight sum of their main effects. Interaction occurs when there is a relationship between the independent variables.

The factorial design may be used in a completely randomised design, with randomised block design assuming that there is no interaction between the blocking factor and the independent variable, and the Latin square design assumes that there is no interaction between the two blocking factors.

2. Models:

(i) Markov-Process Model:

This model shows the probability of moving from a current state to any new state. Example: A branded packaged-goods-manufacturer can determine the period-to period switching and staying rates for his brand.

(ii) Queuing Model:

This model shows the waiting times and queue lengths that can be expected in any system, given the arrival and service times and the number of service channels. Example – A supermarket can use the model to project queue lengths at different times of the day given the number of service channels and service speed.

(iii) New-Product Pretest Models:

This model involves estimating functional relations between buyer states and awareness, trial, and repurchases based on consumer preferences and actions in a pretest situation of the marketing offer and campaign. Among the well-known models are ASSESSOR, COMP, DEMON, NEWS, and SPRINTER.

(iv) Sales-Response Models:

This is a set of models which estimate functional relationships between one or more marketing variables such as sales force size, advertising expenditure, sales- promotion expenditure, etc., and the resulting demand level.

3. Optimisation Routines:

(i) Differential Calculus – This technique allows finding the maximum or minimum value along a well-behaved function.

(ii) Mathematical Programming – This technique allows finding the values that would optimise some objective function that is subject to a set of constraints.

(iii) Statistical Decision Theory – This technique allows determining the course of action that produces the maximum expected value.

(iv) Game Theory – This technique allows determining the course of action in the face of the uncertain behaviour of one or more competitors, or nature that will minimise the decision maker’s maximum loss.

(v) Heuristics – This involves using a set of rules of thumb that shorten the time or work required to find reasonably good solution in a complex system.

Marketing Research Techniques – 5 Basic Methods: Surveys, Focus Groups, Personal Interviews, Observation and Field Trials

Market research can provide critical information about the buying habits, needs, preferences and opinions of current and prospective customers.

While there are many ways to perform market research, most businesses use one or more of five basic methods:

1. Surveys,

2. Focus groups,

3. Personal interviews,

4. Observation and

5. Field trials.

The type of data you need and how much money you’re willing to spend will determine which techniques you choose for your business.

Technique # 1. Surveys:

Using concise, straightforward questionnaires, you can analyze a sample group that represents your target market. The larger the sample, the more reliable the results.

i. In-person surveys are one-on-one interviews typically conducted in high- traffic locations such as shopping malls. They allow you to present people with samples of products, packaging or advertising and gather immediate feedback. In-person surveys can generate response rates of more than 90 percent, but they are costly.

ii. Telephone surveys are less expensive than in-person surveys, but costlier than mail. However, due to consumer resistance to relentless telemarketing, getting people to participate in phone surveys has grown increasingly difficult. Telephone surveys generally yield response rates of 50 to 60 percent.

iii. Mail surveys are a relatively inexpensive way to reach a broad audience. They’re much cheaper than in-person and phone surveys, but they only generate response rates of 3 to 15 percent. Despite the low return, mail surveys are still a cost-effective choice for small businesses.

iv. Online surveys usually generate unpredictable response rates and unreliable data because you have no control over the pool of respondents. But an online survey is a simple, inexpensive way to collect anecdotal evidence and gather customer opinions and preferences.

Technique # 2. Focus Groups:

In focus groups, a moderator uses a scripted series of questions or topics to lead a discussion among a group of people. These sessions take place at neutral locations, usually at facilities with videotaping equipment and an observation room with one-way mirrors. A focus group usually lasts for one to two hours, and it takes at least three groups to get balanced results.

Technique # 3. Personal Interviews:

Like focus groups, personal interviews include unstructured, open-ended questions. They usually last for about an hour and are typically recorded.

Focus groups and personal interviews provide more subjective data than surveys. The results are not statistically reliable, which means they usually don’t represent a large segment of the population. Nevertheless, focus groups and interviews yield valuable insights into customer attitudes and are excellent ways to uncover issues related to new products or service development.

Technique # 4. Observation:

Individual responses to surveys and focus groups are sometimes at odds with people’s actual behaviour. When you observe consumers in action by videotaping them in stores, at work or at home, you can observe how they buy or use a product. This gives you a more accurate picture of customers’ usage habits and shopping patterns.

Technique # 5. Field Trials:

Placing a new product in selected stores to test customer response under real- life selling conditions can help you make product modifications, adjust prices or improve packaging. Small business owners should try to establish rapport with local storeowners and Web sites that can help them test their products.