Market Research Analysis: The Fundamentals of Understanding Your Data

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Posted Sep 07, 2011

Reading the results of your survey seems like a simple task, but there’s a lot more to it than you might realize.  Not only do you have to see what your respondents said, but you also have to identify the most important results and interpret what they mean for your company. Market research analysis is a very important part of your company’s whole marketing process, and should be done carefully and concisely.

Setting Goals and Hypothesizing

A very important step in your market research analysis process is looking back at the original goals and hypotheses your team set at the beginning of the market research process.  This is important because you can’t hope to analyze data without knowing exactly what to look for.  Say for example, that you’re looking to add another product to your line.  So you’re hoping that your research will answer the question of what product will most interest your current customer base.  Keeping that in mind while looking at your results will make the analyzing process much easier.

Think about what answers were common among your respondents and what action can or should be taken based on those results, rather than which answer is “the winner.”

Different Question Types

There are many different types of questions to use in your survey, and you should choose very carefully so you gather the most accurate results possible.  The two basic types to choose from are single choice questions, where respondents have to choose the one answer that best applies, and multiple choice questions, where respondents can select all answers that apply to them.

Single choice questions create a rank order among all of the options.  Since respondents can only choose one option, the percentages of every answer will add up to 100%.  Sometimes there is a standout winner, and sometimes there are a few answers that are within a few points of each other.  Depending on your company’s goal, your most common answer might be the one you’re looking for, or you can put the answers into groups – what are the two or three most common answers and what do they have in common?  What about the two or three least common answers and what do those have in common?  Is your company looking to add one new product to its line or multiple products?  Or are you looking at altering features of an existing product?

Multiple choice questions can be great for expressing more realistic scenarios where your customers might have more than one preference or idea.  So in the earlier example where you’re trying to learn which product your current customer would be most likely to buy, you could ask the question as a single choice question or a multiple choice question, and it’s very important to understand the difference.  Instead of saying, “Which of these products are you most likely to buy?” you could ask, “Which of these products might you consider purchasing from this company? Select all that apply.”  Some of your customers might be inclined to choose more than one new product, in which case the multiple choice question would garner the most realistic results.  Depending on your overall goal, understanding the difference between these two formats could be the difference between success and failure for your company’s research project.

Understanding Your Results

The most important thing is keep an open mind during your market research analysis.  Your survey might yield results that you didn’t expect, but it’s important to listen to what your respondents have to say and take appropriate action based on your results.

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