Research fuels innovation. Unless you’re Coca-Cola, innovation is essential for growing any business. The proof? NASDAQ’s largest companies consistently spend over 10% of their annual revenue on R&D year over year.
Conducting market research enables companies to determine any new opportunities in the market, how to position their product or service, and find out what customers really think. Market research tools facilitate the collection, analysis and interpretation of this data. Acting on fresh new insights and customer takes, companies improve their offerings. This leads to increased customer satisfaction and hopefully, sales.
Let’s sink our teeth into how using the right market research tools contributes directly to business growth.
In this article, you’ll learn about:
- The importance of market research tools in conducting research
- Conducting quantitative and qualitative analysis
- How businesses use market research to stay competitive and relevant
- Market research tools features and functionality
- Benefits and challenges of using market research tools
- How Marvin can help with market research
Understanding Market Research Tools
Remember the art of physically hailing a cab? Always a risk of some wise guy trying to upstream you? A single application — Uber, changed the mobility landscape the world over. (Rida Qadri might have a thing or two to say about this). Like mobility apps, the world of market research has made giant strides. Marketers and designers now have a host of applications and tools at their disposal.
A market research tool is a platform, software or application used by businesses to discover more about their target audience or potential end users. It’s crucial to choose the right market research tool, one that’s tailored to your business needs. What questions do you want answers to? With your studies, are you looking for quantitative or qualitative results? What resources do you have at your disposal? Will your requirements change as the business grows?
The Data Collection Process
We’re inundated with information overload these days. It becomes overwhelming. Amidst all the confusion, the perennial question remains — where do I begin?
It all boils down to what you are looking to uncover — this dictates what research methods are best. Maybe you want to gauge customer sentiment before a rebranding exercise. Or maybe you want to understand more about an industry before launching a new product. There are two methods of collecting and accumulating data:
Primary Data Collection
Nothing beats insights straight from speaking with your customers. Usually in the form of surveys, one-on-one interviews, focus groups, observational studies and field trials, primary data is collected first hand by you.
Primary research can be exploratory or specific. Exploratory primary research tends to involve asking smaller groups more open-ended questions, aimed at tackling customer problems or spotting new opportunities.
Specific primary research focuses more on measurable customer trends. Say you want to ask customers what they think about the new colors on your logo. You’d like to gauge responses of 1,000 people to get a good representation of the population. Imagine talking individually to a thousand customers, asking them to articulate their thoughts and emotions as they look at the new logo. How exhausting. Instead, you can use a market research tool to craft a quick survey with structured responses to gather feedback from customers.
The GAP employs this strategy to great effect — they give customers $10 off their next purchase upon completion of a feedback survey. That’s 10 bucks for valuable, first-hand primary data.
It’s ideal, but not always feasible, to conduct some form of primary data collection. All companies have time and resource constraints. Enter, secondary data.
Secondary Data Collection
Research conducted by others is considered secondary research. It may not fit your study like a glove, but you can piggyback and build insights from someone else’s painstaking efforts. Remember to attribute your sources, though.
We’ve listed some resources in the Market Research Tools Universe section below – excellent information banks of publicly available secondary research. Secondary data sources include:
- Company reports. Public companies are required to periodically release these annual and quarterly reports. They give an in-depth look at financials, as well as internal and external trends that may impact the company.
- Government census data. Government agencies collect and maintain copious amounts of data. Their departments publish this information annually for public use.
- Industry statistics. Statistic websites offer industry trends for you to size up the market and explore any opportunities or growth prospects.
- White papers. Thoroughly researched reports, created by specialized third-party research firms. These are immensely detailed, but they usually command a fee.
Use secondary data sources to get a macro understanding of the business environment and fill in any knowledge gaps.
Our CEO Prayag Narula spoke to Rosenfeld Media about what UX research can learn from other research practices.
Data Analysis and Interpretation
You’ve collected all this data. Standing alone, raw data is meaningless. It requires the skill of the researcher, designer or UX professional to conduct analysis and extract meaning from multitudes of data. Inferences from their results give them an action plan moving forward.
You then have two methods for analyzing the data — quantitative and qualitative analysis.
Quantitative analysis relies on statistical and probabilistic techniques to describe a sample. For example, 60% of marketers stated that they use customer data when making decisions. Quantitative research happens rapidly on a large scale and is easily replicated.
Qualitative analysis, on the other hand, is much more complex because you need to tag and distill open-ended responses into themes. Fewer participants are involved, but the data output is far richer than its quantitative counterpart.
Market research tools that facilitate both types of analysis encourage taking more data-driven decisions, leaving less up to chance.
For more tips and tricks on getting the most out of your data, head over to our guide on conducting effective UX research.
Gain Valuable Human-Centric Insights
Companies exist to deliver value to their end users. Use marketing research tools to craft unique customer personas to understand the various demographics who use your product or service.
At Marvin, we’re staunch believers in elevating the user voice. It’s crucial to dissect what customers are saying about products and what their pain points are. Taking their findings on board, it can provide insight into how to enhance the user experience.
German economist Werner J. Reinartz worked with Schwarzkopf, a leading hair care company seeking to drive traffic to their website. To gauge customer thoughts and sentiments, Reinartz and team analyzed millions of customer conversations in blogs about hair care.
Results revealed that customers focused on hair care problems rather than specific brands or products. They redesigned the website to direct visitor traffic by haircare problems (frizzy hair, thin hair etc) rather than brands. As a result, website traffic tripled and backlinks from blogs and other online sources increased tenfold.
Market research tools help put humans at the center of your thinking.
Using market research tools allows companies to benefit from informed decision making. Management no longer relies on instinct, intuition or gut feelings. With access to critical insights, firms can drastically reduce uncertainty and mitigate strategic risk.
Remember we said Coca-Cola didn’t need to conduct much research? Well, we lied. Turns out, they did some (although paltry in comparison to the NASDAQ list, above). They had to.
Coca-Cola released Diet Coke in 1982, a lower calorie alternative to the sugary original formula. The beverage had a distinct taste due to its different chemical composition.
Over time, the company noticed that men weren’t buying Diet Coke. Coke executives couldn’t wrap their heads around why that was. They researched the reasons behind men’s reluctance to buy their low-cal offering.
Jill Avery, senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, coined the term “gender contamination” to describe this phenomenon. She described how uncomfortable a gender becomes “when a product they use to symbolize their gender is extended to appeal to another gender.” Avery explored how brands have to reposition themselves (Gillette for Women, per examplé) to satisfy their customers.
This in mind, Coke was very deliberate about their marketing efforts with the introduction of Coke Zero in 2005. They directed their marketing at one demographic – men. With a black can, a flavor that closely resembles the original Coke, and renewed efforts to appeal to the male population, Coke Zero has become a popular drink. Recently, the company announced that Coke Zero is cannibalizing sales of other Coke products in various markets. Ouch – that strategy shift might’ve been too good.
A small illustration of how informed market insights can have a significant impact on a business’ direction.
Staying Competitive in a Dynamic Market
Ever have such an appalling customer experience that you wanted to throw your phone against a wall? Turns out, one poor experience can cause customers to jump ship quite easily.
Any competitive edge that a company can garner is a feather in the cap and helps keep customers onside. Market research tools enable you to stay on top of market trends and help companies negotiate an ever-changing landscape. Market research can also identify the correct allocation of resources and identify opportunities unbeknownst to you previously.
America’s largest car manufacturer, Ford, was in the news for restructuring and repositioning the company in a seismic strategic shift.
Ford anticipates that by 2030, 30% of its global sales will be from electric vehicles(EVs). With an eye on the future, the decision to split its company into one conglomerate for traditional combustion engines and the other for EVs was an astute one.
Ford chose a leaner approach by concentrating on its popular and best selling cars such as the Mustang. The company has discontinued certain models such as the Focus and Fiesta – they no longer have cars in each and every segment. Quite simply, Ford doesn’t have the financial clout and resources to compete with Volskwagen and Toyota, much larger manufacturers who do operate in all segments.
Ford still caters to the combustion engine fanatics – they will continue selling popular models such as F-150 trucks and Mustang. Introducing EV versions of these in the future will undoubtedly entice the new generation of car buyers.
Identifying market trends and opportunities on the horizon has made Ford more adaptable, allowing them to allocate their resources more effectively.
The Market Research Tool Universe
A rather comprehensive list of helpful market research tools awaits you. We’ve grouped them by functionality, so there’s bound to be some overlap. Grab a cup of coffee before hitting this next section..it’s a doozy:
Understand more about your industry, the market and your end users by leveraging these handy tools:
- Google Trends. The king of search – can you remember a time before Google? We can’t either. Google Trends reveals what people search for most over time, helping you identify trending keywords and phrases.
- Think with Google offers a host of resources that help you uncover market trends and consumer behavior. Think gives you insights from thorough research to help you make informed marketing decisions.
- Google Keyword Tool – Part of Google Ads, this tool leverages the best possible database – Google itself. It helps identify relevant keywords for advertising campaigns.
- Ubersuggest is a keyword research tool that helps you carry out SEO and pay-per-click (PPC) market research. It’s helpful for identifying new keywords too.
- Growthbar is a browser extension that provides SEO and marketing insights for websites you visit. Create SEO optimized content and benchmark against competitor data points and keywords to grow your marketing efforts.
- BrandMentions scours the internet, monitoring social media mentions of a brand or keyword. This helps companies track their online presence and brand reputation.
- Claritas MyBestSegment offers the ability to understand more about your customers. Parse through detailed demographic and psychographic segmentation data to help you identify your target market. All without conducting a single survey.
Conduct end-to-end analysis and product testing within these apps. Make more data-driven decisions:
- Qualtrics. One of the most complete market research tools out there. Build detailed surveys and sit back – Qualtrics connects you to participants for your studies. Upload any dataset and analyze your results and segment target markets. A steep learning curve, but extensive capabilities means it’s no surprise that Qualtrics is a go-to choice for researchers.
- NielsenIQ provides consulting services along with consumer and market data to help businesses create targeted offerings, make informed decisions and track market trends.
- PureSpectrum provides a platform for conducting market research from start to finish. Gather consumer opinions through surveys and analyze your results to gain data-driven insights about your market and potential customers.
- Userlytics offers comprehensive UX testing and feedback for your prototype, mobile application or website. It captures webcam and screen recording so you can track exactly how participants navigate through digital products, and their reactions as well.
- Loop11 helps you test the usability of your website. This is helpful in product testing a design – you can see how customers move through your webpage and resolve any snags. No coding required.
- HeyMarvin, our personal favorite. Scroll down a bit to learn more about our data analysis capabilities.
Kick off your primary data collection, with this collection of powerful, customizable survey tools:
- Paperform is an interactive online form builder that allows you to create document-esque surveys for easy distribution to customers.
- Typeform is a simple mobile-friendly survey application that produces interactive and user-friendly surveys and forms. Integrates with several other apps.
- SurveyMonkey. We put the monkey in the middle. A powerful online survey platform for creating and distributing surveys. Choose from a host of templates or create your own. Analyze participant responses with handy data visualization tools. An easily navigable interface makes Surveymonkey a popular choice.
- Temper helps you collect feedback directly on your webpage. Temper allows you to embed a question widgets by giving you a couple lines of code. Gauge user sentiment in real-time by placing feedback forms strategically across your website.
- Qualaroo is a unique user feedback tool that lets you embed surveys on webpages. This way, you catch customer feedback in the moment. A sure-fire way to gather more insightful responses.
- QuestionPro is a premium survey platform that allows you to create, distribute and analyze your surveys. They offer survey logic and 24×7 support through live chat.
Data Visualization & Analysis
Data sitting in a table is not complete. Present and share your findings using interactive tools so your peers can slice and dice data as they please:
- Tableau transforms boring tabular data into stunning visuals and interactive charts. A no-code business intelligence platform with the ability to bring in data from various sources make it the data visualization tool of choice for large companies across the world. Notable Alternatives – Microsoft Power BI, Looker Studio
- RStudio requires coding knowledge of R and is thus more aimed at data analysts. Manipulate your dataset – conduct statistical analysis and visualize your data in house from various sources. Great for conducting visual analysis on the fly.
The supporting cast. Use these tools to get quick and helpful insights:
- Make My Persona is a godsend for creating user personas. This key activity helps you understand customers – what they are motivated by and what they are aggrieved with. A free and proprietary HubSpot tool that helps businesses create detailed buyer personas for more targeted marketing.
- Sample Size Calculator does what it says it does. It helps you calculate the sample size needed for statistically significant market research studies. Just enter your population size, margin of error and confidence level. We wish we had this back in statistics class!
- Buzzsumo analyzes millions of articles and social media engagements, helping you measure content performance. It identifies popular topics and influencers in a given industry.
- Page Insight by Meta is native to Facebook, and a must-have if you use the social network in your marketing arsenal. Get started with insights into your post performance and understand more about the demographic visiting your page.
- AMZScout caters to businesses who operate on Amazon. A product research tool for analyzing a product’s monthly sales, reviews, purchase history. Helps you track market trends and competitor data.
Useful Data Resources
Secondary data collection aids in sizing up your target market and looking at industry trends over time. Here are some helpful free resources to get started on your research journey:
- US Census Bureau. It’s all in the title. A government-funded organization that conducts a multitude of surveys each year and displays results on their website for public use. Use filters to size up and pinpoint the demographic you’re looking at.
- Pew Research Center is a non-profit think tank that conducts surveys and research on everything from public policy to science and religion. An excellent source of insightful and thorough datasets.
- Statista collates a multitude of industry information and statistics from reputable sources, and presents it in the form of visually appealing graphs and charts. Just type what you’re looking for in the search bar and, voila! Easy to navigate and understand, Statista continually updates their data. A great resource to gain a quick industry overview.
- Quora is a simple platform where users ask and answer questions. A helpful resource for understanding real customer issues and queries. Sometimes, it’s good to know that someone, somewhere is going through what you are. Quora makes the world a smaller, friendlier place. (Watch out for trolls and misinformation, though.)
Exhaustive? We try our best.
Challenges to Consider with Market Research Tools
Like all technology, market research tools have their limitations. Stay mindful of the potential drawbacks below:
- Data Quality. Good input equals good output. Conversely, if the data put into a market research tool is limited, outdated, or voluminous, it can lead to skewed and misleading results. There are no insights to be extracted from piles and piles of crappy data.
- Cost & Budgetary Constraints. Each team has its own capabilities and resources, so it’s important to understand how much time and money you have to spend before choosing a market research tool. It also helps to identify the scale of operations – both currently and what’s on the horizon. Future proof your choice; you might outgrow a simple tool quite quickly.
- Data Privacy & Ethics. A lot has been made of the ethical use of AI in UX research. Mary Gray spoke passionately about how crucial qualitative research is to AI. A market research tool must protect participants personal and identifiable information (PII) and preserve anonymity.
- Biases & Misrepresentation. Inherent in qualitative studies is the bias of a researcher. This bias can often be baked into studies or questions. We can’t help our inherent bias. What we can do is take steps to mitigate bias. Ask another person to check your work for leading questions and give you an objective perspective.
- Complexity & Learning Curve. The easier a market research tool is to learn, the better it will be assimilated into a company. If you’re sharing insights with peers unfamiliar with the tool, it must be easy for them to access and provide their views. A steep learning curve for a complex tool is a recipe for wasted money – no one will use it!
How Marvin Helps You with Market Research
Time for some good ol’ fashioned horn tootin’. If you’ve read this far, then you’re ready to hear how Marvin is the ultimate research assistant. Marvin brings all your research data into one place, enabling deeper analysis and company-wide collaboration along the way.
User interviews and Focus Group Data
Tight integration with videoconferencing platforms such as Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams allows Marvin to import all your interview files into a centralized repository. Discussion guides help you keep interviews on track and allow you to tag answers live. Record now, tag and search for insights later.
Automatic, Accurate Transcription
If you’ve ever conducted an interview while simultaneously taking notes, you understand a researcher’s plight. It’s hard to ask questions, gauge the participant’s sentiment, and capture their words verbatim.
Marvin generates a real-time transcript of your interviews in minutes. With support for over 40 languages and dialects, you can also edit any words as needed. Marvin’s AI learns these nuances for future interviews.
Automatic transcription is a game-changer for research. It quite literally frees your hands up so you can focus on the analysis. Refer to your discussion guides and concentrate on the interview. No more painful note taking.
Import surveys into Marvin to conduct your analysis. We make it easy to analyze quantitative results and open-ended qualitative responses.
Marvin’s capabilities extend the power of your existing UX workflows. Bring in large amounts of data from sources you already use, such as Qualtrics and UserTesting.
Marvin facilitates analysis of virtually any file format you throw at it. Whether its field notes, design feedback, emails, tables and images, there’s no doubt this capability is beneficial for researchers and designers.
Sharing Is Caring
Sharing is central to our ethos. Use Marvin to share bite-sized video insights (or nuggets) with your peers, or stitch together playlists that all have a similar theme.
Marvin lets you embed media into Slack, Notion or another communication tool, so you can share findings with co-workers across the organization. Recipients don’t need a Marvin account to view or respond to shared insights.
Collaborate with your peers, and let them make their own inferences. Sharing research can be immensely valuable to people across disciplines.
One Application. Many Uses.
NERD ALERT! We finish strong with poetry adapted from the Lord of the Rings:
One app to rule them all, one app to find them,
One app to bring them all, and in uncertainty bind them;
In the land of Market Research where insights lie.
Marvin. All your insights. All in one place.
Market Research Tools in a Nutshell
To grow a business, expand offerings and chase new revenue streams, companies must conduct their due diligence of the environment they operate in. This due diligence begins with thorough market research. Indeed, the evidence of big tech investing heavily in market research should be a call to everyone that market research is here to stay. In fact, it’ll only get bigger.
Market research tools offer businesses the capability to unearth unique insights into industries they operate in, and customers they cater to. Insights reveal potential new opportunities and enable companies to make informed, data-driven decisions. Talking to users gives companies invaluable industry information and a deep understanding of their pain points.
In an increasingly digital age, where customers are inundated with choice, the right market research tools elevate your playing field.