Market Research 101: What Questions Should You Be Asking?

Before you launch your next product or business, it’s important to take the time to complete some marketing research. Market research will tell you what competitors are doing, and if your ideas are profitable. An essential part of market research is figuring out your target audience, which will help you create an effective marketing strategy.

While there are lots of different components of market research, the most important is asking the right questions. SurveyPlanet is here to help you do just that. Read through our guide and learn what types of market research questions you should be asking your audience.

Primary Research

Before we dive into specific questions you should ask, it’s important to grasp the main concepts of market research. There are two basic categories: primary research and secondary research. Primary research is when you gather firsthand information about your market, its customers and your competition. Primary research is generally completed with focus groups, interviews and online surveys to learn more about the specific challenges customers face. The research also helps you gather details about your company’s brand awareness. Conducting primary research is a way to establish buyer personas and segment your market.

Secondary Research

The main purpose of secondary research is to analyze data that is already published to draw conclusions. This involves analyzing public records, industry content, market statistics or your own sales data. Secondary research is especially helpful for analyzing competitors. Companies complete most secondary research using public sources, commercial sources or internal sources. Public sources include government statistics and data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau. Commercial sources are usually provided in the form of a market report compiled by research agencies. Lastly, internal sources include customer retention rates, average revenue and data from both old and new accounts. Together, all this data may help you determine what buyers want right now.

First Things First: Who is Our Customer?

Once you have collected your primary research, it’s time to sit down and define your buyer personas. Ask yourself who your ideal customer is. What is their age? Where do they live? What do they do for a living? Defining buyer personas helps you understand your audience.

Key characteristics of a buyer persona include:

  • Location
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Job Title(s)
  • Income
  • Family Size
  • Challenges

Companies may have more than one buyer persona, and that’s completely fine. The reason you create the buyer personas is so you know exactly who your potential audience is. Your buyer personas will help you optimize campaigns and content to spark their interests.

Conduct a Market Research Survey

Market research surveys are an efficient way to gain data based on insights from real customers. Companies can send the survey to existing and/or potential customers. It should give valuable insight into opinions about products, the company and the customers. Companies use market research questions to make changes to products and improve or enhance features. The survey may also answer whether the business idea is a good one. Below are some of the top market research questions you should ask in your survey.

1. Who is Our Ideal Customer?

Your market research survey should include questions about your customers, including their gender, age, income level, job title, location and education level. This is an especially important step for start-up companies that are new to the market and have yet to nail down their target audience. It’s one thing to create buyer personas; it’s another to verify they are correct based on your actual customers.
Don’t hesitate to ask detailed questions to learn more about your ideal customer. If you own a pet shop, you might want to ask questions about what kinds of animals customers own. How many animals? What type of home do they live in? The more information you can learn about your customers, the better.

2. What is the Biggest Challenge for the Customers

Learning about your customers’ pain points will help you create better solutions. For example, if an online textbook store sent out a survey to students with this question, they might respond that “textbook prices are too high.” The business owners can take this information and compare it to the competitor’s pricing. If they find that their prices are too high, they may lower them or offer discounts to combat this challenge.

Ask your customers their top 5 to 7 problems with your service or products. If there are enough similar responses, business owners may feel inspired to improve or create a new product to counteract these frustrations.

3. What Do Our Customers Really Want?

It doesn’t hurt to ask your customers exactly what they want. Asking open-ended market research questions like this will give you answers you didn’t know you needed. If customers show reluctance to answer this question, you might be better off giving them the option to rate certain products or services. This will at least tell you which ones they like or dislike.

For example, a shoe store might send a survey to customers to learn what they thought about this season’s sandals. Customers have the option to rate the sandal and answer specific questions about what they liked or disliked. The company can take this information to learn more about what their customers like and what they can provide in the future.

4. What Sets Us Apart From Our Competition?

Maybe you know what sets you apart from your competition, but do your customers? Ask this question in your survey to find out what your customers really think about you. One way you can do this is by asking specific questions related to what you offer that competitors don’t.

For example, a bakery might offer gluten-free and vegan options, but they’re unsure if their customers care. The bakery could ask in the survey, “How important is it to you to have gluten-free or vegan options at a bakery?” The responses are rated on a scale from not important to very important. The answers will tell you if what sets you apart matters to the customer.

Your survey should also include questions that allow a customer to agree or disagree with statements. For example, “I can count on Phil’s Auto Shop to offer competitive pricing.” Questions like this give insight into the emotional benefits customers perceive from your business.

5. What is the Right Price to Charge?

New businesses will benefit from including pricing questions. Pricing is difficult to pinpoint, especially if you don’t have a true competitor. Pricing your products or services fairly can generate the right balance of revenue and customer satisfaction. Pricing them too high can result in a lack of customers. Pricing them too low can result in a profit loss. So how do you price just right? Figure out a comfortable profit margin and then ask your customers their opinions on your prices. Know that there will always be a business that charges more or less than you. Pricing fairly is a matter of creating brand loyalty and excellent customer experience.

In your survey, ask your customers if they find the prices too low, fair or too high. You can display different products and services with their prices and have customers rate them. For example, a marketing agency might wonder if their website design price is appealing. In their survey, they can include an example of a website design, what it includes and their current price. Customers will have the option to decide if it’s fair or not. To gain more insight, they might also include their other services in the survey.

Where Should I Conduct My Market Research Questions?

Now that you have some suggestions for questions to ask your customers, you might wonder where you can use them. SurveyPlanet is a great place to start. We offer a free plan that allows you to create unlimited surveys to send to your customers. If you don’t want to write your own questions, we have over 90 pre-written surveys and plenty of examples to choose from. All you have to do is press send.

For companies that would prefer to customize their surveys, we offer a Pro plan that lets you create custom themes, branch questions, export results and so much more. Whether you need something basic or more extensive, both our free and paid versions can help you get the job done. Start asking market research questions by signing up for SurveyPlanet today.

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