What to consider when carrying out some research

What is market research and why do it?

Simply, market research is the collection and analysis of data to uncover what people think (their attitudes or opinions) and what they do (their behaviour). It is used to produce quality information for planning and decision-making, using robust/credible evidence to ensure:

  • Better products and services
  • Better relationships with customers / beneficiaries / other stakeholders
  • Greater longevity for the organisation
  • Better quality decision-making and use of resources
  • More effective Government policies

How to decide on what research method is best?

Stage 1 – What do you want from the research?

  1. Define the research problem

‘The problem’ is a formal way of identifying the ‘core need’ for the research to be undertaken.

Before starting any research, or considering reaching out to any external research agencies to undertake the work for you, it is a good idea to be clear on the background (what triggered the need), the objective (how will the results impact your organisation) and what the research objective(s) are (what is the research actually trying to achieve).

For example, is it to help develop a service you provide? Is it to understand what your beneficiaries think of your organisation? Would you like to know more about the characteristics of a group of people?

  • What data / insight do you need?

Also ask yourselves, what do you need the research for? What type of data or insight do you need at the end of the research?

For example, are you looking for data from a small number of people that is qualitative in nature and may go into more detail about the ‘why’ or are you looking for data from a large number of people in which you can quantify their answers?

Stage 2 – Creating the research design

  • Do you need to conduct primary research?

Once you know the type of data you are looking for and what you want it to tell you, it is a

good idea to consider what research already exists. For example, is primary research (research you are conducting yourself and is not publicly available elsewhere) actually needed? Is there already sufficient data available internally in your organisation or publicly available? Is it feasible to undertake the primary research?

Once questions like these have been considered, you can go on to identify what research method is most appropriate and confirm what the research requirements are.

  • Who do you want to talk to?

Who in particular would you like to talk to – whether that be members of the general public, your beneficiaries, your employees and volunteers, other stakeholders etc.?

When this has been ascertained, you will need to think more about the sampling strategy i.e. who the target population is, how you can access this group of people (the sampling approach) and the sample size (the number of people you want to research).

  • Choosing the data collection method

Once you have thought about what it is you want to research, what you require from the data, who you want to talk to and how you would get access to this group of people, then you should have a clear idea of whether you want to conduct qualitative research or quantitative research.

Next steps are to think about whether you can conduct the research in-house or need support from an external research agency.

For more information on quantitative and qualitative research methods see our other articles.

Thanks to Hannah Kilshaw, Research Director at ICM Unlimited for contributing to this series of articles.

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