The 5 Dos and Don'ts of Market Research

Published on Apr 25, 2024 by Ed Rodgers

The benefits of conducting market research are many. Companies that embrace the use of a good research plan can ensure their strategy will produce the expected outcomes while minimizing the unknowns. For many, starting a market research project might seem a daunting challenge when there is no market research professional available. Here is a good starting point on 5 things to avoid and 5 tips to consider when considering a market research project.

do's and don'ts

1.    Don't do research for data you may already have 

The lack of communication within companies sometimes can create gaps in knowledge. One group might be sitting on data that holds valuable insights into customer beliefs and behaviors, but it’s not being interpreted or shared. For this reason, it’s not uncommon for different departments in the same organization to commission nearly identical studies. 

Do: Inventory and effectively utilize data that’s already in-house. 

2.    Don't do research when there is no agreement among crucial stakeholders 

If there is no agreement among key players within the organization as to the objectives of the research, it is unlikely to gain any traction once the project is fielded.  Studies are sometimes ordered based on a group hunch, or the opinion of an influential player, or because it seemed like a good idea. Other times, a study is commissioned just because there is a budget for it. If that money isn’t used now, the thinking goes, it disappears from next year’s budget. No matter how “orphan” research projects come about, they are very often ignored because there was no attempt to build consensus for that study beforehand. 

3.     Don't ask a question when you don't want to know the answer​ 

Avoid “disaster check” research: when the company has already decided on a course of action regardless of any dissenting data, but they wish to show that there was an attempt to vet their decision. Ironically, these disaster checks often end up predicting the disaster but not preventing it, because the appropriate action was not taken. When research is done before business decisions are made, brands triumph. But as an afterthought, it’s a waste of resources at best. 

4.    Don't frustrate respondents with questions they can’t possibly answer 

If the reaction from a respondent amounts to an irritated “How the heck should I know?” then you’ve asked the wrong question. This often takes the form of overly complex or technical questions that exceed the respondent’s knowledge or experience. It’s also common in focus groups where participants are asked to comment on topics like packaging – graphic design, color choice, etc. They may like the color or the picture, but they can’t tell marketers what combination will make a design appeal to a wider market, or whether it’s on-brand (or not). Respondents will answer these questions. But the marketer who tries to take action on those opinions is asking for trouble.  

5.    Don’t let research costs outweigh the potential benefits​ 

There is sometimes an urge to look at every conceivable customer segment with huge and expensive studies addressing questions that could have been answered with a more direct approach. It may also be a question of someone trying to answer too many business questions with a single piece of research. But this often ends up as unwieldy and counterproductive.  

If you would like Socratic Technologies to help you begin to organize or launch market research, let us know and we will be happy to have a conversation on your research needs and how the irreplaceable value we place on each of our projects helps ensure that your research has both informative and actionable information that can be implemented into your growth objectives.