How to Perform an Insightful Primary Market Research

© | Andrey_Popov

In this article, we will give you 1) an introduction to primary market research and 2) show you how to conduct an effective primary market research.


When it comes to a business’ market research, primary market research is a kind of a method through which one collects or gathers information directly from the source or customers. The information thus collected is collected for the first time and is original. Primary market research is highly specific and relevant to the purpose. It may be expensive and more time taking to conduct primary market research as opposed to secondary research, but the results thus obtained are much more focused.

Two basic types of information can be gathered through the method of primary market research, and they include:

  • Exploratory information – This type of data or information is open-ended and involves highly detailed and unorganized data from interviews. Such information pieces may help businesses define solutions to certain specific problems.
  • Specific information – As opposed to exploratory information, specific information obtained through primary market research is highly to the point and can later be used to obtain the solution to an issue which exploratory data has pointed out to.

Primary market research: Advantages and benefits

Conducting primary market research offers several benefits and advantages. This method must also be included in the process of market research not only because it leads to fresh and updated information but also high relevant one. Let’s know more about these benefits by reading the following:

  • Offers better control – Primary market research makes it possible for business owners to search for only the exact information or data needed and not irrelevant information that has to be later cut short. One is more in control of what he/she wants to acquire when conducting this research.
  • Better data studying and research – In the case of primary market research, data can be evaluated and interpreted much easily and more conveniently. This is better than secondary market research in which evaluation is already done by another person.
  • Addresses targeted matters and specific research areas – Only targeted issues, or matters can be researched or addressed when it comes to primary market research. This means that businesses can focus their efforts and hard work on a specific audience or market rather than a wide range of areas.
  • Spendings only for the information needed – Unlike secondary market research, in the case of primary research, one can spend only on what is needed rather than unnecessary expenditure on information that could easily prove useless.
  • Information is proprietary – Another major benefit or advantage of primary market research is that it makes it possible for researchers or business owners to claim proprietary on information searched by them. They can choose not to share it with others or make it public.


1.   Focus groups

Focus groups are one of the most commonly opted for and popular primary market research techniques and help to fulfill several requirements of businesses and researchers. A focus group is basically a group of consumers or customers gathered together at one place to get their feedback. These groups are headed or organized by highly experienced researchers who obtain quality and in-depth opinions and responses of the customers. Mostly, focus groups comprise of about 10-20 participants and can even be conducted virtually through the help of the web and video conferencing, etc.

The main purpose of focus groups is to probe deep into the interests, preferences, likes, dislikes and opinions of a group of people belonging to a certain similar demographic. For example, such groups may be organized by selecting either only females, only males, people from a same age bracket and so on, depending on a service or a product. People are then encouraged to put forth their views, and their behavior and personalities are assessed by the researcher to obtain useful information about general views and opinions of the target audience.


  • A wider range of interests can be covered – one of the main advantage of conducting research through focus groups is that it makes it possible for a wide range of interests and people to be covered at the same time. This saves time and makes way for easier observation.
  • Interactive – focus groups are highly interactive and communicative. They encourage communication, expressing honest opinions and are a give and take of ideas and feedback. The honest feedbacks are then assessed by the researcher to get an idea of what the masses want and think.
  • Visual aids circulation possible – another useful benefit of a focus group is that in such a primary market research method, it is possible for visual aids and support tools to be circulated for a better response from the consumers.
  • Observation of respondents possible – the researcher can easily observe the participants, assess their behavior and know from their gestures whether they are interested in the product or service or not.


  • Finding experienced researchers is tough – one of the main disadvantage or challenge of conducting focus groups is the difficulty in finding a highly experienced and skill researcher. In such a research method, a person with exceptional observation skills, communication skills and the presence of mind is needed and finding one can be tough.
  • Difficult to set up – it is difficult to organize and set up focus groups since it involves finding a location, finding the participants, giving them incentives to come and fixing a date and time. Due to these reasons, focus groups may not be organized as often and easily as a business would want.
  • Expensive – booking a location and paying incentives to the participants to attend a focus group can prove to be an expensive affair or investment for a business, especially a small scale one. This is yet another disadvantage of this method of primary market research.

2.   Taking Help of the Internet (Surveys and questionnaires)

Another popular way to conduct primary market research is to take help of the internet. The internet sure is a better source for secondary market research but with the help of surveys and questionnaires, it can prove to be an excellent way to collect fresh consumer feedback and opinions. The following are some of the ways in which the internet can prove a good primary research technique:

  • Asking website visitors to complete electronic questionnaires;
  • Asking people to fill in surveys in return for free vouchers, etc.;
  • Asking visitors to sign up for free memberships and newsletters.

The internet can also be used to send across mail surveys to existing customers and consumers so that the business can know their true feedback about products, services, and their satisfaction levels. These surveys and questionnaires can then be used to assess the overall satisfaction level of the target audience base as a whole. Based on these responses or results, a business can make appropriate changes and improve chances of profits or success.


  • Inexpensive – one of the best things about using the internet for primary market research is that it is cheap and highly affordable for even small businesses. Creating and posting surveys and questionnaires on websites does not need a huge investment. Making surveys online, these days hardly costs much and thus this method is cheaper than several other research methods.
  • Selection of random samples possible – another benefit of choosing the method of internet research is that one can easily select random samples and then assess them to come to conclusions.
  • Offers graphics, images, videos and other forms of multimedia – the internet is one of those few ways to conduct primary market research where graphical data can be presented to consumers. This includes offering images, videos, graphics and several other types of multimedia.
  • Customer loyalty as the benefit – some of the visitors who are more loyal to your website, business or product won’t mind spending time to fill out a survey and this can help you collect information. This is another benefit of this method of market research.


  • Knowledge required to create surveys – in most cases, expert knowledge is needed to create or formulate surveys that consist of multiple questions. This can only be done by knowledgeable people who may sometimes be hard to find. This is the biggest drawback of using this method. Moreover, computer expertise may also be needed which some small business owners may not possess.
  • Using questionnaires and surveys can chase off visitors – in most of the cases, presenting customers with questionnaires and surveys to answer can chase them off and may make them lose interest in your website or product. This is yet another big disadvantage of using the internet for primary market research.

3.   Observations

Observational research is yet another way to conduct primary market research, and this method comes in various variants, shapes, and sizes. Observational research is one of two major types: strict observation with no communication or interaction with the subject and an observation type that includes some level of communication and interaction with the subject or respondents. The following are some of the examples of observational research:

  • Eye tracking – This is an advanced method of primary market research in which a website owner tracks the areas on the site where the eyes of the visitors are most focused or directed. This is done by creating a heat map and helps business owners know what attracts customers the most.
  • Mystery shoppers – This is a very commonly used method that involves a situation in which a business hires a person to act as a regular shopper and report customer behavior, likes and dislikes to the business.
  • Contextual inquiry – This technique involves taking interview of respondents or subjects while a researcher observes them in their natural environment.


  • Actual behavior can be measured – one of the main benefits of using the technique of primary market research is that the actual behavior of the customers or consumers can be measured and evaluated. Unlike surveys, this method does not rely on written responses where a person could easily be lying or not completely honest.
  • Reliable and useful – another advantage of using the method of observational research is that it is very reliable since it uses real life data and behavior analysis to obtain results and thus chances of results being wrong are less.


  • Difficult in conducting – one of the major problems with this method of primary market research is that it can be a little difficult to conduct as compared to other methods. For example, hiring someone for mystery shopping research may not always be possible and can prove expensive. Similarly, employing methods like eye tracking, etc. can mean major expenses.

4.   Trials & Experimentation

This is another method of primary market research and is also a commonly used one. Field trials and experimentation involve scientific testing and other processes involving variables and hypothesis. Such tests and experiments are either conducted outside on the field or within controlled environments. This is a quantitative type of market research method where results obtained are based on customer opinions and feelings rather than stats and factual data. The following is a simple example that will help you understand this method:


A Cola Drinks Company introduces two different sample size of drink packagings and distributes these products to certain retailers. The company then observes which packaging attracts the customers more and then chooses that as the final packaging design. This is a simple way to know what attracts customers more, and the results help to boost sales and functions.


  • Highly effective – one of the main reasons why field tests and experimentation method is beneficial is because it is highly effective and always helps to predict results in a favorable way. This method is a superb method to make judgments by making sure shot experiments and tests.
  • Does not need support of respondents – this is one of those few market research methods which does not necessarily need the support or response of consumers or participants and can be conducted from a distance without direct communication.


  • Expensive – one of the major disadvantages of this method is that it can be expensive to conduct. Conducting research or experiments may need investment and not every business can afford to pay for such market research methods.
  • Time-consuming – field experiments and trials may take a long time to show results, and this too is another major drawback of this method.

5.   Conducting one-on-one interviews

Another superb way to conduct primary market research is to conduct one-on-one interviews. Face to face interviews are conducted by a researcher with one participant, customer or consumer. These types of interviews are more like free flowing conversations and are not restricted by a limited number of questions. These interviews are aimed at collecting as much information as possible and help to obtain information about customer preferences, opinions, feedback, and dislikes, etc. these are highly in-depth interviews that are open-ended and probe into the interest of different consumers.

Face to face interviews are usually conducted with respondents but only on offering them some incentive such as a goodie, free vouchers, discount coupons, etc. Without these incentives, customers might not agree to become participants in the research. In some rare cases, such one-on-one interactions can also be rigid and restricted to only specific questions and points of discussion.


  • Are more personal – one of the benefits of conducting face to face interviews or one-on-one interviews is that they are very personal in nature. A respondent can directly be observed and assessed by a researcher, and this makes the conversion more relaxed and comfortable for the respondent.
  • Are more in-depth – another advantage of a one-on-one interview process is that these are very in-depth and open-ended procedures that allow to probe deep into the opinions and feedback of the consumer or respondent. They help to reveal much more than written questionnaires or surveys.
  • Make way for personal observation – the researcher can personally and directly observe the respondent and this makes the evaluation process of customer behavior and preferences easier. Unlike focus groups, the attention of the researcher remains on only one person, and this results in better overall evaluation and observation.
  • Body language gives away a lot – the body language of the respondents can reveal a lot about their likes and dislikes, and this makes it easier for researchers to make evaluations.


  • Are expensive to conduct – one of the biggest drawbacks or disadvantages of this method of primary market research is that it can be a little expensive to conduct. One may need to spend huge sums to attract, invite and reward respondents for their time and contribution to the research process.
  • Process is long and complex – the entire process of hiring a researcher, inviting a consumer, giving them incentives, conducting multiple interviews, etc. can be pretty long and complex. This may prove as a roadblock for most businesses and thus prove as a big disadvantage.
  • Some respondents may be dishonest – not all respondents tend to be completely honest and may lie to the researcher about their opinions or feedback. This is also a drawback of this very process of conducting primary market research.

6.   Telephone interviews

Another approach that can be followed as a part of primary market research effort is conducting telephone interviews with existing or potential customers. Most people own their cell phones these days in most of the developed countries, and this makes this process easier for businesses. This is a method that allows businesses to extend their research efforts even beyond borders and covers a large customer base. These interviews are rigid in their structure and follow a certain pattern or question approach. An example of a telephone interview is a call from your mobile phone connection company asking you whether you are satisfied with their services and plans, etc.


  • Are cheap to conduct – one of the most obvious benefits of telephone interviews is that they are cheap and easy to conduct. Compared to online survey, this type of primary research offer an opportunity to learn even more from the direct feedback from customers.
  • Cover a large demographic area – it is only through a mobile phone or cell phone that a large demographic or physical area of research can be covered. Making calls even across borders is free or very cheap, and this helps to get opinions and feedbacks from customers located far off.
  • Selection of random samples possible – another advantage of the method of telephone interviews is that it allows businesses to select random samples and then evaluate them in order to reach a conclusion. This very facility is rarely available and very valued.


  • A lot of people hang up due to lack of interest – most of the people who are called by businesses as a part of their effort of conducting a primary market research hang up during the call as they tend to lack interest or may not have time to answer questions. This is a big disadvantage of this method.
  • Time span is shorter – since it is not possible to engage customers in long question-answer rounds, the time allowed for businesses to take feedback from customers is short. Due to this reason, an in-depth research may not be possible leading to incomplete information or results.
  • One cannot judge body language or make observations – unlike face-to-face interviews of focus groups, it is not possible to judge the body language of the respondents or make any observations on a telephone call. This may not give researchers access to other kinds of information like interest and disinterest of the consumers.

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