Getting Started with Market Research

Sally Armstrong

What is Market Research?

As a reminder, market research involves gathering information to understand the reasons consumers will buy a product or service. This type of research can be conducted through primary research or secondary research.

Primary research involves speaking to and interacting with potential customers through methods such as surveys, focus groups, and interviews.

Secondary research is existing information that has already been gathered, analyzed, and summarized by others such as government census data, trade association research reports, and research reports from market research databases. The library provides access to secondary research resources and librarians are here to help guide your research process.

When you are brainstorming a potential business idea it is important to determine whether there is a market for your product or service. This is a crucial step in the development of any business idea because before dedicating an extensive amount of time and money towards your business you want to determine whether anyone will actually pay for your product or service. You might think you have developed an ideal product or service but you need this to be confirmed by your potential customers. This can also be a vulnerable step in the development of your business because you are opening your business idea to feedback and criticism. You might hear or read things that contradict the ideas you have about your product or service but it will be important to consider making changes or updates to your product or service to make it more appealing to customers.

A woman making a purchase at the check-out for a store
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Who is Your Ideal Customer?

You never want to assume that anyone and everyone will be a customer of your product or service. Customers, whether they are individual consumers or businesses, have their own unique needs. It will be important for you to build a picture of your ideal customer because, in the early days of your business, this will be the primary group of customers that you are targeting to be purchasers of your product or service.

One way to build a picture of your ideal customer is by creating a buyer persona. A buyer persona is a representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. A buyer persona can be built using data you have gathered from your own customer surveys or interviews but you can also use existing data from market research reports or government sources, such as Statistics Canada. When creating a buyer persona, consider including customer demographics, behaviour patterns, purchasing habits, motivations, and goals. The more details you include the better as a buyer persona can be a great guide in your business development. It can help you determine where to focus your time, new features to develop, brand strategy, and keeps your whole team aligned.

HubSpot has a great blog post that describes in detail how to create a buyer persona.

Buyer personas can include a wide variety of information and do not follow a strict template. You should feel free to include information that is relevant to the product or service you are developing. As an example, the buyer persona below is related to a mobile app for organizing travel information so the information in the persona more closely relates to that topic.

Try creating your own buyer persona. What kind of information would you choose to include?


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Business Information Skills Certificate (BISC): Research Guide Copyright © 2023 by Sally Armstrong is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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