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Market survey: 7 steps to conduct your own

Learn how to conduct a market survey and make decisions that favor your business’ growth!

A laptop with a magnifying glass over the screen - market survey

A Market survey is a market analysis that consists of collecting and interpreting data and information. With a survey, you obtain greater knowledge about your niche and target audience. With it, your business can gain insights and make more assertive business decisions.

Why is it so important? Every day, millions of businesses and entrepreneurial projects are created and are launched on the market with the hope of becoming successful and occupying a privileged place in the minds of consumers.

But not everyone achieves success and many end up closing their doors forever.

  • Why does this happen? 
  • Where do entrepreneurs go wrong? 
  • Why doesn’t anyone buy your products? 
  • Do they know their market and conduct a survey about it?

We might have the answer. We have prepared this material in which we explain what a market survey is and why it’s so necessary before undertaking any entrepreneurial project.

In this article, we’ll teach you the following:

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What is a market survey? What are market surveys used for? What are the main types of market surveys? Conducting a good market survey 7 steps to conduct your market survey
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Learn the step-by-step instructions on how to conduct your own market survey, which has become increasingly critical for those who wish to succeed in the digital market. Let’s get started!

What is a market survey?

A market survey, also known as market study, is a data collection technique that allows entrepreneurs to learn about the purchasing intentions or certain details about their niche.

When a company wants to launch a new product, a new marketing campaign, or make any change or strategy development, it’s necessary to perform a market analysis in order to obtain valuable information that can help ensure success for your business.

For example:

If you’re about to launch a new product on the market, this type of survey can help you discover details about how much money your customers would be willing to pay for your product, what product features would be liked, such as size, color or shape that the customer would like the product to have, etc.

This will help you find a balance so to benefit your customers and your business.

There are two ways of obtaining this information, which are:

  • Primary survey: when you do the research yourself, collecting and analyzing the data
  • Secondary survey: when the survey is conducted by a third party and is available to anyone who wants to access it. Some examples are academic studies and reports conducted by private companies.

In short, a market survey is a technique used to collect information in a systematic manner, which is then interpreted and used to make decisions.

Brands and businesses need to survey the market in order to learn about the industry and consumer trends. Market analysis has the power to act in your favor, as is capable of indicating where you need to concentrate your efforts, which aspects should be improved or changed, where it’s convenient to invest resources, the feasibility of the project, among many other insights.

Prior to the digital age, surveys were conducted in many different ways: by phone, in street approaches, questionnaires in public places, etc. Now, with social media and survey sites, market surveys are much easier to conduct.

Often, you don’t even have to conduct the survey through a questionnaire. You can use surveys or obtain data from leaders in your market through the benchmarking process.

What is a market survey used for?

If you relate market surveys to large enterprises, you should change that thinking immediately. The truth is that business of all sizes, even small ones, need market surveys to understand how things are going.

It doesn’t matter if your business is based on a digital product, or if it’s a startup, agency or multinational company, since a business’ routine needs to be guided by assertive decisions. And there’s nothing better than concrete data and information to help in this process.

It’s because of this – and for other reasons – that market surveys are used. Shall we talk about some of these other reasons? Check them out:

  • Have real information that helps solve problems;
  • Know the size of the market you wish to cover, to sell or launch a new product;
  • Know consumers’ real needs and information such as tastes, preferences, shopping habits, income level, etc.;
  • Have valuable information to maintain or lead the market;
  • Identify and monitor competitors;
  • Detect new niches or micro-niches in your market.

Let’s explores some of these reasons a little in depth.

Know your brand’s audience

With market surveys, you can build personas, which are characterized as a semi-fictitious representation of your ideal customer. With this, you can learn a bit more about your audience.

As we mentioned earlier, knowing your brand’s audience makes it possible to understand their real needs, such as preferences and shopping habits.

With this understanding, any entrepreneur will be able to make decisions that are more assertive in various areas – from product development to communication strategies.

Identify competitors and their strategies

Knowing your competition is critical to the success of your business, don’t you think? Market surveys makes this possible. And this is how you can understand the strategies and actions they use.

In other words, you will understand what worked and what went wrong for your competitors, and learn a huge lesson from that.

Find and analyze suppliers

Suppliers and distributors are important to any business, especially because one depends on the other. In other words, when there are problems with one of them, the other suffers negative consequences.

To avoid this situation, market surveys anticipate problems and help find the best suppliers. Thus, you have the time to think about expanding your business.

This is only possible when you use the sales and distribution system, pricing and charging policies, and quality products and services.

Measuring market size

As mentioned earlier: studying the market allows you to know the size of the market and thereby, identify trends, understand which segment generates profits, analyze your product’s performance, and much more.

Finding opportunities in advance

Here, we have the opportunity to understand new demands beforehand. In other words, collecting such information can help and place an enterprise on another level. Have you ever considered this?

What are the main types of market survey?

There are several types of market surveys, so how do you know which one you should choose? Well, the right choice will depend on your survey’s objectives, your audience’s profile, and the method employed.

Below are the main types of survey that a business can conduct.

Consumer behavior

Do you know the consumer behavior of you business’ target demographic? Do you know what their preferences are? If not, this type of survey can help you.

Here, the focus is on getting to know your audience better based on information about their consumption habits. Entrepreneurs can benefit from this market survey to identify hidden demands and create sales and marketing strategies according to the results of a specific audience.

You can learn about which social media platforms your brand is most likely to do well on, whether your audience buys online or at the physical store, which business model is most suitable for your product, and other important insights.

Brand strength and recognition

This study focuses on the brand, so the aim here is to measure the attention received by your business in relation to your competitors. This is done in order to discover the branding strategy’s positive and negative points.

When brand recognition fails, many improvements can be made based on the data generated by the survey.

Customer satisfaction survey

Measuring customer satisfaction is one of the most important things for anyone who wants to stand out in the market. By knowing how satisfied your customers are, you’ll have greater chances of success and will make fewer mistakes.

In addition, it will be easier to find points for improvement and you’ll be able to manage resources more efficiently.

The first step in conducting this study is to have a way of contacting customers, such as an email address. With this, you’ll be able to send an electronic survey at a low cost. Another advantage is the instant results that certain platforms provide.

A good way of doing this is to set up a scale with scores for different aspects of your business, such as product, price, waiting time, location, website, customer service, and others.

For example, on a scale of 0 to 10 you can define 0 as not at all satisfied and 10 as extremely satisfied. Another important point of the survey is to ask your customers what the chances are of them recommending your business to friends and family.

With the answers in hand, you can investigate what motivated any negative scores and what can be done to improve the rating next time. You can also learn from good scores by understanding what you’re doing right.

Organizational atmosphere 

Employee satisfaction is also important for the success of a business. After all, they are the ones who have the closest contact with your customers, compared to the board of directors and partners.

Besides helping enhance the brand, they’re also sources of information about your customer. Employees are able to identify flaws, anticipate problems, and point out opportunities.

In addition, motivated professionals perform well and are consistent in their job positions, staying longer and reducing turnover rates.

Certain types of surveys can be conducted internally. One of them is the organizational atmosphere survey; it helps understand the team’s level of satisfaction and motivation, as well as relationship problems between areas.

Market Analysis

A market analysis seeks to identify the most relevant information for a business, within its market, to map out the best strategies and approaches.

From market studies, taking into account the sector’s indicators and information, it’s possible to understand an audience’s behavior, strategies used by the competition, consumer acceptance of a certain product, cost range, among others.

To do this, you need to define the study’s focus and methodology, collect data about the market, and build strategies to validate the information obtained.

Campaign testing 

How do you know if a new campaign will perform well before you run it? Campaign testing makes it possible to evaluate a campaign even before it’s released to the public. This way, you can avoid damaging your brand’s image and wasting time and money.

This test is performed through questionnaires promoted by digital tools, with videos and photos in the form so that consumers can experience the campaign. This simulation is able to provide a result close to reality, since consumers will answer the survey from the comfort of their home.

Conducting a good market survey

Market surveys are conducted by means of questionnaires, which can be answered through interviews, email, or on social networks. The basic steps in preparing a survey are as follows:

  • Definition of the survey’s goal, whether it’s for a certain product or for the business in general
  • Who your target audience is, whether they are your customers or potential consumers, for example
  • How many people will be interviewed, i.e. the sample
  • The questions to be asked. The simpler and more direct, the better
  • Conduct the survey in the chosen channels
  • Data collection
  • Analysis of the responses and planning the next steps based on the data.

Many data collection methods can be used in market surveys.

Some of them are:

Polls

This is one of the most widely used methods to gather information, and can be conducted manually or online. Polls are a method in which a lot of information can be gathered in a short time, doesn’t require specialized personnel to apply them, it’s easy to do, and furthermore, if you don’t have a big budget to conduct it, you can do it online.

Many free or paid platforms allow you to conduct web polls very easily and quickly, such as Google Forms.

The main advantage of this alternative is that it provides greater coverage, saves money, can be accompanied by pictures to make it more attractive, is easy to fill out, is anonymous, and also has no limits in terms of questions asked.

Interviews

Interviews are a method for gathering information that can be performed over the phone, in person, or by email. With interviews, you can gather information reliably and without risk of manipulation. However, this method is more expensive, and requires more time and personnel.

Evaluations

Also known as market testing, it consists of directly attempting to find out a person’s evaluation regarding your product, service, or idea.

An evaluation or market test is usually carried out before a new product is launched, with the main goal of evaluating its acceptance and reducing risks.

Suppose you want to evaluate the acceptance of your new digital product. In order to apply this method, you need to select a representative sample or send your product in exchange for comments or reviews.

This technique is quite useful because it allows you to find out what people think about your product and receive feedback with which you can make improvements to the presentation, content, or even modify your price before you start promoting and selling it formally.

Observations

This is a very traditional method of market survey that is quite accurate and economical. It can be carried out in two ways:

  1. From direct observation at a physical location
  2. By means of online devices, such as a hit counter

The application of this technique will depend a lot on your survey’s objective.

For example:

If your survey’s objective is to learn about the preference for a specific product, the technique can be used to visit the places where consumers usually go to buy it.

7 steps to conduct your market survey

Remember the short step-by-step instructions above? Let’s break it down and understand how the process works in conducting your market survey.

Conducting a market study is much easier than it sounds. It doesn’t matter if you have a large company or all you have is a business idea, anyone can do it!

But how do you conduct a market study?

Now is time to put everything into practice and start surveying the market. You just need to follow these 7 (very easy!) steps:

1. Define your survey’s objectives

For starters, you need to ask yourself what your survey’s objectives are, i.e. the reasons or the need for which you’ve decided to conduct it.

Having a clear survey objective will help you plan your questions or criteria on which the data collection will be based.

A market survey can be conducted for many different purposes. The most common objectives are:

  • Help in the development of a company or business
  • Satisfy customer needs with an ideal product or service
  • Determine the degree of success or failure that a business idea can have.

2. Define the target audience for the market study

No survey can be conducted without a clear demarcation of your target audience. Yes, this is mandatory!

To help with this task, it’s essential that you create your buyer persona, which is the representation of your ideal customer who will most likely purchase your products/services. This detailed understanding will help you build questions that are more assertive, and the data collected will be more useful.

To give you a good understanding of the difference between target audience and persona, the main points of difference are as follows:

  • Target audience has a broader definition, for example: Men, 25 to 35 years old, who work with digital marketing
  • Persona provides information that is more complete, such as who this person is, their habits, their job, etc.

You can conduct market surveys for both types of profile. If you want a general survey, to discover the acceptance of a possible product, a survey with your target audience in mind is the best choice. If it’s to measure satisfaction levels or to discover pains in order to create solutions, working with personas will provide better results.

3. Decide on the method

Now that you know your survey’s goal, it’s time to decide which method you will use to collect the data. 

  • Online polls? 
  • Observation? 
  • Interviews? 

There are many alternatives available that allow you to obtain data from your customers or potential customers directly!

Remember: it’s also important to select a field sample, i.e. a representative sample of your market.

What is a field sample and how to select it?

A field sample is the technique by which a sample of the population is selected in order to be investigated. Whenever you develop a market survey, it’s necessary to select a sample. The reason for this is because it’s obviously very difficult to interview and observe all of your customers or potential customers.

It’s important that you know that the larger your sample, the more certainty you’ll have about the results you obtain from the survey. This means that the fact that 20 people say they would be willing to buy your product doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be successful. 

It needs to be a representative sample in your location, and you can determine this in two ways:

  • Probability or random sampling
  • Non-probability sampling

Probability or random sampling consists of selecting people randomly from a given population. This technique allows everyone in the population to have the same probability of selection and inclusion in the sample, which ensures that the selection of participants won’t be manipulated.

On the other hand, non-probability sampling looks for different types of people to form a representative sample of the total population.

To select these people, their demographic and psychographic characteristics are taken into account, such as age, sex, gender, interests, and average income.

4. Collect the data

Once you’re quite clear about the method you’re going to use, and the number of people you’ll be using as a sample, it’s time to collect the data. To do so, you need to design your instrument.

For example:

If you’ve selected interviewing or polling as a data collection method, you need to design a questionnaire.

Afterwards, it’s time to collect your survey data. This can take days, weeks, or even months; it will all depend on the size of your sample and the collection method you select.

A market survey is a technique that will allow you to know everything that no one has ever wanted to confess, as for example, that your product is a bit expensive, that your business idea is of no interest to anyone, and even that your product needs improvements.

And many people wonder where they should start with their survey, especially if they haven’t built an audience yet. Start with people close to you, such as friends and acquaintances. The survey can be simple, like asking questions on WhatsApp, for example, and then proceed with the conversation.

The important thing is that everyone involved in the survey be committed to collaborating throughout the survey and, above all, is willing to be honest.

5. Study your competitors

Within the market survey, studying your competitors is a key part. After all, if they are successful and present in the market, it means that they’ve done something right. And there is nothing wrong in finding out what it is, and always trying to do better.

A few tools that will help you find potential competitors are:

  • SEMRush: is a tool that is highly recommended by marketers, SEMRush has full features for analyzing and monitoring competitors based on keywords or web domains
  • Google Keyword Planner: can also be used to study your competitors. Just enter their URL and you’ll have access to data related to the terms that bring them the most traffic
  • Buzzsumo: is one of the most comprehensive social media monitoring tools available, allowing you to analyze the performance of campaigns and posts
  1. Collect data from other sources

Crosschecking data is important to know if your business is moving along with the market in general. Therefore, you can analyze surveys from other (reliable) sources and collect other data to complete your survey.

Some good sources are:

  • Sebrae (Brazilian Service to Support Entrepreneurship): is already a major reference, especially for small businesses. They frequently release surveys and content with important data about various markets
  • Think With Google: is Google’s official blog, focused on marketing and sales. One tip is, in addition to reading the posts, to sign up for their newsletter to receive recurring studies and analyses carried out by those who understand the Internet.

7. Analyze the data and present the results

Once all the information and data about your market has been gathered, it’s time to analyze it. This is a very important step. There’s no point in designing a great survey project and spending time gathering all the information, if the data isn’t analyzed properly or, in the worst case, is hidden in a folder.

Take a hard look at each and every piece of data you obtain from your survey. Don’t make the mistake of underestimating any comment or statistical data, no matter how small or insignificant it might seem.

Prepare a report that expresses the survey results and, above all, the solutions, recommendations, or next actions to be taken.

A survey is a great strategy that can help you give your business a new direction, develop a great idea, or avoid failure. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of underestimating the power of market analysis for fear of wasting time, money, or because they simply don’t consider it necessary.

Don’t be left in doubt! Dare to research what the market thinks about you, your product or your ideas.

Are you ready for your next market survey? Cheer up! You might just find the answer you need in order to become a successful entrepreneur.

If you have any questions, leave a comment here. See you soon!


This post was originally written in December 2019, and updated to contain information that is more complete and accurate.