primary market research types

Apart from primary market research methods described, there are other flavours of Primary market research methods as such 1) Surveys 2) Focus Groups 3) Experiments & Field Trials 4) Observation 5) Interviews.


Surveys are conducted in case of descriptive research studies whereas experiments are a part of experimental research studies. Surveys are concerned with describing, recording, analysing and interpreting conditions that either exist or existed. The researcher does not manipulate the variable or arrange for events to happen. Surveys are only concerned with conditions or relationships that exist, opinions that are held, processes that are going on, effects that are evident or trends that are developing. Survey-type research studies usually have larger samples because the percentage of responses generally happens to be low, as low as 20 to 30%, especially in mailed questionnaire studies. Thus, the survey method gathers data from a relatively large number of cases at a particular time; it is essentially cross-sectional.

Possible relationships between the data and the unknowns in the universe can be studied through surveys whereas experiments are meant to determine such relationships. Surveys can be used effectively for satisfaction research (customers or employee), measuring attitudes, pricing research, fact gathering (e.g. the census), and much more. Surveys are found to be administered in all sorts of ways, including snail mail form, web forms, face-to-face (that guy at the mall with the clipboard), over the phone (the guy who calls during dinner), on the sidebar of a blog, and even on mobile devices via text message or otherwise. Surveys can be self-administered (the respondent reads and answers questions alone) or they can be administered by a person who records your answers.

Focus Groups

Focus groups involve getting a group of people together in a room (usually physically, although technology is making virtual, or online focus groups more feasible). Focus groups are excellent for exploratory, qualitative research. A focus group can reveal all sorts of important mouse trap attributes that might not have been considered otherwise.

Focus groups are great tools to use prior to a survey, because it will inform intended survey questions to be more specific and targeted. Focus groups can also be beneficial after a survey, as a way to dive very deeply into a topic that came up in the survey.

Experiments and Field Trials

Experiments and field trials involve scientific testing, where specific variables and hypotheses can be tested. These tests can be conducted in controlled environments or out in the field (natural settings). This form of market research is always quantitative in nature.

The process of examining the truth of a statistical hypothesis, relating to some research problem, is known as an experiment. For example, we can conduct an experiment to examine the usefulness of a certain newly developed drug. Experiments can be of two types viz., absolute experiment and comparative experiment. If we want to determine the impact of a fertilizer on the yield of a crop, it is a case of absolute experiment; but if we want to determine the impact of one fertilizer as compared to the impact of some other fertilizer, our experiment then will be termed as a comparative experiment. Often, we undertake comparative experiments when we talk of designs of experiments.


There are different kind of observational research that comes in shapes and sizes. The greatest benefit of this technique is that researchers can measure actual behaviour, as opposed to user-reported behavior. Observational research is a direct reflection of “real life,” so these insights are often very reliable and useful. There are several example methods to that. 1) Usability Testing 2) Eye Tracking 3) Contextual Inquiry 4) In-Home & In-House Observation


Like Focus groups described above, Interviews are qualitative market research methods. To simplify things, there are wide spectrum of interviewing formats, depending upon the interview. Interviews can be free flowing conversations that are loosely constrained to a general topic of interest, or they might be highly structured, with very specific questions and/or activities (e.g. projective techniques such as word association, fill in the blank, etc.) for the subject. Like focus groups, interviews are useful for exploratory research.

Usage of this market research method is helpful when researchers are interested in digging into a specific issue very deeply, searching for customer problems, understanding psychological motivations and underlying perceptions, etc. Apart from the Methods above, there are certain other methods for Internet and e-commerce Businesses.