When conducting research, it is important to use both primary and secondary research. Secondary research has already been done and is available in all types of forms to be utilized by others, such as charts and graphs. Primary research, on the other hand, is research conducted by an organization and tailored to the organziation's wants and needs. An example of primary research would be a focus group that asked customers about a product. Although primary research can be more beneficial, it is much more expensive.
When starting a new business or making changes to an existing one, there are many secondary research tools that can be utilized. Look at research conducted by other local businesses in the area. Local chambers of commerce have a lot of resources that can be used. Local libraries also are good resources to find information that could be useful. Books and trade magazines are types of secondary research that are filled with helpful information.
Surveys are tools that can be sent out to people in an area to gain information about what types of products are being used. They can identify a target market, and they can provide other information directly related to the organization or person conducting the research. Surveys can be pricey, but the information collected is based on a particular population and is a good representation of the population as a whole.
A focus group is made up a group of people gathered for a specific purpose, such as to use a product and then answer questions about the product. Focus groups allow the observer to ask specific questions about the product and get valuable feedback; however, the groups can be tainted when people start wanting to have similar answers as others.
Similar to a focus group are interviews. These are conducted on a one-on-one basis, so they aren't tainted by people feeling pressure to answer like others answer. Interviews are more time-consuming and expensive but are one of the most effective research tools. Unlike a survey, when an answer is given, an interview can explore the reasons for the answer and get ideas on how to fix perceived problems. As discussed earlier, the most effective way to conduct research is to utilize both secondary and primary research to achieve research goals and success.