Conducting Market Research
According to MoreBusiness.com, market research provides a useful and important step in building and maintaining a healthy business, as it addresses the customer perspective on the product or service, price, distribution channels, and marketing communications.
While the main goal in business is to make a profit, no business owner will succeed unless he or she knows how to “find, satisfy and retain customers." This is the primary importance of market research: to define the customer, and his or her relationship to the product or service.
Another name for market research is feasibility study – as an entrepreneur, you want to learn how realistic it is to take an idea and start a particular business; as an established business owner, you need to know the likelihood of success for a new product or service, or change in business practice.  In addition, you need to learn about your competition to ascertain if your product or service will only duplicate what is already available, or if you can offer a totally new, or “new and improved" version.
Self-employment expert and small business coach, Karyn Greenstreet, advises business owners to learn about their customers’ preferences, as well as industry trends, through a variety of marketing research tools: internet research, literature research, surveys, and other information gathering techniques. MoreBusiness.com further divides market research into two types, primary and secondary, and defines them as follows :
1. Primary: provides information through activities such as monitoring sales levels and measuring the effectiveness of existing business practices, such as service quality and communication tools; gathers information on competitors of similar businesses.
2. Secondary: creates a company database to perform situation analysis by collecting existing published data; helps identify the company's competitors, performs benchmarking strategy, and determines areas of the company to target, based on behavioral patterns, demographics, life style, population, and usage rate.
Market research data collection methods typically include both qualitative and quantitative :
Qualitative: forms a basis for quantitative methods by defining problems, generating hypotheses and identifying determinants; typically small samples, including interviews and surveys.
Quantitative: employs mathematical analysis of collected data for typically large samples.