Five different research methods to try

When you are trying to figure out if people love or hate your product, or perhaps if there is even room for it on the market, you are going to have to do your research.

Many small companies will say they have done their research – but often that can mean they had a look at some social media trends and that maybe there are a couple of other companies who are also offering that service or product. 

In the end, though, there is nothing that can substitute real research – but if you don’t know where to start, here are five different research methods that can work for you and your company.

1) Participatory research

Let’s say you are creating a cream that is designed to target stretch marks, dry skin, and hard, rough skin. And, you have only tested on yourself and maybe a few friends. What you really need to do is get the product in the hands of the people who will use it in the real world. It means that the research will directly impact them; if the product works, they will benefit from it. 

This is one of the more collaborative types of research, and it could see you in modern times working with bloggers and influencers as well as people that you specially select. They will report back their real results, and that could mean you have the perfect formula – or you need to go back to the drawing board. 

2) Mixed methods 

If you are looking for a result that you can’t argue with, then you are going to want to consider mixed methods. Personal experience (qualitative) supported by figures (quantitative) can be incredibly compelling for would-be investors or people who are considering buying your products. 

When using the mixed method, you’ll ask people questions that are open-ended and leave room for personal experiences and feelings, as well as asking people questions that could be boiled down into a percentage. When you hear talk of a holistic or more comprehensive approach to research, that usually means a mixed method was in play. 

3) Quantitative research

Anything that can be measured or put into a numerical value will come under quantitative research. Most of the time, you will have something in mind that you want to prove, and the questions used to lead towards that. Quantitative data collection is great for making sure you have a clear indication and can make changes to your product or service based on it. 

For example, if you take a look at the side of a jar of face cream, you might see that 73% of people who used it saw results. Usually, there is a select amount of people asked, and they will be required to answer: would you say that your skin is smoother/brighter/healthier/younger looking? The participant ticks yes or no, and the total is put into a percentage. 

Quantitative research is fantastic for helping people to understand details and can quickly highlight the success (or lack of) of your product or service. 

4) Action research

Have you ever heard the term practice makes perfect? Well, there is such a thing in the world of research, too. Action research is something that a practitioner of something will do to become better at their practice. The process involves the following cycle: find a problem, develop a solution, implement the solution, make sure the solution works, and make note of the result. 

In terms of business, it would work like this: a customer reports that they have an issue with your product or service, you check and see that they are having an issue, and you work on a solution so that this issue doesn’t arise again, and then you make that the new standard for your product or service. 

This is also why getting feedback is such an integral part of having a successful product or service. 

Another example for this one is, let’s say you have a small team of five workers, but 3 of them seem to have difficulty with packing and shipping; you need to look into the problem, identify it, come up with a solution, implement the solution and see an improvement in your team’s ability to handle the packaging and shipping in the future. 

5) Qualitative research

If you want to hear the words ‘it changed my life,’ you are more likely to hear that when doing qualitative research, It focuses intensely on extracting rich details about experiences, ideas, thoughts, and feelings towards something. It can also go deeper than that and look at challenges, social standing, educational issues or background, and more. 

Qualitative data collection is often used when researchers are studying social issues, healthcare, and other complex matters. However, it has a firm place in marketing for products and services – because people will have a feeling about what you have to offer, and those feelings can help you improve your product or service in a significant way. 

To get this insight, you can schedule calls over the phone or Zoom with a small set of participants and have a couple of questions ready to ask about the product and their experiences. If you have the budget and space, you can hire a hall and have people attend for a focus group (there are also companies that can do this for you). 

It is almost impossible to make a product or service better without asking people about their experiences. How you do that can change based on what you need from the data. A combination of qualitative and quantitative data can be the most robust combination – but do expect the qualitative data to take longer to gather as it is more people-focused, and the answers tend to be longer and more involved. 

Being prepared to really get stuck in and perform research is just one way that you can make sure that your business is going to be a success, but you need to keep an eye on the following things, too: Startup tips for female entrepreneurs – how you can achieve success – Talented Ladies Club