To sell to a customer, we must KNOW the customer - who they are, where they live, what brands they like, etc.
In other words, for marketing strategies to be effective, we must first know who we’re marketing to – and we should know them well.
A question I frequently receive from marketing students is, “How do we get to know our customers?”
Today, we’re going to walk through two methods to collect consumer data (or “snoop” as my grandmother likes to call it) - primary and secondary research:
Primary research is research conducted directly on a subject or subjects.
It’s like collecting customer satisfaction surveys from a previous customer or observing shopper behavior through Mystery or Secret shopper exercises.
Here are some more examples of primary research methods:
Secondary research is a research method carried our indirectly, through other existing resources.
It’s the most common type of market research method utilized and is typically the most cost-effective.
Examples of secondary research would be analyzing census data, pulling browsing history trends, and even industry stats.
Let’s look at some common examples of secondary research methods:
First Pass Research Strategy
In most cases of needing to “know thy consumer”, I recommend utilizing secondary research first.
While it may seem a little contradictory to the numerical names’ imposed order, secondary research is a great “first pass” tactic to learn more about your target market, and even to develop effective strategies to conduct additional primary research.
Have You Been a Market Research Guinea Pig?
Chances are, you’ve probably had both primary and secondary research methods conducted on you during the course of your life. Do you recall any particular type of primary research participation?
What about ways secondary research is performed on you? How about Facebook targeting ads that pull information directly from your profile and browsing habits for marketing managers?
As you’ll recall secondary research is through indirect methods, so it’s quite possible (and very probable) that much of your secondary research participation was unbeknownst to you.
The better you “know” your customers the better you can market to them.
Don’t write off formal research methods as something limited to just Pew Research or the Gallup Group; market research can provide immense insight to everyone from a Fortune 500 CEO to a new freelancer. Whatever your budget or target market, you can discover applicable truths regarding your consumers’ needs and wants through conducting primary and secondary research.
About Hannah Becker
Becker Digital is a full-service Marketing and Public Relations Agency dedicated to empowering mission-driven organizations to reach their goals. We apply our expertise in community development, social media strategy, and public relations to connect organizational clients with today’s always-scrolling online users.