There are two ways to do market research:
Secondary Research involves analyzing information that already has been gathered for another purpose.
Primary Research involves collecting new information to meet your specific needs.
Primary research can be:
Qualitative: Gathering descriptive information, usually representing verbal or narrative data through open-ended interviews or focus groups.
Open-ended interviews are composed of questions that can not be answered with a simple yes or no. This type of interview gives you a lot of information, but is time consuming for both you and the person you are interviewing. The greatest benefit to you is that you will learn a lot about the group you are studying including common trends, emotional motivators, and general likes and dislikes of your primary market.
Focus groups should be lead by professionals skilled in leading small groups of 6 to 12 people through a series of questions ranging from specific to general in nature. Usually, focus group sessions last for at least an hour. Since focus groups must be lead by trained professionals to be most effective, they are the most expensive form of market research.
Quantitative: Gathering numerical information that can be analyzed statistically through surveys.
Surveys take longer to develop, but are generally easier to administer than other types of market research. Since they take less time to complete, people are usually more willing to answer them. Also, surveys provide excellent information if they are well-constructed with thoughtful questions. The easiest and most cost effective way to conduct surveys is either by telephone or where the product is sold.