By Mylena Vazquez


Designing marketing research studies is no small feat. It takes significant time, effort, manpower, and resources to be able to design a study that thoroughly answers and addresses every part of the guiding research question so that the company’s research needs are met—and, ultimately, so that customers’ needs are met!

This is particularly true for niche brands, who have to work extra hard to identify not just their overall target audience, but also their research audience. By their very definition, niche brands cater to a specific and often small segment of the population. As such, the relationship they have with their customers is of utmost importance. Marketing research is the avenue through which these brands can understand their customers on a deeper level and begin to identify what it is they’re looking for from the brand.

Here are four important things to keep in mind while designing a marketing research study for your niche brand.


Follow the research question

Before you can even begin to think about designing a research study, you must first identify the research question. Think about the company’s needs: Is it trying to raise brand awareness? Does it want to identify new opportunities? Is the company trying to gauge whether introducing a new product into the market will be a good idea?

Identifying what your company hopes to gain from the research study and how it expects to use the results is key to being able to craft your research objective, which should include your research audience, the main goal of your research study, the tools you will use to conduct your study, and the kinds of questions you will be asking your audience.


Research audience ≠ target audience

Creating your research objective will help you develop every single aspect of your research study, including identifying your research audience. One very important thing to keep in mind is that your research audience is not necessarily the same as your brand’s general target audience (although it certainly could be!).

Say your research objective is to expand your customer base by identifying new market segment opportunities. In this scenario, your research audience could not possibly be the same as your target audience, since you are trying to find new customers to bring into the fold.

Your research objective will always inform your choices for the types of people that are best-suited to be part of the research study as well as the number of people that it should include. 


Dialogue or data?

Your research question and research objective will dictate which type of research study you will conduct: qualitative or quantitative.

Qualitative research is usually conducted for exploratory purposes. It involves one-on-one or small-group interactions between company and customer. Qualitative studies are usually done to understand customers’ personalities, motivations, habits, feelings about a product, etc. Naturally, this type of research is usually done in the early stages of the research process when the company is trying to find direction. Because these studies are so costly, it usually involves a smaller number of research participants. 

On the other hand, quantitative research is usually done to confirm the findings of qualitative studies. This is done via a larger sample or participants, which is more representative of the actual population you are trying to target. Quantitative studies are statistical in nature and are usually conducted in the later stages of the marketing research process.


After you’ve identified the type of study you will conduct, you can then start thinking about the specific research instrument you will use to conduct your study. If you are conducting a qualitative research study, will your research question be answered best by organizing people into focus groups to have discussions or by interviewing people one-on-one? Or would it be best to conduct ethnographic research and observe your research subjects as they go about their everyday lives? If you are conducting quantitative research, would it be best to send out questionnaires or to use an experimental tool, like A/B testing? Again, the research question will help you decide which tool to use.

Instruments of the investigation

As a niche brand, devising a precise research objective is key to designing a marketing research study that makes the most of your company’s resources and maximizes the benefits of the study results. Clearly identifying your research audience, determining the type of study, and choosing the research instruments are the three key steps to creating a solid and actionable marketing research study that is sure to be a resounding success.


What is your top tip for overcoming challenges in marketing research study design?

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