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Introduction to Primary Research: Observations, Surveys, and Interviews

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❶Telephone interviews are cheaper to conduct than face-to-face interviews on a per person basis.

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Questionnaires/Surveys

However, a second mailing to prompt or remind respondents tends to improve response rates. Mail surveys are less popular with the advent of technologies such as the Internet and telephones, especially call centers. Companies will set up mystery shopping campaigns on an organizations behalf. Often used in banking, retailing, travel, cafes and restaurants, and many other customer focused organizations, mystery shoppers will enter, posing as real customers. They collect data on customer service and the customer experience.

Findings are reported back to the commissioning organization. There are many issues surrounding the ethics of such an approach to research. Focus groups are made up from a number of selected respondents based together in the same room. Highly experienced researchers work with the focus group to gather in depth qualitative feedback. Groups tend to be made up from 10 to 18 participants. Discussion, opinion, and beliefs are encouraged, and the research will probe into specific areas that are of interest to the company commissioning the research.

Projective techniques are borrowed from the field of psychology. They will generate highly subjective qualitative data. There are many examples of such approaches including: Products are displayed in a mall of shopping center. Potential customers are asked to visit the store and their purchase behavior is observed. Observers will contemplate how the product is handled, how the packing is read, how much time the consumer spends with the product, and so on. Diaries are used by a number of specially recruited consumers.

They are asked to complete a diary that lists and records their purchasing behavior of a period of time weeks, months, or years. It demands a substantial commitment on the part of the respondent.

However, by collecting a series of diaries with a number of entries, the researcher has a reasonable picture of purchasing behavior. The organisation will be one of many that simply want to a straightforward answer to a simple question. An omnibus survey could include questions from companies in sectors as diverse as heath care and tobacco.

The research is far cheaper, and commit less time and effort than conducting your own research. We have given a general introduction to marketing research. Postal surveys are commonly used because they are cost-effective and efficient. Also, questions can be misinterpreted by the individual responding. Telephone surveys are another option. The questions are typically similar to the questionnaires sent in the mail, but the interviewer can guide the participant so that misunderstandings are limited and more information can be drawn out over the phone.

Observations are an interesting primary research method because participant behavior can often be very enlightening. Trained observers or cameras can record how participants behave in a certain situation, providing researchers with real evidence as to how a consumer responds, for example, to an organization's product or service.

Focus groups are another primary research method. In a focus group, a moderator leads a discussion about a particular subject. The moderator might show pictures of potential advertisements, or ask the participants to try the product right there and give their opinions. The advantage of focus groups is that participants can build upon each other ideas. The downside is the moderator can be biased, a dominant participant can take up too much talk time, or some participants may be hesitant to express their true opinion in a public setting.

A company might choose to place a new product or service in a select neighborhood or store to test customer response under real-life conditions. Useful information can be obtained to improve the product or service, adjust prices, or improve the packaging or marketing. In conclusion, some researchers will use one or more of the primary research methods to get the information they need depending upon the purpose of their study, the resources available and their budget limitations.

Market Research Success in a competitive market depends on acquiring and using information wisely. Market Research Survey Developing a long-term strategy in the marketplace involves more than offering a great product.


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Primary research is designed to meet your unique and specific needs. This fundamental research is conducted by you (if you're on a tight budget), or by a research firm that you hire for the project—usually a firm that comes recommended by a colleague. The research can include focus groups, surveys, interviews, and observations.

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Introduction to Primary Research: Observations, Surveys, and Interviews by Dana Lynn Driscoll This essay is a chapter in Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing, Volume 2, a peer-reviewed open textbook series for the writing classroom.

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Advantages of interviews include possibilities of collecting detailed information about research questions. Moreover, in in this type of primary data collection researcher has direct control over the flow of process and she has a chance to clarify certain issues during the process if needed. When conducting primary research using your own resources, first decide how you'll question your targeted group: by direct mail, telephone, or personal interviews.

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In addition to understanding the different types of primary research, it is equally important to know when it is beneficial to conduct interviews, surveys, observations, or data analysis. Here is a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each primary research method. Primary research methods include interviews, questionnaires, observation and focus group. Learn more about primary market research methods.