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Conducting Market Research in a Weak Economy

The Conference Board reported yesterday that consumer confidence fell to a three-month low in March from what was registered as a three-year high in February. The data suggest that the economic recovery is progressing at a much slower rate than many economists had anticipated.

It also means that small businesses – particularly those in the retail sector – need to ramp up their marketing efforts to stay afloat during the current poor sales period. Accordingly, it may be opportune to conduct some critical market research, of which there are two main types: primary and second-hand research.

"Primary data acquisition requires you to obtain the information you seek in a direct manner," writes Michael Crain, president of Smart Business Evolution, for the Maricopa Monitor. "It would employ one of three primary methods – direct mail, telephone survey and in-person interview."

If you are planning to use a direct mail postcard or flyer for your market research, you will need to provide some sort of incentive for consumers to fill out the survey or questionnaire, and even then the questions should be brief. Incentives can include rebates or sales offers, but beyond that, the survey itself should be packaged in an attention-grabbing way.

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