Market research helps to assess viability of a business/ project idea and helps you to think about:

  • Refining your product and services
  • Operations and what practical resources will be needed
  • Financial forecasts including potential customer/ beneficiary numbers & income
  • Competition – is there someone else already doing it or are they potential partners?
  • Branding and communications

All of these should be considered in your business plan.

In order to undertake effective market research, you will need;

  • A clear idea of your (could be a collective you) service or project
  • A clear idea of the role the project should play in your life (income, time, your role)
  • Your ambitions for the size, reputation, standards, and quality

Market Research definitions

  • Primary research is new research you conduct yourself (or hire someone to do for you). It involves going directly to a source – usually customers and prospective customers in your target market – to ask questions and gather information. Examples of primary research include: interviews (telephone or face-to-face), questionnaires and surveys, focus groups, field research, mapping, observations.
  • Secondary research is research that has already been compiled, gathered, organized and published by others. It includes reports and studies by government agencies, trade associations or other businesses in your industry.
  • Quantitative research is all about numbers. It uses statistics, mathematical analysis and data to shed light on important information about your business and market. E.g. 30% of children in the area are eligible for free school meals.
  • Qualitative marketing research involves a natural or observational examination of the factors that influence consumer behaviour.


Main activities


Your plan

Identify industry trends


(Primary & secondary qualitative research but also could find quantitative data)

  • Online searches
  • Personal experience/anecdotal
  • Press
  • Industry databases (British library)
  • Office of National Statistics
  • Books and publications


Assess the demographic details of your target market

(Secondary quantitative research)

This will be either in a physical area e.g. in a neighbourhood for projects such as a shop, market, café, or a broader target population for online projects. Who is your project aimed at?


Implementation & Assessment of questionnaires to potential users. 

(Primary qualitative research)

Capture as much information about potential customers as you can, through your own research or asking partners to do research relating to your target market.

This will provide information for sales predictions, pricing and products.


Look at footfall figures and transport links.

(Primary & secondary quantitative)

How many people walk past the potential venue?

What are the transport links, parking links and delivery routes?


Competitors’ analysis (primary qualitative & quantitative)

Are there other services offering similar products nearby? What are they offering?

What style? At what prices? Who are their customers?

Look at 500m – 1km circumference from your planned location.

For on-line businesses look for comparative products.

For a very specialist offer look online for comparative products/ companies.


Local Assets (primary qualitative & quantitative)

Other facilities in the surrounding area that might be of use.

Partners that might be interested in your products or services.


Internet research top tips

  • Use unique, specific terms
  • Vary your search engine (Google is usually best)
  • Use quotation marks for exact phrases
  • Don't use common words and punctuation
  • Maximize AutoComplete
  • Use browser history
  • Set a time limit - then change tactics
  • Trusted sources; government websites, local authorities, national charities, long standing membership bodies
  • Beware of bias or opinion – who sponsored the information?
  • Use ‘-’(hyphens)

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