Business research is a process of acquiring detailed information of all the areas of business and using such information in maximizing the sales and profit of the business. Such a study helps companies determine which product/service is most profitable or in demand. In simple words, it can be stated as acquisition of information or knowledge for professional or commercial purpose to determine opportunities and goals for a business.
Business research can be done for anything and everything. In general, when people speak about business research it means asking research questions to know where the money can be spent to increase sales, profits or market share. Such a research is critical to make wise and informed decisions.
Business research: Types and methodologies
Business research is a part of business intelligence process. It is usually conducted to determine whether a company can succeed in a new region, to understand their competitors, or to simply select a marketing approach for a product. This research can be carried out using qualitative research methods or quantitative research methods.
Quantitative research methods
Quantitative research methods are research methods that deal with numbers. It is a systematic empirical investigation using statistical, mathematical or computational techniques. Such methods usually start with data collection and then proceed to statistical analysis using various methods. Following are some of the research methods used to carry out a business research.
Survey research is one of the most widely used method to gather data especially for conducting business research. Surveys involve asking various survey questions to a set of audience through various types like online polls, online surveys, questionnaires, etc. Nowadays, most of the major corporations use this method to gather data and use it to understand the market and make appropriate business decisions. Various types of surveys like cross sectional surveys which are needed to collect data from a set of audience at a given point of time or longitudinal surveys which are needed to collect data from a set of audience across various time duration in order understand changes in the respondents behavior are used to conduct survey research. With advancement in technology, now surveys can be sent online through email or social media.
Correlational research is conducted to understand relationship between two entities and what impact each one of them have on the other. Using mathematical analysis methods, correlational research enables the researcher to correlate two or more variables. Such a research can help understand patterns, relationships, trends, etc. Manipulation of one variable is possible to get desired results as well. Generally, conclusion cannot be drawn only on the basis of correlational research.
Causal-Comparative research is a method based on comparison. It is used to deduce cause-effect relationship between variables. Sometimes also known as quasi experimental research, it involves establishing an independent variable and analyzing the effects on the dependent variable. In such a research, manipulation is not done; however changes are observed on the variables or groups under the influence of same changes. Drawing conclusions through such a research is a little tricky as independent and dependent variables will always exist in a group, hence all other parameters have to be taken into consideration before drawing a any inferences from the research.
Experimental research is based on trying to prove a theory. Such a research may be useful in business research as it can let the product company know some behavioral traits of its consumers, which can lead to more revenue. In this method, an experiment is carried out on a set of audience to observe and later analyse their behavior when impacted with certain parameters.
Online research / Literature research
Literature research is one of the oldest methods available. It is very economical and a lot of information can be gathered using such a research. Online research or literature research involves gathering information from existing documents and studies which can be available at Libraries, annual reports, etc. Nowadays, with the advancement in technology, such a research has become even more simple and accessible to everyone. An individual can directly research online for any information that is needed, which will give him an in-depth information about the topic or the organisation. Such a research is used mostly by marketing and sales people in the business sector to understand the market, or their customer. Such a research is carried out using existing information that is available from various sources, although care has to be taken to validate the sources from where the information is going to be collected.
Qualitative research methods
Qualitative research is a method which has high importance in business research. Qualitative research involves obtaining data through open ended conversational means of communication. Such a research enables the researcher to not only understand what the audience thinks but also why he thinks it. In such a research, in-depth information can be gathered from the subjects depending on their responses. There are various types of qualitative research methods such as interviews, focus groups, ethnographic research, content analysis, case study research that are widely used. Such methods are of very high importance in business research as it enables the researcher understand the consumer. What motivates the consumer to buy and what does not is what will lead to higher sales and that is the prime objective for any business.
Following are a few methods that are widely used in today’s world by most businesses.
Interviews are somewhat similar to surveys, like sometimes they may have the same questions used. The difference is that the respondent can answer these open ended questions at a length and the direction of the conversation or the questions being asked can be changed depending on the response of the subject. Such a method usually gives the researcher, detailed information about the perspective or opinions from its subject. Carrying out interviews with subject matter experts can also give important information critical to some businesses.
Focus groups are a set of individuals selected specifically to understand their opinions and behaviors. It is usually a small set of group which is selected keeping in mind, the parameters for their target market audience to discuss a particular product or service. Such a method enables a researcher with a larger sample than the interview or a case study while taking advantage of conversational communication.
Nowadays, focus groups can be sent online surveys as well to collect data and answer why, what and how questions. Such a method is very crucial to test new concepts or products before they are launched in the market.
Ethnographic research is one of the most challenging research but can give extremely precise results. Such a research is used quite rarely, as it is time consuming and can be expensive as well. It involves the researcher to adapt to the natural environment and observe its target audience to collect data. Such a method is generally used to understand cultures, challenges or other things that can occur in that particular setting.
Case study research
Case study research is one of the most important in business research. It is also used as a marketing collateral by most businesses to land up more clients. Case study research is conducted to assess the customer satisfaction, the document the challenges that were faced and the solutions that the firm gave them. Using these inferences are made to point out the benefits that the customer enjoyed for choosing their specific firm. Such a research is widely used in other fields like education, social sciences, and similar. Case studies are provided by businesses to new clients to showcase their capabilities and hence such research plays a crucial role in the business sector.
Website visitor profiling/research
Website intercept surveys or website visitor profiling/research is something new that has come up and is quite helpful in the business sector. It is an innovative approach to collect direct feedback from your website visitor using surveys. In recent times a lot of business generation happens online and hence it is important to understand the visitors of your website as they are your potential customers. Collecting feedback is critical to any business as without understanding a customer, no business can be successful. A company has to keep its customers satisfied and try to make them loyal customers in order to stay on top.
A website intercept survey is an online survey that allows you to target visitors to understand their intent and collect feedback to evaluate the customer’s online experience. Information like visitor intention, behavior path, satisfaction of overall website, can be collected using this.
Depending on what information a company is looking for, multiple forms of website intercept surveys can be used to gather responses. Some of the popular ones are Pop-ups or also called Modal boxes and on-page surveys.
Advantages of Business research
- Business research helps identify opportunities and threats.
- It helps identify problems and using this information wise decisions can be made to tackle the issue appropriately.
- It helps to understand customers better and hence can be useful to communicate better with the customers or stakeholders.
- Risks and uncertainties can be minimized by conducting business research in advance.
- Financial outcomes and investments that will be needed can be planned effectively using business research.
- Such a research can help track competition in the business sector.
- Business research can enable a company to make wise decisions as to where to spend and how much.
- Business research can enable a company to stay up-to date with the market and its trends and appropriate innovations can be made to stay ahead in the game.
- Business research helps to measure reputation
Disadvantages of Business research
- Business research can be a high cost affair
- Most of the time, business research is based on assumptions
- Business research can be time consuming
- Business research can sometime give you inaccurate information, because of a biased population or a small focus group.
- Business research results can quickly become obsolete because of the fast changing markets
Importance of Business research
Business research is one of the most effective ways to understand customers, the market and competitors. Such a research helps companies to understand the demand and supply of the market. Using such a research will help businesses reduce costs, and create solutions or products that are targeted to the demand in the market and the correct audience.
In-house business research can enable the senior management to build an effective team or train or mentor, when needed. Business research enables the company to track its competitors and hence can give you the upper hand to stay ahead of them. Failures can be avoided by conducting such a research as it can give the researcher an idea if the time is right to launch its product/solution and also if the audience is right. It will help understand the brand value and measure customer satisfaction which is essential to continuously innovate and meet customer demands. This will help the company grow its revenue and market share. Business research also helps recruit the ideal candidates for various roles in the company. By conducting such a research a company can carry out SWOT analysis, i.e. understand the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. With the help of this information, wise decisions can be made to ensure business success.
Business research is the first step that any business owner needs to set up his business, to survive or to excel in the market. The main reason why such a research is of utmost importance is because it helps businesses to grow in terms of revenue, market share and brand value.