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GuidesMarket research12 must-ask questions for market research

12 must-ask questions for market research

Last updated

10 June 2023

Author

Dovetail Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Cathy Heath

Market research is the process of gathering information about the needs and preferences of a target market, as well as the behavioral traits and brand perception of consumers.

Once you’ve identified your target market of consumers, it’s essential to conduct market research to determine their needs, how to fulfill them, and any problems that stand in the way of a successful sale of your product or service.  

Market research can focus on new markets, products or services, or existing products and services that have been upgraded or changed. The research data will help you to make better decisions, connect with your audience's needs, and jump on new opportunities.    

Who do you ask market research questions to?

To get pertinent data for your market research, you need to ask questions to your target audience. If you’re unsure who that might be, start by answering that research question first. 

It’s always more difficult if you’re a new company without a solid customer base. Consider reaching out to staff as well as suppliers and retailers of your product or service and asking them who they think your target audience might be. 

Questions you can ask include:

  • Who is our current customer base, and do we want to keep them or expand to a different group?

  • What does our employee, customer, supplier, or retailer like or dislike about our product or service?

  • What are their pain points, and what do they want to see to make it better?

  • Define the demographic, e.g., where they live, how much money they make, ethnicity, and other pertinent information.

  • How big is our market? Are there additional potential customers there?

  • Do our customers purchase from our competitors? Why?

  • When or why do you use our product or service?

  • How much would you pay, and how often would you pay?

  • What would the perfect new product or service look like?

  • Would you recommend our product or service?

  • Are there any upcoming features that competitors are promoting that appeal to you?

  • What are the customer trends regarding our product or service?

  • How does our target audience purchase? Do they buy online, from a brick and mortar, over the phone, etc.?

  • Does our target audience have a buying pattern, e.g., seasonal holidays, the start of the school year etc.?

  • Are our product or service price points viewed as good value by consumers?

Types of market research questions

Carefully designed market research questions can impact the data that you collect. Once you’ve determined the goal of your market research, you can design the type of question that offers the highest quality and reliability in the answers you receive. 

Some questions may help with segmenting your audience. Others may ask about the customer's feelings about your product or service. 

To determine which format is the best for you, take a look at the types and designs of market research questions.

Multiple-choice

Most people are familiar with multiple-choice questions. These questions are great for comparing preferences and opinions and comparing them to other respondents. In this type, the user selects from several choices presented to them and can choose multiple answers.   

For example:

How have you purchased Product XYZ in the past? (Check all that apply)

  1. Online

  2. Social media

  3. App

  4. Retail store

  5. Wholesale outlet

  6. Other

Single-choice

Single-choice market research questions offer multiple options for the respondent to choose from, but they can only choose one. This helps researchers to segregate users or determine the priority for product updates. They’re sometimes placed at the beginning of a survey to disqualify respondents who don’t meet the criteria.  

An example of a single-choice market research question is:

Do you own a smartphone?

  1. Yes

  2. No

  3. Don't know

Matrix match

Many market researchers design matrix match questions to shorten the survey so that it’s less-onerous for a respondent to complete. Questions are arranged in rows and answers are put into grids. The main thing to remember with matrix match questions is that each question should have the same response anchor.

An example of a matrix match question is:

How would you rate the importance of each of the following when purchasing Product XYZ?

Appearance

Flavor

Freshness

Price

Nutrition

Each selection would be on the same scale from 1 (least important) to 10 (most important) on a grid, and the respondent would choose one answer on each line.

Ranking question

Ranking questions are just like they sound. The respondent ranks their preferences on a scale from most to least important or by preference.

Using the same example from the matrix match, an example of a ranking question might be:

Arrange in order of importance, with 1 being the least important and 5 being the most important.

Appearance

Flavor

Freshness

Price

Nutrition

While a matrix match identifies how important each factor is, a ranking question compares the importance of several factors against each other.

Dichotomous

A dichotomous question only has a yes or no answer. Once again, you can use these questions to categorize or disqualify users.  

An example of a dichotomous question is:

Are you over the age of 18?

  • Yes

  • No

Likert scale

Likert scale market research questions measure the extent of agreement to a statement. A question contains a statement, and the respondent answers by the amount they agree or disagree with it. 

You can gain a better understanding from Likert scales than from a simple yes or no answer, as they help you determine the level and strength of sentiment your customer feels.

An example of a Likert scale market research question is:

How likely would you be to purchase Product XYZ again?

  • Definitely will purchase again

  • Probably will purchase again

  • May or may not purchase again

  • Probably will not purchase again

  • Definitely will not purchase again

Open-ended

Open-ended questions ask respondents to answer a question without any predetermined choices. This allows them to write freely without restrictions, allowing them to voice their opinion or offer suggestions. 

Researchers may find it involves more time to analyze, code, and report the responses. They’re often used after another question to delve deeper into why the respondent chose the response they did.  

For example:

You said you would probably not purchase Product XYZ again. Why do you say that?

Market research question examples

Of course, the market research questions will differ, determined by the kind of information that you’re trying to acquire. There are four circumstances that you can design your questions for:

  • Market research questions to ask customers

  • Market research questions for product development

  • Market research questions for brand tracking

For each type of question, there will always be some overlap. But if you want to know how a customer feels about a new product or service design, it’s different from finding out what they feel about your pricing strategy.

Market research questions to ask customers

These questions center around how your customer feels about your brand and their customer experience. They can show areas that require improvement, how to build on strengths, and provide you with an insight into how your customer feels.  

A few examples are:

  1. Would you recommend us to your friends or family?

  2. What do we do better than our competitors?

  3. How can we improve the customer experience?

  4. Would you purchase from us again?

Market research questions for product development

These market research surveys can help in the development of your product, point out some opportunities, and offer feedback if changes or improvements are needed. They allow you to understand the customer's perception of your product and their reaction to it.  

A few examples are:

  1. What do you like or dislike about Product XYZ?

  2. What would make our product or service even better?

  3. How is Product XYZ better than its competition?

  4. Do you find our product or service easy to use?

Market research questions for brand tracking

Because your products, services, and experiences impact your brand's image, it’s important to see how the customer perceives the brand and discover if improvements need to be made.  

Examples of market research brand tracking questions are:

  1. How did you hear about us?

  2. What do you think of when you think of our brand? 

  3. Are you familiar with our other brand's other products and services?

  4. Have you checked out our new app?

How to write your own market research questions

Writing your market research questions may seem like a daunting task. But there are some tips that can help you and your team craft the questions you need to get the data you want. 

Make your questions easy for the customer to understand and answer, and in a way that makes it easy to collect and analyze data after. Surveys that are too complex or lengthy often don’t get completed or tend to be rushed, skewing the quality of the data.  

Keep these tips in mind when writing your market research questions:

1. Use mutually exclusive response options

By mutually exclusive response options, we recommend that your groupings or options don’t overlap. This sometimes happens when asking for demographic information like age or income. 

As an example, imagine that you’re asking about income: 

Please state your gross annual household income

  1. $0–$20,000

  2. $20,000–$40,000

  3. $40,000–$75,000

  4. $75,000–$100,000

  5. $100,000+

In the above example, results can be skewed if the respondent makes $40,000 per year. Does it fall into category two: $20,000-$40,000, or category 3: $40,000-$75,000? Since the goal of the market research is to collect the most accurate information possible, it would be better clarified and give a better representation if the categories didn’t overlap.

2. Always add a "not applicable" or "rather not say" option

Some customers may not feel comfortable giving out personal information such as age, income, gender, social activities, and more. Be cautious to include all represented categories and add either a "not applicable" or "rather not say" option. 

If someone is uncomfortable with giving out personal information, they’ll often abandon the survey altogether to escape answering the question. You then won’t be able to capture a complete market research survey that may contain important and relevant data.

3. Calculate the required sample size

The sample size is always critical in research. If the number of responses is too low, you may collect biased data that doesn’t represent your customer base well. If the sample size is too large, it may be too difficult to analyze the data, wasting time and money. 

Though researchers use many methods to determine sample size, an easy way is to follow these four steps:

Step 1: Find out the size of the population 

Step 2: Determine the margin of error

Step 3: Set confidence level 

Step 4: Use a formula to find the sample size

4. Consider adding incentives

People respond better when incentives are attached. There have been studies done that show that surveys offering incentives get a higher completed response rate than those without. Consider coupons, free shipping on the next order, or a discount code if the survey is completed. 

Along with cost, there’s another drawback when adding incentives. Sometimes respondents will hurry through a survey to get the incentive and the data may not be accurate.

5. Avoid double-barreled market research questions

It’s easy to think that combining two questions into one can save time and shorten the survey. That’s usually not the case. Combining two questions or statements into one, or a double-barreled question, can make it more difficult for the respondent to answer.  

An example might be: 

How would you rate Product XYZ on flavor and nutrition?

What makes it tricky is that maybe your respondent loves the flavor but really wants an organic product. It would be hard to rate both flavor and nutrition in the same question. By breaking this into two questions, you can gather the correct data.

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