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Marketing research, in contrast, is a form of sociology that focuses on the understanding of human behavior as it applies to a market-based economy.
Marketing research can be used to gather information about any number of marketing related issues, including new product launches, brand equity, consumer decision-making processes, the effectiveness of advertising, and even leveraging against competitors. Depending on the question being asked or the issue under investigation, marketing research can be either qualitative or quantitative as well as formative or summative. As with all well-designed research plans, the results yielded by marketing research are the most accurate when several different tactics are used to inform a conclusion, rather than depending on one tool to determine the results. Demographics are collections of statistical data that describe a group of people or a market segment. By grouping people into segments based on demographic variables, researchers can use the collected data to create hypothetical profiles.
Researchers study demographic data to clarify their understanding of the needs and motivations of individual market segments. Demographics provide formative information and therefore should be used at the start of a project to define an audience. Marketing research firms can be hired to conduct primary demographics using proprietary resources and software. Focus groups can be formative or summative depending on the nature of the design problem that they are addressing. Though focus group research has many benefits, there are a couple of potential conflicts to take into consideration. Psychographics is a quantitative tactic used to measure subjective beliefs, opinions, and interests. Psychographics can help the researcher gain valuable insight into the opinions and preferences of the groups being studied. Use psychographics in a manner similar to the way you'd use demographics, keeping in mind that psychographics measure inherently subjective data.
Most designers outsource primary psychographic studies to marketing research firms who specialize in the process.
Survey research is a tactic for collecting quantitative information by asking participants a set of questions in specific order.
Surveys and questionnaires can be used to collect information about the opinions and preferences of a defined group, or to collect factual information, such as a census report. Use surveys and questionnaires to gather demographic (fact-based) or psychographic (opinion-based) data. Use surveys as formative research, to gain insight into the opinions and desires of the target audience.
Survey research can be a cost-effective tool for gathering information from a large population, and there are many companies and organizations that can be retained to help construct and administer questions.
Web analytics, sometimes referred to as Web statistics or technographic research, are a form of quantitative analysis that uses concrete metrics to track user behavior online. Web analytics can provide the designer with a lot of information about users' viewing habits.
Page views: Page views are a more accurate measurement of Web traffic because they indicate the use of individual pages rather than server hits.
From graphic art to fashion, architecture, and beyond, every topic is fair game, and each contribution builds on the sense of community headed by our experts from around the world. Demographics or demographic data are the characteristics of a human population as used in government, marketing or opinion research, or the demographic profiles used in such research.
Market analysis is a quantitative business tool that measures the growth and composition of markets or business sectors. The term does not refer to a singular research method but rather a multilateral strategy used to describe a broad sampling of research practices surrounding consumer preferences. Qualitative practices may include such tactics as focus groups, interviews, or other observational techniques.
Demographics generally include information on a variety of quantifiable cultural, economic, and social characteristics. This research tactic can provide insight regarding what groups of people are doing, thinking, or buying.
In addition, access to demographic information collected by both for-profit and nonprofit organizations is widely available as a form of secondary research.
Focus groups are organized discussions with a limited number of participants, led by a moderator. This kind of dialogue can lead to new topics of discussion originally unforeseen by the researcher.

It is important to make sure that participants stay focused on the questions asked, while giving them room to deviate should new issues arise. This research tactic can be used to collect new information before a project starts, or at key points during an iterative creative process to get feedback from potential users in order to refine prototypes (more on iterative design on page 54). As with most group dynamics, dominant personalities may sway the opinions being expressed in a certain direction.
This research tactic, whether employed in a primary or secondary fashion, will help you clarify a creative approach by illuminating a target market's opinions and preferences. It is best used in the early phases of the design process in conjunction with demographic research, ethnographic research, and personas. Often these are undertaken in conjunction with demographic investigations of the same group. Questions are administered to a sample of individuals, representative of a larger population.
These investigations give the researcher the ability to collect large amounts of information from a wide population in a relatively short amount of time. Because of the complex structure, writing, and scoring inherent in survey research, working with a specialist will help increase accuracy—missteps along the way can lead to invalid results.
A designer can gain valuable insight into users' needs and interests by measuring key variables through the course of a user visit. For example, when a user requests a Web page that has two images on it, that request will result in three hits. As stated in the example above, a single page view might result in several server hits because of image files, frames, style sheets, and so on. For example, if a user requests a page and stays at that page for thirty seconds, that counts as a visit.
Web stat software is able to differentiate between visitors who come only once to the site and unique visitors who return. In a formative role, they can help the designer understand which features or content users find valuable in a current design. Often the tools provided go far beyond these basic functions and include features that indicate the user's platform (Linux, Microsoft Windows, or Macintosh for example), bandwidth (dial-up modem or DSL?), peak usage hours, and even location. Commonly used demographics include gender, race, age, income, disabilities, mobility (in terms of travel time to work or number of vehicles available), educational attainment, home ownership, employment status, and even location.
It includes researching your customer base, creating your brand, building your strategic plan and executing your advertising campaigns. Market analysis considers elements such as interest rates, stock performance, price movements, and other measurable statistics that define the financial climate in which a business operates. In this instance, that same manufacturing company might commission marketing research to determine the opinions of consumers regarding the need for a new version of a classic product. This approach often samples randomly from a large population, conducting surveys or distributing questionnaires that are then statistically scored.
Common demographic variables include: age, gender, sexual orientation, household size, personal income and family income, education, race, and religion.
It is important to note that demographic profiling often makes broad generalizations about groups of people that do not account for the unique qualities of individuals—who may not always behave in the predicted fashion. The goal of these discussions is to gain insight into the participants' views about a given topic. Additionally, participants know that their opinions are valued, or that they are considered experts—leading them to feel ownership of the process and provide possible solutions. All participants must also feel that they are being engaged by the group and feel comfortable enough to participate in the discussion. As summative evaluation, focus groups can be used to assess the acceptance of a new campaign or gauge customer satisfaction levels. Careful selection and good facilitation on the part of the moderator can help circumvent this issue; therefore, using trained moderators is a good investment in the success of the survey.
Similar to demographic research, which gathers data on age, gender, race, and other factors, it instead counts information about opinions, religious beliefs, music tastes, personality traits, and lifestyles. Secondary psychographic data may be more readily available and thus more cost effective, but, as previously noted, will not be customized to the target market.
Questions should be written and structured in ways to increase the reliability of valid findings; therefore, trained experts are the best resources for developing this content. It can also be used as summative research, to support or confirm creative solutions, or to understand the effects of a creative campaign. However, if there is no budget for outsourcing, tremendous amounts of information are available in the public domain to help guide the process.

These statistics may help the designer when thinking about where and when to run ads, based on whether the site is most commly viewed at work (high speed connection) or at home (possible dial-up modem). One hit is for the page, and one for each of the images, because all of those files are necessary to display that individual page. When the amounts of visits are totaled for an extended period of time, the amount of traffic to the site can be determined.
More comprehensive Web analytic studies can be outsourced to companies that specialize in evaluating this type of data.
Distributions of values within a demographic variable, and across households, are both of interest, as well as trends over time. For example, a manufacturing company might commission a market analysis to determine trends in outsourcing fabrication to foreign countries to help advise an appropriate location for its next assembly plant. In an exploratory (formative) role, marketing research can be used to determine an area in need of investigation: Would the market support an offshoot of this brand specifically targeted at teenagers?
Unlike survey research, which is primarily quantitative, focus groups are qualitative exercises because they allow the researcher to understand the opinions and attitudes of the respondents. Also, focus group research can be done relatively quickly without huge demands on time and fiscal resources. Most important, the moderator must stay neutral so that he or she does not ask leading questions that might skew the data.Focus groups usually consist of six to ten people. Additionally, the results of focus groups are based entirely on the assumption that the people participating are being totally honest. If participants answer questions on their own, either online or by filling out a piece of paper, it is called a questionnaire. For example, a group of frequent online shoppers may be asked to fill out a questionnaire regarding new features just added to the website they are using.
They can also help inform future technical considerations such as the use of video or complex interactive features. In a summative role, they can tell the designer whether a redesign has increased visits, or whether a new feature is being used.
Those firms have developed proprietary tools that go beyond what a Web hosting company can provide. Another form of demographics is post-demographics, originally a way to study the data retrieved from social networking sites, but also very applicable to integrate with marketing theories.
By delegating these responsibilities you can focus on your day-to-day operations with piece of mind knowing your marketing plan is going to produce results.
Would a new version replace the classic model, or is there enough consumer loyalty to support both? In a conclusive (summative) role, marketing research can be used to better understand such things as the effectiveness of an advertising campaign or consumers' opinions regarding new or existing brands and products: What were teenagers' new brand perceptions, and did they prefer the original?
This type of research is different from the similar methods of one-on-one interviewing and group interviews, as it allows for interaction among the participants.
Responses can be used to determine whether users are satisfied with or confused by the new tools. While this information may seem to be Web-centric, the information gathered from Web metrics can also help inform print campaigns by indicating which types of information interest users and where users are geographically clustered. Jena Communications uses demographic information to help identify your target audience to make your advertising dollars work more efficiently. Conversely, if the group is too large, discourse may become too difficult for the moderator to facilitate. Preparing for these scenarios, and supplementing focus group research with other forms of information gathering, will lead to more accurate results.
Large groups may also lead to distracting side discussions among respondents or cause some participants not to engage in the dialogue at all. It is essential to choose people with similar characteristics, backgrounds, or interests so that they feel comfortable talking to one another.
If respondents are on the opposite ends of an issue, the conversation can become heated, preventing a free exchange of ideas. Depending on the subject, several focus groups may have to be held in order to get a representative view of the issue. People also feel more comfortable sharing their opinions with people they don't know, so limit focus groups to individuals that have no prior history with one another.

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