Reporting

What is a Marketing Research Report and How to Write It?

Not sure how to write a comprehensive market research report? Here is everything you need to know, including free templates to get started.

Djordje Cvijovic Djordje Cvijovic on December 2, 2021 (last modified on December 1, 2021) • 20 minute read

There is nothing more embarrassing for a marketer than to hear a client say “…this doesn’t quite address the business questions that we need to answer.” And unfortunately, this is a rather common occurrence in market research reporting that most marketers would care to admit.

So, why do most market research reports fail to meet client expectations? Well, in most cases, because there is more emphasis on methodology and analytic techniques used to craft the report rather than relying on data visualization, creative story-telling, and outlining actionable direction/steps.

Now, our next big question is, how do you avoid your client’s dreaded deer-in-the-headlights reaction when presenting such a report? This blog post will answer this and much more, as we go through the following:

marketing_overview_hubspot_ga_dashboard_databox

What Is a Market Research Report?

The purpose of creating a market research report is to make calculated decisions about business ideas. Market research is done to evaluate the feasibility of a new product or service, through research conducted with potential consumers. The information obtained from conducting market research is then documented in a formal report that should contain the following details:

  • The characteristics of your ideal customers
  • You customers buying habits
  • The value your product or service can bring to those customers
  • A list of your top competitors

Why is Market Research Important?

Every business aims to provide the best possible product or service at the lowest cost possible. Simply said, market research is important because it helps you understand your customers and determine whether the product or service that you are about to launch is worth the effort.

Here is an example of a customer complaint that may result in more detailed market research:

Suppose you sell widgets, and you want your widget business to succeed over the long term. Over the years, you have developed many different ways of making widgets. But a couple of years ago, a customer complained that your widgets were made of a cheap kind of foam that fell apart after six months. You didn’t think at the time that this was a major problem, but now you know it.

The customer is someone you really want to keep. So, you decide to research this complaint. You set up a focus group of people who use widgets and ask them what they think about the specific problem. After the conducted survey you’ll get a better picture of customer opinions, so you can either decide to make the changes regarding widget design or just let it go.

Differences Between Primary and Secondary Market Research

Marketing research requires both primary and secondary market research. But what does that mean and what are the main differences?

Primary market research takes in information directly from customers, usually as participants in surveys. Usually, it is consisted of:

  • Exploratory Primary Research – This type of research helps to identify possible problem areas, and it’s not focused on discovering specific information about customers. As with any research, exploratory primary research should be conducted carefully. Researchers need to craft an interviewing or surveying plan, and gather enough respondents to ensure reasonable levels of statistical reliability.
  • Specific Primary Research – This type of research is one of the best ways to approach a problem because it relies on existing customer data. Specific research provides a deeper, more thorough understanding of the problem and its potential solutions. The greatest advantage of specific research is that it lets you explore a very specific question, and focus on a specific problem or an opportunity.

Secondary market research collects information from other sources such as databases, trend reports, market or government statistics, industry content, etc. We can divide secondary market research into 3 categories:

  • Public market data – Public sources range from academic journals and government reports to tax returns and court documents. These sources aren’t always easy to find. Many are available only in print in libraries and archives. You have to look beyond search engines like Google to find public source documents.
  • Commercial data – Those are typically created by specialized agencies like Pew, Gartner or Forrester. the research agencies are quite expensive, but they provide a lot of useful information.
  • Internal data – Your organization’s databases are gold mines for market research. In the best cases, your salespeople can tell you what they think about customers. Your salespeople are your direct sources of information about the market. Don’t underestimate your internal data.

In general, primary research is more reliable than secondary research, because researchers have to interview people directly. But primary research is expensive and time-consuming. Secondary research can be quicker and less expensive.

Types of Market Research

There are plenty of ways to conduct marketing research reports. Mostly, the type of research done will depend on your goals. Here are some types of market research often conducted by marketers.

Interviews

An interview is an interactive process of asking and answering questions and observing your respondent’s responses. Interviews are one of the most commonly used tools in market research. An interview allows an organization to observe, in detail, how its consumers interact with its products and services. It also allows an organization to address specific questions.

Focus Groups

A focus group is a group of people who get together to discuss a particular topic. A moderator leads the discussion and takes notes. The main benefit of focus groups is that they are quick and easy to conduct. You can gather a group of carefully-selected people, give them a product to try out, and get their feedback within a few hours/days.

Product/Service Use Research

Product or service use research helps you obtain useful information about your product or service such as:

  • What your current customers do with the product/service
  • Which features of the product/service are particularly important to your customers
  • What they dislike about the product/service
  • What they would change about the product/service

Observation-Based Research

Observation-based research helps you to observe your target audience interacting with your product or service. You will see the interactions and which aspects work well and which could be improved. The main point is to directly experience the feedback from your target audience’s point of view.

Buyer Persona Research

Personas are an essential sales tool. By knowing your buyers’ pain points and the challenges they face, you can create better content, target messaging, and campaigns for them. Buyer persona research is based on market research, and it’s built around data that describes your customers’ demographics, behaviors, motivations, and concerns.

Market Segmentation Research

Market segmentation research is carried out to better understand existing and potential market segments. The objective is to determine how to target different market segments and how they differ from each other. The three most important steps in writing a market segmentation research report are:

  • Defining the problem
  • Determining the solution [and]
  • Defining the market

Related: 9 Customer Segmentation Tips to Personalize Ecommerce Marketing and Drive More Sales

Pricing Research

A price that is too high, or too low, can kill a business. And without good market research, you don’t really know what is a good price for your product. Pricing research helps you define your pricing strategy.

Competitive Analysis Research

In a competitive analysis, you define your “competition” as any other entity that competes with you in your market, whether you’re selling a widget or a piece of real estate. With competitive analysis research, you can find out things like:

  • Who your competitors are
  • What they’ve done in the past
  • What’s working well for them
  • Their weaknesses
  • How they’re positioned in the market
  • How they market themselves
  • What they’re doing that you’re not

Related: How to Do an SEO Competitive Analysis: A Step-by-Step Guide

Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty Research

In today’s marketplace, companies are increasingly focused on customer loyalty. What your customers want is your product, but, more importantly, they want it delivered with a service that exceeds their expectations. Successful companies listen to their customers and respond accordingly. That’s why customer satisfaction and loyalty research is a critical component of that basic equation.

Related: 11 Tactics for Effectively Measuring Your Customer Service ROI

Brand Awareness Research

Who you are, what you stand for, what you offer, what you believe in, and what your audience thinks of you is all wrapped up in brand. Brand awareness research tells what your target audience knows about your brand and what’s their experience like.

Campaign Research

A campaign research report is a detailed account of how your marketing campaign performed. It includes all the elements that went into creating the campaign: planning, implementation, and measurement.

Market Research Reports Advantages and Disadvantages

Here are some of the top advantages and disadvantages of doing market research and crafting market research reports.

Advantages

  • Identify business opportunities – A market research report can be used to analyze potential markets and new products. It can give information about customer needs, preferences, and attitudes. Also, it compare products and services.
  • A clear understanding of your customers – A market report gives company’s marketing department an in-depth picture about customers’ needs and wants. This knowledge can be used to improve products, prices, and advertising.
  • Mitigates risks30% of small businesses fail within the first two years. Why is this so? The answer is that entrepreneurs are risk takers. However, there are risks that could be avoided. A good marketing research will help you identify those risks and allow you to mitigate them.
  • Clear data-driven insights – Market research encompasses a wide range of activities, from determining market size and segment to forecasting demand, and from identifying competitors to monitoring pricing. All of these are quantified and measurable which means that gives you a clear path for building unique decisions based on numbers.

Disadvantages

  • It’s not cheap – Although market research can be done for as little as $500, large markets like the United States can run into millions of dollars. If a research is done for a specific product, the budget may be even much higher. The budget also depends on the quality of the research. The more expensive it is, the more time the research will take.
  • Some insights could be false – For example, if you are conducting a survey, data may be inadequate or inaccurate because respondents can, well, simply be dishonest and lie.

How to Do Market Research

Here are the essential steps you need to take when doing market research:

Define your buyer persona

The job of a marketing persona is to describe your ideal customer and to tell you what they want, what motivates them, what frustrates them, and what limits them. Finding out these things means you have a better chance of designing your products, services, marketing messages, and brand around real customers. There is no one right way to create a buyer persona, though.

For example, if you’re in an industry focused on education, you could include things like:

  • Educational level
  • Experience
  • Job titles
  • Education background
  • Job titles

It’s recommended that you create 3-5 buyer personas for your products, based on your ideal customer.

Identify a persona group to engage

This should be a representative sample of your target customers so you can better understand their behavior. You want to find people who fit both your target personas and who represent the broader demographic of your market. People who recently made a purchase or purposefully decided not to make one are a good sample to start with.

Prepare research questions for your market research participants

The questions you use determine the quality of your results. Of course, the quality of your results also depends on the quality of your participants.

Don’t ask questions that imply a yes or no answer. Instead, use open questions. For example, if you are researching customers about yogurt products, you could ask them: „What have you heard about yogurt?” or “What do you think of yogurt?“.

Avoid questions that use numbers, such as “How many times a week do you eat yogurt?”

Avoid questions that suggest a set of mutually exclusive answers, such as “Do you like yogurt for breakfast, lunch, or dinner?”

Avoid questions that imply a scale, such as “Do you like chocolate-flavored yogurt?”

List your primary competitors

Market researchers sometimes call one company the top competitor, another middle competitor, and the third one small competitor. However you classify them, you want to identify at least three companies in each category. Now, for each business on your list, list its key characteristics. For example, if your business sells running shoes, a key characteristic might be the product’s quality.

Next, make a list of your small business’s competitive advantages. These include the unique qualities or features of your business that make it the best choice of customers for the products or services it offers. Make a list of these competitive advantages and list them next to the key characteristics you listed for your business.

Summarize your findings

You have just finished writing your marketing research report. Everything is out there quantified or qualified. You just have to sum it up and focus on the most important details that are going to make a big impact on your decisions. Clear summary leads to a winning strategy!

Related: How to Prepare a Complete Marketing Report: The KPIs, Analysis, & Action Plan You Need

How to Prepare a Market Research Report: 5 Steps

Here’s how to prepare a market research report in 5 simple steps:

Step 1: Cluster the data

Your first step is to cluster all the available information into a manageable set. Clustering is the process of grouping information together in a way that emphasizes commonalities and minimizes differences. So, in market research, this will help to organize all the information you have about a product, service, or target market and identify your focus areas.

Step 2: Prepare an outline

A marketing research report should be written so that other people can understand it:

  • Include background information at the beginning to explain who your audience is and what problem you are trying to solve for them.
  • In the body of the report, include a description of the methodology – Explain to the reader how your research was done, what was involved, and why you selected the methodology you used.
  • Also in the body of the report, include the results of your market research. These may be quantitative or qualitative, but either way they should answer the questions you posed at the beginning.
  • Include the executive summary – A summary of the entire report.

Step 3: Mention the research methods

The market research methodology section includes details on the type of research, sample size, any limitations of the studies, research design, sample selection, data collection procedures, and statistical analyses used.

Step 4: Include visuals with narrative explanations

Visuals are an essential part of the presentation. Even the best-written text can be difficult to understand. Charts and graphs are easier to understand than text alone, and they help the reader see how the numbers fit the bigger picture.

But visuals are not the whole story. They are only one part of the presentation. Visuals are a cue for the reader. The narrative gives the story, not just the numbers.

Step 5: Conclude the report with recommendations

Recommendations tend to follow logically from conclusions and are a response to a certain problem. The recommendation should always be relevant to the research rationale, that is, the recommendation should be based on the results of the research reported in the body of the report.

Marketing Research Report Templates

Now, let’s take a look at some dashboard reporting templates you could use to enhance your market research:

Semrush (Position Tracking) Report Template

This free SEMRush dashboard template will help you monitor how your website’s search visibility on search engines evolves on a monthly basis. This dashboard contains all of the information you need to make changes and improve the ranking results of your business in Google Search.

Semrush (Position Tracking) Report Template

Brand Awareness Report

This Brand Awareness Report will help you to get a sense of your brand awareness performance in Google Analytics, Google Organic Search, and Facebook. Use this dashboard to track brand awareness the same way you track other marketing campaigns.

Brand Awareness Report

Sales Pipeline Performance Report

Are your sales and marketing funnel healthy and growing? How is your sales and marketing funnel performing? What are the key conversion rates between your lifecycle stages? With a pipeline performance dashboard, you’ll get all of the answers quickly.

Sales Pipeline Performance Report

Customer Success Overview Report

This Customer Success Overview Dashboard allows you to analyze how your customer service team’s responsiveness impacts your business. Use this dashboard to assess the correlation between your customer service performance and churn rate. 

Customer Success Overview Report Template

Stripe (MRR & Churn) Report

This Stripe dashboard tracks your churn rate and MRR growth in real-time and shows you which customers (and how many of them) you have at any given point in time. All you have to do to get started is to connect your Stripe account.

Stripe (MRR & Churn) Report Template

Marketing Research Reports Best Practices

As we said earlier, there are no strict rules when it comes to writing marketing research reports. On the other hand, you must find your focus if you want to write a report that will make a difference. Here are some best practices you should keep in mind when writing a research report.

  1. Objectives – The objective of a market research report is to define the problems, identify key issues, and suggest recommendations for further research. If you answer them successfully, you’re on the right way.
  2. Don’t worry about the format – Be creative. The report could be in a form of a PowerPoint presentation, Excel sheet, interactive dashboard or even a video. Use the format that best fits your audience, but make sure to make it easy to read.
  3. Include an executive summary, scorecard, or a dashboard – This is really important because time is money, and most people don’t have time to waste. So, how to put everything important in a short role? Address all of the objectives and put them in a graphic dashboard or scorecard. Also, you can write an executive summary (heart of the report) that can be easily read by managers or CEOs.
  4. Use storytelling –  A good story always makes a great point because it’s so memorable. Your research report results can double the effect with a catchy story.
  5. Keep it short – It’s not a secret that we are reading so little in the digital era. Use a lot of white space and bullet points. Too much text on a page means less focus for the reader.
  6. Be organized – Maintain the order of information. It’s important for the reader to navigate through the report easily. If they want to find some details or specific information it would be great to divide all sections with appropriate references.
  7. Methodological information – Methodological details could be boring. Include only the most important details that the reader needs to know to understand the big picture.
  8. Use images (or other visualizations) whenever you can – A good picture speaks for 1.000 words! If you can communicate the point visually, don’t hesitate to do it. It would be a lot easier for those who don’t like a lot of text to understand your results. But don’t push them where you can’t.
  9. Create readable graphs – The crown of marketing research reports is a comprehensive graph. Make sure to design precise and attractive graphs that will power up and round your story.
  10. Use the Appendix – You can include all secondary information such as methodological details and other miscellaneous data in the Appendix at the end of the report.
marketing_overview_hubspot_ga_dashboard_databox

Bring Your Market Research Reports a Step Further with Databox

Market research reports are all about presenting your data in an easy-to-understand way and making calculated decisions about business ideas. But this is something easier said than done.

When busy stakeholders and executives grab a report, they need something that will give them an idea of the results – the big picture that addresses company wide-business goals.

Can a PowerPoint presentation or a PDF report meet those expectations? Most likely not. But a dashboard can.

Keep in mind that even with the best market analysis in the world, your market research report won’t be actionable if you don’t present the data efficiently and in a way that everyone understands what the next steps are. Databox is your key ally in the matter.

Databox dashboards are designed to help you present your market research data with clarity – from identifying what is influencing your business, and understanding where your brand is situated in the market, to gauging the temperature of your niche or industry before a new product/service launch.

Present your research results with efficient, interactive dashboards now by signing up for a free trial.

About the author
Djordje Cvijovic
Djordje Cvijovic Grew up as a Copywriter. Evolved into the Content creator. Somewhere in between, I fell in love with numbers that can portray the world as well as words or pictures. A naive thinker who believes that the creative economy is the most powerful force in the world!
You may also like...
Read more

How to Write a Great Business Expense Report: A Step-By-Step Guide with Examples

Expense reporting is an essential part of doing business. Learn how to create a great business expense report by following our step-by-step guide.

Reporting   |  Jan 21

Read more

How to Set Up an Automated Reporting System: Tips, Tools and Best Practices

Learn how to set up a report automation system that will improve your reporting process and boost your overall business performance.

Reporting   |  Jan 14

Read more

How to Write a Business Progress Report? 8 Examples and Ideas

Want a detailed guide for crafting better business progress reports? This article covers all the steps and has examples that will help you do just that.

Reporting   |  Jan 12