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Get Started with Market Research

What is market research?

Market research is "the process of gathering, analyzing, and interpreting data about a particular market - and the products, brands, or services within that market - to help organizations make better business decisions."

Keegan, S. (2008). Market Research. In L. Given (Author), The SAGE Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods. Sage Publications.

How is market research used?

Companies
  • To identify and target a specific market
  • To gain a competitive advantage and identify opportunities
  • To position products and brands
Students
  • To support papers, dissertations, and projects
  • To create sample business plans
  • To prepare for interviews and increase employability

Primary versus Secondary Research

There are two categories of market research:

Primary research is original research conducted through interviews, surveys, and observations to determine consumer preferences.

Secondary research is information that another entity has gathered and presented in a report that provides insight into key market topics.

The UOPX Library is a great source of secondary research, offering published market research reports, industry and company reports, and data on consumer demographics.

The type and amount of information you can find on a company depends on several factors.

  • Determine what information you need before you start researching. What industry or product are you researching and what do you need to know about them? What is the NAICS code for your industry? Many of the resources allow you to search by the NAICS. See our guide Understand Industry Classification Codes.
  • Use multiple sources. You will be unlikely to find all the information you need in one place. Not all databases cover the same industries, and you may need to search multiple databases to gather the necessary information. Alternatively, if you find a comprehensive research report, search for additional resources with alternative views and analysis to get a complete picture.
  • Consider the date. Market and consumer reports are static, point-in-time publications. You may not have the most up-to-date information. Use newspaper articles, trade publications, and other reports found in business news databases like ABI/Inform Complete and Business Source Complete to update the information.
  • Find alternatives to expensive market reports found on the internet. Market research firms publish expensive reports that are not generally found in any library database. However, press releases, trade articles, and other documents may discuss these reports and summarize key findings.
  • Consider alternatives to specialty or niche markets that aren’t widely covered. Expand your search to broader markets or even broader industries. Consider related or substitute markets or experiment with different keyword searches. There may also be an industry or trade association that offers professional insights and data. Consider contacting it and explaining you are a student looking for information.
  • Give yourself time. Gathering market information can be a bit like a scavenger hunt, with pieces of data and information scattered across multiple databases. Each database may require time before you are confident using it. Give yourself plenty of time to make the most of the databases.

Where to Start

The library has multiple databases covering market, company, and industry research. You will likely need to look in multiple databases to find the information you need.

Profiles & Market Research
These guides are often the best place to start. They can help you find information on most major industries.
News Articles
News can help you identify trends or recent changes in an industry that may not be reflected in an industry profile.
Company Reports & Analysis
Small or new industries, industries dominated by big public companies with multiple lines of business, or industries with many private companies may be challenging to research. By reviewing a few company reports in an industry, you can begin to put together an overall picture.

Where to Start

The library has multiple databases covering market, company, and industry research. You will likely need to look in multiple databases to find the information you need.

Profiles & Market Research
These guides are often the best place to start. They can help you find information on most major industries.
News Articles
News can help you identify trends or recent changes in an industry that may not be reflected in an industry profile.
Company Reports & Analysis
Small or new industries, industries dominated by big public companies with multiple lines of business, or industries with many private companies may be challenging to research. By reviewing a few company reports in an industry, you can begin to put together an overall picture.