How to Conduct Market Research for a Business Plan

research methodology for business plan

Guv Callahan

Aug 27, 2020.

Marketing , Productivity

How to Conduct Research for a Business Plan

Rev › Blog › Marketing › How to Conduct Market Research for a Business Plan

Any successful business starts with a thorough, written business plan. For most small business owners, the prospect of gathering and compiling all the data required for a business plan can often seem intimidating. Fortunately, several helpful tools can make conducting market research faster and easier, especially when conducting target customer interviews.

What Does a Business Plan Include?

When building a business plan, you may include different sections or topics depending on how you intend to use the final product. For instance, business plans for internal use might not need to be quite as detailed or structured as plans that will be presented externally in order to secure financing from investors. Regardless of your purpose, most business plans include the following core sections:

  • Industry Background – Include analysis of special business considerations that apply to your particular industries, such as trends, growth rates, or recent litigation.
  • Value Proposition – Your value proposition (or Unique Selling Proposition) outlines how your business plans to bring value to its target customers in a way that isn’t currently being fulfilled in the market.
  • Product Analysis – Describe in detail the product or service you offer, including features that are better than or differentiate you from current market offerings.
  • Market Analysis – Examine your company’s target market, including customer demographics, estimated market capture, personas, and customer needs.
  • Competitive Analysis – Here, you’ll compare the intended product or service to other offerings in the market and outline your company’s competitive advantages.
  • Financial Analysis – Typically, your financial analysis will include estimated sales for the first 1-3 years of operation, as well as more detailed financial projections depending on who will be reading the plan.

Conducting a Market Analysis

Specific industries have different potential customers. It’s easier to reach your potential customers when you have a clear view of who they are. A market analysis helps clarify your ideal customer personas by researching both qualitative and quantitative aspects of your target market.

To better understand your potential customers, start by researching the demographics and segmentation of individuals who typically buy products and services in your industry. Your market analysis should also include:

  • Research on the total size of the market
  • How much additional market share is available
  • Any currently unmet needs that could be sources of competitive advantage
  • Features and qualities potential customers find valuable  

Using Market Research to Support Your Business Plan

Market research helps assess a business idea’s strengths and weaknesses. his research will serve as the basis for strategic marketing decisions, price positioning, and financial projections listed in the Financial Analysis section of your business plan. You can also use it to help your management team think through important decisions, ultimately leading to choices that will resonate with your target audience and get customers to buy your product or service.

Secondary Research

Conducting market research begins with fact-finding through the internet and other publicly available resources. This secondary research, or research originally conducted and compiled by others, gathers statistics on market size, average market pricing, competitor promotional effectiveness, manufacturing costs, and more.

Secondary research is necessary because it is often expensive and time-consuming for individual business owners to conduct this research firsthand. There are many reliable professional research firms that gather comprehensive industry statistics and make them available at a much more granular level than individuals could gather on their own. Some governmental organizations, such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will even provide this information at no charge. Fortunately for business owners, a free resource is still perfectly valid as long as it’s reputable.

Primary Research

Beyond the initial secondary research, you should also conduct thorough primary research to vet your business idea. Primary research is conducted by talking to members of the target audience firsthand through surveys, interviews, and focus groups . These tools can provide valuable insight into how prospects judge your product or service and how they compare it to alternative options.

Primary research efforts will typically generate qualitative data in the form of audio and video recordings. These interviews are not always brief, and therefore can be difficult to process efficiently unless first converted to text. You can quickly and easily incorporate the content of these interviews into your plan once they’ve been transcribed.

With a speech-to-text service like Rev, you can get 99% accurate transcripts of your market research interviews in a matter of hours. Dramatically streamlining your business planning process with Rev gives you faster access to valuable customer feedback and potential insights, letting you skip the busy-work and get down to business.

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Our Business Plan Methodology

Since 1999, Growthink has developed more than 4,000 business plans for clients in a wide variety of industries. From this vast experience, we have developed a proprietary engagement methodology that ensures high-quality, fully customized business plans for every client.

Our process consists of seven distinct phases, designed to maximize quality and client satisfaction.

  • Management Interviews:  Here, we collect and document your “verbal” growth plan, including your vision, key accomplishments to date, mission-critical challenges and opportunities, key objectives and goals, and growth strategies. In this phase, we also identify and refine key research questions, and work to define and communicate an effective “story” for the business plan.
  • Strategic Market Research : In this phase, we size the relevant market place, analyze competitors, profile existing and prospective customer groups, and assess the business opportunity. Growthink also conducts “benchmarking research” during this phase of its engagement process. This involves identifying other companies that have succeeded and/or failed with similar businesses and/or initiatives.
  • Checkpoint Document : At this stage, we deliver a “checkpoint” document to confirm that we are in agreement with you regarding the strategic direction of the plan, the business plan’s focus, and the tone and language of the plan. (The checkpoint document is delivered either as a business plan outline or a draft of an executive summary).
  • Additional Research and Strategy Work : After incorporating your feedback from the “checkpoint” document, we begin additional research regarding your business strategy (roll-out, financials, marketing, operations, etc.) and communication strategy (how best to articulate your unique opportunity to existing and potential stakeholders and investors).
  • Draft Plan : Next, we provide a draft of the deliverables, which typically include an Executive Summary, Integrated Financials (historical and projected), and a complete business plan (company analysis; customer and market analyses; industry and competitive analyses; marketing, operations, and development plans; management team; appendices).
  • Review and Revise : In this phase, we review the draft plan with you and and discuss the focus, wording, and flow of the document. We incorporate any necessary revisions and refinements, and prepare the revised plan.
  • Package and Finalize : The final stage involves creating a clean, professional document, with graphical enhancements, that is copy-edited, formatted, and ready to be presented to stakeholders and investors.

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The ultimate guide to research design for business.

17 min read To get the information you need to drive key business decisions and answer burning questions, you need a research methodology that works — and it all starts with research design. But what is it? In our ultimate guide to research design for businesses, we breakdown the process, including research methods, examples, and best practice tips to help you get started.

If you have a business problem that you’re trying to solve — from product usage to customer engagement — doing research is a great way to understand what is going wrong.

Yet despite this, less than 40% of marketers use consumer research to drive decisions [1] .

So why are businesses missing out on vital business insights that could help their bottom line?

One reason is that many simply don’t know which research method to use to correctly investigate their problem and uncover insights.

This is where our ultimate guide to research design can help. But first…

What is research design?

Research design is the overall strategy (or research methodology) used to carry out a study. It defines the framework and plan to tackle  established problems  and/or questions through the collection, interpretation, analysis, and discussion of data.

While there are several types of research design (more on that later), the research problem defines which should be used — not the other way around. In working this way, researchers can be certain that their methods match their aims — and that they’re capturing useful and actionable data.

For example, you might want to know why sales are falling for a specific product. You already have your context and other research questions to help uncover further insights. So, you start with your research problem (or problem statement) and choose an approach to get the information you need.

Download our free eBook: How to get inclusive research design right

Key considerations before a research project

After you have your research problem and research questions to find out more information, you should always consider the following elements:

  • Do you want to use a qualitative or quantitative approach ?
  • What type of research would you like to do (e.g. — create a survey or conduct telephone interviews)?
  • How will you choose your population and sample size fairly?
  • How will you choose a method to collect the data for ease of operation? The research tool you use will determine the validity of your study
  • How will you analyse data after collection to help the business concern?
  • How will you ensure your research is free from bias and neutral?
  • What’s your timeline?
  • In what setting will you conduct your research study?
  • Are there any challenges or objections to conducting your research — and if so, how can you address them?

Ultimately, the data received should be unambiguous, so that the analysts can find accurate and trustworthy insights to act upon. Neutrality is key!

Types of approaches in research design

There are two main approaches to research design that we’ll explore in more detail — quantitative and qualitative.

Qualitative research design

Qualitative research designs tend to be more flexible and inductive (broad generalisations rather than specific observations), allowing you to adjust your approach based on the information you find throughout the research process. It looks at customer or prospect data (X data).

For example, if you want to generate new ideas for content campaigns, a qualitative approach would make the most sense. You can use this approach to find out more about what your audience would like to see, the particular challenges they are facing (from a business perspective), their overall experiences, and if any topics are under-researched.

To put it simply, qualitative research design looks at the whys and hows — as well as participants’ thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. It seeks to find reasons to explain decisions using the data captured.

However, as the data collected from qualitative research is typically written rather than numerical, it can be difficult to quantify information using statistical techniques.

When should you use qualitative research design?

It is best used when you want to conduct a detailed investigation of a topic to understand a holistic view. For example, to understand cultural differences in society, qualitative research design would create a research plan that allowed as many people from different cultures to participate and provided space for elaboration and anecdotal evidence.

If you want to incorporate a qualitative research design, you may choose to use methods like semi-structured focus groups,  surveys  with open-ended questions, or  in-depth interviews  in person or on the phone.

Quantitative research design

Quantitative research design looks at data that helps answer the key questions beginning with ‘Who’, ‘How’, ‘How many’ and ‘What’. This can include business data that explores operation statistics and sales records and quantifiable data on preferences.

Unlike qualitative research design, quantitative research design can be more controlled and fixed. It establishes variables, hypotheses, and correlations and tests participants against this knowledge. The aim is to explore the numerical data and understand its value against other sets of data, providing us with a data-driven way to measure the level of something.

When should you use quantitative research design?

If you want to quantify attitudes, opinions, behaviours, or any other defined variable (and general results from a large sample population), a quantitative approach is a way to go.

You could use quantitative research to validate findings from qualitative research. One provides depth and insight into the whys and hows, while the other delivers data to support them.

If you want to incorporate a quantitative research design, you may choose to use methods like secondary research collection or surveys with closed-ended questions.

Now that you know the differences between the two research approaches ( though you can find out more ), we can go further and address their sub-categories.

Research methods: the subsets of qualitative and quantitative research

Depending on the aim/objective of your research, there are several research methods (for both qualitative and quantitative research) for you to choose from:

Types of quantitative research design:

  • Descriptive –  provides information on the current state of affairs, by observing participants in a natural situation
  • Experimental  – provides causal relationship information between variables within a controlled situation
  • Quasi-experimental  – attempts to build a cause and effect relationship between an independent variable and a dependent variable
  • Correlational  – as the name suggests, correlational design allows the researcher to establish some kind of relation between two closely related topics or variables

Types of qualitative research design:

  • Case studies  – a detailed study of a specific subject (place, event, organization)
  • Ethnographic research  – in-depth observational studies of people in their natural environment (this research aims to understand the cultures, challenges, motivations and settings of those involved)
  • Grounded theory  – collecting rich data on a topic of interest and developing theories inductively
  • Phenomenology  – investigating a phenomenon or event by describing and interpreting the shared experiences of participants
  • Narrative research  – examining how stories are told to understand how participants perceive and make sense of their experiences

Other subsets of qualitative and quantitative research design

  • Exploratory  – explores a new subject area by taking a holistic viewpoint and gathering foundational insights
  • Cross-sectional  – provides a snapshot of a moment in time to reflect the state
  • Longitudinal  – provides several snapshots of the same sample over a period to understand causal relationships
  • Mixed methods  – provide a bespoke application of design subsets to create more precise and nuanced results
  • Observational  – involves observing participants’ ongoing behavior in a natural situation

Let’s talk about these research methods in more detail.


As a subset of  quantitative  research design types, experimental research design aims to control variables in an experiment to test a hypothesis. Researchers will alter one of the variables to see how it affects the others.

Experimental research design provides an understanding of the causal relationships between two variables – which variable impacts the other, to what extent they are affected, and how consistent is the effect if the experiment is repeated.

To incorporate experimental research design, researchers create an artificial environment to more easily control the variables affecting participants. This can include creating two groups of participants – one acting as a control group to provide normal data readings, and another that has a variable altered. Therefore, having representative and random groups of participants can give better results to compare.

Sample population split into intervention and control groups

Image source: World Bank Blogs


Descriptive research design is a subset of  qualitative  design research and, unlike experimental design research, it provides descriptive insights on participants by observing participants in an uncontrolled, geographically-bound natural environment.

This type gives information on the current state of participants when faced with variables or changing circumstances. It helps answer who, what, when, where, and how questions on behaviour, but it can’t provide a clear understanding of the why.

To incorporate a descriptive research design, researchers create situations where observation of participants can happen without notice. In capturing the information, researchers can analyse data to understand the different variables at play or find additional research areas to investigate.


Exploratory research design aims to investigate an area where little is known about the subject and there are no prior examples to draw insight from. Researchers want to gain insights into the foundational data (who, what, when, where, and how) and the deeper level data (the why).

Therefore, an exploratory research design is flexible and a subset of both  quantitative  and  qualitative  research design.

Like descriptive research design, this type of research method is used at the beginning stages of research to get a broader view, before proceeding with further research.

To incorporate exploratory research design, researchers will use several methods to gain the right data. These can include focus groups, surveys, interviews in person or on the phone, secondary desk research, controlled experiments, and observation in a natural setting.


Just like slicing through a tomato gives us a slice of the whole fruit, cross-sectional research design gives us a slice representing a specific point in time. Researchers can observe different groups at the same time to discover what makes the participant behaviour different from one another and how behaviour correlates. This is then used to form assumptions that can be further tested.

There are two types to consider. In descriptive cross-sectional research design, researchers do not get involved or influence the participants through any controls, so this research design type is a subset of  quantitative  research design. Researchers will use methods that provide a descriptive (who, what, when, where, and how) understanding of the cross-section. This can be done by survey or observation, though researcher bias can be an undesirable outcome if the method is not conscious of this.

Analytical cross-sectional research design looks at the why behind the outcome found in the cross-section, aligning this as a subset of  qualitative  research design. This understanding can be gained through emailed surveys. To gain stronger insights, group sample selection can be altered from a random selection of participants to researchers selecting participants into groups based on their differences.

Since only one cross-section is taken, this can be a cheaper and quicker way to carry out research when resources are limited. Yet, no causal relationships can be gained by comparing data across time, unlike longitudinal research design.


Longitudinal research design takes multiple measures from the same participants or groups over an extended period. These repeated observations enable researchers to track variables, identify correlations and see if there are causal relationships that can confirm hypothesis predictions.

As the research design is focused on understanding the why behind the data, this is a subset of  qualitative  research design. However, the real-time data collection at each point in time will also require analysis based on the quantitative markers found through  quantitative  research design.

Researchers can incorporate longitudinal research design by using methods like panel studies for collecting primary data first-hand. The study can be retrospective (based on event data that has already occurred) or prospective (based on event data that is yet to happen).

While being the most useful method to get the data you need to address your business concern, this can be time-consuming and there can be issues with maintaining the integrity of the sample over time. Alternatively, you can use existing data sets to provide historical trends (which could be verified through a cross-sectional research design).

Mixed methods

Mixed methods aim to provide an advanced and bespoke response to solving your business problem. It combines the methods and subsets above to create a tailored method that gives researchers flexibility and options for carrying out research.

The mixed-method research design gives a thorough holistic view of the layers of data through  quantitative  and  qualitative subset design methods. The resulting data is strengthened by the application of context and scale (quantitative) in alignment with the meaning behind behaviour (qualitative), giving a richer picture of participants.

Mixed method research design is useful for getting greater ‘texture’ to your data, resulting in precise and meaningful information for analysis. The disadvantages and boundaries of a single subset can be offset by the benefits of using another to complement the investigation.

This subset does place more responsibility on the researcher to apply the subset designs appropriately to gain the right information. The data is interpreted and assessed by the researcher for its validity to the end results, so there is potential for researcher bias if they miss out on vital information that skews results.

Visual Graphs of mixed methods

Image Source: Full Stack Researcher

Find the research design method(s) that work for you

No matter what information you want to find out — there’s a research design method that’s right for you.

However, it’s up to you to determine which of the methods above are the most viable and can deliver the insight you need. Remember, each research method has its advantages and disadvantages.

It’s also important to bear in mind (at all times), the key considerations before your research project:

  • Do you want to use a qualitative or quantitative approach?
  • Are there any challenges or objections to conducting your research — and if so, how can you address them?.

But if you’re unsure about where to begin, start by answering these questions with our decision tree:

research design diagram

Image Source: Research Gate

If you need more help, why not try speaking to one of our Qualtrics team members?

Our team of experts can help you with all your  market research  needs — from designing your study and finding respondents, to fielding it and reporting on the results.


eBook: How to get inclusive research design right

Related resources

Market intelligence 9 min read, qualitative research questions 11 min read, ethnographic research 11 min read, business research methods 12 min read, qualitative research design 12 min read, business research 10 min read, qualitative research interviews 11 min read, request demo.

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How to Do Market Research for a Business Plan Successfully

research methodology for business plan

The entrepreneurial-minded folks may long have wondered how to do market research for a business plan. 

After all, a business plan lays out the foundation, purpose and expectations of a new business venture. Given that the risks of starting a new business are manifold , entrepreneurs must conduct market research.

20% of American businesses fail after only their first year of operation, a dismal reality that climbs to 30% after two years.

Newfound entrepreneurs and serial entrepreneurs alike should therefore carefully commit to and execute a business plan.

While market research applies to a wide breadth of applications that cover various business cycles and processes, including opening and operating a new business, it too can be used for producing a 

This article expounds upon how to do market research for a business plan — and succeed in your venture.

Defining A Business Plan and Its Needs

Before you set out to formulate a business plan, it is vital to fully understand all that it entails. Usually created for startups, it is necessary for all businesses to implement. 

A business plan is a written document that summarizes the main aspects of starting up and managing a business, making it the foundation for your business .

A business plan specifically details a business’s objectives, along with its financial, marketing and operational needs and a roadmap thereof. 

It is created to guide a business through each stage in its establishment and management.  As such, it allows business owners to lay out their needs and goals and track them as the business grows.

A business plan must be updated at regular intervals , as priorities and goals are subject to change. Additionally, when an established business moves in a different direction, it needs a new or completely updated business plan.  

The Importance of a Business Plan

A business plan is an important document and not merely for the purpose of monitoring your business as it develops. This is because this document is also needed to obtain investment , especially in the early stages of the business, in which it does not have an evidential track record.

Thus, a business plan shows investors whether your business is on the right course and is worth investing their funds into. Lenders will require proof of a business plan when they deliberate the approval of a loan. 

Here are several other reasons as to why creating and updating a business plan is important:

  • Making important decisions. It allows you to answer difficult questions at the onset, before they emerge. Understanding these decisions helps you understand how they fit into your overall strategy.
  • Addressing key issues to avoid future problems . These include pricing, competition evaluation, market demand, capital and team members.
  • Proving the viability of your business . Planning your vision into a full-fledged business bridges the gap between an idea and reality. Market research is essential for this point, as it helps you find key insights on various aspects of your industry, including your competitors and customers. 
  • Communicating objectives with team members and all those involved . This is important for larger teams, particularly for assistance when you are too busy to relay information or guidance to your team members. This may also help investors or partners who cannot reach you, as it lays out objectives and criteria.
  • Standardizing and carrying out key objectives . Placing your objectives, criteria and other needs gives them more weight and attention. If they aren’t in your business plan, thereby, in writing, they can easily fall by the wayside. A business plan helps avoid this, standardizing key objectives and benchmarks.
  • Guiding consultants, freelancers and other workers . When employing freelancers and contractors, you can turn to specific sections of a business plan to guide these workers, to ensure they understand your vision, goal and other key business aspects.
  • Obtaining financial support. Whether it is via borrowing from a bank, turning to venture capitalists or putting your business up for an acquisition, a business plan makes your business and its viability clear for these key financial players. 
  • Acclimating to market changes . Updating your business plan can help you during periods of critical change in your market. These changes include: changes in customer needs, new regulations, trends or updates in your industry.

Defining Market Research

Market Research is a wide-encompassing practice that involves gathering information to bolster knowledge about a business’s industry, niche and target market . 

It involves the systematic process of amassing, analyzing and interpreting data and information around the state of a business’s industry and its key actors . The key actors entail a business’s target market, competitors and the movers and shakers within its industry.

As such, it involves gathering research around the niche, trends and industry as a whole. 

This involves gathering secondary research , research that has already been conducted and made available, along with primary research , the kind that requires you to conduct yourself. These main types of research gathering involve various means, techniques and tools that researchers can use.

Market research largely deals with evaluating the viability of a new product or service, although this aspect is primarily referred to as customer development . By conducting market research, you can therefore gather information on virtually all areas of your business. 

Why a Business Plan Needs Market Research

A potent document, one that properly lays out the 7 components of a business plan , from the executive summary, to the market analysis, to the strategy, financial plan and all other in-betweens, most use market research to develop it. 

Market research provides the key data, information and nuances your business plan needs. Although a new business or business idea is born on intuition, a business plan must be backed up with data to prove its viability and positioning in its industry. 

As such, market research must be performed in the early stages of the business plan, as it is the phase in which you learn all about your niche, its trends and the demands of your target market (including the makeup of your target market via market segmentation ).

Only after analyzing all of your market research results, will you be able to populate the business plan within key areas such as market analysis, financial projections, strategy and implementation, marketing endeavors, pricing and location . 

A business plan must be comprehensive, another way in which market research is of utmost importance, in that there are various methods and tools you can use to conduct it. By consolidating all of the different market research techniques , you are establishing an exhaustive business plan, the kind that leaves no key consideration out.

research methodology for business plan

The following presents the key data and information of a business plan that market research can extract:

  • Demand : Does your product/service have enough market potential to justify a new business?
  • Pricing : How will you determine the pricing of your offerings? 
  • Target Market : Who makes up your target market? Do they have enough spending power to buy your product or service?
  • Location : Does your business require opening a physical store or can it effectively reach its target market via ecommerce? Perhaps it needs both?
  • Historic data on your product/ service : How have the products and services in your niche performed over time? How do they perform currently? 
  • Marketing and Market Entry : How will you form an explanation on how you’ll enter the market? How will you promote your products/services to solidify your entry?
  • Labor Requirements : Do you have enough manpower to form a business? How many employees and contractors will your business require?
  • Financial Plan : Do you have the financial means to cover all operations?

How to Conduct Market Research for a Business Plan

Since a business plan ought to include concrete information to pave the way for business success, it requires thorough market research. Given that market research encompasses so many modes and forms, it can be overwhelming and even intimidating to begin to conduct it for your business plan.

The following provides a step-by-step guide on how to do market research for a business plan, so you can craft your plan in an informed manner, equipped with critical market research.

research methodology for business plan

  • First, search the secondary sources available; while some are free, there will be many that aren’t.
  • Then, narrow it down to a specific niche, with suspected market segments.
  • Focus your research via secondary sources on your market. Look at trade publications, new sites dedicated to your market, industry reports, local reports, statistics websites, blogs on the startups in your niche, including their stories of success and failure and other secondary resources.
  • Conduct further secondary research on your priorities.
  • Then, switch to primary research methods to zero in on your most critical research subjects.
  • You can achieve this by conducting secondary research on your target market.
  • Use an online survey, a focus group or a survey panel .
  • Segment your target market further and start building personas from the shared characteristics they exhibit.
  • Be sure to find similar offerings available to identify your competitors.
  • Survey your target market on their needs and feelings towards similar products/services, along with their aversions and desires for updates.
  • This will help you understand how to set up your prices as well.
  • Research the costs of marketing and publicizing the launch of your business.
  • Compare all costs and establish a preliminary business budget.
  • Jot down their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Compare your offering to theirs, does it fill any gaps or voids? Is it better price-wise?
  • Break this down from high to low levels of research. Ex: From the general industry to the exact niche, from a large target market, to specific segments, to specific personas.
  • Adjust your budget, goals and plans.
  • The executive summary, company description, products and services, market analysis, strategy and implementation, organization and management, financial plan and projections.
  • Assure that everything makes sense. If there are gaps in the information you have outlined, consider conducting more research.
  • Highlight areas of opportunity, along with areas of risk. 
  • Edit your business plan as needed.

Empowering Your Market Research-Powered Business Plan

Market research is a wide-reaching practice that blends consumer behavior and economic trends to help you validate and improve a business idea. It can also help you change the course or style of an already established business.

Thus, it is not solely for startups. Market research can be difficult to conduct and manage , as there are so many business aspects you’ll need to consider to lower your risk of failure. Concurrently, there is so many kinds of market research you can stand to conduct.

Even with the steps listed above, navigating through the jungle of market research can be a laborious and difficult task. While you can’t control secondary resources, you can wield control of your primary research endeavors via an online survey platform . 

This kind of market research tool allows you to take the reigns in every aspect: from asking the exact questions you seek answers to , to targeting a specific market segment , to deploying your surveys across the most-frequented websites and apps. 

A potent survey platform will complete all of these crucial tasks , making primary research an easy task. The trick is to find an online survey platform that can handle all of these tasks, along with making it easy to analyze the data.

Do you want to distribute your survey? Pollfish offers you access to millions of targeted consumers to get survey responses from $0.95 per complete. Launch your survey today.

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The Best Ways to Do Market Research for Your Business Plan Showing that you know the state of the market and understand what you need to do to succeed is critical in a business plan. Here's how to gather the facts you need.

By The Staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc. • Jan 20, 2015

In their book Write Your Business Plan , the staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc. offer an in-depth understanding of what's essential to any business plan, what's appropriate for your venture, and what it takes to ensure success. In this edited excerpt, the authors discuss the whys and hows of conducting market research.

Market research aims to understand the reasons consumers will buy your product. It studies such things as consumer behavior, including how cultural, societal and personal factors influence that behavior.

Market research is further split into two varieties: primary and secondary. Primary research studies customers directly, whereas secondary research studies information that others have gathered about customers. Primary research might be telephone interviews or online polls with randomly selected members of the target group. You can also study your own sales records to gather primary research. Secondary research might come from reports found on the websites of various other organizations or blogs written about the industry. For your plan, you can use either type of research or a combination of both.

The basic questions you'll try to answer with your market research include:

Who are your customers? Describe them in terms of age, occupation, income, lifestyle, educational attainment, etc.

What do they buy now? Describe their buying habits relating to your product or service, including how much they buy, their favored suppliers, the most popular features and the predominant price points.

Why do they buy? This is the tricky one, attempting as it does to delve into consumers' heads. Answers will depend on the product and its uses. Cookware buyers may buy the products that offer the most effective nonstick surfaces, or those that give the most pans in a package for a given amount of money, or those that come in the most decorative colors.

What will make them buy from you? Although some of these questions may seem difficult, you'd be surprised at the detailed information that's available about markets, sales figures and consumer buying motivations. Tapping information sources to provide the answers to as many questions as you can will make your plan more convincing and your odds of success higher. Also, the business plan software programs have detailed research included and online research available. Utilize this functionality if you're using such software, and add additional data you find elsewhere. The reason to add some of your own unique material is that everyone using the software program is tapping into the same database and you want your business plan to differ from that of the last entrepreneur in your field.

You can also find companies that will sell you everything from industry studies to credit reports on individual companies. Market research isn't cheap. It requires significant amounts of expertise, manpower and technology to develop solid research. Large companies routinely spend tens of thousands of dollars researching things they ultimately decide they're not interested in. Smaller firms can't afford to do that too often.

For companies of all sizes, the best market research is the research you do on your own. In-house market research might take the form of original telephone interviews with consumers, customized crunching of numbers from published sources or perhaps competitive intelligence you've gathered on your rivals through the social media. You can gather detailed research on customers, including their likes, dislikes and preferences, through Facebook, and use Google Analytics to sort out the numbers as they pertain to your web visitors. People are researching and making their opinions felt through their actions on the web, so you can gain a lot of marketing insight by looking closely at what is going on electronically.

You'll also want to do your due diligence within your industry. When looking at comparable businesses (and their data), find a close match. For comparative purposes, consider:

1. Companies of relative size

2. Companies serving the same geographic area, which could be global if you are planning to be a web-based business

3. Companies with a similar ownership structure. If your business has two partners, look for businesses run by a couple of partners rather than an advisory board of 12.

4. Companies that are relatively new. While you can learn from long-standing businesses, they may be successful today because of their 25-year business history and reputation.

You'll want to use the data you've gathered not only to determine how much business you could possibly do but also to figure out how you'll fit into and adapt to the marketplace.

Follow these steps to spending your market research dollars wisely:

1. Determine what you need to know about your market. The more focused the research, the more valuable it will be.

2. Prioritize the results of the first step. You can't research everything, so concentrate on the information that will give you the best (or quickest) payback.

3. Review less-expensive research alternatives. Small Business Development Centers and the Small Business Administration can help you develop customer surveys. Your trade association will have good secondary research. Be creative.

4. Estimate the cost of performing the research yourself. Keep in mind that with the internet you should not have to spend a ton of money. If you're considering hiring a consultant or a researcher, remember this is your dream, these are your goals, and this is your business. Don't pay for what you don't need.

Entrepreneur Staff

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How to Create a Market Research Plan

Table of contents.

research methodology for business plan

While having a great idea is an important part of establishing a business, you’ll only get so far without laying the proper groundwork. To help your business take off, not only do you need to size up the competition, but you also need to identify who will buy your product, how much it will cost, the best approach to selling it and how many people will demand it.

To get answers to these questions, you’ll need a market research plan, which you can create yourself or pay a specialist to create for you. Market research plans define an existing problem and/or outline an opportunity. From there, the marketing strategy is broken down task by task. Your plan should include objectives and the methods that you’ll use to achieve those objectives, along with a time frame for completing the work.

What should a market research plan include?

A market research plan should provide a thorough examination of how your product or service will fare in a defined area. It should include:

  • An examination of the current marketplace and an analysis of the need for your product or service: To know where you fit in the market, it’s important to have a broad understanding of your industry — covering everything from its annual revenue to the industry standards to the total number of businesses operating within it. Start by gathering statistical data from sources like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and BMI Research and consider the industry’s market size, potential customer base and how external factors such as laws, technology, world events and socioeconomic changes impact it.
  • An assessment of the competition: By analyzing your competitors, you can discover strategies to fill market gaps. This involves identifying well-known competitors and noting trends they employ successfully, scrutinizing customer feedback about businesses in your sector, such as through online reviews, and understanding competitors’ product or service offerings. This knowledge can then guide the refinement of your own products or services to differentiate them from others in the market.
  • Data about customers: Identify which segment of potential customers in your industry you can effectively target, considering their demographics — such as age, ethnicity, income and location and psychographics, including beliefs, values and lifestyle. Learn about the challenges your customers face in their daily lives and determine how the features and benefits of your offerings address their needs.
  • The direction for your marketing in the upcoming year: Your plan should provide a clear roadmap for your marketing strategies for the next year, focusing on approaches to distinguish your brand from competitors. Develop marketing messages that resonate with and display empathy toward your target market and find ways to address customers’ needs and demonstrate value.
  • Goals to be met: Outline goals your business would like to achieve and make these goals clear to all employees on your team. Create goals that are realistic and attainable while also making a meaningful impact on the business’s growth. Consider factors including your target number of products or services, the expected number of units to sell based on market size, target market behavior, pricing for each item and the cost of production and advertising.

How to create your market research plan

Doing business without having a marketing plan is like driving without directions. You may eventually reach your destination, but there will be many costly and time-consuming mistakes made along the way.

Many entrepreneurs mistakenly believe there is a big demand for their service or product but, in reality, there may not be, your prices may be too high or too low or you may be going into a business with so many restrictions that it’s almost impossible to be successful. A market research plan will help you uncover significant issues or roadblocks.

Step 1. Conduct a comprehensive situation analysis.

One of the first steps in constructing your marketing plan is to create a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis , which is used to identify your competition, to know how they operate and then to understand their strengths and weaknesses.

When developing a market research plan, it is essential that you do your homework to determine your possible customer base, to gain knowledge about the competition and to have a solid foundation for your marketing strategy.

Step 2: Develop clear marketing objectives.

In this section, describe the desired outcome for your marketing plan with realistic and attainable objectives, the targets and a clear and concise time frame. The most common way to approach this is with marketing objectives, which may include the total number of customers and the retention rate, the average volume of purchases, total market share and the proportion of your potential market that makes purchases.

Step 3: Make a financial plan.

A financial plan is essentia l for creating a solid marketing plan. The financial plan answers a range of questions that are critical components of your business, such as how much you intend to sell, what will you charge, how much will it cost to deliver your services or produce your products, how much will it cost for your basic operating expenses and how much financing will you need to operate your business.

In your business plan, be sure to describe who you are, what your business will be about, your business goals and what your inspiration was to buy, begin or grow your business.

Step 4: Determine your target audience.

Once you know what makes you stand out from your competitors and how you’ll market yourself, you should decide who to target with all this information. That’s why your market research plan should delineate your target audience. What are their demographics and how will these qualities affect your plan? How do your company’s current products and services affect which consumers you can realistically make customers? Will that change in the future? All of these questions should be answered in your plan.

Step 5: List your research methods.

Rarely does one research avenue make for a comprehensive market research plan. Instead, your plan should indicate several methods that will be used to determine the market share you can realistically obtain. This way, you get as much information as possible from as many sources as possible. The result is a more robust path toward establishing the exact footprint you desire for your company.

A good market research plan involves using more than one type of research to obtain the information you need.

Step 6: Establish a timeline.

With your plan in place, you’ll need to figure out how long your market research process will take. Project management charts are often helpful in this regard as they divide tasks and personnel over a timeframe that you have set. No matter which type of project management chart you use, try to build some flexibility into your timeframe. A two-week buffer toward the home stretch comes in handy when a process scheduled for one week takes two — that buffer will keep you on deadline.

Step 7: Acknowledge ethical concerns.

Market research always presents opportunities for ethical missteps. After all, you’ll need to obtain competitor information and sensitive financial data that may not always be readily available. Your market research plan should thus encourage your team to not take any dicey steps to obtain this information. It may be better to state, “we could not obtain this competitor information,” than to spy on the competitor or pressure their current employees for knowledge. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with simply feeling better about the final state of your plan and how you got it there.

Using a market research firm

If the thought of trying to create your own market research plan seems daunting or too time-consuming, there are plenty of other people willing to do the work for you.

You don’t need to pay thousands of dollars for assistance crafting a market research plan. University business schools often provide free resources that can assist you.

Pros of using a market research firm

As an objective third party, businesses can benefit from a market research firm’s impartial perspective and guidance, helping to shape impactful brand strategies and marketing campaigns. These firms, which can help businesses with everything from their marketing campaigns to brand launches, deliver precise results, drawing on their expertise and experience to provide in-depth insights and solutions tailored specifically to your company’s needs. 

Even more, working with a market research firm can elevate a brand above the competition, as they provide credible and unique research that is highly valued by the media, enhancing brand credibility and potentially increasing website traffic, social media shares and online visibility.

Cons of using a market research firm

Although hiring a firm can provide businesses with tremendous results, certain downsides can lead a business toward the do-it-yourself route. Most notably, market research firms can be a costly expense that some businesses can’t afford. However, businesses that can allocate the funds will likely see a positive return on investment, as they are paying for the expertise and proficiency of seasoned professionals in the field.

Additionally, finding the right market research firm for your business’s needs can take some time — and even longer, ranging from weeks to months, for a market research firm to complete a plan. This lack of immediate results can be detrimental for businesses that don’t have the time to wait. 

Market research firms can charge into the thousands of dollars for a market research plan, but there are ways to get help more affordably, including:

  • Outline your plans carefully and spell out objectives.
  • Examine as many sources as possible.
  • Before paying for any information, check with librarians, small business development centers or market research professors to see if they can help you access market research data for free.
  • You may think you’ll need to spend a hefty sum to create a market research plan, but there are plenty of free and low-cost sources available, especially through university business schools that will guide you through the process.

Miranda Fraraccio contributed to this article. 


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  • How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

Published on October 12, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on November 21, 2023.

Structure of a research proposal

A research proposal describes what you will investigate, why it’s important, and how you will conduct your research.

The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals will contain at least these elements:


Literature review.

  • Research design

Reference list

While the sections may vary, the overall objective is always the same. A research proposal serves as a blueprint and guide for your research plan, helping you get organized and feel confident in the path forward you choose to take.

Table of contents

Research proposal purpose, research proposal examples, research design and methods, contribution to knowledge, research schedule, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research proposals.

Academics often have to write research proposals to get funding for their projects. As a student, you might have to write a research proposal as part of a grad school application , or prior to starting your thesis or dissertation .

In addition to helping you figure out what your research can look like, a proposal can also serve to demonstrate why your project is worth pursuing to a funder, educational institution, or supervisor.

Research proposal length

The length of a research proposal can vary quite a bit. A bachelor’s or master’s thesis proposal can be just a few pages, while proposals for PhD dissertations or research funding are usually much longer and more detailed. Your supervisor can help you determine the best length for your work.

One trick to get started is to think of your proposal’s structure as a shorter version of your thesis or dissertation , only without the results , conclusion and discussion sections.

Download our research proposal template

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Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We’ve included a few for you below.

  • Example research proposal #1: “A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management”
  • Example research proposal #2: “Medical Students as Mediators of Change in Tobacco Use”

Like your dissertation or thesis, the proposal will usually have a title page that includes:

  • The proposed title of your project
  • Your supervisor’s name
  • Your institution and department

The first part of your proposal is the initial pitch for your project. Make sure it succinctly explains what you want to do and why.

Your introduction should:

  • Introduce your topic
  • Give necessary background and context
  • Outline your  problem statement  and research questions

To guide your introduction , include information about:

  • Who could have an interest in the topic (e.g., scientists, policymakers)
  • How much is already known about the topic
  • What is missing from this current knowledge
  • What new insights your research will contribute
  • Why you believe this research is worth doing

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As you get started, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the most important research on your topic. A strong literature review  shows your reader that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge or theory. It also shows that you’re not simply repeating what other people have already done or said, but rather using existing research as a jumping-off point for your own.

In this section, share exactly how your project will contribute to ongoing conversations in the field by:

  • Comparing and contrasting the main theories, methods, and debates
  • Examining the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches
  • Explaining how will you build on, challenge, or synthesize prior scholarship

Following the literature review, restate your main  objectives . This brings the focus back to your own project. Next, your research design or methodology section will describe your overall approach, and the practical steps you will take to answer your research questions.

To finish your proposal on a strong note, explore the potential implications of your research for your field. Emphasize again what you aim to contribute and why it matters.

For example, your results might have implications for:

  • Improving best practices
  • Informing policymaking decisions
  • Strengthening a theory or model
  • Challenging popular or scientific beliefs
  • Creating a basis for future research

Last but not least, your research proposal must include correct citations for every source you have used, compiled in a reference list . To create citations quickly and easily, you can use our free APA citation generator .

Some institutions or funders require a detailed timeline of the project, asking you to forecast what you will do at each stage and how long it may take. While not always required, be sure to check the requirements of your project.

Here’s an example schedule to help you get started. You can also download a template at the button below.

Download our research schedule template

If you are applying for research funding, chances are you will have to include a detailed budget. This shows your estimates of how much each part of your project will cost.

Make sure to check what type of costs the funding body will agree to cover. For each item, include:

  • Cost : exactly how much money do you need?
  • Justification : why is this cost necessary to complete the research?
  • Source : how did you calculate the amount?

To determine your budget, think about:

  • Travel costs : do you need to go somewhere to collect your data? How will you get there, and how much time will you need? What will you do there (e.g., interviews, archival research)?
  • Materials : do you need access to any tools or technologies?
  • Help : do you need to hire any research assistants for the project? What will they do, and how much will you pay them?

If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.


  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility


  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement .

Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.

I will compare …

A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement , before your research objectives.

Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you’ll address the overarching aim.

A PhD, which is short for philosophiae doctor (doctor of philosophy in Latin), is the highest university degree that can be obtained. In a PhD, students spend 3–5 years writing a dissertation , which aims to make a significant, original contribution to current knowledge.

A PhD is intended to prepare students for a career as a researcher, whether that be in academia, the public sector, or the private sector.

A master’s is a 1- or 2-year graduate degree that can prepare you for a variety of careers.

All master’s involve graduate-level coursework. Some are research-intensive and intend to prepare students for further study in a PhD; these usually require their students to write a master’s thesis . Others focus on professional training for a specific career.

Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.

Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.

The best way to remember the difference between a research plan and a research proposal is that they have fundamentally different audiences. A research plan helps you, the researcher, organize your thoughts. On the other hand, a dissertation proposal or research proposal aims to convince others (e.g., a supervisor, a funding body, or a dissertation committee) that your research topic is relevant and worthy of being conducted.

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FLEET LIBRARY | Research Guides

Rhode island school of design, create a research plan: research plan.

  • Research Plan
  • Literature Review
  • Ulrich's Global Serials Directory
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A research plan is a framework that shows how you intend to approach your topic. The plan can take many forms: a written outline, a narrative, a visual/concept map or timeline. It's a document that will change and develop as you conduct your research. Components of a research plan

1. Research conceptualization - introduces your research question

2. Research methodology - describes your approach to the research question

3. Literature review, critical evaluation and synthesis - systematic approach to locating,

    reviewing and evaluating the work (text, exhibitions, critiques, etc) relating to your topic

4. Communication - geared toward an intended audience, shows evidence of your inquiry

Research conceptualization refers to the ability to identify specific research questions, problems or opportunities that are worthy of inquiry. Research conceptualization also includes the skills and discipline that go beyond the initial moment of conception, and which enable the researcher to formulate and develop an idea into something researchable ( Newbury 373).

Research methodology refers to the knowledge and skills required to select and apply appropriate methods to carry through the research project ( Newbury 374) .

Method describes a single mode of proceeding; methodology describes the overall process.

Method - a way of doing anything especially according to a defined and regular plan; a mode of procedure in any activity

Methodology - the study of the direction and implications of empirical research, or the sustainability of techniques employed in it; a method or body of methods used in a particular field of study or activity *Browse a list of research methodology books  or this guide on Art & Design Research

Literature Review, critical evaluation & synthesis

A literature review is a systematic approach to locating, reviewing, and evaluating the published work and work in progress of scholars, researchers, and practitioners on a given topic.

Critical evaluation and synthesis is the ability to handle (or process) existing sources. It includes knowledge of the sources of literature and contextual research field within which the person is working ( Newbury 373).

Literature reviews are done for many reasons and situations. Here's a short list:

Sources to consult while conducting a literature review:

Online catalogs of local, regional, national, and special libraries

meta-catalogs such as worldcat , Art Discovery Group , europeana , world digital library or RIBA

subject-specific online article databases (such as the Avery Index, JSTOR, Project Muse)

digital institutional repositories such as Digital Commons @RISD ; see Registry of Open Access Repositories

Open Access Resources recommended by RISD Research LIbrarians

works cited in scholarly books and articles

print bibliographies

the internet-locate major nonprofit, research institutes, museum, university, and government websites

search google scholar to locate grey literature & referenced citations

trade and scholarly publishers

fellow scholars and peers


Communication refers to the ability to

  • structure a coherent line of inquiry
  • communicate your findings to your intended audience
  • make skilled use of visual material to express ideas for presentations, writing, and the creation of exhibitions ( Newbury 374)

Research plan framework: Newbury, Darren. "Research Training in the Creative Arts and Design." The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts . Ed. Michael Biggs and Henrik Karlsson. New York: Routledge, 2010. 368-87. Print.

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Except where otherwise noted, this guide is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution license

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The Best Research Techniques for Your Business

research methodology for business plan

Companies that understand precisely what their customers need do an excellent job of fostering customer satisfaction and retention. The value of retention is unmatched, considering boosting customer retention rates by just  5% increases profits  anywhere from 25% to 95%, according to Bain & Company.

However, it’s critical to remember that the ability to obtain a complete view of your customer depends largely on the integration of accurate data from different sources, including CRM data, marketing analytics, and, especially, market research.

Additionally, your business decisions are only reliable if your data collection methods are solid. In other words, if you miss the boat when it comes to collecting data, then your business decisions won’t be based on accurate results.

Choosing the right techniques to conduct market research is the first step to beneficial data collection. This article will provide a quick overview of the five types of market research techniques you can use, and when you should use each different method.

5 types of research techniques for your business

When it comes to market research techniques, you have five main options. Here is a brief overview of each type of research technique.

Surveys are one of the most popular quantitative research methods , but they can also be used to collect qualitative data. Surveys include a series of well thought out questions related to your research objective. When using a survey, researchers will distribute the questionnaire to a sampling that is representative of their overall population or customer base. 

With enough participants, researchers can elicit data that provides information about customer attitudes toward products, marketing, customer service, and more. You can distribute surveys face-to-face, but most market researchers distribute surveys using an online tool like Qualtrics or Survey Monkey.

2. Interviews

Interviews are another excellent research method, and best used when you need to gather more information that you would need from a short survey. Interviews are a guided conversation where the researcher is asking pre-determined questions to a participant. 

Depending on what you need from an interview, you can either have a set batch of questions that you ask every interviewee, or you can create a guide of questions that will help lead the interviewer through the conversation. You can conduct an interview face-to-face, on the phone, or online.

3. Observation

One caveat to interviews is sometimes interviewees will self-report data that isn’t completely true. In other words, they will report what they think they do, which is different from what they do. 

Some market researchers will conduct a site visit where they observe interactions outside a traditional lab in a natural environment. Other times, researchers will bring participants into a lab with controlled variables and observe them there.

4. Focus Groups

A focus group is a qualitative research method where researchers bring in a small sampling of their target population. During a focus group, researchers will ask their participants detailed questions about their perceptions, attitudes, opinions, beliefs, and experiences with regards to a service, product, or idea. 

Testing is a research technique that involves market researchers either observing participants use a product, service, or interface to determine utility, or getting customer feedback on what they like best about a product, website, advertisement, etc. There are several different types of tests. Here is a closer look at some popular market research tests.

Usability testing : Usability testing is when market researchers elicit the help of a group of representative users to determine how easy a design is to use. Market researchers will usually observe users while they try and complete tasks for different designs. Usability tests are often repeated so developers can work out all the bugs before launch.

A/B testing : A/B testing is a type of test that presents two versions of a website, Option A and Option B, where only one variable is different. Based on user feedback, or observation, researchers can determine which website option is more effective.

Copy testing:  Copy testing is a market research method that helps leaders determine the effectiveness of an advertisement. Researchers draw conclusions based on consumer responses, behavior, and feedback.

Testing is an excellent way to find out what your target audience prefers before launching a product, interface, website, or marketing campaign.

Which research technique is best?

Each of the five market research techniques is valuable in their own way. Determining when to use which method depends on your research question and what you are trying to accomplish with your study. Here is a quick overview of when to use each different research technique.

When should you use a survey?

A survey is a good market research technique when you have a simple and defined question that you want an answer to. For example, a C-SAT (or customer satisfaction survey) will tell you how satisfied your customers are with a product or customer service experience.

When should you use an interview?

An interview is a good tool to use when you need to delve deeper than a typical survey will allow. For example, you may want to know how a customer feels about your products compared to a competitor’s product. An interview can help you get detailed and emotional responses.

When should you use an observation?

An observation is an excellent market research technique when you need to understand how your target customers behave in their natural environment. It is also a good technique to use if you’re worried that self-reported answers won’t be accurate.

When should you use a focus group?

Focus groups are an excellent tool when you want direct feedback in the form of a conversation from a small group of product users or potential customers.

When should you use testing as a market research tool?

Market researchers should engage in testing any time they want to work out bugs before launching a new interface. Testing is also a great technique to use to see what your audience will respond to better before you launch a new campaign, website, or product.

To make data-driven business decisions, you must engage in market research. Each of the five market research techniques listed above will provide different and valuable insight into business questions you need to be answered to stay competitive. 

For more information about how to conduct quality market research and for a look at a tool that will help you with data analysis, request a Fuel Cycle demo today.

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Research Method

Home » Research Methodology – Types, Examples and writing Guide

Research Methodology – Types, Examples and writing Guide

Table of Contents

Research Methodology

Research Methodology


Research Methodology refers to the systematic and scientific approach used to conduct research, investigate problems, and gather data and information for a specific purpose. It involves the techniques and procedures used to identify, collect , analyze , and interpret data to answer research questions or solve research problems . Moreover, They are philosophical and theoretical frameworks that guide the research process.

Structure of Research Methodology

Research methodology formats can vary depending on the specific requirements of the research project, but the following is a basic example of a structure for a research methodology section:

I. Introduction

  • Provide an overview of the research problem and the need for a research methodology section
  • Outline the main research questions and objectives

II. Research Design

  • Explain the research design chosen and why it is appropriate for the research question(s) and objectives
  • Discuss any alternative research designs considered and why they were not chosen
  • Describe the research setting and participants (if applicable)

III. Data Collection Methods

  • Describe the methods used to collect data (e.g., surveys, interviews, observations)
  • Explain how the data collection methods were chosen and why they are appropriate for the research question(s) and objectives
  • Detail any procedures or instruments used for data collection

IV. Data Analysis Methods

  • Describe the methods used to analyze the data (e.g., statistical analysis, content analysis )
  • Explain how the data analysis methods were chosen and why they are appropriate for the research question(s) and objectives
  • Detail any procedures or software used for data analysis

V. Ethical Considerations

  • Discuss any ethical issues that may arise from the research and how they were addressed
  • Explain how informed consent was obtained (if applicable)
  • Detail any measures taken to ensure confidentiality and anonymity

VI. Limitations

  • Identify any potential limitations of the research methodology and how they may impact the results and conclusions

VII. Conclusion

  • Summarize the key aspects of the research methodology section
  • Explain how the research methodology addresses the research question(s) and objectives

Research Methodology Types

Types of Research Methodology are as follows:

Quantitative Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves the collection and analysis of numerical data using statistical methods. This type of research is often used to study cause-and-effect relationships and to make predictions.

Qualitative Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves the collection and analysis of non-numerical data such as words, images, and observations. This type of research is often used to explore complex phenomena, to gain an in-depth understanding of a particular topic, and to generate hypotheses.

Mixed-Methods Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that combines elements of both quantitative and qualitative research. This approach can be particularly useful for studies that aim to explore complex phenomena and to provide a more comprehensive understanding of a particular topic.

Case Study Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves in-depth examination of a single case or a small number of cases. Case studies are often used in psychology, sociology, and anthropology to gain a detailed understanding of a particular individual or group.

Action Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves a collaborative process between researchers and practitioners to identify and solve real-world problems. Action research is often used in education, healthcare, and social work.

Experimental Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves the manipulation of one or more independent variables to observe their effects on a dependent variable. Experimental research is often used to study cause-and-effect relationships and to make predictions.

Survey Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves the collection of data from a sample of individuals using questionnaires or interviews. Survey research is often used to study attitudes, opinions, and behaviors.

Grounded Theory Research Methodology

This is a research methodology that involves the development of theories based on the data collected during the research process. Grounded theory is often used in sociology and anthropology to generate theories about social phenomena.

Research Methodology Example

An Example of Research Methodology could be the following:

Research Methodology for Investigating the Effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Reducing Symptoms of Depression in Adults


The aim of this research is to investigate the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in reducing symptoms of depression in adults. To achieve this objective, a randomized controlled trial (RCT) will be conducted using a mixed-methods approach.

Research Design:

The study will follow a pre-test and post-test design with two groups: an experimental group receiving CBT and a control group receiving no intervention. The study will also include a qualitative component, in which semi-structured interviews will be conducted with a subset of participants to explore their experiences of receiving CBT.


Participants will be recruited from community mental health clinics in the local area. The sample will consist of 100 adults aged 18-65 years old who meet the diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder. Participants will be randomly assigned to either the experimental group or the control group.

Intervention :

The experimental group will receive 12 weekly sessions of CBT, each lasting 60 minutes. The intervention will be delivered by licensed mental health professionals who have been trained in CBT. The control group will receive no intervention during the study period.

Data Collection:

Quantitative data will be collected through the use of standardized measures such as the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7). Data will be collected at baseline, immediately after the intervention, and at a 3-month follow-up. Qualitative data will be collected through semi-structured interviews with a subset of participants from the experimental group. The interviews will be conducted at the end of the intervention period, and will explore participants’ experiences of receiving CBT.

Data Analysis:

Quantitative data will be analyzed using descriptive statistics, t-tests, and mixed-model analyses of variance (ANOVA) to assess the effectiveness of the intervention. Qualitative data will be analyzed using thematic analysis to identify common themes and patterns in participants’ experiences of receiving CBT.

Ethical Considerations:

This study will comply with ethical guidelines for research involving human subjects. Participants will provide informed consent before participating in the study, and their privacy and confidentiality will be protected throughout the study. Any adverse events or reactions will be reported and managed appropriately.

Data Management:

All data collected will be kept confidential and stored securely using password-protected databases. Identifying information will be removed from qualitative data transcripts to ensure participants’ anonymity.


One potential limitation of this study is that it only focuses on one type of psychotherapy, CBT, and may not generalize to other types of therapy or interventions. Another limitation is that the study will only include participants from community mental health clinics, which may not be representative of the general population.


This research aims to investigate the effectiveness of CBT in reducing symptoms of depression in adults. By using a randomized controlled trial and a mixed-methods approach, the study will provide valuable insights into the mechanisms underlying the relationship between CBT and depression. The results of this study will have important implications for the development of effective treatments for depression in clinical settings.

How to Write Research Methodology

Writing a research methodology involves explaining the methods and techniques you used to conduct research, collect data, and analyze results. It’s an essential section of any research paper or thesis, as it helps readers understand the validity and reliability of your findings. Here are the steps to write a research methodology:

  • Start by explaining your research question: Begin the methodology section by restating your research question and explaining why it’s important. This helps readers understand the purpose of your research and the rationale behind your methods.
  • Describe your research design: Explain the overall approach you used to conduct research. This could be a qualitative or quantitative research design, experimental or non-experimental, case study or survey, etc. Discuss the advantages and limitations of the chosen design.
  • Discuss your sample: Describe the participants or subjects you included in your study. Include details such as their demographics, sampling method, sample size, and any exclusion criteria used.
  • Describe your data collection methods : Explain how you collected data from your participants. This could include surveys, interviews, observations, questionnaires, or experiments. Include details on how you obtained informed consent, how you administered the tools, and how you minimized the risk of bias.
  • Explain your data analysis techniques: Describe the methods you used to analyze the data you collected. This could include statistical analysis, content analysis, thematic analysis, or discourse analysis. Explain how you dealt with missing data, outliers, and any other issues that arose during the analysis.
  • Discuss the validity and reliability of your research : Explain how you ensured the validity and reliability of your study. This could include measures such as triangulation, member checking, peer review, or inter-coder reliability.
  • Acknowledge any limitations of your research: Discuss any limitations of your study, including any potential threats to validity or generalizability. This helps readers understand the scope of your findings and how they might apply to other contexts.
  • Provide a summary: End the methodology section by summarizing the methods and techniques you used to conduct your research. This provides a clear overview of your research methodology and helps readers understand the process you followed to arrive at your findings.

When to Write Research Methodology

Research methodology is typically written after the research proposal has been approved and before the actual research is conducted. It should be written prior to data collection and analysis, as it provides a clear roadmap for the research project.

The research methodology is an important section of any research paper or thesis, as it describes the methods and procedures that will be used to conduct the research. It should include details about the research design, data collection methods, data analysis techniques, and any ethical considerations.

The methodology should be written in a clear and concise manner, and it should be based on established research practices and standards. It is important to provide enough detail so that the reader can understand how the research was conducted and evaluate the validity of the results.

Applications of Research Methodology

Here are some of the applications of research methodology:

  • To identify the research problem: Research methodology is used to identify the research problem, which is the first step in conducting any research.
  • To design the research: Research methodology helps in designing the research by selecting the appropriate research method, research design, and sampling technique.
  • To collect data: Research methodology provides a systematic approach to collect data from primary and secondary sources.
  • To analyze data: Research methodology helps in analyzing the collected data using various statistical and non-statistical techniques.
  • To test hypotheses: Research methodology provides a framework for testing hypotheses and drawing conclusions based on the analysis of data.
  • To generalize findings: Research methodology helps in generalizing the findings of the research to the target population.
  • To develop theories : Research methodology is used to develop new theories and modify existing theories based on the findings of the research.
  • To evaluate programs and policies : Research methodology is used to evaluate the effectiveness of programs and policies by collecting data and analyzing it.
  • To improve decision-making: Research methodology helps in making informed decisions by providing reliable and valid data.

Purpose of Research Methodology

Research methodology serves several important purposes, including:

  • To guide the research process: Research methodology provides a systematic framework for conducting research. It helps researchers to plan their research, define their research questions, and select appropriate methods and techniques for collecting and analyzing data.
  • To ensure research quality: Research methodology helps researchers to ensure that their research is rigorous, reliable, and valid. It provides guidelines for minimizing bias and error in data collection and analysis, and for ensuring that research findings are accurate and trustworthy.
  • To replicate research: Research methodology provides a clear and detailed account of the research process, making it possible for other researchers to replicate the study and verify its findings.
  • To advance knowledge: Research methodology enables researchers to generate new knowledge and to contribute to the body of knowledge in their field. It provides a means for testing hypotheses, exploring new ideas, and discovering new insights.
  • To inform decision-making: Research methodology provides evidence-based information that can inform policy and decision-making in a variety of fields, including medicine, public health, education, and business.

Advantages of Research Methodology

Research methodology has several advantages that make it a valuable tool for conducting research in various fields. Here are some of the key advantages of research methodology:

  • Systematic and structured approach : Research methodology provides a systematic and structured approach to conducting research, which ensures that the research is conducted in a rigorous and comprehensive manner.
  • Objectivity : Research methodology aims to ensure objectivity in the research process, which means that the research findings are based on evidence and not influenced by personal bias or subjective opinions.
  • Replicability : Research methodology ensures that research can be replicated by other researchers, which is essential for validating research findings and ensuring their accuracy.
  • Reliability : Research methodology aims to ensure that the research findings are reliable, which means that they are consistent and can be depended upon.
  • Validity : Research methodology ensures that the research findings are valid, which means that they accurately reflect the research question or hypothesis being tested.
  • Efficiency : Research methodology provides a structured and efficient way of conducting research, which helps to save time and resources.
  • Flexibility : Research methodology allows researchers to choose the most appropriate research methods and techniques based on the research question, data availability, and other relevant factors.
  • Scope for innovation: Research methodology provides scope for innovation and creativity in designing research studies and developing new research techniques.

Research Methodology Vs Research Methods

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What is Research Methodology? Definition, Types, and Examples

research methodology for business plan

Research methodology 1,2 is a structured and scientific approach used to collect, analyze, and interpret quantitative or qualitative data to answer research questions or test hypotheses. A research methodology is like a plan for carrying out research and helps keep researchers on track by limiting the scope of the research. Several aspects must be considered before selecting an appropriate research methodology, such as research limitations and ethical concerns that may affect your research.

The research methodology section in a scientific paper describes the different methodological choices made, such as the data collection and analysis methods, and why these choices were selected. The reasons should explain why the methods chosen are the most appropriate to answer the research question. A good research methodology also helps ensure the reliability and validity of the research findings. There are three types of research methodology—quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-method, which can be chosen based on the research objectives.

What is research methodology ?

A research methodology describes the techniques and procedures used to identify and analyze information regarding a specific research topic. It is a process by which researchers design their study so that they can achieve their objectives using the selected research instruments. It includes all the important aspects of research, including research design, data collection methods, data analysis methods, and the overall framework within which the research is conducted. While these points can help you understand what is research methodology, you also need to know why it is important to pick the right methodology.

Why is research methodology important?

  • Helps other researchers who may want to replicate your research; the explanations will be of benefit to them.
  • You can easily answer any questions about your research if they arise at a later stage.
  • A research methodology provides a framework and guidelines for researchers to clearly define research questions, hypotheses, and objectives.
  • It helps researchers identify the most appropriate research design, sampling technique, and data collection and analysis methods.
  • A sound research methodology helps researchers ensure that their findings are valid and reliable and free from biases and errors.
  • It also helps ensure that ethical guidelines are followed while conducting research.
  • A good research methodology helps researchers in planning their research efficiently, by ensuring optimum usage of their time and resources.

Having a good research methodology in place has the following advantages: 3

Types of research methodology

There are three types of research methodology based on the type of research and the data required. 1

  • Quantitative research methodology focuses on measuring and testing numerical data. This approach is good for reaching a large number of people in a short amount of time. This type of research helps in testing the causal relationships between variables, making predictions, and generalizing results to wider populations.
  • Qualitative research methodology examines the opinions, behaviors, and experiences of people. It collects and analyzes words and textual data. This research methodology requires fewer participants but is still more time consuming because the time spent per participant is quite large. This method is used in exploratory research where the research problem being investigated is not clearly defined.
  • Mixed-method research methodology uses the characteristics of both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies in the same study. This method allows researchers to validate their findings, verify if the results observed using both methods are complementary, and explain any unexpected results obtained from one method by using the other method.

What are the types of sampling designs in research methodology?

Sampling 4 is an important part of a research methodology and involves selecting a representative sample of the population to conduct the study, making statistical inferences about them, and estimating the characteristics of the whole population based on these inferences. There are two types of sampling designs in research methodology—probability and nonprobability.

  • Probability sampling

In this type of sampling design, a sample is chosen from a larger population using some form of random selection, that is, every member of the population has an equal chance of being selected. The different types of probability sampling are:

  • Systematic —sample members are chosen at regular intervals. It requires selecting a starting point for the sample and sample size determination that can be repeated at regular intervals. This type of sampling method has a predefined range; hence, it is the least time consuming.
  • Stratified —researchers divide the population into smaller groups that don’t overlap but represent the entire population. While sampling, these groups can be organized, and then a sample can be drawn from each group separately.
  • Cluster —the population is divided into clusters based on demographic parameters like age, sex, location, etc.
  • Convenience —selects participants who are most easily accessible to researchers due to geographical proximity, availability at a particular time, etc.
  • Purposive —participants are selected at the researcher’s discretion. Researchers consider the purpose of the study and the understanding of the target audience.
  • Snowball —already selected participants use their social networks to refer the researcher to other potential participants.
  • Quota —while designing the study, the researchers decide how many people with which characteristics to include as participants. The characteristics help in choosing people most likely to provide insights into the subject.

What are data collection methods?

During research, data are collected using various methods depending on the research methodology being followed and the research methods being undertaken. Both qualitative and quantitative research have different data collection methods, as listed below.

Qualitative research 5

  • One-on-one interviews: Helps the interviewers understand a respondent’s subjective opinion and experience pertaining to a specific topic or event
  • Document study/literature review/record keeping: Researchers’ review of already existing written materials such as archives, annual reports, research articles, guidelines, policy documents, etc.
  • Focus groups: Constructive discussions that usually include a small sample of about 6-10 people and a moderator, to understand the participants’ opinion on a given topic.
  • Qualitative observation : Researchers collect data using their five senses (sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing).

Quantitative research 6

  • Sampling: The most common type is probability sampling.
  • Interviews: Commonly telephonic or done in-person.
  • Observations: Structured observations are most commonly used in quantitative research. In this method, researchers make observations about specific behaviors of individuals in a structured setting.
  • Document review: Reviewing existing research or documents to collect evidence for supporting the research.
  • Surveys and questionnaires. Surveys can be administered both online and offline depending on the requirement and sample size.

What are data analysis methods?

The data collected using the various methods for qualitative and quantitative research need to be analyzed to generate meaningful conclusions. These data analysis methods 7 also differ between quantitative and qualitative research.

Quantitative research involves a deductive method for data analysis where hypotheses are developed at the beginning of the research and precise measurement is required. The methods include statistical analysis applications to analyze numerical data and are grouped into two categories—descriptive and inferential.

Descriptive analysis is used to describe the basic features of different types of data to present it in a way that ensures the patterns become meaningful. The different types of descriptive analysis methods are:

  • Measures of frequency (count, percent, frequency)
  • Measures of central tendency (mean, median, mode)
  • Measures of dispersion or variation (range, variance, standard deviation)
  • Measure of position (percentile ranks, quartile ranks)

Inferential analysis is used to make predictions about a larger population based on the analysis of the data collected from a smaller population. This analysis is used to study the relationships between different variables. Some commonly used inferential data analysis methods are:

  • Correlation: To understand the relationship between two or more variables.
  • Cross-tabulation: Analyze the relationship between multiple variables.
  • Regression analysis: Study the impact of independent variables on the dependent variable.
  • Frequency tables: To understand the frequency of data.
  • Analysis of variance: To test the degree to which two or more variables differ in an experiment.

Qualitative research involves an inductive method for data analysis where hypotheses are developed after data collection. The methods include:

  • Content analysis: For analyzing documented information from text and images by determining the presence of certain words or concepts in texts.
  • Narrative analysis: For analyzing content obtained from sources such as interviews, field observations, and surveys. The stories and opinions shared by people are used to answer research questions.
  • Discourse analysis: For analyzing interactions with people considering the social context, that is, the lifestyle and environment, under which the interaction occurs.
  • Grounded theory: Involves hypothesis creation by data collection and analysis to explain why a phenomenon occurred.
  • Thematic analysis: To identify important themes or patterns in data and use these to address an issue.

How to choose a research methodology?

Here are some important factors to consider when choosing a research methodology: 8

  • Research objectives, aims, and questions —these would help structure the research design.
  • Review existing literature to identify any gaps in knowledge.
  • Check the statistical requirements —if data-driven or statistical results are needed then quantitative research is the best. If the research questions can be answered based on people’s opinions and perceptions, then qualitative research is most suitable.
  • Sample size —sample size can often determine the feasibility of a research methodology. For a large sample, less effort- and time-intensive methods are appropriate.
  • Constraints —constraints of time, geography, and resources can help define the appropriate methodology.

How to write a research methodology ?

A research methodology should include the following components: 3,9

  • Research design —should be selected based on the research question and the data required. Common research designs include experimental, quasi-experimental, correlational, descriptive, and exploratory.
  • Research method —this can be quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-method.
  • Reason for selecting a specific methodology —explain why this methodology is the most suitable to answer your research problem.
  • Research instruments —explain the research instruments you plan to use, mainly referring to the data collection methods such as interviews, surveys, etc. Here as well, a reason should be mentioned for selecting the particular instrument.
  • Sampling —this involves selecting a representative subset of the population being studied.
  • Data collection —involves gathering data using several data collection methods, such as surveys, interviews, etc.
  • Data analysis —describe the data analysis methods you will use once you’ve collected the data.
  • Research limitations —mention any limitations you foresee while conducting your research.
  • Validity and reliability —validity helps identify the accuracy and truthfulness of the findings; reliability refers to the consistency and stability of the results over time and across different conditions.
  • Ethical considerations —research should be conducted ethically. The considerations include obtaining consent from participants, maintaining confidentiality, and addressing conflicts of interest.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What are the key components of research methodology?

A1. A good research methodology has the following key components:

  • Research design
  • Data collection procedures
  • Data analysis methods
  • Ethical considerations

Q2. Why is ethical consideration important in research methodology?

A2. Ethical consideration is important in research methodology to ensure the readers of the reliability and validity of the study. Researchers must clearly mention the ethical norms and standards followed during the conduct of the research and also mention if the research has been cleared by any institutional board. The following 10 points are the important principles related to ethical considerations: 10

  • Participants should not be subjected to harm.
  • Respect for the dignity of participants should be prioritized.
  • Full consent should be obtained from participants before the study.
  • Participants’ privacy should be ensured.
  • Confidentiality of the research data should be ensured.
  • Anonymity of individuals and organizations participating in the research should be maintained.
  • The aims and objectives of the research should not be exaggerated.
  • Affiliations, sources of funding, and any possible conflicts of interest should be declared.
  • Communication in relation to the research should be honest and transparent.
  • Misleading information and biased representation of primary data findings should be avoided.

Q3. What is the difference between methodology and method?

A3. Research methodology is different from a research method, although both terms are often confused. Research methods are the tools used to gather data, while the research methodology provides a framework for how research is planned, conducted, and analyzed. The latter guides researchers in making decisions about the most appropriate methods for their research. Research methods refer to the specific techniques, procedures, and tools used by researchers to collect, analyze, and interpret data, for instance surveys, questionnaires, interviews, etc.

Research methodology is, thus, an integral part of a research study. It helps ensure that you stay on track to meet your research objectives and answer your research questions using the most appropriate data collection and analysis tools based on your research design.

  • Research methodologies. Pfeiffer Library website. Accessed August 15, 2023.
  • Types of research methodology. Eduvoice website. Accessed August 16, 2023.
  • The basics of research methodology: A key to quality research. Voxco. Accessed August 16, 2023.
  • Sampling methods: Types with examples. QuestionPro website. Accessed August 16, 2023.
  • What is qualitative research? Methods, types, approaches, examples. Researcher.Life blog. Accessed August 15, 2023.
  • What is quantitative research? Definition, methods, types, and examples. Researcher.Life blog. Accessed August 15, 2023.
  • Data analysis in research: Types & methods. QuestionPro website. Accessed August 16, 2023.
  • Factors to consider while choosing the right research methodology. PhD Monster website. Accessed August 17, 2023.
  • What is research methodology? Research and writing guides. Accessed August 14, 2023.
  • Ethical considerations. Business research methodology website. Accessed August 17, 2023.

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research methodology for business plan

Home Market Research

Business Research: Methods, Types & Examples

Business Research

Content Index

Business research: Definition

Quantitative research methods, qualitative research methods, advantages of business research, disadvantages of business research, importance of business research.

Business research is a process of acquiring detailed information on all the areas of business and using such information to maximize 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 the acquisition of information or knowledge for professional or commercial purposes 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 design , it means asking research questions to know where the money can be spent to increase sales, profits, or market share. Such research is critical to make wise and informed decisions.

LEARN ABOUT: Research Process Steps

For example: A mobile company wants to launch a new model in the market. But they are not aware of what are the dimensions of a mobile that are in most demand. Hence, the company conducts business research using various methods to gather information, and the same is then evaluated, and conclusions are drawn as to what dimensions are most in demand.

This will enable the researcher to make wise decisions to position his phone at the right price in the market and hence acquire a larger market share.

LEARN ABOUT:  Test Market Demand

Business research: Types and methodologies

Business research is a part of the business intelligence process. It is usually conducted to determine whether a company can succeed in a new region, to understand its competitors, or simply select a marketing approach for a product. This research can be carried out using steps in qualitative research methods or 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. The following are some of the research methods used to carry out business research.

LEARN ABOUT: Data Management Framework

Survey research

Survey research is one of the most widely used methods to gather data, especially for conducting business research. Surveys involve asking various survey questions to a set of audiences 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 studies , which need to collect data from a set of audiences at a given point of time, or longitudinal surveys which are needed to collect data from a set of audiences across various time durations in order to understand changes in the respondents’ behavior are used to conduct survey research. With the advancement in technology, surveys can now be sent online through email or social media .

For example: A company wants to know the NPS score for their website i.e. how satisfied are people who are visiting their website. An increase in traffic to their website or the audience spending more time on a website can result in higher rankings on search engines which will enable the company to get more leads as well as increase its visibility.

Hence, the company can ask people who visit their website a few questions through an online survey to understand their opinions or gain feedback and hence make appropriate changes to the website to increase satisfaction.

Learn More:  Business Survey Template

Correlational research

Correlational research is conducted to understand the relationship between two entities and what impact each one of them has on the other. Using mathematical analysis methods, correlational research enables the researcher to correlate two or more variables .

Such research can help understand patterns, relationships, trends, etc. Manipulation of one variable is possible to get the desired results as well. Generally, a conclusion cannot be drawn only on the basis of correlational research.

For example: Research can be conducted to understand the relationship between colors and gender-based audiences. Using such research and identifying the target audience, a company can choose the production of particular color products to be released in the market. This can enable the company to understand the supply and demand requirements of its products.

Causal-Comparative research

Causal-comparative research is a method based on the comparison. It is used to deduce the 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 research, data manipulation is not done; however, changes are observed in the variables or groups under the influence of the same changes. Drawing conclusions through such 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 any inferences from the research.

LEARN ABOUT: Causal Research

For example: Research can be conducted to analyze the effect of good educational facilities in rural areas. Such a study can be done to analyze the changes in the group of people from rural areas when they are provided with good educational facilities and before that.

Another example can be to analyze the effect of having dams and how it will affect the farmers or the production of crops in that area.

LEARN ABOUT: Market research trends

Experimental research

Experimental research is based on trying to prove a theory. Such 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 audiences to observe and later analyze their behavior when impacted by certain parameters.

LEARN ABOUT: Behavioral Targeting

For example: Experimental research was conducted recently to understand if particular colors have an effect on consumers’ hunger. A set of the audience was then exposed to those particular colors while they were eating, and the subjects were observed. It was seen that certain colors like red or yellow increase hunger.

Hence, such research was a boon to the hospitality industry. You can see many food chains like Mcdonalds, KFC, etc., using such colors in their interiors, brands, as well as packaging.

Another example of inferences drawn from experimental research, which is used widely by most bars/pubs across the world, is that loud music in the workplace or anywhere makes a person drink more in less time. This was proven through experimental research and was a key finding for many business owners across the globe.

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 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 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 in-depth information about the topic or the organization.

Such research is used mostly by marketing and salespeople in the business sector to understand the market or their customers. Such research is carried out using existing information that is available from various sources. However, care has to be taken to validate the sources from where the information is going to be collected.

For example , a salesperson has heard a particular firm is looking for some solution that their company provides. Hence, the salesperson will first search for a decision maker from the company, investigate what department he is from, and understand what the target company is looking for and what they are into.

Using this research, he can cater his solution to be spot on when he pitches it to this client. He can also reach out to the customer directly by finding a means to communicate with him by researching online.’

LEARN ABOUT: 12 Best Tools for Researchers

Qualitative research is a method that has a high importance in business research. Qualitative research involves obtaining data through open-ended conversational means of communication. Such research enables the researcher to not only understand what the audience thinks but also why he thinks it.

In such 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, and case study research, that are widely used.

Such methods are of very high importance in business research as they enable the researcher to 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 types of questions used. The difference is that the respondent can answer these open-ended questions at 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 of its subject. Carrying out interviews with subject matter experts can also give important information critical to some businesses.

For example: An interview was conducted by a telecom manufacturer with a group of women to understand why they have less number of female customers. After interviewing them, the researcher understood that there were fewer feminine colors in some of the models, and females preferred not to purchase them.

Such information can be critical to a business such as a  telecom manufacturer and hence it can be used to increase its market share by targeting women customers by launching some feminine colors in the market.

Another example would be to interview a subject matter expert in social media marketing. Such an interview can enable a researcher to understand why certain types of social media advertising strategies work for a company and why some of them don’t.

LEARN ABOUT: Qualitative Interview

Focus groups

Focus groups are a set of individuals selected specifically to understand their opinions and behaviors. It is usually a small set of a group that 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.

Focus group is also one of the best examples of qualitative data in education . 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.

For example: Research is conducted with a focus group to understand what dimension of screen size is preferred most by the current target market. Such a method can enable a researcher to dig deeper if the target market focuses more on the screen size, features, or colors of the phone. Using this data, a company can make wise decisions about its product line and secure a higher market share.

Ethnographic research

Ethnographic research is one of the most challenging research but can give extremely precise results. Such research is used quite rarely, as it is time-consuming and can be expensive as well. It involves the researcher adapting to the natural environment and observing 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.

For example: The world-renowned show “Undercover Boss” would be an apt example of how ethnographic research can be used in businesses. In this show, the senior management of a large organization works in his own company as a regular employee to understand what improvements can be made, what is the culture in the organization, and to identify hard-working employees and reward them.

It can be seen that the researcher had to spend a good amount of time in the natural setting of the employees and adapt to their ways and processes. While observing in this setting, the researcher could find out the information he needed firsthand without losing any information or any bias and improve certain things that would impact his business.

LEARN ABOUT:   Workforce Planning Model

Case study research

Case study research is one of the most important in business research. It is also used as marketing collateral by most businesses to land up more clients. Case study research is conducted to assess customer satisfaction and document the challenges that were faced and the solutions that the firm gave them.

These inferences are made to point out the benefits that the customer enjoyed for choosing their specific firm. Such 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.

For example: A services company has provided a testing solution to one of its clients. A case study research is conducted to find out what were the challenges faced during the project, what was the scope of their work, what objective was to be achieved, and what solutions were given to tackle the challenges.

The study can end with the benefits that the company provided through its solutions, like reduced time to test batches, easy implementation or integration of the system, or even cost reduction. Such a study showcases the capability of the company, and hence it can be stated as empirical evidence of the new prospect.

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 visitors 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 customers’ online experience. Information like visitor intention, behavior path, and satisfaction with the 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, also called Modal boxes, and on-page surveys.

For example: A prospective customer is looking for a particular product that a company is selling. Once he is directed to the website, an intercept survey will start noting his intent and path. Once the transaction has been made, a pop-up or an on-page survey is provided to the customer to rate the website.

Such research enables the researcher to put this data to good use and hence understand the customers’ intent and path and improve any parts of the website depending on the responses, which in turn would lead to satisfied customers and hence, higher revenues and market share.

LEARN ABOUT: Qualitative Research Questions and Questionnaires

  • Business research helps to identify opportunities and threats.
  • It helps identify research 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 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 management
  • 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 sometimes 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

Business research is one of the most effective ways to understand customers, the market, and competitors. Such research helps companies to understand the demand and supply of the market. Using such 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 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 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 ideal candidates for various roles in the company. By conducting such research, a company can carry out a 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.

LEARN ABOUT:  Market research industry

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 research is of utmost importance is that it helps businesses to grow in terms of revenue, market share, and brand value.


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Apple Business Strategy: a brief overview

Apple business strategy can be classified as product differentiation. Specifically, the multinational technology company differentiates its products and services on the basis of simple, yet attractive design and advanced functionality.

Apple Business Strategy

Apple business strategy consists of the following four elements:

1. Focus on design and functionality of products . According to its business strategy, Apple has adapted advanced features and capabilities of its products and services as bases of its competitive advantage. The list of innovations introduced by Apple include, but not limited to the introduction of iPad, the first device of its kind that stored thousands of songs with a simple shuffle capabilities through songs, development Macintosh, the first computer to use a graphical user interface and the launch of iMac that “ripped up the computer design rule book, doing away with dull beige boxes and instead replacing them with fun, translucent machines in shades such as “Bondi Blue” that hinted at the aesthetic Apple would become so well-known for.” [1]

The first company ever to be valued at $1 trillion systematically improves features and capabilities of its products, setting new standards for the industry at the same time. Take photos for example. Apple single-handedly advanced global photography industry with a range of innovations illustrated in table below.

Photography innovations by Apple Inc.

First mover advantage is another element of Apple competitive advantage. It has to be stated that Apple competitive advantage may be challenging to be sustained for long-term perspective. Specifically, the management may fail in terms of ensuring the addition of innovative features and capabilities in new versions of its products, thus compromising its competitive advantage.

2. Enhancing customer experience. Focusing on customer experience is one of the pillars of Apple business strategy. It is not rare for Apple fans to create videos of themselves unwrapping their new Apple products and uploading the video on YouTube. This happens because the company has succeeded in creating a customer experience that extends beyond the purchasing process of a product.

For example, starting using any Apple product is extremely easy. Customers open the box, plug to electricity, turn on and start using products. There is no need to install or download anything. More than 518 Apple Stores in 25 countries and regions, where people can try products and ask helpful staff questions effectively also contribute to customer experience.

3. Strengthening Apple ecosystem . Apple business strategy can be characterised as vertical integration in a way that the company has advanced expertise in software, hardware, and services at the same time. Apple’s vertical integration is one of the major factors that set it apart from the competition. The company has been benefiting from its vertical integration immensely. Specifically, an important source of Apple competitive advantage relates to its ecosystem, which is enabled by such integration.

Apple devices and software sync easily and work well with each other. Applications work on multiple Apple devices at the same time and there is no much difference in user interfaces. However the same items do not pair with products of other companies, thus creating the likes of a closed ecosystem. Apple’s ecosystem creates switching costs for its customers to the competition. The ecosystem also provides the opportunities to leverage relationships with existing customers to offer other products and services.

4. Decreasing dependence of the business on the sales of iPhones . Apple business strategy is transitioning from relying on iPhone sales to prioritizing its services business and other divisions. John Giannandrea has been promoted to a machine learning and AI role, retail chief Angela Ahrendts left the company and Bill Stasior has been removed as a head of Siri. [2] These high-profile changes that took place within the timeframe of less than three months are clear indication of company’s focus on services and other business divisions in order decrease dependence of the business on the sales of iPhones.

It is important to note that these and other efforts are showing positive results. Specifically, Apple’s services business division generated record revenues of USD 53,77 billion in 2020, an increase of 16% compared to the previous year. [3]

Apple Inc. Report contains the above analysis of Apple business strategy. The report illustrates the application of the major analytical strategic frameworks in business studies such as SWOT, PESTEL, Porter’s Five Forces, Value Chain analysis, Ansoff Matrix and McKinsey 7S Model on Apple. Moreover, the report contains analyses of Apple leadership, organizational structure and organizational culture. The report also comprises discussions of Apple marketing strategy, ecosystem and addresses issues of corporate social responsibility.

research methodology for business plan

[1] Apple’s Greatest Innovations (2016) The Telegraph, Available at:

[2] Broussard, M. (2019) Apple’s Recent Leadership Changes Suggest Transition From iPhone Reliance to Focus on Services, Mac Rumors, Available at:

[3] Annual Report (2020) Apple Inc.

2023 in Professorship RIU X ESCP – A never ending love story

Chairs & Professorships

Posted on 17/01/2024

2023 in Professorship RIU X ESCP – A never ending love story

2023 in Professorship RIU X ESCP A never ending love story

It seems yesterday that ESCP Business School signed a Professorship agreement with RIU Hotels & Resorts to work on hospitality CSR and social investment. However, we have just successfully concluded the second year of working together, and it has been a truly reflective and productive process of co-working, which will lay solid foundations for further work in the coming years. 2023? has been marked by two lines of action that, even if they have been different, have generated synergies between them.

The first one has been about the RIU Method, which has been deeply and systematically reviewed and rethought in order to achieve systematization and standardization and be able to provide training on project management for RIU CSR staff. The second action line has revolved around research, research and research! And investigation into what? On collaborative scientific knowledge structures and sustainable development in destinations. Read on to find out exactly what we have done in each of these work streams!

Student in classroom RIU

Transformative Initiatives: The Evolution of RIU Method and Sustainable Development in Collaboration with ESCP

With regard to the first action line, we have successfully developed two International Consulting Projects (ICP´s) with ESCP students-teams. One of them was about the RIU Method systematization & standardization, which was titled “Designing a Proposal for the Standardization of Processes and Tools for the RIU Method”. It was run by students from the MSc in Digital Project Management & Consulting and resulted in a detailed analysis of the RIU Method and its processes and tools (identification of duplicates, inefficiencies and improvement areas), in the form of a specific outcome: a Method Master proposal for the RIU Method.

The second one was performed along with students from the MSc in Hospitality & Tourism Management , who had the objective to turn around circular economy Balearic standards and regulations and how to apply them by the RIU Hotels & Resorts. This project, entitled “Drawing Angles in a Circle: Applying Circular Economy Principles to Hotels through the Design of an Operational Proposal for RIU Hotels in the Balearic Islands”, led to a reference framework on circular economy for the Balearic islands as well as applied hotel sheets for circularity plans.

International Consulting Projects: Enhancing RIU Methodology and Circular Economy Practices in Balearic Islands

The abovementioned output of the first ICP on the RIU Method was an astonishing input for other works performed within the framework of this professorship. In particular, thanks to these students' efforts, the ESCP professorship team was able to systematically review the RIU Method and thus design and provide a 1-day training for the RIU CSR department staff. This workshop took place in July, 2023 in Madrid with the invaluable collaboration of Prof. José Ramón Cobo.

Student in classroom RIU with Prof. José Ramón Cobo

The content was intense as ESCP and RIU professorship team worked with a very comprehensive program, consisting of the following issues:

  • RIU Method recap & review to agree on improvements
  • Co-definition of definite RIU CSR strategy, lines and programs
  • Design of an agreed new flow chart for the RIU Method, and new processes and tools
  • Project Management introduction
  • Establishment of next steps for the redesign of the RIU Method phases

On the basis of that workshop results and agreements, the professorship team has spent the rest of the year developing new tools for the RIU Method, in particular, for: Phase 1) Diagnosis; Stage E.1) Pre-Identification; Sub-stages E.1.1) and E.1.2) about RIU countries and destinations diagnosis. And, if all goes according to plan, in early 2023 we will be able to start testing, refining and validating them!

ESCP & RIU Workshop 2023: Redesigning the RIU Method for Effective CSR Strategies

On the other hand, and strongly connected with the previous actions described, we keep on working on research and innovation, as our “academic consulting missions” have this essence of applied scientific knowledge. In this sense, the ESCP professorship team has continued studying and understanding collaborative scientific knowledge structures in order to conceptualize a participatory unit for the improvement of sustainability and social investment in the hotel sector.

The effort has paid off, as you will see below in connection with academic dissemination! In addition, we have analyzed RIU destinations analysis from the perspective of the sustainability standards and the Triple Bottom Line and the social investment with the aim of not only categorizing destinations in terms of development, but also to foster a better social investment strategy. The result? A development map of RIU destinations that is also useful for the first steps of the RIU Method and, consequently, the first action line. Here we see again the unquantifiable value of synergies!

Innovative Tools for RIU Method: Progressing Towards Sustainable Practices in 2023

Since one of the ESCP guiding principles is that there is no investigation without dissemination, the ESCPxRIU professorship devotes parts of its efforts to communicate what they do and therefore impact on the society, by trying to inspire good practices and look for new traveling companions. This way, our main scientific contributions, have been two:

  • Participation in the 7th World Research Summit for Hospitality and Tourism (December 8-11, 2023), organized in Florida by Elsevier and UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management and supported by the most internationally prestigious journals on tourism and hospitality. There we presented a poster conference about how the aforementioned collaborative scientific knowledge structures can promote resilience, responsibility and regeneration in the hospitality sector. Also, we have submitted a paper for a prestigious scientific journal, which is currently under the second round of the review. And, finally, we were invited to participate in a publishing book project.
  • Paper accepted to be published on the PASOS journal titled: “El Método RIU: las realidades de destino como punto de partida y meta, en el camino de la RSC hotelera"

ESCPxRIU Professorship: Bridging Collaborative Scientific Knowledge and Sustainability in Hospitality

Academic dissemination and impact: escp & riu's contributions to the world research summit.

Last but not least, ESCP & RIU started in the last 3 months of the year, a new relationship that expands beyond the framework of the professorship. By designing and implementing an academic consultancy mission to Isla de Sal (Cabo Verde), with a complete agenda of field work developed on Oct 2023, drive the pre-identification of potential synergies with stakeholders on the destination that, aligned with the Social Investment Strategy of the company, could participate in the design and implementation of new “multi-stakeholders alliances".

The aim will be to respond to the social, environmental and economic challenges of the tourist destination of Sal Island (Cape Verde) with a sustainable and circular approach. We trust that the seeds of this ambitious sowing will take root, and that the pre-identified proposals will be realized over the next few years.

All things considered, what can we say but that 2023 has left us with a great taste in our mouths: the taste of hope that everything that comes to be consolidated continues to go forward… and the taste of the desire for new ideas to grow! We hope that this 2024 will bring a smile to this professorship and that we will be able to celebrate it with you!

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News 30/05/2023

RIUxESCP Professorship

Remarkable Progress in the Professorship RIUxESCP: Two Successful ICPs and a Robust Action Plan for Advancement

The first semester of the year has been frantic for the Professorship between ESCP Business School and RIU Hotels & Resorts.

research methodology for business plan

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