How to Do Market Research for Startups

Conducting market research for startups can be extremely challenging and fascinating for a marketer. This extensive process requires immense attention to detail and willingness to put in the work for adequate results.

Market research is the comprehensive study and systematic process of gathering vital information and insights from the broader market. It focuses on understanding the customer’s needs and preferences, market size, trends and competitor analysis. This is to empower companies including startups to make better decisions and thrive in a fast-evolving market space.

In essence, market research serves as a guide for startups to navigate the dynamic landscape of consumer preferences. As we delve deeper into the intricacies of conducting market research for startups, we will explore the types, methods, merits, and processes, that can empower businesses to thrive.

The Concept of Market Research: What does it mean?

Market research as a concept is all-encompassing. It is the systematic method of gathering, analyzing and interpreting data about a specific industry/ niche, trends, potential customers and even competitors to enable the company to make a well-informed decision.

The primary goal of market research is to understand or investigate the audience related to a particular product or service to determine how the company’s leads would respond to such a product when introduced.

READ ALSO: How to Generate Leads for Business Using Advertising (2023)

5 Types of Market Research for Startups

Market research for startups has different classifications, they include:

  1. Primary: This occurs when startups collect data directly from the sources through surveys, interviews, or experiments tailored to their set research objectives. The sources can include leads, existing customers, employees, competitors, and suppliers.
  2. Secondary: This type of market research is conducted such that startups analyse already existing data gathered by others such as industry publications, market reports, and academic research.
  3. Qualitative: This type of research focuses on understanding customer’s behaviours, attitudes, and motivations through focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, ethnography, and observation.
  4. Quantitative: This involves gathering numerical data and analysing it through surveys, questionnaires, and structured interviews to obtain precise insights.
  5. Exploratory Research: This is the kind of research a startup conducts to investigate a problem when it has limited knowledge about a product, topic or market via literature reviews, key informant interviews, content analysis, and preliminary surveys to gain insights into such subject.

Effective Methods to Conduct Market Research

Methods of conducting effective market research for startups

To carry out the types of market research for new companies, it is important to understand the method to go about it. Let us discuss how to go about the 5 types of market research:

  • Surveys: This method is effective for data gathering in market research. It involves asking well-thought-out questions to a group of selected people known as respondents. Such questions when compiled in a single document can be sent online, through email, over the phone or even in person. Start-ups can use this method to gather information about their leads’ preferences and expectations.
  • Interviews: Interviews can take three different forms. It can either be one-on-one as in an in-depth interview, one-on-one with an expert as in a key informant, or an interview with small groups as in focus group discussions. An in-depth interview provides qualitative insights, the same as key informants. Focus group discussion however allows for group discussions and idea generation. Conducting interviews can help startups gain insight Into their leads’ motivations and reasons for preferences. The instrument for the interview is an interview guide.
  • Observation: Observational market research for startups involves watching and recording potential customers’ behaviour, often in a natural setting. This method enables startups to understand how people interact with products or services in real-life situations, such as in a retail store or on a website.
  • Ethnography: Startups can immerse themselves into the daily lives of their potential customers to further understand their behaviours, needs, and attitudes. This method helps startups create products, services, and marketing strategies that resonate with their audience.
  • Industry Reports: Trade associations like the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) or the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) often publish industry reports, market overviews, and statistics. These reports can provide valuable insights into what areas of the market startups should venture into. Joining trade associations is a strategic move for a startup looking to build a strong foundation for success in their industry.
  • Literature Review: This is a valuable method to adopt for startups when looking to gain a preliminary understanding of a topic within the context of the market. It is the systematic review of existing knowledge, and although this method is often associated with academics, it can be adapted for exploratory market research purposes.

The choice of methods employed in market research for startups is dependent on research goals and budget. Oftentimes, a combination of methods is used to gather a comprehensive set of data and insights. It is important to carefully plan market research factoring in identified questions and appropriate strategies

Why is Market Research Important for Startups?

Why conduct market research for your startup
Why conduct market research for your startup
  1. Information: Market research for startups helps understand their target audience. Startups need to know their potential customers’ preferences and needs. This allows the companies to tailor their products or services to meet the customer’s demands effectively.
  2. Forecasts: Before investing time and resources into a business, emerging businesses can use market research to validate their business idea. This determines if there is demand for the product or service in the market and enables them to make projections for the future based on an understanding of the needs of potential customers.
  3. Competitive Analysis: If I Identify existing competition, analyse their strengths and weaknesses and devise strategies to differentiate themselves, I will gain a competitive edge.
  4. Market Sizing and Growth Potential: Startups need to assess the size of their target market and its growth potential. This helps in setting realistic goals, estimating revenue potential and attracting investors
  5. Gaps and Opportunities: Market research uncovers gaps in the market where customer needs are not adequately addressed. Start-ups can look for innovative responses to the challenges faced in the industry.

READ ALSO: Competitive Analysis for Entrepreneurs

What Do You Need for Market Research?

We have highlighted the importance of market research for startups, now let us talk about what you need for effective market research.

  • Clear Objectives: You need to define your research objectives and goals. What specific information or insights are you seeking? What are the loopholes you’re looking to fill up? Who are your potential clients? Having clear objectives will guide your research efforts.
  • Budget: Determine the budget available for your market research. Your budget will influence the methods and scope of your research.
  • Research Team or Agency: To conduct market research for startups, there is a need to decide on whether you’ll conduct the research internally or hire a market research agency. Employing experienced researchers can help ensure the quality and reliability of your data.
  • Data Collection Tools: Decide on tools and software to help with data collection, analysis, and visualization. This may include survey software, data analytics platforms, and data visualization tools.
  • Research plan: You need to make a detailed research plan that outlines the duration, research methods, data collection process, and analysis approach.

6 Steps to Conduct Market Research for Startups

Steps to conduct market research for startups

Whether you are launching a new product or looking to penetrate the market, you must follow a structured process. Here is a step-by-step guide to conducting insightful market research for startups:

  1. Definition of Objectives: Outline the specific goals of your market research. Determine what specific information you need to gather, such as customer demographics, market size, or competitor analysis.
  2. Data Collection: Determine the appropriate research method to gather data from your target audience. The method chosen should align with your identified goals.
  3. Data Analysis: Analyze the collected data to get meaningful insights. There are several ways to go about this. You can conduct statistical analysis, qualitative interpretation, or even narrative analysis depending on the method used.
  4. Presentation of Findings: Interpret the results of your analysis in the context of your research objectives. Identify trends and key insights. What do the findings mean for your business or decision-making?


The dynamic landscape of the business ecosystem requires emerging companies to offer creative solutions to the unique needs and preferences of their target audience. Market research for startups especially is a never-ending process, It is the pulse of your business, that ensures you stay in the loop of things and makes you well-positioned for expansion.

It is pertinent to understand that startups will be better positioned to tackle obstacles, seize opportunities, and emerge successful in the ever-competitive business world if they employ the concept of market research as discussed in this article.


How much does market research cost?

The cost of market research varies depending on factors like scope of research, methods, and geographic location. To get the exact cost, it is encouraged to follow the steps to conduct market research.

Can anyone be a market researcher?

Of course, but not just anyone. A market researcher should possess qualities, skills and knowledge like education, understanding of research methods, data analysis, and attention to detail. Ultimately, a competent market researcher has to have a combination of education, hands-on experience, and a willingness to learn.

Should you do market research before starting a business?

Absolutely. It is recommended that one conducts market research to become a flourishing startup business owner, this is because it helps gather information about potential customers, innovations, and the overall industry landscape. Such information when analysed helps enable an accurate business planning process

About Author