Primary or targeted research is what most of us would already do and we do it not even knowing that we have conducted market research.
We often think of survey… and I caution people about using surveys because if they are not random and administered without bias they can actually hurt your business. Facebook now has a survey function which could be really useful to ask your customers about hours of operation or a preferred service they would like to see added.
You can get as much useful information by talking to people, doing informational interviews, showing them sample experiments of products and asking for their impression and perceived price points.
If you decide to check out prices of your competitors… and everyone does it… use caution. It can be perceived as price fixing or collusion for competing business owners to discuss pricing… But not if you have a friend or family member do the checking.
So primary research is collecting very specific information about our business.
Secondary or less targeted research involves looking at studies, trends, conditions and this type of research is often not done. This less targeted research gives an overall or big picture of the industry you will be operating in.
It is useful to look at studies pertaining to your overall industry. This research can be gotten from industry associations, web searches, agencies who may oversee or are involved with regulating your business.
As well we will be doing a useful exercise called a SWOT analysis which looks at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of our business against our competitors.