PUBLISHED: Jun 18, 2020

What is a Marketing Research Report and How to Write It

Shahid Abbasi
What is a Marketing Research Report and How to Write It
Take the call of growing your website traffic now!
Know more about SaaS growth strategies from the horse's mouth.

In essence, a market research report is a document that reveals the characteristics of your ideal customers, their buying habits, the value your product or service can bring to them, and the list of your top competitors.

The marketing research report paints a picture of what kinds of new products or services may be the most profitable in today’s highly competitive landscape. For products or services already available, a marketing research report can provide detailed insights as to whether they are meeting their consumers’ needs and expectations. It helps understand the reasons why consumers buy a particular product by studying consumer behavior, including how economic, cultural, societal, and personal factors influence that behavior.

Furthermore, the purpose of writing a marketing research report is to make calculated decisions about business ideas – whether they’re worth pursuing or not. This requires one primary skill which is observing the pattern which is hidden in the User Generated Content (UGC) written in different tones and perspectives on the social web.

Simply put, writing a market research report is a vital part of planning business activities and serves as a neat way to assimilate all the information about your target market and prospective customers.

Now, there are two key varieties of marketing research report formats – primary and secondary.

Primary vs. Secondary Market Research

Let’s take a look at the main recipes of how to make a market research report in detail:

Primary Research

This method of marketing research involves gathering firsthand information about your market and prospective clients. You study your customers directly by conducting:

  • Interviews (either by telephone or face-to-face)
  • Surveys and polls (online or by email)
  • Questionnaires (online or by email)
  • Focus groups discussions with a sample of potential customers and getting their direct feedback

Some crucial questions that you need to ask your prospective customers in your primary research are:

  • What are the factors that motivate you to purchase this product or service?
  • What do you like or dislike about this type of product or service already available on the market?
  • Are there any areas you’d like to suggest for improvement?
  • What according to you is the appropriate price for this product or service?

Primary research also involves analyzing competitors’ strategies, so you can find gaps and weaknesses that you can turn into your strengths.

Secondary Research

The second method of writing a marketing research report is all about analyzing the data that has already been published and using the available information on the web. That is, secondary research is done from reliable reports and statistics found on the websites of other organizations or authority blogs in your industry.

Sources can be:

  • Public: This includes all the free sources like social media and forums, Google Trends, YouGov, and government sources such as the United States Census Bureau.
  • Commercial: This includes industry insights compiled by research agencies like Pew, Gartner, Forrester, and so on. Typically, these are paid.
  • Internal: This is the historical market data your organization already has in-house, such as the Net Promoter Score, customer churn rate, and so on.

Secondary data can help you identify competitors, establish benchmarks, and determine target customer segments or demographics – people who live a certain lifestyle, their income and buying patterns, age group, location, etc.

Market Research Reports Advantages and Disadvantages

Before we discuss how to write a marketing research report, let’s quickly take a look at market research report benefits and also some of the limitations in marketing research reports.

Advantages of Market Research Report

Here are the top reasons why you should invest in creating a market research report.

1. Gives a Better Understanding of Your Customers

The answers to questions like who will buy your product, what are the customers’ pain points, what motivates their buying behavior, and so on will be effectively answered with a market research report. Essentially, it will help you map out the full profile of your ideal customer and consequently, allow you to create tailored products and marketing campaigns.

2. Helps Spot Business Opportunities

As already mentioned, market research will give you insights about your competitors’ strategies, so you can find gaps in their offerings that you can turn into your product’s strengths. You may also find other business opportunities such as potential partnerships with brands that sell complementary products, or an opportunity to better upsell or cross-sell your products. For example, a keyword research report from a SaaS SEO agency provides an opportunity to acquire organic search ranking by creating in-depth, high-converting, and funnel-oriented content.

3. Minimizes Risks

Starting or running a business is synonymous with risk. In fact, nearly half of all small businesses with employees don’t survive for more than five years. Conducting proper market research frequently will allow you to stay on top of trends, and not waste your efforts and resources in things that would likely be fruitless.

For instance, before you launch a new product, conducting market research gives you a much better idea of the demand for your product. Or if an existing product is seeing a big drop in sales, market research helps you determine the root cause of the issue.

4. Facilitates Data-Driven Decision Making

When it comes to business decisions – data over guesswork, always. So, based on your market research results, you can make more informed decisions regarding the pricing, distribution channels, and marketing budget of your products.

Disadvantages of Market Research Report

As with anything, there are a couple of downsides to conducting marketing research as well.

1. Could Be an Expensive Activity

Conducting a comprehensive, in-depth research is usually a costly activity in terms of both time and money. To research the right audience with the right questions requires you to invest a lot of time. If you wish to use data by commercial market research agencies or get help from one such agency in conducting primary research, be prepared to spend a substantial amount.

2. Insights Gathered Could Be Inadequate or Even Inaccurate

Another problem often faced in marketing research is a lack of respondents. While you can figure out who is your target audience, getting them to fill out surveys and questionnaires can indeed be challenging. Plus, you’re using data you collected for drawing conclusions, which may be unreliable.

For example, by the time you act on the data you collected, it may have become outdated. This translates into poor decision making and the whole process may become counterproductive.

How to Prepare Market Research Report

Now, here are some concrete steps and guidelines for writing a marketing research report.

Step 1: Cluster the Data

First off, compile all the relevant data you’ve accumulated from your primary and/or secondary research efforts. Survey results, interview answers, statistics from third-party sources – bring it all together and then analyze the information to sketch out the profile of your target market.

Step 2: Prepare an Outline

Next, create a skeleton of the report so that you understand what information will go where. An outline with sections and subsections will help you structure your marketing research report properly. A typical report includes an introduction, background and methodology, executive summary, results, and a conclusion with links to all references.

With an outline in front of you, start by writing the front matter of your report – an introduction that provides a brief overview of your business and the reason you conducted the market research. Include a summary of the market research process and the results you have analyzed. For instance, you might have been gauging the feasibility of a new product, so summarize that your market research report is for a new product launch.

Step 3: Mention the Research Methods

An important next step is to clearly mention the methods used to conduct the research. That is, if you conducted polls, specify the number of polls, the percentage of responses, the types of people or businesses targeted, and the questions included in the poll. Tag all the resources for demographic information, such as census data.

Step 4: Include Visuals With Narrative Explanation

Visuals such as charts and graphs are an important part of any research paper. They make sure that the findings are easy to comprehend.

So, create tables, graphs, and/or charts illustrating the results of the research. Accompany it with a narrative explanation of the visual data. Highlight the inferences you made based on this data.

Step 5: Conclude the Report With Recommendations

Finally, conclude your report with a section that lists actionable recommendations based on the research results to facilitate decision making. For example, all the numbers may point to the conclusion that your customers desire a particular feature that no other product on the market is currently offering. In this case, it is clear that it’s a good idea to invest your resources in providing that feature and gain a competitive edge.

At the very end of the report, include reference links to all the sources and an appendix for supplementary materials and further reading.

Marketing Research Report Templates

Before you go, check out some templates and samples you can use to better understand the marketing research report structure, and maybe even use them to kickstart your report instead of preparing one from scratch.

Writing a marketing research report is a tried-and-true way to gain a solid understanding of your target audience and competitors while enabling you to make more informed decisions and minimize investment risks. Sure, it may take considerable time, effort, and even money to conduct thorough research and prepare a report, but when done well, the ROI of it all is well worth it.

Shahid Abbasi

Shahid Abbasi is a Senior SEO and Content Marketing Analyst at Growfusely, a SaaS content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO.

Ready for SaaStronomical organic growth?

Let's find out if we're the SaaS content marketing company you’re looking for.