Exploratory analysis for Marketing research

In our previous article, we discussed in outline what marketing research is and why it can be crucial for your business to conduct such research. Today we will be more specific. This article will be the first of our series of a detailed overview of the marketing research process. Here we will describe the first step and set forth a checklist of marketing activities you, as a business owner or as the decision maker, should conduct before launching a new product on the market. At the end of this article, you will find links to individual articles for each step. So, if you are interested in a specific step, go straight to the list.

For example’s sake, let’s imagine you have some notional startup. You have a great idea, even some prototype. The next step is to research the market.  

Differences in digital products 

It is necessary to make a remark regarding the difference between digital and physical products. In general, the algorithm of marketing research is the same for both types of products, but the nature of digital products makes a huge adjustment. Foremost, is the market range and delivery concepts. A digital product, limited only by the presence of an Internet connection, can be delivered all over the world instantly. The Internet, in that case, is like a hyperspace from sci-fi movies. Hence, you have to expand the market, competitor, and audience analysis from your local region up to countries, continents, and the world itself.  

Another thing is that digital products are most often abstract entities unless they can be somehow transferred into the real world, printed, for example. The promotion of digital products is often more complicated because, despite rampant digitalization, the majority of people typically don’t understand the value of digital products. Simply because people can’t touch them. 

One of the strongest obstacles, that you have to overcome with your marketing strategy for a digital product, is a simple question from customers:

“Why should I pay for some content if I can just download something similar for free?!”

Even digital non-cash money for people is way more valuable than digital products. Unless the utility of products is very obvious. But, as said before, the algorithm and steps order is similar for physical and digital products. 

Starting the marketing research

Let’s stick to simple conditions and say, our imaginary startup has a physical, not very complicated product. Something for everyday use, but with some interesting additional features. For example, a pillow or cushion with an innovative design and orthopedic properties. Our pillow is not a casual bag, stuffed with cotton wool or feathers or a brick of memory foam. This pillow is made of a 3D grid of solid rubber-like elastic material, which provides stable support, free air circulation, and temperature regulation. You are planning a first product launch. Showcase samples have already been created, and everything is ready for a massive production start. But before the first selling attempts and launching ad campaigns, you need to conduct the “pre-launch” preparations and find out what awaits you. You need to arrange comprehensive marketing research to pave the best way for your product.  

As we mentioned before, in this article we are talking only about the first step of the marketing research

Exploratory research 

The first step of any research is to determine the object of research and the list of questions, your research should answer as a result. We know what we sell – an orthopedic pillow with a high-tech design. It remains to find out “Where to sell? When to sell? To whom and how?”. Taking the traditional list of steps for marketing research will help. 


Everything starts from the market. You need to know what aspects and peculiarities your local market has, and which of them you have to take into account. For example, obviously, you have to find your main competitors, who can offer an equal or better product than yours, and analyze their strengths and weaknesses.

The ideal situation is if your product is one of its kind, ideally, you have no competitors. Hence, you don’t need to study the competition. But you have to study something else, what a company with a product, familiar to consumers, doesn’t need. For example, how to explain to customers what your unknown product is and why and how the purchase will benefit them. 

You need to define how many people you can reach with your product, to define the size of your market. Selling pillows, for example, implies the study of the local market (where you can sell products hand-to-hand or with one-day delivery) and the potential market where your delivery can reach without unnecessary difficulties and financial costs.

“To whom?”

Your product has a proven utility for people. The comfortable pillow for multipurpose use. So, it seems you can sell it to everyone. But, in fact, there is always a kind of people, who will buy your product more willingly, than others. You need to find them – define the target audience. The easiest way is to sell your product to people, whose needs will be satisfied by your product in the best way.

“How?” and “When?”

Depending on the type and traits of your audience, you formulate the value proposition, that will hook up your potential buyer the best and present your product in the best possible way. Also, there are numerous ways of selling such a product as yours. Starting from old-fashioned door-to-door selling up to fully online sales without any live contact with the customers. You need to define the best way to convey information to a potential buyer. Based on the found information, you formulate the marketing strategy – how to advertise, which platforms to use, and how many resources to spend.

Test your strategy

All your conclusions and plans can look brilliantly on paper, but in reality, things can work differently. Test launch in limited conditions is necessary to find flaws in your plans. 

And repeat 

Use PDCA methodology – “plan-do-check-act”. It implies the constant tracking and correcting of the strategies. Not only marketing but selling, organizing, and producing strategies. You can’t run a test, equal to the size of real campaigns. So even if tests from previous steps have gone great and the strategy is approved as successful, you need to keep an eye on the process, react to the smallest deviations, and fix them.


List of steps

As you can see, even before the start of the research, you have to find out an exhaustive list of what to find out. We gathered everything we know and what we practiced in our cases. In each article from the list below, we have described each stage of marketing research in as much detail as possible, while trying to keep within a small-scale volume of text, for you to read comfortably. We tried to make sure that after reading this entire series of articles, you would understand as well as possible what marketing research is and be able to get down to business yourself. Below, you can see the full list of our article series:

  1. Exploratory research (you are here now)
  2. Study your market 
  3. Competitive analysis
  4. Define your customer – Create a buyer persona
  5. Formulate the unique value proposition
  6. Define communication channels with a potential client 
  7. Define your marketing strategy
  8. Test your product and strategy
  9. Implement PDCA methodology