There are countless tools to use to conduct market research. Here are just a few:
Pew Research Center: Pew also conducts scientific studies, many of which provide insight into consumer behavior and trends.
D&B Hoovers: You can purchase reports from D&B, a company which has researched 85 million corporations, 100 million people, and 1,000 industries. Expect to find insights ranging from consumer behavior to competitive analysis and industry trends.
MarketResearch.com: Much like D&B, MarketResearch.com has tons of independently conducts research and analysis reports you can purchase. Retailers can start by checking out their list of consumer goods reports.
U.S. Census Bureau: The U.S. Census Bureau provides a holistic look at the American economy. You can use it in your market research to understand the state of your industry both in the States and internationally (they have a whole section on retail trade).
Facebook Audience Insights: If you have a business Facebook page, you can use the audience insights tool to understand who your followers are. You’ll learn things like their age, income, lifestyle category (as determined by Facebook), and even spending behavior. The location insights are especially helpful for brick and mortars.
Survey tools: There are many free tools you can use to conduct customer surveys, such as Google Forms and SurveyMonkey. These are helpful if you already have an engaged audience, such as an active email list or social following.
If you need to get the survey out to some more people, you can pay for a service like Google Surveys, which also allows you to add targeting parameters to get more specific and relevant insights.
U.S. Small Business Administration: The SBA offers resources for American-based retailers to understand your target market and current economic conditions. Their free SizeUp tool is a great way to see how you stack up against your competition.
SEO tools: There are tons of SEO tools — both free and paid — that retailers can use to conduct market research. Google Trends can help you determine when topics are popular (and when you should run your promo or launch your new product), and Moz has a suite of robust tools. Read about more helpful SEO tools for retailers.
Bloomberry: Similar to how you would use some of the SEO tools, Bloomberry can help you learn more about what consumers are saying about your industry. Specifically, you can find out questions they’re asking about your products or your competitors’ products. Bloomberry aggregates search results from various forum sites, like Quora and Reddit, to identify trending topics and questions.
Know Your Customer: With this Shopify app, you’ll learn about who’s on your website, where they are, and when they’re browsing.
Customer.guru: This is another Shopify app, and it will provide information about customer satisfaction. It also integrates with Facebook Ads and Google Display Ads, so you can get a holistic view of where your brand stands in the eyes of the customer.
Bureau of Labor: The Bureau of Labor has an abundance of resources to help you learn about employment in the U.S. They provide employment rates and statistics on related topics like “occupational employment and wages, labor demand and turnover, and the dynamic state of the labor market.” If your market is in other countries,
Office for National Statistics: U.K.-based retailers can use the numerous resources here to learn about your industry, the economy, employment information, and consumer demographics.
FedStats: This is another great U.S.-based resource to find statistics and trends that cover a variety of topics and findings from trusted sources.
Consumer Price Index: Simply put, “The Consumer Price Indexes (CPI) program produces monthly data on changes in the prices paid by urban consumers for a representative basket of goods and services.” This is a great way to learn how to set prices for your products.
Consumer Spending: The U.S. Bureau of Economics has personal consumption expenditures (PCE) resources that you can use to learn about how to price your products, similar to the CPI.
American FactFinder: The U.S. Census Bureau has a whole library of facts that are especially helpful in researching the demographics of your target customers.
Consumer Product Safety Commission: This U.S. agency reports injury statistics based on product category and by hazard category. It helps estimate how many injuries caused by products will be treated in the emergency room each year. You can use this information in a variety of ways, from determining your USP as a safe product provider to understanding how to communicate the safety of your product to customers.