Market research is a discipline of precision. It’s also an industry that—if it could—would melt into the essence of numbers themselves. There are occasions, however, when a researcher might need some ad hoc statistics or data to support a project during nascent stages. Also, with market research budgets tightening across the business world, sometimes a researcher just needs a hack to gain a sense of perspective.
We’ve compiled a list of some free market research tools for the mentioned occasions. These can work from business development to brand analysis.
Economic & Financial Data
For mining the business and consumer landscapes, certainly start with FreeLunch. Moody Analytics provides the data, centered on capital markets and risk management. You can acquire data on an astonishing 180 countries that represent roughly 93% of the global GDP.
For sources with a little lighter scope, we recommend Quartz’s Atlas. This resource doesn’t exactly extracts profound insights, but it does provide sensible data in the form of charts and graphs you can embed in your documents or presentations.
American Demographics Sample
Our own government’s The American FactFinder allows you to search for any chunk of data related to any geographic location in the country. Gain access to documents such as demographic qualities, population estimates, housing valuations and business statistics. All data you find can be segmented further into age, sex, race, location and more. The US Census Bureau manages the search engine, which is a huge asset both for both exploratory and later-phase market research.
To understand a specific area’s lifestyle habits, you can then take advantage of Nielsen’s MyBestSegments. This platform offers tools to discover which areas would be most receptive to a brand campaign or launch—as well as nearby competitors and shifting shopping trends.
With Upfront Analytics, you simply provide your company information and two competitors. The company then collects market research data through app games instead of traditional surveys—just to navigate biases and traditional response rates. In a few days, data returns to you with a national representative of the population as well as brand awareness statistics for your company.
As a companion, utilize Business Dynamics Statistics, which allows you see economic data on job creation, startups and shutdowns, business openings, expansions, and closures.
If you need assistance in where exactly to stay away from competition, there is ZoomProspector, a nifty tool allowing you to identify the optimal locations for startups, relocation or expansion of your or a client’s business.
Lastly, if you want to know how market research is evolving (and competing with itself), you can never go wrong with Greenbook’s GRIT Report.
Surveys and Focus Groups
If you want “free,” then obviously these tools are certainly quasi-scientific, at least in their no-cost levels. Nonetheless, they may present a snapshot of a brand or feedback on a product.
There are many and popular “free” survey platforms. We recommend the services of our sister company, QuestionPro, for their overall agility and intimate service (as they aren’t one of the mammoth survey providers). For an even simpler hack, Twitter and Facebook now provide polls if you happen to have a vibrant social media community for a quick data portrait.
Obviously, we recommend enterprise online surveys, which comes down to well-managed and highly-engaged panels. If you’re going the route of generic sample, use a free sample calculator to get closer to scientific.
As far as focus groups, Google Hangouts or a Skype group conversation is the way to go. Again, nothing scientific but certainly insightful or even stimulating.
If you really, really need brand analysis, try Userlytics—which provides a platform to test mobile apps, videos, display ads and more. It presents both a webcam and a screen recording of participant engagement. Afterwards, you can compare user answers with their reactions on video to understand how people are truly interacting with your brand. (Userlytics is not free, but it’s inexpensive, and that’s sometimes as good as free when you need a hack).
For a truly real free market research tool, we probably should have mentioned Siri or Cortana, but perhaps you already used them. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, as either platform is a close as rolling the dice as you can get. But you never know, right? In the end, there are more free market research tools available in cyberspace, but the ones we mentioned can move your research forward even as budgets and timelines move backward.