Market Research (FAR Part 10) is conducted to determine the availability of commercial products and services and to identify and evaluate market practices. It’s a continuous process of finding viable sources of goods and services to meet government requirements and is mandated for all acquisition programs. It’s conducted by key members of a program’s Integrated Product Team (IPT) with the goal of pulling together the necessary market information to be analyzed so an informed decision can be achieved on how to satisfy a need. The results of market research and future plans for market research are included in a program’s Acquisition Strategy.
Definition – “Market research is a continuous process for gathering data on product characteristics, suppliers’ capabilities, and the business practices/trends that surround them — plus the analysis of that data to make smart acquisition decisions.” (FAR 2.1)
Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) for Market Research
- FAR Part 8 “Required Sources of Supplies and Services”: provides a list of potential sources in priority order that Program Managers/IPTs must go thru to conduct market research.
- FAR Part 10 “Market Research”: prescribes policies and procedures for conducting market research to arrive at the most suitable approach to acquiring, distributing, and supporting supplies and services.
5 Steps on the Marketing Research Process
There are five steps in the market research process that will enable you to gather and understand the information that is needed to determine how best to meet your needs.
Step 1 – Locating and Defining Issues or Problems
This step focuses on uncovering the nature and boundaries of a situation or question related to marketing strategy or implementation. In defining the issues or problems, the researcher should take into account the purpose of the study, the relevant background information, what information is needed, and how it will be used in decision making.
Step 2 – Designing the Research Project
This step is focused on creating a research plan or overall approach on how you are going to solve the issue or problem identified. A research plan or approach is a framework or blueprint for conducting the marketing research project. It details the procedures necessary for obtaining the required information, and its purpose is to design a study that will test the hypotheses of interest, determine possible answers to the research questions, and provide the information needed for decision making.
The research design involves the following steps: 
- Secondary data analysis
- Qualitative research
- Methods of collecting quantitative data (survey, observation, and experimentation)
- Definition of the information needed
- Measurement and scaling procedures
- Questionnaire design
- Sampling process and sample size
- Plan of data analysis
Step 3 – Collecting Data
This step revolved around obtaining the information that you will need to solve the issue or problem identified. Data collection involves a field force or staff that operates either in the field, as in the case of personal interviewing (in-home, mall intercept, or computer-assisted personal interviewing), from an office by telephone (telephone or computer-assisted telephone interviewing), or through the mail (traditional mail and mail panel surveys with recruited households).
Step 4 – Interpreting Research Data
This step is focused on examining the data and coming up with a conclusion that solves the problem.
Step 5 – Report Research Findings
The final step is to report the research findings to those who need the data to make decisions. The findings should be presented in a comprehensible format so that they can be readily used in the decision-making process. In addition, an oral presentation should be made to management using tables, figures, and graphs to enhance clarity and impact.
- Qualitative Research: Information, industry experts, and secondary data may not be sufficient to define the research problem. Sometimes qualitative research must be undertaken to gain a qualitative understanding of the problem and its underlying factors. Qualitative research is unstructured, exploratory in nature, based on small samples, and may utilize popular qualitative techniques such as focus groups (group interviews), word association (asking respondents to indicate their first responses to stimulus words), and depth interviews (one-on-one interviews which probe the respondents’ thoughts in detail). Other exploratory research techniques, such as pilot surveys with small samples of respondents, may also be undertaken. 
AcqLinks and References:
-  Pride, Ferel (2010). Marketing. South-Western Cengage Learning
-  Wikipedia – Marketing Research Process