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 determine the most suitable approach to acquiring, distributing, and supporting supplies and services.
5 Steps in the Marketing Research Process
Five steps in the market research process will enable you to gather and understand the information 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 consider the study’s purpose, the relevant background information, what information is needed, and how it will be used in decision-making.
Step 2 – Designing the Market Research Project
This step is focused on creating a market 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: 
- Step 1: Conduct secondary data analysis
- Step 2: Do qualitative research
- Step 3: Determine methods of collecting quantitative data (survey, observation, and experimentation)
- Step 4: Determine the definition of the information needed
- Step 5: Determine measurement and scaling procedures
- Step 6: Design a questionnaire
- Step 7: Sampling process and sample size
- Step 8: Plan of data analysis
Step 3 – Collecting Data
This step revolved around obtaining the information you need to solve the identified issue or problem. 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 & Analyzing Research Data
This step focuses on examining the data and coming to a conclusion that solves the problem. Even if one piece of information or data stands out, it’s more important to look for patterns than for specific pieces of information. Don’t try to find trends in your data based on what you thought would happen before you got the data.
Step 5 – Report Research Findings
The final step is to report the market 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. Review the study and results, even if you don’t need a formal marketing research report so that you can clearly state the recommended next steps. If showing up your charts and data doesn’t motivate anyone to do anything, then what’s the point?
Research Reporting Formats:
- Formal Paper
- Published Article
- PowerPoint Presentation
- Audio or Video
Final Step: Take Action
You’re done with your study. It’s time to show what you’ve found and do something about it. Start making plans and tactics for inbound marketing. Try out what you’ve learned and get going! The most important thing to learn is that even though this study round is done, it’s not over. Since problems, the business world, and trends are always changing; your study will never be done. The trends that you found in your study are changing. You should review your data regularly to see where to make changes. The more you know about your buyer types, industry, and company, the better your marketing will work and the more successful your business will be. Looking at it this way, you should start to wonder why so many companies don’t set aside time and money for a marketing study.
Example of Utilizing the Market Research Process
Let’s pretend a corporation is considering introducing a new line of all-natural skin care items. They need information about the market, consumer tastes, and potential rivals to make educated choices. They decide to do some market research to get the facts they need.
Step 1: First, you need to identify the problems you’re facing
Questions like, “What are the current trends in organic skincare?” are among the top priorities the organization has identified. Who are these goods’ ideal purchasers, exactly? What are their tastes and shopping tendencies like?
Step 2: Planning the Market Study
A research strategy detailing the company’s approach is developed. They’ve settled on a mixed methodology approach using qualitative and quantitative techniques. To learn about potential customers’ thoughts, requirements, and wants regarding organic skincare products, they conduct focus groups and in-depth interviews as part of their qualitative research.
Quantitative research entails creating a questionnaire to be answered by a statistically significant number of consumers. The poll probes respondents’ familiarity with organic skin care products, preferences in brands, willingness to pay premium prices, and more.
Step 3: Gather information
Focus groups, interviews, and the online survey are all parts of the company’s actual implementation of its research plan. All comments and data provided by participants are meticulously recorded and collected.
Step 4: Analyzing Research Data
The business then analyzes the gathered data. They sift through qualitative and quantitative information for trends, patterns, and insights. The competition, market opportunities, and consumer preferences are all mapped out.
Step 5: Present the Results
At last, the firm produces a report that succinctly summarizes the study’s findings. Based on the findings of the study, the report provides useful suggestions. Information on possible markets, pricing strategies, distribution routes, and product development are all provided. The report is shared with the appropriate people inside the firm. The results of the company’s market research help them better understand the organic skincare industry. Decisions on product direction, marketing tactics, and market segmentation can all be made with confidence. This case study illustrates how the market research process may be used to collect data, conduct analysis, and make strategic business decisions.
- 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