Schottler Consulting Social and Market Research Knowledge Centre

How do I identify our social or market research needs?

Many companies and public sector organisations will come up with the idea to do social or market research, but may sometimes also struggle to identify exactly what research the organisation needs.

Prior to conducting social and market research, it is important to have clear research objectives to make sure that the right methods are used and the right research questions are asked.

It is also important to explore whether the market or social research is actually needed by the company or organisation or whether other existing information or data can be used to produce the same or very similar insights.


In large companies and public sector agencies, it can also be important to cross check whether the research questions have been answered through other projects that have already been conducted.

 Tips for success in planning social or market research 


The following can help identify exactly what the organisation needs and the social and market research questions that need to be answered:


1. Identify who in your organisation could shed light on the social or market research topic. Be sure to select a mix of junior, middle and senior staff, as they all may offer different and useful perspectives.

2. Conduct 20-30 minute interviews with the key stakeholders to determine what they think of the social or market research topic you have in mind.

It is particularly useful to explore:

  • Do they see value in conducting this research?

  • What other related or unrelated topics have they raised?


3. Review your company or organisation’s business plans and strategic plans to identify how research may help guide the organisation. Identify any strategic priorities that may benefit from social or market research.

If you do not have a clear research topic, a review of corporate documents may also help identify the types of research topics that may be of value to your organisation.


​4. Once the above is completed, prepare a short summary of key themes from both the interviews and corporate document review. Try to identify the key topics that were frequently raised by stakeholders.

5. Once key themes are identified, try to identify research objectives that summarise what social or market research question needs to be answered.

For instance, if stakeholders and corporate plans identified a need for 'improved stakeholder engagement', you may identify research questions associated with this topic such as:

Identify ways we can better communicate with stakeholders including:​

  • Which communication channels stakeholders are using

  • How we can improve communications through the following specific channels – the web site, the newsletter and email

  • Identify whether behaviours changed since the recent campaign

Just because staff identify social or market research topics, does not mean that each topic should be researched!

Research needs are best determined by a holistic
organisational needs analysis, rather than staff opinion alone.

6. Once you have a set of clear social or market research questions, prepare a short summary document outlining:

  • The proposed research questions

  • The evidence justifying why these were important (e.g., Staff interview summary in an Appendix)

  • Possible social or market research methods that may justify the questions

  • A suggested budget and timing for the research

7. Send the recommendations to the decision maker and then follow up with a meeting to discuss your findings. 

The end research will be a set of clear, well-considered social or market research objectives.

The above scope can also be included in a social or market research company's scope of works, if this is too large of a task to conduct this internally.