Depending on the objective
There are two main types of study that depend on the objective: description (of a market, consumer behaviour etc.) or understanding (motivations, attitudes etc.). Descriptive studies are based on a sample and extrapolation and their aim is to measure, evaluate and describe: they provide basic information about volumes, market shares, audiences, geographic breakdown, period of consumption, types of buyers etc. They require a large representative sample of the target group and use classical techniques of analysis. They provide print-outs, figures and percentages. The most common means of investigation is the opinion survey.The explanatory type of study is usually based on a limited number of in-depth interviews but can also be conducted on a quantitative level. These studies help one to understand and explain how the market, or just one particular aspect, works. They produce hypotheses, concepts and wordings. The method of research is individual or group discussions. In the past these two main types of research were referred to by the technique used: quantitative and qualitative. But this difference is less relevant today: one can indeed obtain comprehensive information using quantitative techniques. In fact quantitative research enables one to check with figures, and qualitative research enables one to explore in depth and to make hypotheses.
Depending on the sector
One can also classify studies by the sector being researched:
- studies that analyse a market and the structure of supply and demand. They relate to the global marketing strategy of the company, the development of new products and services, the image of the company and its products, the product life cycle, and the follow-up among customers
- social research, which includes socio-cultural issues. This type of study analyses changes in behaviour in different fields
- media research is more specific. Such studies enable one to measure audiences and to determine the profiles of readers, listeners and viewers
- marketing action studies. These refer to the components of a product or a brand: packaging, logo, name, positioning, price, promotional activity, placement at point-of-sale, advertising, pre-tests and post-tests.