Do your own research through surveys

Surveys can be categorised as either observation or interview surveys.


These surveys could include a visit to your competitors to see how they perform, the products they stock, the number of delivery vehicles they use, the prices they charge or image they convey. Observational surveys include listening to what people say about your competitors. The internet may also provide an excellent platform for observational surveys by studying the websites of your competitors.

Personal interview

An interviewer contacts a number of potential customers to obtain qualitative and quantitative information.

Qualitative information: looks at consumer’s attitudes towards products, services, companies and issues. The aim may be to reveal why people buy your products, how they respond to your advertising or their perception of your premises. You would use this information in planning promotional activities, techniques and sales presentations.

Quantitative information: is obtained by interviewing numbers of people to determine for example how many will probably purchase a product. This information is useful in predicting market penetration, future earnings and profits.

Surveys involving personal interviews include:

  • face-to-face surveys
  • group interviews (focus groups)
  • post or mail surveys
  • online surveys
  • survey samples.

After you’ve decided which survey method to use you need to consider the sample of respondents. Your sample can be a selection of people grouped by a characteristic such as industry, area, age, sex or income groups; or they could be chosen at random to typify the “unidentified population”.

The next step requires choosing the number of survey respondents that you need.

As a rule of thumb 100-200 respondents should suffice for a small area, 400-500 for the metropolitan area and 600-1000 for an entire state. Samples of this size should produce a reliable result. The smaller the sample the greater the possibility of error and misinterpretation.