Tips for conducting market research in India

on Thursday October 11, 2012 @ 9:22

Senior Research Analyst Usman Shaik, talks to On Device Research about his perspective on conducting primary and secondary market research in his home territory India.



More often than not, conducting market research in developed countries can be strikingly different from those undertaken in developing countries. Right from the availability of credible sources of secondary information, to the rate of responses obtained, a researcher is provided with a series of hurdles, before he/she arrives at an inference from the study.

The Importance of Secondary Research:

Before undertaking a market study, it’s always advisable to go through the best possible, relevant and reliable secondary sources which give a brief perspective on the respective research topic. Valuable information can be obtained out of secondary sources, which would, at a later stage help in building thoughts for primary research.

However in a developing geography like India, limited data availability (as compared to much better data documentation across developed nations) and highly varied and fragmented market segments have proved to be the critical issues, hindering researchers from conducting exhaustive secondary research.

Tips for Secondary Research in India:

  • Use the most relevant sources for your industry – eg ICIS (For Chemicals), Risiinfo (For Forestry and Paper products)
  • Expert bloggers – however must be validated before considering their views
  • Follow industry related articles and white papers
  • Join industry associations
  • Look through annual reports –understanding the market trends and figures.
  • Read publications of the relevant industries – For example, "Papermart" for Indian Paper Industry, "Chemical Weekly" for Chemicals etc.
  • Government reports – Tracking reports released by Central Government bodies.  Example: Report released by Indian Ministry of Trade and Commerce on multiple industries.

secondary research

Primary Research – Adds Impeccable Value to the Study:

Though secondary research has its own importance, it’s considered to be incomplete without in-depth primary research. One may get answers on “what” is the market share but may not on “why”.

Tips for Primary Research in India:

Expert Interaction:

Primary research by interacting with reliable experts can give a fair idea on the specific industry. Unfortunately most of the expert conversations with the analyst or the researcher remain as a one-way communication. Industry experts’ love sharing more information provided if the interaction with the analyst stands as a two-way communication.

For this, the analyst needs to do some homework before the expert interaction. By getting latest industry updates, by reading articles & white papers written by the respective experts or by referring research works that the expert(s) might have conducted earlier and raising the same discussions during expert interactions can in fact result in positive outcomes.

Attending Live Webinars and Podcasts:

By participating in live webinars, analysts/researchers do get an opportunity to understand the commodity/service market dynamics and can also discuss topics with the presenters to derive primary information.

Running Questionnaires – Approaching the Right Respondents:

Before running questionnaires, the research objective must be understood clearly. Care must be taken to ensure that the questionnaire is directed to the right respondents or the target population.

Cluster Sampling: 

Cluster sampling in general, is used as the standard sampling technique for conducting Market Research. The most common cluster used is geographic cluster were in, the entire population (population of India) is divided into different clusters (states or cities) and the researcher randomly selects few clusters for conducting the research.

Managing the Response Rates:

A common hurdle that researchers usually face is poor response rate, especially in countries like India.  To minimize such issues, researchers must make sure that –

a) The questions presented in the questionnaire are precise, easy to understand, without creating confusion to the respondent.

b) The questionnaire must be as short as possible, with limited number of questions, preferably less than 12. The respondents must not consider filling the questionnaire to be a time consuming activity.

c) The researcher should be aware of the poor response rate and must make sure that the questionnaire is directed to significant number of respondents.


Linking the Commodity with Macro-Economic Indicators:

The GDP of a country is one of the most popular macro-economic indicators that is used by researchers and analysts to track the performance of the economy and is generally correlated with industry trends.

 Sectors like Energy, Construction, Hospitality and Mining exhibit a decent correlation with the GDP of a country. Certain industries like Pharma or Health care are comparatively insulated from economic shocks and tend to move more or less in accordance to the industry or market developments.

Other economic indicators include, PPI values, Labor rates, (which can be extracted out of sources like BLS – Bureau of Labor Statistics), Exchange rates (OANDA can be a reliable source) etc. Other sources can be Euro-stat, Energy Information Administration (EIA), World Bank Economic Indicators, Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) etc.

“Linked In” – An Excellent Forum to Gain Valuable Inputs from Discussions

By registering in professional or industry specific groups in Linked In, one can derive valuable inputs out of the discussions and can also come up with queries or opinions for which the experts or industry participants would be open and interested in providing their view points. Zintro can be another example.

By triangulating the data obtained from the above said primary and secondary sources, an analyst can gain a logical confidence over his/her own analysis. Connecting the dots and making a constructive analysis, makes the difference between a search and a re-search!

Usman Shaik

Mr. Usman works as a Senior Research Analyst at Beroe Inc. a private procurement intelligence firm. Usman has worked on projects related to sourcing strategies for clients across Petro-Chemicals, Pharma, FMCG, Packaging and other diversifying sectors. 

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