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Consumer research: Understanding the behavior of your target market

Consumer research consists of market research methods that help you uncover the wants, attitudes, and behavior of your target market. It generates the information you need to improve consumer perception of your product and create buyer personas and market segments—which help you successfully market your product to different types of customers.

Consumer research is used to describe the collection of data to get to know consumer opinions, preferences, buying behaviors, motivations, and needs. Consumer insights look at the wants and needs of your target market to explain why the market behaves the way it does.

Consumer research is conducted for a variety of reasons, but they all tie back to understanding what drives your target market

Before you launch a product, it’s necessary to know who needs your product and why. You can find out when and where consumers buy items and how they use them. By verifying market requirements, you can ensure that you have all of the information you need to successfully bring your product to market. 

Evaluate your potential products and services and compare them to those already in the market. Your product needs to fill a void or improve on what is currently available, so consumer research allows you to find those voids and call for improvement.

Investigate consumer psychology to understand more than just buying patterns. Explore the types of branding consumers resonate with, which colors they respond to, and other attributes that can influence sales.

Consumer research can help lead to the satisfaction of the customers you already have. Take an in-depth look at your research results for ways to serve your current customers better with everything from your product offerings and features to store layout. Initiating actions based on consumer feedback will also ultimately result in increased loyalty of current customers.


Our panel of trusted respondents is created from 175M+ people across more than 130 countries.

At this point, you may ask, “Why is consumer research important?” Consumer research is the best way to get to the heart of what your potential customers want and to align your business strategy with what your customers need. You’re obtaining information directly from the people you want as customers. Not sure where to begin? Our market research solutions are a great place to start if you’re interested in getting to know your target market.

Consumer research can give you an accurate view of how the market perceives your business, products, and services. It can also help you understand your competitors—what they’re doing well and not-so-well—so you can do things better and distinguish yourself from the competition!

Use consumer research to keep track of trends, set business goals, and implement successful marketing strategies. Having a deeper understanding of both your customers and your competitors will advise your business decisions, which ultimately leads to higher levels of customer satisfaction and retention, resulting in greater revenue and growth.

You’ve come up with a new product in your area of expertise. Going with your gut isn’t the most successful marketing strategy! A consumer research survey will help you find out if what you’re proposing will be appealing to your target audience. In fact, our Product Concept Analysis will validate your ideas with a trusted audience—in less than an hour.

Let's use this example:

A product team wants to launch a new feature for chatting within its project management software. They conduct a market research survey and find out that users aren’t interested in a chat, but they have been interested in getting email notifications instead. In this example, the product team can take that information and pivot in a new direction before investing more time and money into something people don’t want.

Discover what your customers are like as people. What do they like? Where do they spend their leisure time? What motivates them? What social media channels do they use most? You may think that your target audience consists of one demographic, only to find that another group is equally likely to consume your product or service.

Consumer research goes beyond simple demographic information. Demographics will only get you as far as learning about consumer gender identification, age, income, or marital status. A consumer research survey includes psychographics such as interests, attitudes, behaviors, and values so you can target the right market.

Your research data will reveal new insights into your target market. For example, you know your target audience for your new accounting software is for companies of 50+ employees, but you want to be sure you’re covering all interested parties. You can conduct consumer research to find that growing businesses with less than 50 employees are still interested in your product. You’d end up with a whole new segment to target.

Products and services evolve with the quick pace of the market. Sometimes businesses fail to shift when their markets do. Other times, companies are stubborn to think they know what their customers want. Market research can help you move your company in the right direction. Modernize your products and services, reach different demographics, and expand your business with the insights you’ve gleaned. 

Let’s put this in context:

A candy company plans to release 3 new flavors into an existing line of their best-selling candy. After conducting consumer research, the data shows that only 2 of the flavors are attractive to their target market. The company decides to eliminate the 3rd flavor, knowing that money, effort, and resources will be more wisely spent on the 2 more popular flavors.

Consumer research can include both quantitative and qualitative studies. Quantitative studies focus on demographics or statistics and often ask close-ended questions that help your business generate numbers, averages, and percentages. Qualitative studies, on the other hand, ask open-ended questions that let you collect ideas and anecdotes from your target market.

Exploratory research looks for insights from participants who are familiar with your product or the problem your product solves. This type of research gathers ideas and impressions from respondents in an open-ended format. These qualitative responses can’t be quantified (except with a word cloud), but they can set a direction for more consumer behavior research.

Descriptive research gathers thoughts on your product from participants, so you can gain a clear and realistic understanding of the consumer perception of your business. This type of research collects both quantitative and qualitative data by asking multiple choice, rating scale, ranking, or demographic questions alongside open-ended questions.

Correlational research looks at whether one variable in your study, like age, correlates with another variable, like how likely a participant is to purchase a product. It uses data from close-ended questions to calculate the correlation coefficient between variables. Your business can use correlational research to develop predictive models for consumer behavior.