14 Best consumer research tools and datasets
Consumers buy from social media, and that’s where brands of any size need to play if they want to reach them.
Understanding what motivates your customer, where they are, when they're ready to buy, and how their purchase can fuel your next sale, are all critical to success.
Marketers need insight into the consumers they’re trying to reach. Find out how to do customer research, what tools to use, and just as importantly, what datasets you can access to fuel your insights; below.
How do I do consumer research?
The best consumer research blends art and science. It’s not quite as simple as that of course. The first step is a hunch or assumption. That’s the art. It could be something as simple as: cold soda tastes better than warm soda.
You’ll build your marketing strategy around it if the consumer research validates your hypothesis. That’s where science comes in.
Step two requires you to pull the numbers, and make sense of what you’re seeing in the market itself. Market research tools will definitely help here.
Step three is of course insight creation - what do the numbers tell you to exploit? Finally, more art, time to build a numbers-backed marketing strategy based on an outstanding consumer research report, powered by the best tools and datasets.
Here’s a rudimentary example:
Step 1) Assumption/hypothesis: People who like soft drinks need a cooler to store them.
Step 2) Learning the market: Turns out the market for coolers is much larger if you include people who store beer in them.
Step 3) Insight creation: Beer drinkers are three times more likely to Google coolers than soda drinkers.
Step 4) Art time - whip up a beautiful campaign targeting these cooler-Googling beer drinkers. Using a little Don Draper magic and a lot of resonance powered by insights that showed up in the data.
Now in this example, the original hypothesis was actually wrong - people who like soft drinks don’t need coolers. Or at least, not as much as people who drink something else do. Your research tells you that beer drinkers will buy coolers much more frequently.
This is important: do what the data tells you!
It’s okay to be wrong about your hypothesis, but your time and effort will be for nought if you don’t follow what you learn doing your consumer research. Trust your data, not your disproven hunches.
What are you actually looking for when you do your consumer research? A few different things.
Check out the competition
Once you know what you’re after, find out who you’re up against.
Ask yourself these questions as you learn from your competitors:
Who are their customers?
Are they loyal? Why?
Is the competition missing an important audience or segment?
What do you admire about them?
Even The New York Times has to admire the Washington Post’s TikTok account.
Listen for your opportunity
Get listening, not lucky. Social listening tools can power a brand to new levels of strategic insights, but you don’t need a fancy product or service to know when opportunity strikes. A simple listening solution like TweetDeck could be all you need to strike at just the right moment and achieve virality.
Opportunities come in many forms, like memes, UGC, or retro moments. If you’re not trying to hear from all parties on all channels at all times, you’ll find you’re missing more opportunities than you ever thought possible.
Know who's who
Social media audiences are evolving. They’re becoming more mature, and they’re demanding more from brands.
No, you can’t just have my info. The same message doesn’t work on every platform. Social’s not some task to be dumped onto the intern. If your brand can’t understand these simple truths, the simple truth is that audiences won’t understand you either.
Social listening can help you identify audiences and segments that are predisposed to certain messages, helping you to achieve greater success trying to target and reach them. Listening will help you understand what builds loyalty, and how to cultivate it.
Deliver the right message to the right person at the right moment
The last point your consumer research should help you pinpoint is how to align your brand in this magical trifecta.
The right message is the one this audience wants to see, of course. That means it’s useful, of value, or interesting.
The right person is the one who wants to buy. Not simply the one who comes for the witty memes or the informative pontificating.
The right moment is of course that time when they will buy, because your brand aligned these forces to make it so.
Your consumer research should help you answer these unknowns.
Best consumer research tools
Here are some of the best tools to help you build your consumer research. They range from fonts of information on humanity itself like Google or Facebook, to real-time solutions to your customers immediate problems like Talkwalker or TweetDeck.
People are searching for the answers to their problems all the time. Good consumer research will dig into those queries, and find out how your brand can help. Capitalize on emerging trends or find an underserved niche that desperately needs a solution your product can provide. However you go about it, Google Trends is easy to use, packed with great datasets and one of the best tools marketers can use to understand what problems people need solved right now.
If Google Trends should be used more ephemerally, to insert your brand as a solution, Audience Insights from Facebook is best used for the hard sell. Facebook knows their audiences, and knows how to sell to them. Use their insights to help power your brand forward.
The Talkwalker Conversational Intelligence solution is an ideal consumer research platform regardless of budget.
Use Talkwalker Alerts, which is free, to monitor in real-time the words, ideas, and personas of the consumers your brand is trying to reach. You’ll also be able to learn what forums and social media platforms they are active on, to further focus your marketing efforts.
You can research further into these likely consumers using Talkwalker’s Free Social Search, which includes seven days of data. This is perfect to track an important event in your industry, check in on a competitor’s campaign, or to take a snapshot of a week in the world of your ideal audience.
Are you on track to track for free?
The Quick Search social listening and analytics tool is a perfect place for new practitioners of social media listening and monitoring to start their consumer research. Using sentiment analysis, image recognition, and easily followable core KPIs, the widgets allow anyone to get an at-a-glance look into the minds of the consumers they want to reach. It’s also a great tool for experts who want to scrutinize in detail their ideal consumer.
Talkwalker Analytics is the full-suite data analytics platform trusted by brands and agencies across the globe. Talkwalker can take your data from focus groups or online surveys, compare it to your social mentions and whatever else you’ve learned conducting market research about your target market. We’d love to give you a tour and help your brand go from insights to impact.
Real-time monitoring of whatever’s important to you, on Twitter. Use Boolean queries to build out columns or lists monitoring everything from the competition, the keywords, the hashtags, or the purchase intent of your target customers.
Here’s a quick guide to Boolean operators if that sounds complex:
HubSpot's Make My Persona tool
In 7 easy steps you’ll have your persona laid out in front of you, including their business needs, job responsibilities, who they report to, their goals and challenges all compiled on one easy reference sheet.
Qualtric's Sample Size Calculator
This handy tool lets you calculate margins of error, helping you to verify your datasets and increase your confidence levels.
Best consumer research datasets
Where are you even going to find the data you need to power your insights? These databases below should cover most of your needs.
Download these datasets to get statistically rigorous insights into the trends and attitudes shaping the country and the world. Whether you’re doing primary or secondary research, you’re sure to uncover something new about your target audience with this dataset.
Statista includes great charts with their wide variety of datasets that cover many industries and subcommunities.
The Twitter firehose + 150 million websites crawled daily in 187 languages? Over 500 million results a day? The path to customer research that creates customer satisfaction is in there. We’ll help you narrow it down.
The simple interface makes it easy to get going in just a moment. This tool can definitely help you reach the audience you want in a place you didn’t expect, or an audience you didn’t know you wanted.
You know people have probably done the research into your topic before, right? See if they put it up on Tableau Public, which has thousands of freely accessed reports pulled from a huge array of datasets. Plus, it’s all displayed beautifully, as expected from Tableau.
Ahh, the government. What don’t they know?
Very little, it turns out, and because you funded this research, John Q. Taxpayer, you’re able to access it for free.
Detailed demographic and income trends are easy to uncover across counties or states. This is the perfect place to start your primary research. Target those Facebook ads!
I mean, how’d you get here? If you used a search engine, you should be incorporating the data around searched terms into your consumer research.
Audiences on Facebook are inclined to buy, and Facebook knows when to get them to do it. You should arm yourself with this knowledge too.