Market Research – Can I just do it myself?

Is do-it-yourself market research suitable for my company? Which tools should I use? We explain when you should try to analyze the market yourself and when it is better to consult experts.

DIY Market Research is on the rise. More and more solutions from various providers are being launched on the market. With these, it seems that now anyone can professionally conduct online surveys and then cleanly analyze and present the data. Of course, the whole thing is also cheaper than hiring a professional market research institute to do the analysis. Is it really all that easy or too good to be true?

In this article, we introduce various solutions that you can use to research your target markets yourself. We explain the three most important factors when deciding between in-house market research and hiring external experts. If you decide to do the market research yourself in a company, we have four basic DIY market research tips for you and your employees.

Market Research - the most important facts

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Doing market research yourself - can anyone do it?

You want to start a new company, enter a new market with an existing one or are planning a product launch. To do this, of course, you first need thorough information about the sales market, market potential, size and dynamics, the competition and the respective target segments. Often a market research institute is commissioned at this point. This has its justification. The experienced professionals still know best how to draw the most meaningful information from which data sources.

Nevertheless, the do-it-yourself approach is also gaining momentum in market research. After all, not every start-up, self-employed person or small business owner can afford commissioned studies at any time. Fortunately, there are more and more opportunities for this clientele to become active themselves. Market research tools now make it possible to do everything from creating online questionnaires and analyzing data to presenting the results.

The selection of such solutions is large. Providers such as SurveyMonkey or Crowsignal (formerly Polldaddy) already offer a lot with their free versions. Google has not missed the trend either and has recently entered the market with Google Surveys. For perfect support across the entire qualitative and quantitative market analysis, however, it is definitely worth investing in paid plans, for example from Questback or Appinio. Especially Appinio convinces by speed and is easy to use for beginners even without expert knowledge. Within minutes, you can get hundreds of answers to your questions from the target group.

Market Research Grafik

Market Research - better with external service providers after all?

Particularly when the results of your market research will determine large amounts of money or important strategy adjustments, you may be more inclined to go with professional solutions than try it on your own. This is understandable.

It is definitely worth analyzing your own situation carefully first before opting for the DIY approach or more expensive market research institutes. Important factors here are the quality of your own employees, what internal capacities are available and the neutrality of the research.

  • Particularly in smaller companies and start-ups, there is the question of whether the employees with the appropriate skills and qualifications are available for a meaningful quantitative market analysis. Knowledge of and access to the right sources is needed to research the data. And even if the knowledge of one’s own industry and product necessary for the qualitative interpretation of the results is available in-house, the skills for the quantitative evaluation and processing of large amounts of data are often lacking. The good news here is that numerous seminars and training courses on the subject are organized by various providers. Of course, this is especially worthwhile if you plan to keep market research in-house in the long term. 
  • The time and resources required for market analyses are often underestimated. Several weeks of intensive work should be planned, especially for analyses that entail high investments or decide on the strategic future of the company. No marketer or product manager can do a useful market analysis in a week in addition to his or her main tasks. Market research should be considered as a separate project with extra resources made available for it. If internal capacities are not available in terms of working time and manpower, you should seek external support. Many providers are happy to help you and your company to carry out the market analysis with the internal capacities available. The experts often take on the most complicated work and leave everything that can be done internally to your employees.
  • Some companies will prefer to hand over the market research project to external parties because they question the neutrality among their own employees. This is not completely absurd either. If you think that there is already a certain opinion in a company about a target market, you should also question whether you want to do the analysis internally. A so-called “organizational bias”, i.e. an operational blindness, could also play a role here. You and your employees have been working together for a long time and may have developed the same thought patterns and opinions and may be accessing the same sources. Market analysis needs to be realistic and based on neutral sources, uninfluenced by corporate bias. Also keep in mind that some employees’ personal preferences or financial bonuses may drive them to favor some markets and products over others.

Markt-Research is only the beginning!

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What should I watch out for when I conduct market research myself?

So you and your company have decided to do as much as you can on your own (also consciously weighing the market research vs. customer development decision). In doing so, no matter which tool you use or whether there is external help, you should not disregard the following principles:

Keep a common theme throughout the analysis

Your market analysis should be structured in a way that guides the addressees step by step through the results. At the end there should be clear instructions for action and implications. In the presentation, be sure to refer to the most important statistics and not simply overwhelm the audience with all your data.

Define research goals and target markets clearly and early on

“Market analysis” is not a standardized term. If it is not specifically defined which market is meant and which factors are to be examined, duplications or generally imprecise results can arise. This becomes particularly problematic when different departments in a company are involved. The best way to avoid inaccuracies is to demarcate the markets graphically.

It is important that not only which market, but also which characteristics of the market are to be investigated, are clear to all participants at an early stage. Should the behavior of potential customers, the general size of the market or the growth potential be analyzed? A market analysis can be focused specifically on only certain characteristics of the market or generally on the entire market. Make clear what the goal is even before the project starts.

Document and question sources

The analysis will be more reliable and the traceability of the results higher, if you document your sources as good as possible. Make sure that you can stand up to critics. Of course, all sources must be neutral and not influenced by interests. Question all your sources regarding their origin and motivation. Especially with secondary data, you should consider verifying them through expert interviews.

Schedule sufficient resources and time, also for the presentation

The effort of a market analysis is often underestimated. Make sure that sufficient resources are available for the employees. Don’t expect them to do the project enough on the side. And don’t forget the presentation of the results. Keeping your presentation visually appealing is important for the recipient’s acceptance of your results. Make sure that even complicated issues are presented as comprehensibly as possible.


Google surveys in particular have been the trend in recent years. Market research institutes criticize this and raise concerns about the quality of self-made market analyses. In some situations, it is indeed better to hire external professionals. The solution can often be a DIY approach with the support of experts. It is important to know the skills, neutrality and capacity of your own staff before making a decision.

Finally, if you actually dare to do the market research yourself, then paid plans like Appinio are usually the better choice compared to free solutions. Regardless of which tool you use, with or without external help, make sure that your market analysis is based on reliable sources, plan enough time and resources, and don’t forget to keep the presentation of the results as comprehensible as possible.


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