Social Research systematically investigates and analyses people, institutions, and societies to better understand their behaviour, relationships, and dynamics. Social research encompasses a wide range of methodological approaches, including surveys, interviews, observation techniques, experiments, naturalistic studies, and much more. It provides market researchers with valuable insights into consumer attitudes, opinions, preferences and values which can be used to inform decision-making.
At its most basic level, social research is concerned with discovering the underlying motivations behind a person’s behaviour. It seeks to identify common interpretations of situations and shared meanings for symbols and language. The primary aim of social research is to answer questions about social phenomena to generate reliable knowledge that can then be applied to make decisions or change policies in organizations or the wider society.
Social researchers gather data from various sources, such as surveys administered by third-party market research companies or through direct observation in ‘natural’ settings such as shopping malls or cafes. This data can take many forms; quantitative (e.g., usage statistics), qualitative (e.g., content analysis) or both depending on the research question being asked. The results are then analyzed for trends or patterns that provide meaningful information on why behaviour occurs in the way it does and what potential solutions might address the issue at hand.
Social research also involves developing a theoretical framework – an overarching umbrella under which all components of a study fit together logically – which helps explain how different elements are related. This helps researchers ensure they have considered all relevant factors when interpreting data, so they reach valid conclusions.
The findings generated by social research can inform marketing decisions made in private businesses (market segmentation) and public policy (community development). In both instances, the insights gained provide policymakers with valuable evidence on which decisions should be based instead of relying solely on intuition or guesswork.
In short, social research is an invaluable component of market research because it increases our understanding of people’s motivations across different contexts to better predict future behaviours within similar environments.