Exploratory research is conducted on problems that have not been investigated clearly and there is not much information available on it. the purpose of conducting exploratory research is to develop more understanding about the problem and there is no surety that the research will provide any conclusive outcomes.
Exploratory research begins on the basis of a general idea and the outcomes of the research are used to find out related issues with the topic of the research, which can be used for future research on the same topic. In exploratory research, the process of the research varies according to the finding of new data or insight. Exploratory research is conducted in the beginning phase of the problem.
The outcomes of this research provide answers to questions like what, how, and why. Therefore, it is also referred to as interpretive research or a grounded theory approach. For example, take an example of an ice cream parlor.
The owner of the ice-cream parlor feels that if he introduced more flavors of ice-creams in his ice-cream parlor it will enable him to get a greater number of customers. to find out this, he carries out exploratory research to determine that expanding the range of flavors of ice-creams will get him more customers or if there is any other better idea.
let us use one more example to understand exploratory research better. An XYZ website, which provides paid online courses conducts a survey to find out how they can increase the number of users for their newly introduced course. For this, they take feedback from their existing users as well as from other potential users. The data collected from the feedback can be used to find out what can be done to increase the number of users who take their course.
Characteristics of Exploratory Research
- Exploratory research is inexpensive, interactive, unrestricted, and open-ended in nature.
- It is an unstructured type of research.
- No pre-research is conducted to support exploratory research and even there is no prior information available on the problem from the past researche
- It enables a researcher to answer all questions like why, how, and what. Therefore, it helps a researcher to know about the purpose of the research.
- All the available material should be studied in detail.
- It consumes a lot of time to conduct exploratory research and it might sometimes lead to disappointments.
- There is no standard format to carry out exploratory research. It is flexible, scattered, and broad in nature.
- There must a few theories which can verify your outcome.
- Make sure the problem you are going to conduct research about should have importance and value.
- Most of the time you will get qualitative data as an outcome of this research.
Importance of Exploratory Research
Exploratory research helps a researcher to build understanding about the problem of the research. The purpose of conducting this research is to explore the problem and areas around it and not to reach a conclusion.
This type of research helps a researcher to establish a strong foundation for his research and to choose correct research design and variables which are important for the analysis. Exploratory research helps a researcher to save time and resources along with the usefulness of conducting research further.
Advantages of Exploratory Research
- Get you better insights on the problem.
- A researcher can decide at an early stage whether to pursue or not pursue the research.
Disadvantages of Exploratory Research
- Inconclusive in nature
- This research provides qualitative data which can be biased and judgmental.
- Outcomes can’t be generalized, because this type of research is usually conducted on small samples.
- There are chances that data obtained from secondary resources is obsolete and old.
5 Steps to conduct an Exploratory Research
Here, we discuss 5 steps to conduct exploratory research. The steps are very similar to the actual steps in any marketing research study. If you want to learn more in detail, read the article on Steps in Marketing Research.
1) Identify the problem
Find out the problem that you want to address.
2) Build your hypothesis
Build your hypothesis, it will provide a direction to your research. Later you can refute or prove the hypothesis on the basis of the outcome of your study.
3) Choose your method of research
You can use one or more than one method (described ahead) to conduct your research.
4) Conduct the Research
Spend a good time to explore different sources and make sure you are not missing an aspect of the research.
5) Analyse the results
There are many methods for analysis of market research data. Using those methods, you can come down to the result of your hypothesis and prove it right or wrong.
Methodologies and Types of Exploratory Research
There are two methods such as primary and secondary to conduct exploratory research. There are various methods under these categories to conduct exploratory research. The data collected by conducting this research can be qualitative or quantitative. Followings are the frequently used research designs.
1) Primary Research Method
In this research, information is directly gathered from the subject. The information can be collected from a group or an individual. A researcher can either use a third party to conduct research for him or he can himself conduct the research. The purpose of conducting this research is to collect information about the problem which requires in-depth analysis.
You can collect in-depth information on the subject using the in-person interview technique. This research will provide you qualitative data. If you can get an interview with a person who is an expert in that subject can help you to gather a lot of useful data.
Usually, open-ended questions are asked in interviews and interviews can be conducted in-person as well as on the telephone. For example, you interview a loyal customer of your company to know about their experience with your company.
This method is used to collect data from a predefined group of participants. Data collected from this method is quantitative in nature. A variety of polls and survey can be conducted to explore trends, opinions of people. Surveys can be conducted both online as well as offline. With the advancement of technology, it has become easy to conduct a survey.
You can use audience worldwide to respond to your survey. In this way, you can get opinions of a diverse audience. In addition to this, you can collect get in real time. Response rate can be increased by providing rewards to respondents. For example, a survey can be conducted about the price range of mobile phones that most people usually buy within.
1-c) Observational method
in this type of exploratory research, the researcher does not make direct contact with the subject. There are two types of observational study.
- The subject is aware that he is being observed.
- The Subject has no idea about the research.
There is a high chance that you will get fair data by opting the second method. However, it can be difficult to conduct. This research can provide both types of data qualitative or quantitative. For example, an ice-cream company wants to know which size of ice-cream people usually prefer when they buy ice-cream.
1-D) Focus Group
This method is very frequently used by a market researcher to find out the answers to their questions. to conduct this study, a group of people is chosen and they are asked to express their views on the subject of the study.
However, you should make sure the people that you are choosing for the discussion have the same background and sort for similar experiences. For example, a focus group can help you to get insights on what people usually think about before buying a mobile phones.
2) Secondary Research method
Secondary research uses the existing resources on the subject under study. To conduct this research you conduct information from resources like newspapers, books, articles, magazines, and case studies etc.
2-a) Literature Research
This type of research is most inexpensive exploratory research. You can make the use of the abundance of information available in libraries, online sources (such as discussion forum, websites, and blogs), Government and commercial databases.
You can get information from resources like newspapers, articles, documents from the government, published statistics, annual reports, specific topic related articles etc. however, you can’t rely on information gathered from all types of resources blindly.
Documents from government agencies can be valid but they can cost you some amount of money. You can also get useful data from educational institutes. For example, a company conducts exploratory research using literature before introducing a new product in the market. this research will help them to understand the trends in the current market.
2-b) Online Research
This type of research is the fastest and easiest way to collect data. You can conduct this research at the comfort of your home or office on your laptop or mobile phone. There is an abundance of data available online. A user can download it and use it whenever he wants to.
However, one should make sure the authenticity and genuineness of the online sources before using its information in your study. For example, you can easily find out the leading features preferred by people while buying a camera. You can simply enter a query in a search engine and can get thousands of links to websites which provide similar information.
2-c) Case Study Research
using this research, a researcher can find out information on the problem by studying the existing cases that have gone through a similar problem as yours.
This method is useful and critical especially in the world of business. but it is important for a researcher to analyze all variables of the existing case to use in his research. This method is preferred by health organizations and social science sectors to conduct research. For example, Doctors using the cases performed by a successful doctor to improve their own practice.
The above was all the information about Exploratory research. Hope the article helps you in conducting any exploratory research that you have to.