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Market research - ad hoc & continuous

Author: Jim Riley  Last updated: Sunday 23 September, 2012

The main distinction between the different types of market research is between "ad-hoc" and "continuous" research:

Ad-hoc Market Research

Ad-hoc research studies focus on specific marketing problems. They collect data at one point in time from one sample of respondents. Good examples of ad-hoc studies include:

• Product usage survey

• New product concept tests (where consumers are asked to trial new brands, product prototypes etc)

• Advertising development (how does the sample of consumers respond to a specific advertising campaign? Most TV adverts are researched in this way)

• Corporate image surveys (often quite enlightening)

• Customer satisfaction surveys (these can often turn into continuous research)

Continuous Research

Continuous studies interview the same sample of people, repeatedly. The major types of continuous research are:

Consumer panels

Consumer panels are formed by recruiting large numbers of households who provide information on their buying over time. Research agency AC Nielsen has one of the largest consumer panels in the world, continuously interviewing 125,000 households in 18 countries. The main competitor for AC Nielsen is TNS which runs panels in 20 countries.

Retail Audits

By gaining the cooperation of retail outlets, sales of brands can be measured (using bar coded sales data) to track changes in brand loyalty, market share and effectiveness of different retail formats.

Television Viewership / Radio Listening Panels

These panels aim to measure Viewer ship or listening minute by minute. This data is critical information for broadcasters to determine their programme strategy (what kinds of programmes to produce and when to broadcast them) as well as for advertisers (who is watching, listening, and when?). In the UK, the main source of such data is produced by the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board ("BARB").


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