There are four types of surveys that you can conduct. These usually help you in defining the demographic. The cost of in person surveys is high, but its very effective in public places like shopping malls or colleges. Abuse of the telemarketing system has left telephone surveys with a black eye. People either no longer seriously answer questions or are reluctant to do so. The cheapest way to conduct an effective survey is mail in surveys. Even though the response rate is low, they are able to reach a broad audience. Some testing still needs to done to better the online surveys, which are uncontrollable but are good way to acquire general numbers as to how many people visit this particular website and what the website is about.
Focus groups are an effective way to get results. This is because by having a moderator ask questions, people get involved in the discussion of your product. These are usually accompanied by some kind of audio and video taping devices, even sometimes with one-way mirrors. You can get good feedback on your product this way.
By conducting personal interviews, where with the help of open-ended questions you are able to reveal the customers altitude toward your product are also highly effective. These interviews are concise and offer valuable information about the market you are about to step into.
By diminishing your presence, standing back and observing the behavior of a person towards your product, you can yield uncensored emotions. Whenever you fill out a survey or are part of a focus group or are being interviewed, you are always conscious about your answers. But outside of the presence of the person from the "company", you are able to be just yourself. Using the power of observation without interference, you are able to gain data that you normally would not be able to ascertain.
Conduct field trials by placing products in certain stores to see how the public responds to them. This is usually done during the development phase and helps in making the necessary changes needed to provide a successful product in the marketplace.