Our Favorite Market Research Tools

What's cool? Hip? Trendy? Hot? Talked about?

Want to ride the wave of consumer opinion? Well, you have to find the trends before you can understand them! Here are a few sites that will give you some insight into what people are talking and thinking about. With all of this new information sitting at your fingertips, you'll be able to focus your efforts entirely on your customers and community.

Search Trends – What are people looking for?

We couldn’t begin this list without mentioning Google Trends and Google Insights for Search. Great for keyword research, these tools help you to understand what people are looking for and also, how they express it in their long tail keywords.

Microsoft AdCenter Labs hosts a variety of tools to help you get into the mind of the person behind the search. The best tools for our purposes include Demographics Predictions, Detecting Online Commercial Intention, Keyword Forecast, and Search Funnels. For more on this, check out the complete list.

Oh, and let's not forget that there are other search engines out there besides Google! AOL Hot Searches shows what’s hot on AOL search engines, and the Bing Search Blog often profiles what’s happening on Bing search. Yahoo! Buzz and Ask.com also chart their top overall searches.

Want it all aggregated? SEOmoz Popular Searches brings together a variety of tools that track popular tags, searches, and more. These results are both aggregated and listed separately. Your data mining has struck gold!

Shopping Trends – What are people buying?

In case you couldn’t tell by the name, trendwatching.com keeps an eye on consumer trends for you! Get free monthly digests, or sign up for their premium service to take advantage of even more options. And if you want to know what to do with trends once you find them, check out their Trend Watching Tips.

You can also go to online retailers. Find out what’s new on Amazon and eBay with Amazon's Hot New Releases and eBay What's Hot, or look over some more specific information with Amazon's Most Popular Tags and eBay Pulse. For unique and handcrafted items, keep up with Storque (the etsy.com blog).

Naturally, Google has something to add here with Google Checkout Trends. And you can find the top searches in hundreds of categories at the Shopping.com Consumer Demand Index.

Human Trends – What are people thinking about?

You can see what information is being sought out at ‘question and answer' sites like Yahoo! Answers and Quora. If you see a question you have an answer for, try taking a few more minutes and turning your answer into a blog post!

To understand more about individual's stories and experiences, try taking a look at the goals they are setting for themselves at 43 Things. Or stay current with what popular bloggers are blogging about at Technorati. This can sometimes allow you entrance into a conversation! Twitter’s trending topics also gives you a chance to jump into the conversation – just don’t try to turn a serious news topic into joking self-promotion!

And if you just want to be amazed by how much information is available to people online, check out HowStuffWorks.com for interesting tutorials and the directory of About.com sites, About.com: Sites A to Z to see how other people are talking to each other.

Do you use all 25 sites? Are there any you want to add to the list? How do you research the trends in your market? Leave a comment and let us know!

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