Have you ever launched a new product or tried to improve an existing service, only to be disappointed by the results? Or maybe you want to get ahead of your competitors but have no idea where to start? Market research may just be the solution for you.
What is market research?
Market research involves collecting information about current and prospective customers, competitors, market size, and the like. Businesses use this information to create products and services, set prices, improve customer satisfaction, develop marketing and advertising campaigns, and boost sales.
Essentially, market research prevents you from acting on incorrect assumptions or employing a one-size-fits-all approach to growing your business. Armed with the right data, you’ll be able to make better business decisions and avoid costly mistakes.
How do you conduct market research?
A thorough market research can help put your business ahead of the curve, so it's important that you know the key steps to take in conducting one.
1. Identify your goals
What do you want to achieve by conducting market research? Do you want to:
- Identify your ideal potential customers so you can customize products and services to meet their unique needs?
- Improve the quality of your customer service to increase repeat customers and referrals?
- Compare competitor prices to see if your business has room to raise yours?
Carefully identifying your goals will help you carry out a market research that will provide accurate, useful results.
2. Choose the type of research
There are two main types of research that you can conduct: primary and secondary research. Primary research involves gathering data by yourself, and it typically costs more and takes longer to conduct than secondary research. However, it gives you more conclusive results.
On the other hand, secondary research entails considering data that has already been compiled, gathered, organized, and published by other parties. Secondary information is often easily found online and is free or low-cost.
When choosing the type of approach to take, figure out which will give you the information you need to meet your goals. Primary research is best if you want to learn about genuine customer experience with a product or service, or if you need to understand how your customers feel about your company. Meanwhile, secondary research is worthwhile if you require more general information or large amounts of data.
3. Conduct the research
Interviews, focus groups, and surveys are among the most effective market research methods.
Interviewing customers – This can be done in person, over the phone, or online. In most cases, at least 20 individuals are needed to make sure you are getting feedback that is representative of your target audience. Prepare your questions ahead of time, and limit each interview to 30 minutes.
You want honest feedback, so do not coach respondents or guide them to answers that you want to hear. Also, avoid correcting any assumptions or perceptions you may disagree with.
Holding focus groups – This involves bringing together 6 to 10 participants to provide feedback and a trained moderator to facilitate the discussion. You can conduct focus groups in person or through online conferencing tools. A 30- to 90-minute session should be enough to get everyone’s insights.
Conducting surveys – This is perhaps the easiest market research method, as it can be conducted online using a professional survey tool. All you have to do is to set up a survey and email respondents a link. In addition to asking substantive questions, consider including questions that gather demographic or firmographic information to help you organize and analyze the data with specificity.
4. Analyze and summarize your findings
After conducting your market research, don’t let the data sit on a shelf — analyze your findings, draw conclusions, and take evidence-based actions. Your research may bring to light new opportunities or reveal potentially disastrous decisions that you must avoid. Either way, come up with a list of action items based upon your conclusions.
For instance, you found that your product doesn’t cater to a homogeneous target market. Instead, it caters to a market that consists of several segments with different needs. You may choose to adapt your marketing plan to bring unique value to each segment, rather than employ a one-size-fits-all marketing approach.
Compile all results into a report to make it easier to refer to this information later on. This outline can help you create a clear summary of your report:
- Background – What were your goals for this research project?
- Participants – Whom did you talk to? Try to group them according to demographics (e.g., age, gender, location) as well as psychographics (e.g., likes/dislikes, motivations, pain points).
- Executive summary – What are your main takeaways from the research? How do these insights affect your business?
- Action plan – What actions are you going to take to get customers to engage more with your brand? Provide your list of priorities, a timeline, and the impact each action may have on your business.
Even if you think you know your customers pretty well, conducting market research will help you uncover new ways to improve your interactions and increase the value you bring to your customers. Call us today, and we’ll help your business leverage technology to increase value, enhance quality, and boost productivity for your business.