Market research is something that you must do if …
Market Research is something you must do if you want your business to take off or to remain competitive. You’re not operating in a bubble. You have competitors, and those competitors are not just people who are offering exactly the same product or service as you. They are also people who are competing for the same slice of time or section of the budget. Car manufacturers are competing against, not just each other, but the public transport system. Cinemas are competing against TV companies and video game makers for your time and discretionary spending budget. Sports clubs are competing not just against other clubs, but also the gym, and even the idea of going for a run – or staying in and playing those aforementioned video games.
Market research helps you identify competitors, threats, problems and opportunities so that you can plan effectively when it comes to growing your business.
There are a number of different ways that you can engage in market research, and really it makes sense to try several of them because the feedback you get will be rather different depending on who you speak to.
Remember that the people you talk to when you are doing market research are under no obligation to tell the truth. A lot of people lie in online surveys, for example. Also, even if you get people to say what they think is the truth, you will find that people often don’t really realise what they want. They just say what they think they want. In addition, if you’re surveying people who are already in your store, you’re surveying a subset of the population. This is not your whole audience.
Try asking questions with clear, bounded answers where you say “yes or no” or “rate out of ten”. I would try wording the same question a few different ways to get different responses. In addition, try asking open-ended questions. A lot of people will give vague responses, but some will give truthful ones, and it will be interesting to see the difference!
It may be a good idea to bring in a third party to handle your market research. They can do in-depth interviews, and actually, analyse the data alongside secondary data to give you a truly qualitative idea of what is going on.
Market research is a tricky subject, and having someone who is truly neutral do it for you will help a lot.
Don’t forget that you can do some ‘passive’ research as well. Collect footfall data. Use heat mapping software on your website. Track cart abandonment. If a customer is logged into your website but doesn’t complete a purchase send them an email to remind them or ask them why they decided against the purchase.
Don’t forget that you can use other people’s market research data. You can often learn a lot just by looking at what other companies have done and what they have changed. Don’t follow the other companies, but do try to learn from their mistakes.
Once you have the information, the next challenge is to act on it. You can target your products differently once you know who you are trying to reach with them. That’s what gets those people excited.
As much as we like to say that we’re all equal, differences in age, gender, upbringing and finances do change how we act and how we perceive things, and that’s the sort of marketing that a good company can use to separate their products, and to become a market leader in a narrow niche.