Market research is used to establish the current environment your business is operating in and what your current position is in the marketplace. Market researchers are interested in information like the size of your market, your share of it, your position and offering compared to your competitors, the attitudes of the market towards you and your product, who your customers are, what they need and so on. Market research is a vital first step in creating an effective marketing strategy.
What do people usually mean by ‘market research’?
Market research includes any activity which gathers or analyses valuable information about your marketplace including:
- Conducting surveys and assessing customer attitudes
- Analysing consumer behaviour, assessing risk, quantifying demand and identifying gaps in the market
- Collecting information on competitors and potential growth opportunities
- Interpreting past and current market trends
- Predicting future market trends
- Assessing product feasibility
What are the main types of market research?
There are two main types of market research you can carry out for your business:
- Primary Research: this is research you conduct directly by conducting polls, surveys and interviews. It is also known as field research.
- Secondary Research: is the practice of collecting and analysing data which has been collected by others. It is also known as desk research.
Both types of research are important and neither should be neglected when assessing the feasibility of your business or constructing a marketing strategy.
What sort of market research is appropriate for small businesses?
- Examine existing products and services: what is currently available? How well is it satisfying customers? Can you implement any of your competitors ideas more effectively?
- Examine your target audience: who are they? What do they want? Where can you find them? Conducting surveys and polls are a fantastic way to get your finger on the pulse of your target audience so you can better serve their needs.
- Conduct demonstrations or offer free trials: getting real people to try your product is essential if you want to refine and improve it for future customers. You should consider a free giveaway, a product demo or a trial period if you are offering a new product or service that hasn’t been tested in the market yet.
- Watch the market: even after you enter your marketplace, it is wise to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing, what innovations are being created and where you could fill a gap in the market. Market research is an ongoing process that never ends.
I’ve done some market research and I’ve put together a marketing strategy - what now?
Your marketing strategy should reflect the best information you were able to find, but no strategy is ever perfect. Effective marketing strategists continue to collect data as their strategy is rolled out, as the execution of your strategy will test your assumptions and provide valuable information which you can use to refine your approach.
Whenever a customer is gained, it’s good practice to ascertain precisely where they came from and which marketing method drew them in. The more information you can get about how they found you and why they chose you, the better.