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How & Why to Conduct Market Research

Businesses have long used market research as a tool to become more successful and profitable. Market research companies provide businesses with a close look at information about their consumers and competitors, along with an analysis of the effectiveness of their marketing programs. Oftentimes, the success of a business is determined not by their products or services but by how effectively they market themselves, which is why market research is a step towards finding the missing links in marketing plans and how to increase a business’ reach.

Why Conduct Market Research

Market research serves to attain perspective from the people who matter most to a business — customers. While big data can provide a company with patterns regarding customer behavior, the only way to know what the customer is thinking is through market research. Talking to customers about their thoughts on various products and services can help identify the target market and provide insight on what customers want and need from the company in the future. So although it takes time, money and effort, market research can help steer businesses in the right direction.

Focus groups and customer surveys can help identify the holdbacks customers experience, which can be helpful for a business to figure out how to work around them. Focus groups, which are the most formal type of market research, select individuals from various demographics in order to gather a wide perspective of opinions. Typically, the perspective of the selected individuals is able to reflect the feelings of other customers with similar demographics.

While the opinions discussed only come from a small sample size, market researchers are able to interpret concerns and share the results with the businesses. This information is then used by company marketing departments to develop new marketing plans that address the concerns discussed as well as what customers indicated were positive points from the company.

How To Get Started

There are a few different ways to conduct market research, including a variety of phone and internet surveys, social media, focus groups and direct observation. Depending on what the business is looking to find out about their customers, one of these types of research may be better than the others. While market research is conducted regularly among many industries, it can be a relatively expensive investment, especially when conducting highly organized phone surveys or focus groups.

Before a company can begin to decide which kind of market research they hope to conduct, they must ask some preliminary questions. Who are their customers, what do they buy, why do they buy and then consider what insight the company is looking to receive — what do they wish to gain from the research. Having expectations for the outcome of the survey or focus group will help the company decide what the best way is to go about conducting their research, such as whether to go through a market research company or whether they can simply hire a project analyst to consult them.

Determining the client base of a company is important because market researchers can tell a lot about what kind of research to conduct based on basic demographic information, such as what generation is drawn to a company’s products. Marketing to millennials can be different than marketing to Generation X or baby boomers. Therefore, the details in the market research campaigns must adjust to generations as well.

Market research can be insightful and provide many benefits to businesses that want to know what their customers are thinking and what the next step in their business plan should be. It’s important to ask the right kind of questions to get the answers a business is looking for, and market research companies can help with that. Depending on why a business is looking for insight from customers, surveys and focus groups can help businesses make the right decisions for their company that will lead them to success.

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