So I hear some people asking: “What’s this whole Market Research thing all about?”
If you’re a research professional (in-house on client side, or perhaps a small research supply agency, or a big corporate, or even a freelancer/ consultant) you already know the answer to this question, and you’re jumping up and down going “I know! I know!” Well, you lot can just read on and see if I know my stuff or not. And then, feel free to add to my (ongoing) education! Of course, if you like what I have to say, just go ahead and click on the link for the list of services I offer, and let’s see if we can help one another…
If you’re not “in the business”, then read on Grasshopper and let’s see if I can draw you closer to that light bulb moment when you say: “I really understand now”. And even closer (perhaps) to: “Now I can see that my project/ business would really benefit from some market research”. And, of course, once you get to that point you will click on the link that tells you all about the Dragon process, and then my list of services… Mwaaaahahaha!
Ok, so enough of all this fun: let’s get down to this serious business of market research.
To begin with, strictly speaking, we should differentiate between “market” research and “marketing” research. The former is – you guessed it – about understanding markets. So the focus there is more on consumers, competitors and market trends. We might look at things like the nature and/or size of a given (target) market; understanding consumers’ needs around various products or services; we would look at variables like product awareness and usage; perceptions of products or brands, and so on.
The latter is more about ….drum roll please… marketing! So in that case we are looking more closely at understanding aspects of brand promotion/ communication. This is where we might want to check the effectiveness of product placement in a store, or look at testing responses to an advertising concept, or perhaps we would want to know if an advertising campaign has had the desired impact on product awareness, and so on.
In a nutshell: Market research helps us get a picture of what people want, need, or believe. And, of course, what they do. These findings can be used to determine how to market your product. In other words, market research feeds into marketing research, and both allow businesses to make decisions that make them more responsive to customers’ needs and able to grow more effectively, with less waste of resources.
Market/marketing research can help a business to do so much! Here are some things to whet your appetite…
Market / marketing research can help a business to:
- Get to grips with changes and trends in the market
- Inform key business decisions to reduce financial risk associated with investment options.
- Develop a clear and informed strategic business plan that all colleagues in the business can work towards fulfilling.
- Understand consumers and their needs so that the business can better meet those needs.
- Focus and prioritize new product/ service development.
- Communicate more meaningfully, effectively and productively with customers.
- Gain insight into consumers’ opinions of brands, products and services and thus be able to address any barriers to growth, and leverage any assets.
- Understand the routes to market (i.e. drivers and barriers to product/ service uptake).
- Develop an effective marketing plan to extend the reach of communication and improve return on media investment
- Price existing/ new products correctly.
- Understand the competitive landscape: who the key players are and competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.
- Identify potential areas of opportunity in an international, national or local context.
- Generate, refine, and evaluate marketing actions
- Monitor marketing performance
- Determine the feasibility of a new business/ new direction.
- Test interest in new products or services.
- Improve customer service or distribution channels.
- Develop competitive strategies.
While gut feeling, intuition, or even pure judgment is useful, you have to admit that these elements are not the best basis for really sound business decisions! Reliable and accurate information is a much stronger foundation. You can see from the list above that doing market/ marketing research can really help your business to make better informed decisions, leading to much more effective action.
In a competitive business environment, it should be pretty obvious that going without a little “homework” is like rowing a boat slowly upstream with a blindfold on! At best you’ll get somewhere (eventually), but it’s not likely to be quite where you were hoping to arrive…not to mention that you will have to work extra hard to make progress against the current, and you have no means of avoiding the tree-trunk that’s coming down the river to wipe you out! So how about turning the boat around so you work with the flow, taking off the blindfold so you see where you’re going, and maybe making your journey that much smoother?
So now that you’ve got a better handle on what market research is, and what it can do for you, take a peek at my services! Or just drop me a mail with any questions, and I’ll get right back to you.