Effective market research lies at the heart of every successful business. It’s about much more than just identifying pricing trends. It gives you an all-encompassing view of how your products and services fit into the global market, which in turn informs advertising and developmental strategies. In short, market research helps your company to grow, so here are some tips for getting it right.
#1 Decide what information you need
Too many businesses leap into market research without a clear idea of exactly what they want out of it. While it might seem like a good idea to harvest as much market data as possible, this usually creates a confusing dataset that’s hard to analyze and ultimately useless. Instead, decide exactly what you want from the research. Are you concerned primarily with pricing, or do you want to understand what customers expect in terms of product aftercare? Use these questions to guide your research.
#2 Mix surveys with interviewsSurveys are undoubtedly the easiest way to conduct market research. They allow you to harvest vast quantities of information with minimal effort. The structured nature of questionnaires also makes it much easier to break that information down into a useful format (see point 4). However, surveys don’t leave much room for individual expression. Interviews, on the other hand, allow respondents to talk more freely, inevitably turning up unexpected bits of information. This is important and often leads to innovative solutions to problems that you didn’t even know existed.
#3 Bring in professionals
Hiring market research specialists is invaluable. These companies are adept at performing both quantitive and qualitative research, as well as at analyzing the data. Medical device pricing research, for example, is notoriously complex. Industry professionals take market research completely out of your hands, simplifying the process and delivering results in a format that’s easy to analyze. Many will even conduct that analysis for you, offering a set of conclusions that you can use to inform future decisions.
#4 Format information
Market research turns up a lot of information, much of it in an unusable state. When you’ve finished the research your first step should be to convert things like surveys, interview responses and feedback forms into raw, mathematical data. There are lots of ways to do this, including identifying trends, transforming responses into pie charts or using graphs to trace customer satisfaction over time. Converting information to data is a crucial step in the process, especially if your research was wide ranging. Datasets are easy to analyze and compare.
#5 Consider benchmarking
Benchmarking is a fairly new practice whereby businesses compare their performance directly with a competitor (the “benchmark”). It’s a useful way of identifying areas where you might be lagging behind (customer service approval ratings, for example) and gives you a tangible measure of your progress over time. Benchmarking can be automated using software, or you can conduct the process yourself. It pays to aim high. Identify well performing businesses within your sector and define your progress against them.