Market research can be undertaken for a variety of purposes such as finding a key demographic, gauging a target audience response to a new product or service, or for justifying a business loan. Whether your organization conducts in-house market research or hires an outside firm depends on your budget, time availability, and comfort level in the world of research.
To collect actionable information on products and services, businesses conduct two main types of market research – primary and secondary. Primary research pursues firsthand information and focuses on consumer surveys, interviews, focus groups, and so on. The results of this type of research are helpful when you establish buyer personas and are looking to segment your target audience. Secondary research is more useful for analyzing your competition and relies on any and all public data and records you can access to draw conclusions from. Secondary research might include looking at market statistics, sales data, trend reports, and other similar sources.
Create buyer personas to help you visualize your target audience and understand how best to create a communication plan. For more about creating buyer personas, click here.
Prepare a discussion guide or set of questions that can guide your conversation. Open-ended questions are an excellent way to obtain longer, more informational responses. Plus, it keeps you from leading participants one way or another. These same questions can also be crafted into an online survey so you receive similar veins of feedback regardless of the way in which consumers go about providing it.
Include questions that help you get to know your buyers, how they became aware of your brand as a solution to their problem, other solutions they considered, what criteria they used to make their decision, and what factors had the greatest influence on their final decision. You’ll also want to ask questions that help you understand what changes could be made on your end to deliver a more positive user experience.
Using your buyer persona(s), reach out to a representative sample of consumers. This group would include recent customers as well as people who did not ultimately convert by either purchasing from a competitor or not making a purchase at all. (If you have problems finding people who didn’t buy from you, consider putting out a social media request to followers. Some of them who haven’t used your products or services might be willing to discuss why.)
Once you have your discussion guide completed and prospective participants identified, there are a number of options for moving forward. You can convene focus groups – offer coffee and treats, a discount, or another minimal form of compensation. This format will often lead the conversation into unchartered but helpful waters as participants work off of one another. You can speak to people individually by conducting phone interviews and garner more individual feedback by pushing out your online survey through email and social media.
Identify your primary competitors and create a list of those in your industry whose services or products parallel your own. You can search social media platforms, obtain market forecasts and reports, or utilize a resource like G2 Crowd to understand high performers in your area.
Use search engines to identify content competitors. Compare search results of relevant keywords and phrases to find the websites that come up repetitively. Those that rank high again and again are businesses you should pay attention to as you are building your own brand. They are obviously respected for the industry-specific content they are creating and can be a resource to help you stay on top of trends and best practices.
Once you’ve collected your data and information, organize it and analyze it. Create a table of survey or interview participants so you can segment them by persona. Look for common themes. Did multiple people indicate a common trigger that led them to a purchasing decision? Was there a common path that consumers followed as they went through the buyer’s journey or was it random? Write an executive summary that discusses the most interesting findings and how you plan to respond. Create an action plan that details your priorities, how you will go about things, a timeline for doing so, and the results you expect from those actions.
With all of the advances in technology, the field of research marketing can expect a change in the way research is done. The following are some anticipated trends:
Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and Machine Learning
Will allow gathering and interpretation of big data. Will allow researchers to focus on the “why” instead of spending time on establishing what, when, where and how. Will eliminate restrictions on sampling and reach required to provide accurate insights.
Market Research will shift towards Data Science
Researchers will use visualization and machine learning tools to help find data trends and patterns. Data science will identify what and then market research will determine why. Data science and market research practices will combine to create a singular view of research.
There will be an increase in Smartphone based research.
New applications enable the gathering of data regarding consumer behavior allowing greater insight based on location, gender, age, purchasing behaviors, and more.
Remember, the Internet is a good starting point but be aware of posting dates and sources as you go and take things with a grain of salt. Subjective thoughts and anecdotes from recent customers paired with solid research data can inform your planning and practices to help you make better decisions for your brand. From content creation to marketing strategy to product or service choices, let your market research results guide you. If you feel your organization lacks the experienced staff or simply the time to conduct comprehensive market research, reach out to the experts at Strategy Driven Marketing to learn more about the services we offer. We look forward to partnering with you to design and conduct market research that will help take your brand to the next level. Contact us today for a free, 30-minute consultation.