Market research is an essential practice for any business that hopes to keep up with the competition. Information is the most valuable resource, and market research is how you can gather that information. Whether you’re a small business or a huge national brand, market research should be at the forefront of your plans if you want to quickly grow your business.
Surveys are a very reliable and simple questioning market research method to gather information directly from your customers. Back in the pre-digital age, surveys were usually done manually through paper forms handed out to customers. This method is rather slow and wasteful for large-scale market research, so the much more appropriate alternative is using an online form that you could send as a link or e-mail directly to your clientele.
Not only is a digital medium much more convenient for the survey respondents, but it’s also much easier to compile data for the business. A lot of forms can be analyzed quickly and provide business leaders with the data they need. Surveys are simple, incredibly customizable, and clear questions will provide you with clear results.
Focus groups are rather simple, but it’s surprisingly difficult to pull off properly. However, it provides a very unique experience for both the customers and business that’s hard to see with any other method. Setting up a room, picking a bunch of people to sit and discuss within the room about your business, then observing their reactions and answers.
This is a very personal way to understand your market. Surveys are very handy for macro-planning, but focus groups scale it down in a way that lets you see first-hand how your customers will actually react to your new projects. The natural flow of discussion isn’t something that can be easily manufactured, and focus groups enable that flow to occur.
If you’ve heard of the old adage “the best method to teach swimming is pushing someone into a pool”, field trials are like that, but with a lot less flailing in the metaphorical pool. Experiments and field trials (such as taste testing or free product demonstrations) let you see what people will actually do with your items. Their reactions gauge how effective your project could be with a random group of people.
However, make sure that you have passed the legal guidelines within your region. Letting a field trial occur that causes problems could spell disaster for your business reputation. Make sure that any products or trials you conduct do not end up harming anybody or causing any trouble. When done properly, field trials give some impressive results.
Observation is a simple method and it’s exactly what it sounds like. For example, ask your managers to take note of how customers react around a store, for example. Do they go to a particular section of the store often? Are there questions they always end up asking? These kinds of interactions are only possible in a real-time environment.
Unlike a field trial, this isn’t specifically geared towards a specific product. Observation is a general method that is tailored towards authenticity. With no control factors, it’s the best way to observe how customers really think in the absence of a sales representative who is actively trying to get them to say something.
Social Media Analysis
Social media is a relatively new method, but it has proven to be one of the most effective ways to gauge what the market is like for your business. Social media already has built-in features such as likes, comments, and sharing that immediately lets you know what your customers think in real-time. In a way, social media is a combination of several marketing tools.
You can certainly observe your customers and how they interact with your business accounts, you can post quick and simple surveys (for example, Like if you want product A, Heart if you want product B), and focus groups could be done via Zoom meetings or live streams. Social media is a powerful marketing research tool for market analysis, and learning its ins and outs is crucial for a modern business.
Buy Industry Reports
A sad truth of business is that you can’t dedicate 100% of your time to everything. Methods might offer you a lot more control, but it unfortunately also costs time and resources. Not to mention, some methods might be simply infeasible for your business, especially if manpower is in short supply. In such cases, buying research data could be a feasible alternative.
The importance of market research can’t be underestimated, so you can’t just go without it altogether. Whether by hiring a third party or just buying existing research data, using third parties is a potentially fantastic shortcut for market research. For large businesses, this is even more useful, as it allows them to focus on big picture stuff while third parties handle the important but time-intensive parts.