The Value of Marketing Research

  1. It helps businesses strengthen their position. Knowledge is power. Use market research to gain a better perspective and understanding of your market or target audience and ensure that your firm stays ahead of the competition.
  2. It minimises any investment risk. This is a simple but vitally important and often overlooked critical business consideration. Spending what is often only a small proportion of your investment on researching and testing the market, product, concept or idea makes sound business sense.
  3. It identifies potential threats and opportunities. Both primary research (fieldwork) and secondary research (desk research) can be utilised as an insurance policy against both obvious dangers on the road ahead. Coupling this with some qualitative research for deeper probing can highlight certain opportunities or warning signs that may otherwise have been missed.
  4. It helps to discover your and your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s vitally important to adopt an ‘eyes wide open’ approach to any market research project which is why it’s often advised to work with a market research agency to ensure completely unbiased reporting. Use research findings to adapt and learn from your own weaknesses whilst capitalising on your new-found knowledge from competitor analysis to take advantage and forge ahead of the pack.
  5. It facilitates strategic planning. What is the foundation of your business strategy? If it’s evidence based and you’ve taken the time to invest in your own (and hopefully ongoing) research, you can be confident that you’ve given yourself the best chance to achieve your business goals.
  6. It helps in spotting emerging trends. Staying ahead in business is often about being the first, being the best or doing something that no-one else has thought about. Regularly taking the ‘pulse’ of what’s hot and what’s not in your industry is a key discipline. Speak to your research agency or research consultant about the range of techniques you can employ to spot and exploit these trends.
  7. It assists businesses to stay ahead of the competition. Being the best demands a relentlessness to keep getting the basics right combined with a curiosity and willingness to innovate. Knowing how to leverage the findings and insights you extract from market research, audience research and data research are the keys to both getting ahead and staying ahead.
  8. It provides revenue projections. A market forecast is a core component of a market analysis projecting the future numbers, characteristics, and trends in your target market. Potential customers can then be divided into segments. You want to focus on the best market – which is not necessarily the largest one or the market with the highest growth – it will be the one that matches your own company profile.
  9. It focuses on customer needs and demands. There are so many important reasons to keep your customers at the centre of all that you do in business and the same goes for research. With so many ways to reach customers using online panels, web communities, telephone survey’s, depth interviews and focus groups, market research keeps you attentive to where you can improve your proposition, customer service or product offering.
  10. It helps to evaluate the success of a business against benchmarks. A PWC survey found that companies that benchmark achieve 69% faster growth and 45% greater productivity than those that don’t. Use market research for competitor research, employee engagement surveys, and to highlight performance or knowledge gaps and areas for potential growth. This will open your company up to thinking about new methods, ideas and tools to improve your business effectiveness.

Common Mistakes

  1. Failing to do any market research. Do you really know who your customers are or what they want? Do you know what the potential market is for the product/service you are about to launch? Before taking your business to the next level, do your research and avoid the pain of barking up the wrong tree!
  2. Asking flawed questions that produce flawed results. Market research is essentially the study of people and what motivates them. If the scripting of your survey is flawed to start with, then you’ll never get the feedback that will help you make strategic decisions. It’s worth investing in expert advice at the very start of your study.
  3. Not knowing what you are looking for. “How are we going to find that out and what are we supposed to measure?” It’s often best to start with some qualitative interviews with a small sample to help guide you towards the right questions.
  4. Carrying out market research once and not finding out how things have changed. Make sure to test things once you’ve changed them, like running a follow up survey to get feedback from your new marketing campaign to measure it’s impact on brand perception.
  5. Being unclear about what you are trying to find out or, asking questions in the wrong way and getting wrong information. There are a number of methodologies that can be used that contain subtle use of language and questioning. You’ll be amazed at what an experienced researcher can help you discover.
  6. Not getting information from a reputable source. Buy cheap, buy twice. Or at worst, blow your whole budget on useless data. Work with a company that has established connections with trusted information sources.
  7. Cutting costs by using small samples or just asking a couple of friends. This is a classic mistake that we have all perhaps been guilty of. Don’t rely solely on the feedback of family and friends for an objective view when it comes to a critical business  decision. Use a broad cross-section of respondents that aren’t just going to tell you what you want to hear.
  8. Having a poor choice of reference materials. Researching new product ideas, concepts, packaging or advertising campaigns? Then think about what, and how you are going to show these to your audience in order to evaluate them and obtain the best feedback and insights.
  9. Interpreting statistics wrongly and failing to see when one or two opinions distort the overall picture. Ensure you have the appropriate skill set to look at raw data and ensure that any outliers are removed before the analysis phase so as not to give false results.
  10. Analysing information too optimistically and then kidding yourself that it supports your preconceptions. No matter how much you hope something to be true, the evidence will speak for itself. Using an external market research agency provides an unbiased view on interpretation of the results.

* Lists gratefully excerpted from thinkturquoise.com.

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