Get Growing: The value of market research for your business
By Lindsay Mueller for Bizwomen.
Whether your business has been around for 10 years, or you are just starting to develop your business plan, understanding who your customers are and what your target market wants is vital to your success. Market research allows you to take a deeper look at the needs, wants, and preferences of your customers while also providing greater insight into how your product or service will be received by your target demographic.
The consumer data collected from market research is analyzed for trends and insights. Once you have developed your market research plan, use primary information such as surveys and focus groups, and secondary information such as industry studies and consumer research that already exists, to identify insights and trends your business might have been missing before.
Collecting surveys: Online surveys are a great way to interact with a larger sample size without having to worry about the logistics of scheduling or finding a convenient location. Surveys can be sent to your company’s email list or shared on your social media platforms to increase the pool of respondents. When creating your market research survey, it is important to remember the goal of each question and to always call back to the research question you are trying to answer. It is also important to keep your surveys short, simple, easily accessible, and to ensure you are keeping the information provided private and protected. Platforms such as Survey Monkey or Qualtrics offer free accounts for individuals to build out surveys of varying length and formats.
Focus groups: Although they require more of a formal plan and budget, focus groups are a great way to listen to consumers’ thoughts and feedback in a controlled, transparent environment. As the name implies, focus groups also allow the attention of the group to be directed only to the topic at hand. The organic dialogue focus groups allow lets you learn more about what is motivating consumers and understand the “why” behind their actions.
Industry research: To gain a better understanding of your industry at a national level and bolster the research you are conducting, reviewing industry studies that have been conducted nationwide can better identify the needs, wants, and preferences of your consumers. This research is also a great way to better understand the larger demographic landscape of your target market if your primary information can only be gathered in one location. It is important to always verify and check the sources of the studies you review and be sure to look at a variety of information that has been collected to ensure you are getting as many unbiased/reliable resources as possible. Be sure to leverage local resources, such as Small Business Development Centers, during your research, as they often have market research tools available at no-to-low cost to you.