Successful entrepreneurs use market research to keep up with trends, make better business decisions and maintain their company’s competitive edge. Regardless of whether you’re starting or expanding your business, research is vital to understanding your target markets and increasing sales.
Here are some specific areas where market research can help you build a stronger business.
1. Improve your branding
Many companies don’t have a good handle on their brand. They ask themselves: How do customers perceive us? How does our brand stack up against our competition?
You can use market research to improve your branding by exploring such subject as:
- Brand awareness—Are customers aware and familiar with your brand?
- Competitive comparisons—How do customers view your company compared to the competition?
- Personification—What characteristics and traits do customers associate with your brand?
You can also survey customers to gather feedback on marketing content such as logos, brochures, websites, etc. Brand research is typically conducted by interviewing customers or organizing focus groups. In this way, you can explore different topics in-depth and get feedback from the participants. The results will help you develop brand positioning and improve your marketing assets.
2. Understand your customers better
Sometimes entrepreneurs need better information on the size of their market, their target customers and how best to reach them. We recently completed a study for a client who had developed a new kitchen product and wanted insights on her target market. Here are some of thing we wanted to find out about typical customers for this new product.
- How old are they?
- Are they male or female?
- What is their marital status?
- Do they have children?
- Where do they live?
- What is their level of education?
- What kind of social media do they use?
We designed a questionnaire to be answered online by 1,000 consumers across Canada. This type of consumer study helps us to understand the profile of the target audience so that we can develop focused brand positioning. By focusing your efforts on the right target market, you can see faster results, improved efficiency and greater overall performance from your marketing campaigns.
3. Measure the effectiveness of your marketing
Lots of entrepreneurs want to do a better job promoting their companies and generating sales. Market research can help by providing information on the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. We can design studies to gather feedback from customers on the look and feel of your marketing messages. We can also measure customer awareness and reaction to specific marketing campaigns and activities.
Gathering this type of data can really help maximize your marketing budget by helping you design marketing that reaches and resonates with your audience.
4. Identify new opportunities
Market research can help you identify new market opportunities that might be available to your company. It can help identify geographic regions for expansion and/or test the market’s readiness for your new products or services.
For example, you could be looking to open a new retail store and need to find the right location. Or you may be planning to change your distribution channel and need to determine how the decision will affect your customer base.
To answer these questions, we could analyze existing data from government publications, Statistics Canada data and/or industry specific reports. These sources provide insights in such areas as:
- Market size
- Market share statistics
- Industry dynamics
- Major industry suppliers
- Key competitors
- General industry data such as number of firms and their geographic distribution
Obtaining this type of market data is a necessary first step to help firmly “size up a new market” to determine the optimal business strategy and operations.
5. Get insights into product features
If you’ve come up with a new product or are improving an existing one, you will want to know whether you have the right features and packaging. Research will provide insights your company can use to refine your products before you commit to expensive production costs.
When we design new product research, we gather consumer feedback on a concept and/or a prototype. We also collect data on consumer reaction to the product and its features, including its look, design, usability, colours, packaging and other variables.
We might also ask how consumers would shop for this product to gather insights for a distribution plan. We can also ask for reactions to the marketing messages, creative content and promotional ideas that are planned for the product launch.
Typically, we’d start with qualitative research (interviews or focus groups) because this conversational format allows us to gather rich, in-depth feedback from consumers. If possible, we would provide a prototype or sample of the product for customers to touch and use.
After that, we would validate the research insights with comprehensive survey with a similar audience but a larger sample set (i.e. more than 100 consumers). By doing this, we will have rich data to make informed decisions on finalizing the product concept and/or design.
Share your comments
Have you tried market research in the past? Did it help you make business decisions? We’d love to know so leave a comment below.