Easy and effective market research
Good market research will help you better understand what customers want to buy, and what they’re willing to pay.
Knowing your market and understanding your customers should be top of your Must Do list. Good market research will help you better understand what customers want to buy, and what they’re willing to pay. This will mean you’re in a better position to be their preferred choice.
Market research need not necessarily be complex or time consuming. In fact, it’s something that every business in Canada does – often without even referring to it as market research.
You’ve probably already gathered information about the feasibility of your idea, including:
The most useful information is often what you collect first-hand, within your own market (or prospective market) and through your own operations and customers. With this ‘primary source’ market research you can find out:
Depending on the size of your initial customer base, you’re likely able to gain primary information through person-to-person conversations with your customers (for example, face-to-face, online or by phone).
However, as you continue to add customers you’ll find it more challenging to respond to them individually. So, you may want to consider other ways of gaining customer insights.
Market research can also be gathered through secondary sources, such as:
Customer surveys can be administered directly (by a sales person) or distributed in a non-invasive way. This can include simple measures such as the visible placement of customer feedback forms or questionnaires at your place of business, or within mailed invoices.
If you maintain a website, you can also include multi-level surveys for customers at little or no cost. There are numerous on-line options available for DIY surveys, and many of them are free. Links to the survey should feature prominently on your homepage and in e-mail and other correspondence with your customers.
This can be a little more difficult. People don’t often respond well to unsolicited email and telemarketing.. The direct mail approach is less restricted, but has a relatively low response rate.
Face-to-face approaches such as at a consumer or trade fair where target customers will be present are likely to be more successful. Providing incentives can increase the response rate (for instance, offer a coupon, discount or sample for completed surveys).
Other methods of gaining primary research include focus groups (a gathering of consumers who’re brought together to discuss a product) and personal interviews (one-on-one sessions with consumers).
Offering product samples and comparison products at these events is a good way to generate discussion.
The range of questions you may raise during a market research exercise will vary from product to product, or service to service. It should include questions to determine:
A first and easy step you can do to improve your market research is to turn your initial customers’ feedback into data. Keep a record of the feedback you receive from new customers and compare customers’ preferences and complaints. This will give you a data set from which you can start drawing conclusions and shaping strategy.