This article covers the basics of market research we typically conduct at LKI Consulting. It is aimed at educating junior and mid-level marketers on how to undertake their first research task and at providing useful tips on how to start and structure the research process.
It goes without saying, that if you want your business to succeed, you have to do a proper research and plan important aspects before entering the market with your product or service. On the other hand, in case you want to improve your business performance, you also have to gather information regarding the potential demand for your product and current supply provided by the competitors, analyze typical buyer’s profiles, and clearly define your target audience.
However, before diving into the research process, you need to know the two types of sources where you can get valuable information from, eg. primary and secondary research.
The main objective of conducting the primary research is collecting information about the market and customers directly, rather than depending on data collected previously by others. This methodology is very important in order to segment your market and understand buyers’ profiles. There are two types of research: exploratory and specific.
The main objective of exploratory research is to determine a problem that is not clearly defined. Generally, it is done to have a better understanding of an existing problem – however, most of the time it does not lead to any conclusive result.
For example, an ice cream shop owner thinks that introducing more ice cream flavours will result in an increase in customers – although the owner is not so sure about his assumption and needs more insight. In this case the owner can carry out the exploratory research to find out if extending the variety of the ice cream flavours will eventually result in attracting more customers, or perhaps, there is a better alternative idea available.
Another example of this type of research is a template by questionpro.com that did a survey about a podcast. This survey is designed to ask listeners and people who are not subscribed questions about their consumption of the podcast.
Moreover, depending on the subject of your research, a marketer can also conduct in-depth interviews with consumers, experts or employees, create various surveys/polls, and organize focus groups.
This type of research most commonly follows the exploratory primary research. It is used to dig deeper into challenges or opportunities that are crucial for the business. While conducting the research invite a few representatives of the target audience and ask questions about the specific business case or challenge.
This type of research represents gathering all the information, data, and records that are already available to the public. For example, market statistics, company sales data, published reports, previous case studies, and literature available on the specific topic. Nowadays, you can find most of the secondary external information online. By the way, this type of research is especially beneficial when you need to analyze your competitive environment.
– Low cost;
– It is very flexible and you can make changes in the progress;
– It provides results specifically for your company;
– It gives more insight into the problem.
Now, you have probably decided on what type of research you want to conduct. The following steps are for how to conduct exploratory research.
To begin the process of market research, a specific problem should be identified. After that, you can move to step 2.
After identifying the problem, it is important to list the research objectives.
By creating a buyer profile (based on age, gender, location, job, income, etc.), it will be easier for you to do the next steps. By knowing the profiles of the typical buyer, you should then find the right people for participating in your research. Also, take into account that people normally do not want to go through a questionnaire that is longer than 30 min. Therefore, to motivate them, you can offer remuneration or propose exclusive deals.
After defining the problem and stating the objectives, a research design should be developed. You have to create a plan on how you want to conduct your research and which information collecting methods to use – for example, in-depth interview or survey, – which platform is better to use. Then a decision needs to be made on the content of your study, including the questions to be asked.
By making a list of your competitors and analyzing their strategies and tactics will help to improve your own business decision-making process.
After completing all of the steps above – it is time to take action! Follow your plan, step by step, and, what is most important, be patient. Do not be afraid to adjust your objectives, problem definition, or anything else if required.
Analyze the data that you have collected, summarize and present it to your stakeholders. Add an abstract or a brief introduction on why the study has been conducted. Talk about the participants, state the most interesting findings, provide key interesting information you have found, present conclusions as well as recommendations, and, finally, present your action plan.
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