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Marketing Research - The Art of Knowing


Market research is the action of collecting, analysing and interpreting information and data to help solve marketing challenges. By conducting research and analysing the resulting data, businesses can gain insights into customer needs and behaviour, stay competitive, make informed decisions, and even manage risk.

Features and Benefits of Market Research: Market research and data analysis help inform decisions, from determining the feasibility of launching a new product before dedicating time and budget to the new venture to the correct strategy and campaign when rolling out all the other marketing activities needed to support that and the ongoing business as a whole. When carried out correctly, Market Research can help you understand your target audience and the key messages you should convey.

Positive Impact and Advantages: Ideally market research and data analysis should be treated as an ongoing activity, not just a one-off project. Why? It’s better to be aware of your ever-changing business environment, your customers, and their needs, preferences, and behaviours on an ongoing basis. The world is constantly evolving and reacting to circumstances, from politics to finance and other trends and influences, so understanding which factors are changing that could impact your marketing plans and the business itself could be crucial.

Risks of Not Doing Robust Market Research: Not engaging in market research may not set your business back, but you’ll never know. Imagine launching products or services that don’t quite hit the mark with your customers because you didn’t take the time to understand their real needs and preferences. This would not only lead to poor sales but may also sour customer relationships.

Then there’s marketing. Without insights from market research, your marketing efforts might miss the target, wasting valuable resources and failing to drum up the interest you need. You could also be blind to new opportunities that market research often highlights.

Market Research: What’s It All About?

There are basically five kinds of market research, all of which can be carried out according to information required or already available, and budget. These are surveys, focus groups, 1-2-1 interviews, observational research, product tests, usability tests, and field experiments.
Within these categories, there are two types of research:

Primary Research: generally involves gathering new insights, first-hand, that has not been collected before and focused on specific business objectives.

Secondary Research: sometimes referred to as desk research, and involves gathering data that already exists either within a company or compiled by other external sources.

Existing company data will include customer databases, transactional data, previous research, web analytics etc.

External sources will include published reports and studies, Government data, statistical databases and data accessed via research aggregators

Within these two main categories of research findings, the different types of data collection can be defined as Qualitative research and Quantitative research.

Qualitative research is all about getting to the heart of how people think and feel. It dives deep into understanding customer opinions, emotions, and motivations through methods like in-depth interviews, focus groups, and observation. This type of research is invaluable when

you want to explore new ideas or get nuanced feedback on existing products. It’s less about counting responses and more about understanding the ‘why’ behind them. For instance, if you’re wondering why a product isn’t hitting the mark, qualitative research can uncover those underlying reasons by encouraging participants to share their thoughts in a detailed, open-ended format.

On the other hand, quantitative research focuses on crunching numbers. It uses surveys, questionnaires and statistical data to gather measurable, numerical insights from a large group of people. This method is great for validating hypotheses with hard data, like how many people prefer one product version over another or the percentage of your target market that considers a specific feature important.

Quantitative research provides a bird’s-eye view of consumer trends and behaviours, offering a broader, more generalisable set of results that can guide major strategic decisions.

Both types of research offer unique benefits and can be used together to provide a comprehensive understanding of your market. While qualitative research offers depth, quantitative provides breadth, each filling in the gaps the other leaves.

In addition to all the above, the research can be carried out online, ‘live’, or face-to-face.

How to Decide What You Need to Know

When considering what information you need to gather for effective market research, start by focusing on the heart of any business: its customers. Understanding customer desires and satisfaction is paramount. You need to explore not just what customers currently like about your offerings but also their unmet needs. Could there be hidden demands that your business has the potential to satisfy?

Next, evaluate your target markets, especially if you’re planning to expand. Who are these potential new customers, and what specific needs do they have? This involves not only identifying demographic and psychographic characteristics but also understanding the cultural and economic factors that influence their buying decisions.

Competition is another crucial factor. Analyse your current competitors as well as potential competitors in any new markets you are considering entering. This includes looking at the number of competitors, their market share, their strengths and weaknesses, and how your business stacks up in comparison.

Also, assess the effectiveness of your current pricing strategy and promotional activities. Is your pricing competitive? Are promotions reaching the right audience and achieving the desired effect?

Finally, ensure you have a comprehensive understanding of the broader market environment. This includes staying informed about industry trends, regulatory changes, and technological advancements that could impact your business.

Effective market research should provide a well-rounded picture of where your business stands, what your customers need and want, and how best to position yourself in a competitive landscape. This foundational knowledge is critical for strategic decision-making and long-term business success.

Why Take Professional Advice on Conducting Market Research in Your Own Business?

Designing the right research, sample size and type, asking the right questions and analysing data is a specialist expertise. An experienced market research professional will be an accredited member of a recognised professional trade association and, therefore, be well-versed in the different types of research, how to ask the right questions, what they are, and in a way that avoids bias and elicits genuine responses. The phrasing of questions can significantly influence how respondents answer, which can ultimately impact the reliability and utility of the data collected.

Understanding the complexities of market research can be daunting, which is why seeking professional advice takes away the pressure. Designing the right type of research, determining the appropriate sample size, crafting effective questions, and interpreting the data accurately requires specialist expertise.

Experienced market research professionals typically hold accreditations from recognised trade associations, underscoring their expertise in various research methodologies. These experts understand not only what questions to ask but also how to ask them in a way that avoids bias and elicits genuine responses. The phrasing of questions can significantly influence how respondents answer, which can ultimately impact the reliability and utility of the data collected.

Moreover, the interpretation of data is a critical area where expertise is invaluable. Data can be manipulated to support almost any conclusion, but a skilled researcher will navigate through biases to provide clear, honest, and statistically significant analyses. They ensure that the findings are not only accurate but also meaningful and tailored to meet the specific needs of the client.

Involving a market research professional ensures that the approach is scientifically robust, the data is sound, and the insights derived are genuinely useful for strategic decision-making. This professional input transforms raw data into actionable intelligence, helping businesses to strategise effectively and gain a competitive edge. Therefore, investing in professional market research advice is not just about doing research; it’s about ensuring that the research drives meaningful outcomes for your business.

Frequently Asked Questions about Using Market Research

Market Research FAQs

What is market research?

MMarket research is the process of collecting, analysing, and interpreting information to help solve marketing challenges. It provides insights into customer needs and behaviour, enabling businesses to stay competitive, make informed decisions, manage risks, and measure success.

Why is market research important for a business?

Market research is crucial because it informs strategic decisions ranging from launching new products to developing effective marketing campaigns. It helps businesses understand their target audience, what messages to convey, and how best to reach them, thereby enhancing the potential for success.

What are the risks of not conducting market research?

Neglecting market research can result in launching products that do not meet customer needs, ineffective marketing efforts, and missed business opportunities. This can lead to poor sales, damaged customer relationships, and a competitive disadvantage that might jeopardize the survival of the business.

What are the main types of market research?

The five main types are surveys, focus groups, 1-2-1 interviews, observational research, product tests, usability tests, and field experiments. These can be adapted based on the specific needs, available information, and budget.

What is the difference between primary and secondary research?

Primary research involves collecting new, firsthand insights focused on specific business objectives. In contrast, secondary research, or desk research, involves gathering existing data from internal sources like company records or external sources like government data and published reports.

How do qualitative and quantitative research differ?

Qualitative research seeks to understand how people think and feel, exploring customer opinions and motivations through in-depth methods like interviews and focus groups. Quantitative research gathers measurable data through surveys and questionnaires to provide statistical insights into consumer behaviour and preferences.

What should I consider when deciding what information to gather through market research?

Focus on understanding customer desires, satisfaction, and unmet needs. Analyse your target markets, assess competitors, review your pricing strategy and promotional activities, and stay informed about broader market trends and regulatory changes.

How can market research impact business strategy?

Effective market research provides a well-rounded view of where a business stands in relation to its customers and competitors. This foundational knowledge is critical for strategic decision-making and shaping long-term business success.

Why should I take professional advice for conducting market research?

Market research is a specialist area requiring expertise in designing research, determining sample sizes, crafting effective questions, and interpreting data accurately. Professionals ensure that the research methodology is robust and the data collected is reliable and useful for making strategic decisions.

What are the credentials of a skilled market research professional?

Experienced market research professionals are often accredited members of recognised trade associations, indicating their expertise in various research methodologies and ethical standards. They are skilled in asking the right questions in a way that avoids bias and in interpreting data to provide clear, actionable insights.

How often should a business conduct market research?

Market research should ideally be an ongoing activity, not just a one-off project. Continuous research helps businesses stay aware of changing customer preferences, market conditions, and emerging trends, allowing them to adapt their strategies effectively.

Can small businesses benefit from market research?

Absolutely. Market research is not only for large corporations. Small businesses can also gain significant advantages by understanding their niche market, identifying customer needs, and monitoring competitors, which can guide more focused and effective strategies.


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