Today’s business leaders face an endless stream of decisions around target markets, pricing, product and service features, distribution routes, media channels and more. Market research is the activity of gathering information about market needs and preferences to help those responsible for marketing activity make such decisions.

Market research often focuses on understanding:

  • The customer (what they look like, what they like, need)
  • The company (product and service features, pricing, sales, distribution)
  • The competitors (where they differ to you and where they add value)

A key requirement for any research is to be very clear on the objectives and on the actions you are going to take or the decisions you need to make as a result of the information you gather.

Why do market research?

The most successful brands rely on data to inform and measure their strategy and decision making from their marketing segmentation to the product features they develop.

Without research, business decisions are based at best, on past consumer behaviour and at worst, on “gut feel”. We have all been in meetings when someone there has said “I like it” or “I don’t like it” about a creative concept or product idea or feature. Except you are not the consumer. As a brand, you are there to serve your target market(s) and market research will help you do that by ensuring the decisions you make are insight-driven. Done properly by an independent, impartial market research company – research can help resolve those endless discussions about what you and your colleagues think you know about your consumers and how they think or feel.

By identifying and gathering feedback from your target consumers, you can understand how they feel about your products and services, your brand and your communications before you go to market – thus avoiding costly mistakes. And by an ongoing process of monitoring and measuring feedback, you can continuously improve things giving you a higher chance of success.

Outcomes of good market research

Market researchers use a range of methodologies depending on the objectives of the research and different types of surveys focus on specific areas of research. It is therefore important to focus on the purpose of the research to ensure that you get the information you need to make informed decisions. Trying to squeeze too many objectives into one research project just results in confused data and respondent fatigue.

Good research typically delivers 4 key outcomes:

  • Clarity – simple explanations of relationships and interactions – the “why do they?”
  • Objectivity – telling the truth without bias
  • Communication – helping all those in the organisation to understand consumers’ views and problems and identify solutions
  • Improvement – identifying opportunities for change which will reap positive consumer reactions

Regardless of the department you work in, understanding how best to serve your consumers is the ultimate goal of any market research and the role of all in an organisation.