Ultimately, market research comes down to making your business decisions based on information, not guesses. Unlike a general online search, this information is tailored to your specific company or business needs.
What is Market Research?
Most simply, market research is “the action or activity of gathering information about people’s needs, opinions and preferences.”
But is that simple?
How do we get started? Who are the “people” for our purposes? What needs and preferences can we better understand? How should that information be collected? How does information turn into insight a business can use? And when it comes down to it, why should we care about doing market research?
Research to Help Make Your Case
Most organizations prefer to make decisions based on data. Some of that data is concrete and transactional: the number of clicks to your website, the number of widgets sold per month, the number of calls to your Call Center.
Research helps you bring another layer to your data-driven decisions. Your concrete metrics might tell you that Call Center volumes are up or down – but it won’t tell you how or in which cases the Call Center interaction is adding to or detracting from their total experience of your company. It might tell you that web site visits are fewer and of shorter duration, but not what visitors were looking for and not finding, or which potential enhancements to the site they would find most helpful. It can tell you a purchase was made, but it cannot tell you why they chose your company / that product, or if they still have any unmet needs.
Answers to these questions can only be answered by getting enough input from people (viewers, visitors, customers, resellers, etc.) so that you understand that audience as a whole. Too often companies rely on a couple of conversations with their easiest-to-reach / “best” customer, or a few online comments, and that non-representative, anecdotal evidence is all the additional insight they have to inform their business decisions. That can steer you in the wrong direction – or worse, alienate a large portion of your target customers who feel differently.
Market research aims to understand the motivations of your customers (etc.) holistically, as well as identify and understand any segments (subsets) of them that may have distinct needs and values.
Before you make a large business investment in the next big thing, whether that’s a new or enhanced product, service, platform or marketing campaign, including some measures of current or potential client perspectives in your business case is a good idea.
And if you already made that investment, market research may be one of the data points you use to prove how much success that investment is yielding, and where to improve to make that investment go even farther.
Coming up: Stages of a Research Project
Over our next few posts, we’ll talk about the steps to a successful research project, and the factors to consider. Subscribe to make sure you don’t miss an issue. Do you have a question about market research? Post a comment below, and it may make its way into a future post.
Do you have a question you hope to answer with market research? Contact our team at Coax Insights. We’d be happy to help.