Market research is an essential process for any growing business to undertake, to better understand the markets to which they are catering. Past early-day SWOT analysis, and long-term and ongoing market research strategies are crucial for a business’ longevity – allowing it to shift its priorities and approaches to an ever-shifting audience. But what are some essential ways you can nail your market research?
The humble survey is the bread and butter of any market research. Through questionnaires with existing customers and opinion-canvassing of potential new customers, you can find out what makes the various factions of your demographic tick.
Surveys may provide quantitative data to a degree, but they are qualitative by nature. The language you use to form your questions and the subjectivity with which they are received can render your results less-than-accurate. But the results you do get can give you a strong idea regarding simple trends within your target audience.
Focus groups lean into the qualitative nature of customer opinion and feedback. By gathering a small, representative group to discuss your products and strategy, you can gain a clearer, more distinct picture of the customer needs you should be indulging. Not only this, but you can use debate between participants to inform the nuance of your strategy itself. Focus groups are perhaps the closest you can get to qualitatively reviewing your core demographic, to better cater to them.
But the ubiquity of social media presents you with a new opportunity to gain data and evidence regarding your brand’s stature and reach – and even evaluate new strategies as they launch. ‘Social listening’ is the act of recording and evaluating your indirect brand presence online, through mentions on social media posts. Listening goes further than tracking brand reach for company posts, instead evaluating consumer responses through their own words on the subject.
Trial and Error
For all the talk about data analysis and trend tracking, there is one method of practical research you can undertake that delivers simple, usable information at the drop of a hat: trial and error. If you have a product you want to try out on the market, or a marketing strategy you think intuitively might work, just do it. The proof is in the pudding; if it works well, congratulations! And if it doesn’t, you can simply retract and try again.
Of course, this isn’t the most efficient way to do this – and there is a bona fide research strategy you can use to legitimize your trial-and-error methodology, called A/B testing. A/B testing sees you split your audience into two comparable camps by demographic. Camp A receives one iteration of your product or marketing strategy, while Camp B receives a different strategy.
The resulting data from customer onboarding and retention tells you a great deal about the efficacy of each strategy in comparison with one another, allowing you to iterate your strategy without wasting time or resources.