In post-millennial 2021, consumers hold all the power. With the mere flick of a wrist and the tapping of a few keys, they can find out everything there is to know about your company. They can also explore your product or service offering and make an informed decision as to whether to do business with you, all in under a few minutes.
Consumers today are also less likely to engage with your business via a sales rep and are more inclined to seek out reviews and customer referrals.
With this in mind, it’s important for businesses to adapt their marketing strategies to suit the behaviours of their target audience members.
But just how can businesses enter the minds of their prospective clients? Well, through thorough market research, of course!
Whether you’re a newbie on the market or a reputable brand with many years behind you, market research is a vital exercise for any entrepreneur if they hope to appeal to, and serve, their customers in the best way possible.
We’re here to equip you with the blueprint for market research success by taking you through the different types of market research and giving you tips on how to conduct research into your target audience efficiently and effectively.
Let’s get into it!
What is market research and why is it so important?
Market research entails the gathering of information on your business’s target audience, buyers personas and the behaviours that inform the way they interact with consumer products and services.
Market research and analysis allows you to meet prospective customers where they are and provides helpful insight into the viability of future business ventures.
Primary vs. Secondary research: What’s the difference?
There are two main types of research that entrepreneurs and business owners can conduct when exploring their market and prospective consumers.
Primary research refers to information that is gathered from first-hand sources. This is useful when segmenting your market and establishing buyer personas.
Secondary research involves data and public resources and is particularly useful when conducting competitor reviews.
How to conduct market research
When done right, conducting market research and constructing a market analysis takes a lot of time and a tremendous amount of research.
Follow these tips and tricks to help guide you through the market research process:
Identify what information you need
Understanding trends within your market and identifying gaps could mean the difference between business success or failure. Take a look at the current state of your market and utilise this information to recognise and exploit opportunities.
Pinpoint your target audience and define buyer personas
Before you explore how prospective consumers make buying decisions, it’s important to understand who they are.
To help you fully understand who your customers are and where they come from, you should visualise them as buyer personas – fictional, generalised representations of your ideal customers.
Look at things such as:
• Family size
Use your buyer personas as a guideline to learn about your audience and how to effectively reach them.
As your business grows, your customer base will inevitably change so consider revisiting your buyer personas from time to time to ensure that you are still catering to the right audience.
Compare your competition
In order to get ahead in the game, you have to understand your competition.
List your primary competitors and have an in-depth look into their offerings, locations, customer base, strengths and weaknesses.
Also bear in mind that you may not be competing against a whole company, but a division of a company or a product offering from a company.
Perform a SWOT analysis on each competitor and then rank your competitors from most to least threatening. This will then allow you to compare your business to theirs and determine your advantages and market position.
Analyse and summarise your findings
After you analyse your competitors and the market at large, it’s time to take a closer look at your findings. Layout and organise your research under different categories to enable you to create a list of actionable items that you can use going forward.
Here are some categories to use to sort through your findings:
• Industry overview
• Buying trends
• Executive summary
• Action plan
Based on your research, you will then be able to forecast other things such as cash flow, gross margin and the buying habits of your prospective customers.
Put your analysis into action
Using your research as a basis, take a closer look at how your findings can improve your business and use your action list as an addition to your marketing strategy.
It may seem like a daunting task but conducting good market research can be an illuminating experience. Even if you think you know your customer base fairly well, doing market research is likely to uncover new information and help you improve interactions with your consumers.
Don’t have the time to conduct market research? Why not look into employing the services of a virtual marketing agency? Focus on the areas that need your attention the most while an agency goes out of its way to study and analyse your market. A virtual marketing agency can help you predict market trends and plan accordingly so that you don’t have to.