There are many things to think about before you launch a new product or service; will your target market buy it, will they like it, can you hold your own among all the competitors in the market?
The overarching question is: How can I get the answers I need?
Market research is the answer.
We’re going to look more deeply into market research and how you can use it to answer market-related questions about your target audience, competitors, and demand for your product or service.
What Is Market Research?
Market research is a selection of processes designed to give you essential information about the market readiness of new products and services. Essentially, it provides meaningful insights as to whether your new offering will be well-received and generate a healthy profit?
The market research findings will show whether you’re good to go and can launch your product/service. Or, whether your market research technique needs adjustments to better understand the needs of your target audience. Or, whether the market is saturated with similar products and you need to up your game to give you a competitive advantage.
What Types of Market Research Are There?
Broadly speaking, there are two types of market research: Primary market research and secondary market research.
Primary research: Data collection is direct. Either you or a marketing agency experienced in market research and intelligence collect data directly from the source, for example, potential customers. It’s a good way to segment your target audience and reveal your buyer persona.
Primary research can be further divided into specific and exploratory research.
- Exploratory research: It’s like throwing stones into a river to see if there are crocodiles. It uncovers potential problems that must be addressed before you go any further in the market research process.
- Specific research: It solves the problem of how to get to the other side of the river without being eaten. It takes a deeper look at challenges and opportunities in the market so you can overcome and optimise them.
Secondary research: Data collection is indirect. It’s information that’s easily accessible from external sources, including public records for relevant industry trends, market statistics, and customer buying habits.
Secondary market research is a good way to discover more about your competitors; for example, the extent to which the target audience is aware of the brand, their market share, and key characteristics of their products/services.
Secondary research comprises public, commercial, and internal sources.
- Public sources: The most easily accessible information; for example, a Google search using a primary keyword or phrase.
- Commercial sources: These tend to be more in-depth market research sources of information like market reports compiled by agencies such as the Pew Research Centre and Gartner, Inc.
Some reports are free but, considering all the data involved, you may have to pay for certain specific research reports.
- Internal sources: As you might suspect, internal data comes from within your company. It includes information on customer’s buying habits and other relevant data relating to customer behaviour, for example, cost per sale and client retention costs.
Market research techniques
There are several ways to collect data for effective market research. It’s a good idea to use more than one research method so you get a holistic view of your product and the market.
From the horse’s mouth, as it were. It’s a great option to get consumers’ perceptions of your product, as well as factors that influence their behaviour, such as economic factors (pricing and global economic indicators) and preference for competitors’ products.
A small group of people or representative sample tests the product or the effectiveness of a market research study. They then provide feedback based on their impressions and you have the chance to ask clarifying questions if you need more data to make important business decisions that affect the product.
It’s an old tactic but is still frequently used to get a random sample of consumers’ awareness of your company’s brand and product(s).
Smartphones are ubiquitous, which gives you a pretty good chance of connecting with consumers willing to participate in various aspects of market research, including telephonic interviews and focus groups.
Online surveys are the quickest and easiest way to reach a wide group of targeted consumers who have already used your products/services. They’re a great way to find out about consumer attitudes toward your offering; do they love it or hate it, would they recommend it, do they prefer other brands and products, etc.
8 Steps to conduct market research
There are several steps to conduct market research. Let’s look at eight of the most important steps to collect relevant data.
1) Set a goal
Without a goal, market researchers gather scattered data that may or may not be relevant to the questions you want market research to answer.
A goal narrows the focus of market research, as you look for specific information that will answer a specific question or resolve a specific problem.
For example, the extent of brand awareness within the public sector among key decision-makers and buyers.
2) Identify ideal customers
Your product or service is of value to a specific segment of consumers, for example, public sector buyers in education. You can use market research to narrow the criteria even further, for example, equipment for extra-curricular sports.
Conducting market research can lead you to the best marketing strategies for your very specific market, including what kind of marketing works best (email, content, etc.).
3) Create a buyer persona
Buyer personas represent your ideal consumer. Going back to our public sector education example, you can use your market research into potential customers to create buyer personas using job titles, activities, responsibilities, authority, and pain points.
You’re looking for someone who has the authority to award contracts. Failing that, you want a purchasing manager who works closely with the decision-makers.
4) Identify competitors
Google is a good first port of call in this step of market research. Search the results for a broad term, like education. Narrow it down to sports equipment. Go a step further and search for cricket equipment. You’ll get a bunch of results from companies or retailers that provide similar services or products.
Search deeper by looking into specific suppliers and see if they are true competitors or if they just happen to be in the same field. For instance, they specialise in cricket shoes, while you provide helmets.
You can also get an idea of their market presence and reputation by searching for articles or advertising in trade journals, guest posts, webinars, etc.
Don’t forget to include reviews and ratings when conducting market research. If consumers don’t like your competitors’ products, how can you give them something better?
5) Collect data
Collect the qualitative and quantitative data you need using the market research methods above and segment it properly; for example, sort by age, location, sales history, etc.
(Qualitative data is difficult to measure, with open-ended characteristics.
Quantitative data is the exact opposite. It can be measured and represented in numerical values in market research reports.)
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Conduct a quick competitive analysis of competitors’ marketing activities, brand awareness, and performance metrics. See what they’re doing well and where they fall short.
Learn vicarious lessons and adjust your market research methods to ensure you don’t make the mistakes you’ve identified in the target market.
6) Analyse data
Analytics tools use market research data to provide a wealth of information and meaningful insights. However, it’s not always easy to interpret and get value from the data. In this instance, you can engage an agency that provides market research services.
The agency uses its own market research and analytics systems to consolidate and evaluate the data. After which, they generate reports that present the research data in easy-to-understand formats.
7) Use the data
Analysis and research findings should lead to actionable insights that will benefit your business. That might mean going back to the drawing board, adjusting the advertising campaign, or carrying out a deeper competitive analysis.
8) Begin again
Market research isn’t a once-off thing. It needs to be carried out regularly to ensure that your marketing plan is still delivering the best results to your target market. It also needs to consider changing industry trends, new competitors, market saturation, and any demographic changes to your target audience.
Again, not all businesses can afford to dedicate staff to ongoing market research, which is a time-consuming and costly process. Digital marketing agencies can stay on top of your marketing plan, as well as the state of the market as it relates to your product or service.
Why Conduct Market Research?
Market research has many benefits for businesses of all types and sizes. After all, you don’t need to be a large enterprise to require an overview of the market and your place in it.
Here are some of the most important benefits of market research.
- It identifies industry and competitor trends.
- It reveals potential demand for your product or service, as well as where to find opportunities to optimise demand.
- Market research serves as an investigative and assessment tool to get a better picture of the state of the market.
- Analysis can provide sufficient data for future planning and forecasting.
- It provides a deeper understanding of your consumers, especially pain points, pricing, purchasing decisions, and brand perception.
- It reveals important information about pricing by assessing competitors’ pricing structure.
It shows what consumers are willing to pay and where they draw the line price-wise. It also looks at value for money, which may allow higher pricing.
- You can make informed business decisions about your marketing strategy, for example, which marketing channels to use, like Facebook paid ads or email content marketing, etc.
What About Marketing Intelligence?
Market research and marketing intelligence are similar – but different.
Marketing intelligence provides businesses with the information they need to understand influential factors that affect the success or failure of their marketing efforts.
Data gained through marketing intelligence processes contributes to a more comprehensive and holistic understanding of the marketplace, including performance compared to competitors, insight into the relevant target audience, and greater awareness of the perception, popularity, and value of your product or service.
Marketing Intelligence Shines a Light On Four Factors
Where are your primary competitors in the market? Are they all much of a muchness without many distinguishing features? Or, are some competitors several steps ahead and others several steps below, with you somewhere in the middle?
Try to find out what attracted consumers to the higher placed companies and how can you adjust your marketing strategy to sway the target audience your way.
At this point, you want to take a jolly good look at your products. Do a SWOT analysis, get feedback from consumers, and weigh your product against your competitors.
Two of the best ways to get feedback from your target market is through polls and surveys. You’ll get first-hand information on consumer opinions of your brand and products, what they think the difference is between you and your competitors, and how they think you could improve your business offering.
Use the data to adjust products or services so they better meet consumers’ needs and pain points. Adjust your marketing strategy to ensure that your target customers are aware of your new and improved products/services and implement a conversion strategy to turn interest into sales.
You might have learnt how to attract your target audience, but do you know where they hang out so you can introduce them to your marketing campaigns?
You must look online and offline for consumers. For instance, do they have subscriptions to print journals or are they subscribed to online newspapers and magazines? You can buy an ad in the journal or write an advertorial for the magazine to catch their eye.
Find out if they belong to any organisations or have any affiliations.
For example, there might be a county-wide drive to entice people back to brick-and-mortar libraries. Your target audience in the education sector might be part of that initiative, which opens an exciting range of new marketing opportunities to new potential customers.
According to Marketing Evolution, it costs five times more to convert new customers than to retain them. This is a stark reminder not to forget about nurturing relationships with current customers when you’re developing your marketing strategy.
It’s necessary to conduct market research to answer important questions like, what attracts buyers to your product, what other pain points can you address, and whether you have high levels of customer satisfaction.
Types Of Marketing Intelligence
Some methods of collecting marketing intelligence overlap with market research methods, including focus groups and surveys. Other data collection methods include:
They’re dead simple because they usually have one question with a yes/no answer. The trick is choosing a question that will have a significant impact on your company’s marketing and products or services. For instance, will you implement your new business idea or will you upgrade what you’ve already got?
A questionnaire asks a specific set of questions to get a specific set of answers that provide specific information, which guides business decisions and courses of action.
You release your product to a group of people who will give it a spin and see how it performs in the real world. Trials are followed up with feedback, which will tell you if it’s market-ready or needs a few changes before it’s officially launched.
Market Research & Marketing Intelligence Really Work
If you still doubt the value of market research and marketing intelligence, look at this case study from Cadence Marketing.
Babcock International Group, a leader in engineering support services, was awarded a high-value public sector contract and wanted to take advantage of the momentum to generate new leads.
Cadence Marketing, leaders in B2G procurement marketing, used a market research strategy comprised of quantitative and qualitative research through early engagement, email content marketing, a deep-dive survey, and a high-value webinar.
Cadence also used its extensive database of local authority contracts to bring Babcock to the attention of key players and stakeholders in the target market.
The plan was topped off with an iGov branded survey and the results were interpreted and integrated into a case study presentation and a Q&A session during the above-mentioned webinar.
The results provided important information regarding Babcock’s performance in the market, including:
- A 35% response rate from local authorities.
- Webinar attendance by 20 local authority organisations with representatives in strategy, procurement, and property management.
- Of the 20 organisations that attended the webinar, 12 arranged for business meetings, and generated leads and sales to the tune of £6 million.
Babcock and Cadence Marketing maintain a healthy working relationship that continues to engage key decision-makers in the public sector and generate significant qualified leads for the sales team.
Be Like Babcock
Babcock experienced the tremendous benefits of well-managed marketing intelligence and market research processes. The growth in lead generation and conversions was staggering, thanks to the dedicated efforts of marketers who specialise in the B2G market.
Your business can get similar results when you choose Cadence Marketing to develop and implement marketing strategies based on solid market research and actionable insights. Simply book a free consultation and discover what we can do for you.