Monday, January 13, 2014

How Can Market Research Help Your Business Thrive?

    Guest Post by CED Member Christina Motley

As a business owner or entrepreneur, you’ve likely gathered basic information about the market and your competition to write your business plan. How can a deeper dive into market research help your business thrive?

Market research is an organized effort and systematic approach to gather and interpret information about a company’s target markets. Essentially, it uncovers what customers want, need or believe and identifies how they behave.

By understanding the basics of market research methods and how to use the data, you will ultimately position your business for future growth and success.

Market Research Methods

To gather comprehensive market data, a variety of research methods can be used – quantitative, qualitative, primary and secondary. Best practices suggest combining two or more methods to validate your findings.

  • SWOT analysis – Identifying your business’ Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats allows you to consider the internal organization, external environment, industry, competitive landscape and marketplace.
  • PEST analysis – Political, Economic, Social and Technological influences can provide additional market intelligence about market growth or decline as well as the position, potential and direction for a business.
  • Five Forces analysis – This method evaluates five key areas, including the threat of entry, the power of buyers and suppliers, the threat of substitutes and competitive rivalry, allowing you to rank competitors. 
  • Primary (or field) research – This includes conducting interviews, developing and distributing surveys and holding focus groups.
  • Secondary (or desk) research – Examples of this method include auditing existing information (business plans or marketing efforts,) review of industry/trade social media outlets, online research and examining industry and analyst reports, among others.

Making Sense of the DataRegardless of the research methods used, your findings will deliver various insights from all audiences, including but not limited to, current and former employees, executive committee members, independent contractors, current and former customers, prospects, industry analysts and shareholders. So you may wonder, “What do you with all the data?”

Results are reported in a variety of ways, including market overviews, industry trends, competitive landscapes and competitor’s products and services. This valuable information helps business owners and executives in a number of areas, including:
  • Develop strategies that determine the most effective way to launch new products or services.
  • Make decisions about the company’s fundamental marketing mix of positioning, products, pricing and promotion.
  • Manage their brand reputation. 
Market research helps businesses gain market intelligence so they can build organizations from a position of strength, and therefore, succeed.  It serves as a useful tool in building a strategic marketing plan as well as helping companies determine if they have the right product/service, in the right market, at the right price with the right story to tell.

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