Market research in a nutshell
Market research might sound like a dry topic and time-consuming process but NOT understanding your environmental context and NOT knowing your customers intimately, can mean your marketing program is untargetted and your marketing investment, wasted.
When approached with a keen sense of curiosity and an open mind, market research can be an exciting process of self discovery, reconnecting you with your purpose, unearthing new ideas for product development and giving a deeper understanding about what makes your customers tick.
Market research is largely an information-gathering exercise that will identify what your business does well, what it could do better, how it compares to competitors, what your customers think, and what challenges and opportunities exist.
This involves conducting an analysis of:
- the industry – understanding the key success factors, and external drivers likely to impact on the business, including economic, technological, legislative, political and environmental changes and trends
- the business – gaining clarity on the business cultural pillars including its vision, mission, purpose and core values, as well as understanding the business strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
- the product / service lifecycle – mapping the lifecycle of each of your products /services helps you work out what you can do to support it at the different lifecycle stages (establishment, early growth, growth, maturity and decline) and know when it’s time to upgrade and / or introduce a new product /service into the marketplace
- competitors – understanding how you are different from your closest rivals, how they market to their customers, what their brand promise is, what key messages they use, what social media platforms they are on and so on
- customers – segmenting the target market by demographics (geographic and factual personal characteristics such as gender, age, socio economic status, education), psychographics (psychological characteristics such as their opinions and attitudes), and delving deep into understanding their problem or pain point that keeps them awake at night
- stakeholders – those groups and / or individuals that have an interest in or which may be impacted by your business, product or service, for example, investors, shareholders, sponsors and the media
- the effectiveness of current public relations and marketing activities – conducting a thorough audit of your online, social and offline activities to understand what is working and not working, for example, by identifying lead generation sources and conversion rates, reviewing website and social media analytics, and surveying customers to gain first-hand feedback
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