How To Conduct Market Research

Your company, or products success will ride heavily upon how well you understand all of your potential consumers. If you fail to understand their habits, pain points, or thought processes surrounding your industry then the growth of your company or product will be severely limited.

The best way to understand your market and potential consumers is by carrying out a diverse set of market research campaigns, which include a wide scope of marketing tools such as focus groups, interviews, and surveys. It’s important to include a diverse amount of research because in some cases biased opinions or a lack of objectivity can skew your data, giving you tainted results that will plague your future marketing strategies.

Let’s take a deeper look into some of the most commonly used marketing tools for customer and market research, giving you a better understanding of when and how you should use these different strategies.

Focus Groups

A focus group is a small set of individuals who participate in a guided discussion lead by a marketer. The participating individuals can be a diverse set of people, or one demographic, but it’s extremely important to know which group best fits your questions that need to be answered. For example, if you want to know the potential impact of a risky marketing campaign that involves a widespread social topic, you would want to have a group of individuals consisting of different ages, race, and genders, as some groups may find your campaign offensive, while others will see no problem with it. However, if you’re testing a unique product, such as new equipment for scuba divers, then it would be best to have a room filled with experienced divers. Focus groups can bring attention to problems or questions that your company failed to identify, providing you with important consumer insight that will help guide your future decisions. A concern with focus groups, is that people may not be totally honest in an open group setting, as human behavior tends to follow a ‘herd’ mentality, meaning if multiple people are supporting the same belief it could potentially discourage other group members to share their opposite opinions.

Expert Interviews

If you have a product that involves any major industry such as farming, education, healthcare, or the military, conducting a multitude of expert interviews will play a vital role regarding your companies understanding of the potential market you plan to be in. Who better to trust than someone with 20+ years of experience within the market you hope to reach? An expert can provide your company with honest feedback as to how well they see your product or service doing in the market they work in, giving you an opportunity to make useful changes before entering the market. A major benefit of these interviews is that they often come with no price tag, as industry leaders are happy to help entrepreneurs who are trying to make a positive impact within their field.

Surveys

If you want to know the opinions or thought processes of an entire group, or want to prove to potential investors that your product or service will be well received, close ended surveys will act as a tool to help you or your company achieve these goals. Let’s say you have a product that makes cleaning bathtubs easier, as well as more cost effective. Distributing a survey to people who either own cleaning services or work for them will help you better understand their pain points, and whether or not they would be interested in your product. You may have a good idea, and the product may work, but that’s not always enough to generate real revenue. A mistake often made within market research is that business owners and marketers often correlate positive feedback with revenue. Consumers may enjoy a product, or think that it’s a neat idea, but that doesn’t always equate to them purchasing your product. In a closed ended survey, you can better understand how willing your potential consumers are to purchase your product, and whether or not your solution is good enough to replace whatever they are currently using. If a large percentage of people polled explicitly say they would be interested in your product you can use that data to persuade potential investors or distributors.

Experiments

When developing a product, companies often reach a point where they can either pivot, or continue down the path that they are currently on. Surveys, focus groups, and interviews can only do so much, as these are often times just words being spoken, without any actual product in hand. Giving potential consumers the chance to test out multiple versions of your product or service will help guide your company down the path that will generate the most revenue and positive feedback regarding your business. When conducting an experiment, it’s extremely important to make sure that you are staying consistent within your testing.

Observation

When we purchase something, what guides our decisions? In most cases, it’s our emotions. If a product can elicit a positive feeling, it has a much better chance of succeeding within the market. Large corporations pour thousands of dollars into the most intricate details of their product or services, such as color schemes, packaging, and where to place their product in the store. This is all done in hopes of triggering a certain emotion that will lead to a consumer purchasing their product. For example, the color green is often associated with organic products, while the color blue can often be found within the healthcare industry. It’s important to observe your potential consumers during the purchasing decision because you can visibly see how they react to your products when comparing them to the competition. If you notice that consumers often walk by your product without even glancing at it, then you should probably change up your logo and color scheme to gain more attention. Without observing your customers in the flesh, your company will fail to understand the emotional process behind their consumer behavior.

These days, market research can come with a heavy cost. Before you spend thousands of dollars with a local firm, try and bootstrap your research as much as possible. Surveys are completely free to create and distribute, interviews can be done with a free lunch, and observations cost you nothing but time. The internet is an incredible tool, and you can use it to understand your market and consumers without having to spend thousands of dollars.

Rolling out a new product? Follow these 10 steps to ensure a successful launch

1) Understand your market

Hopefully you did plenty of research before designing your product, but now that it’s finished, it’s time to go back and take a deeper look at your potential audiences. Focus groups, experiments, surveys, and expert interviews can all act as a resourceful marketing tool to help you better understand your customers

2) Test it, and test it again

Owners make this mistake far too often. They get excited about a new product, and jump to mass production before thoroughly testing their invention. Having to recall your product will be detrimental to the success of your company.

3) Create the story, aligning with your brand identity

What’s the purpose behind the product? Why was your company the one to invent it? How does it fit in to your overall brand? If you can’t answer these questions, PR professionals and potential customers will be weary of promoting your product. Sloppiness, or a lack of brand identity surrounding your product will result in uninspired customers.

4) Offer early incentives, acting as a ‘soft launch’

Why launch your product to the masses when you can do a soft launch filled with people of your own network who can offer objective feedback? You can then use that feedback to perfect your product before mass production

5) Bootstrapping > Pouring thousands of dollars into large marketing campaigns

I get it. You have a great product, and you want to create the most amazing marketing campaign to go along with it. But it’s 2018, the internet is a tool in itself, and there are plenty of free marketing tools to help you successfully market your product. You can use Canva to create free, professional looking marketing tools. Google Analytics provides a wealth of information regarding your website & social traffic, and Facebook pixel advertising has been proven to reap huge results, with owners pouring 0 dollars into the social platform.

6) Know your competition as well as you know yourself

What is your direct competitors plans for the near future? Do they have anything similar to your product? Is there a chance they can copy your idea and make it into their own? Is there a way that you could potentially work together, or join forces on this one project? People often look at competition as the enemy, but why? Competition, especially in the business world, can be a great resource for your business. Notice what they're doing well. Track their customer feedback, and take a mental note of what people wish they improved on. 

7) Pricing is key

Turning a profit is important, and if you have investors, that's going to be the figure that everyone is most concerned with. However, a cultural shift is happening within our capitalist society. That shift is a consumer base that is becoming more aware of where their dollars are going. If you're price gauging, your customers will notice, and any trust that they once had will be diminished. 

8) Make it about more than just the product

You need to show to your customers that the main reason you created your product isn't to make money, but rather to make their lives easier by providing a solution to a problem that they continually endure. Showcase how with your product, life is either more enjoyable, less stressful, or simply easier to navigate through.

9) Get partners involved

If you don't have partners, then get your network involved. One of the best ways to promote a product, is to have someone else do it for you. If a trusted company promotes your product it will add value to it because consumers will associate a positive feeling with it before it even reaches their hands. You can only tell your story so many times, it's important to seek other avenues to get your message across to potential consumers. 

10) Be patient

If your product doesn't go viral right away, don't worry. Success doesn't come overnight, and in many cases, it may take a few months to see the traction you envisioned from day one.