Imagine you invent a groundbreaking tool, let’s say, something that can completely revolutionize the agricultural industry. You work 10-12 hours per day on your idea. After spending quite a lot of time on your idea and its execution, your product finally makes it to the last stage and that is to present it to the local market customers. As you launch the product in your hometown or local market, you expect its recognition and acceptance to reach the skies. Later that month you realise that your product did not get the attention that you were hoping it would. So, what went wrong? Was your idea not good enough? While trying to find the answers to such questions you realize you presented the right product in the wrong market. Your hometown was industrial to which agricultural technology was almost alien. That’s market research put in simple words.
Market Research plays a vital role in business progress. Landing your business in the right market is one of the fundamentals of the business world. A very well done market research can let business achieve the progress of years in just a few months.
Many owners of new businesses are scared of market research. They believe that the process is time-consuming and their research might not be accurate. While facts are quite opposite, good market research does not take much time and we can all thank the technology for it. Most of the research gives inaccurate results due to negligence of the basics of the process provided by gurus and experts of the field. Let’s dive into the details of these basics that’ll help you in conducting market research that works for you.
Don’t panic! You are not going to get a long and boring marketing lecture. In simple words, market research is research that you do to explore existing and new opportunities for your business. But what makes it a nightmare for businessmen? (Which it is not). The right type of market research is what makes the difference between effective research and a time-consuming effort.
Market research is further divided into two more sub-categories. Each one of these two types has its own methods. Here’s a quick glance at both these two types
In the primary research, you have to directly approach your target audience and ask them a question, conduct an interview or simple feedback. Such a method is an effective way, in case you are conducting research for a product which don’t have already existing data from the current market. It can be collected through surveys, feedbacks, polls, interviews and many other methods where you directly ask questions to your targeted audience about your product or service or even the idea.
Facebook is a great platform for you to conduct market research. You can create a poll and ask your audience about what they like best about X product. The example below shows a poll by a person on Facebook who might want to sel candles, and have asked the audience which scent they like best.
Here’s a video tutorial on how to create a poll on Facebook in 2021.
If you happen to open a business with some competition, you can rely on data from either your competitors’ research or research papers from different sources that have already conducted a detailed data collection in your niche. You can gather such data from the internet, educational & research institutions, a library book, case studies or you can even buy it from online resources.
Whether it is primary or secondary, the data plays a key role in helping you determine your internal marketing policies for present and future decisions about your business. The data also lets you explore the characteristics of your business. If your product or service is good at something, you’ll never know until you see how much of a difference can it make in peoples’ lives.
As they say, “The first step to solve a problem is to identify there is a problem”. Take a look at the market and try to identify what is something that you can provide to the market which it does not already have? It’s in human nature to evolve and shifts the dynamics of needs and interests. The most basic trait of human being keeps on creating more and more opportunities for innovative minds to exploits. All you have to do is to look for the gaps that are yet to be filled in the market.
The first step of identification enables you to think critically about your own product, service or even a simple idea of it. It let you see your product or service from the perspective of your potential customer. It creates a detailed buyer persona for your business even if you are yet to launch the product in the market. Whatever your idea of business is, make sure that it addresses a real-world problem with a real solution that is unique and convenient to your customer.
Also Read: How to Validate Your Business Idea
“Market Saturation” is the formal word use in the world of marketing. Market saturation means how many businesses around you are providing the same service you are going to provide. For example, if you are thinking of providing a printing service in your town, look around you and assess the number of competitors you’ll have to compete with. The bigger the number the tougher the competition will get.
Always target the opportunity that has less number of competitors. Such a strategy will boost your business progress and help it survive the early blows from the market. Speaking the truth, an entrepreneurial journey is never easy. Surviving the early setbacks for a business is the most important stage for it to flourish later. Having a smaller number of competitors make it easy to compete and survive and in some cases completely seamless to subdue such hurdles.
The customer is the ultimate source of business revenue and progress. Understanding your customer and their needs is the far most important step of conducting research for your business. Marketing divides different types of the customer into different segments based on age, gender, income, culture and many other things. This is called “Segmentation” and the customers are termed as different segments of the market.
To simply explain these, we’ll elaborate on the 4 basic segments to look at when you are searching for the right market and customer.
Every product in the market fills a gap created by human needs. As mentioned earlier, human needs go through a number of changes as he moves up the leader of the age. Think about it yourself, how your needs and biases changed towards different products throughout your age?
When you were a kid, you wanted that toy car. You grew up a little, you wanted a bicycle like all your other friends, you grew a little older, your dream was a car again but this time, not a toy one but a real one. Now look at three different scenarios and look at yourself as a customer. For three phases of your life, you’ve been a target audience of three different industries i.e. Toy, Bicycle and Motorcar Industry. These companies were well aware of your needs and likeliness, so they only presented the product to you in TV ads and BillBoards.
Implement the same model of research to your product and find out what range of age does your product entertain. This makes it easy to find and target the customer that is willing to buy the product. The findings of your research will also help you devote your advertising efforts to the right place.
Same as age, gender segmentation is also a basic segment upon which your product will be marketed. This also the simplest segments to target. We call it simple because you simply know whether your product is for men, women or for both of them. The best example you can see for such segments are cosmetic products marketing. The modern-day companies who are manufacturing cosmetics are now opting for different departments and line of products bases on gender differentiation.
You must have seen that some of the companies manufacture cosmetics for men and women, but do they sell it together? No they don’t. These companies run two different lines of products with different marketing strategies for two different genders. Here’s what you have to learn from such companies for your market research
One of the main reason that this segment is studied before setting up a business is that not only it helps the business set up a price tag on their product but it also helps them identify a specific group of people that can actually buy their product rather than advertising to the one who wishes to buy their product.
Let’s take it in this way. You and your friend both like a mobile phone. One of you is employed with a monthly paycheck coming your way. Now one of you loves the same phone for its specs and performance, indeed you are a fan of the phone manufacturing company and you truly understand their product quality and purpose. On the other hand, one of you just merely loves the looks of the phone and because it is trending in recent times. Now think, which one of you will be the company’s potential target? The answer is simple the one with a paycheck.
With the advancement in technology, the products today are being manufactured in one corner of the world and are equally liked and bought throughout the globe and towards the farther end. In some cases, your product can be for a specific cultural or religious group or it can be for some currently active groups running campaigns for environmental changes. You need to consider cultural & religious differences in order to present your product to the right audience.
An international clothing brand, for instance, sells different product across different countries. The same clothing brand can not sell a single line of fashion clothing across Europe and Muslim countries. They have to consider the difference of values across the borders to access the new opportunities.
When conducting market research on Muslimc consumers, there is a need to evaluate from the perspective of Muslims – how does the product fit into the 5 pillars of Islam, and the overall Halal vs Haram – the Shari’ah perspective on things. For example, for a product – is it necessary to have Halal certification for it to be accepted by Muslim consumers?
Let’s take an example. One might say that in general drinking tea is halal, but in Malaysia, if your brand is owned by a Multinational Corporation (MNC) or a non-Muslim-owned business, Muslim consumers from that market will stay away from your brand if it does not have Halal certification. So it boils down to the Islamic aspect of the product, as well as the local consumers’ values – which are only discovered with a proper market research.
One of the biggest concerns of people in the business world about market research is that it may take time and energy which they should be devoting to their ideas and business. Well, we are not ignoring those downsides of the research process. To lend you a hand here, here are some of the ways to conduct secondary research. A secondary research saves your time and energy while giving you the freedom to entirely focus on your business.
There isn’t any other better place to talk about things openly or share your opinions than social media. People share what they like and also what they don’t like. If you look at such data as a regular social media user, it nothing other than just a few different opinions of different people, but an entrepreneur, a marketer and a businessman look at this data differently. There are hundreds and thousands of statistical data files on customer behaviour towards certain products, if your product happens to fall in a similar niche, your customers and clients information is just one click away.
The discussions forums like Quora, Reddit, Yahoo and many others like them are a great way for both secondary data for people trending interests and it also effective for powerful feedback on your product. Other than these platforms, many websites provide detailed research papers based on large population samples which can sometimes be way more accurate than a person’s own research about the same market. One such source that you can get your hand on for free is Google Scholar. The website provides research paper on a vast number of the markets about a vast number of products. You might find yours too.
Collecting, sorting and analysing the data is a very hard job. When you talk about the market comprising millions of consumers, dealing which such huge data can divert you from your main goals. Why spend time when you can purchase the data!
Some of the research firms can provide rich data from deep markets for your evaluations. This data included the market trends and how consumers reaction to it. The information can lead you to a very effective evaluation and conclusion of the market you want to operate in.
Many firms have also started to conduct a formal research on your desired market if you pay them. You can hire such a firm to take care of everything related to your niche. All you have to do is to guide them about your visions and goals about your business, fill in your product detail and they’ll bring the whole of major data at your doorstep. By adopting such methods you can save time and effort by a large margin.
However, a word of caution. If your target customers are purely Muslims, there is a lack of information/data on how Muslim consumers perceive and behave towards certain products. In this case, it would be best to do your own primary research, or hire a firm to conduct a primary research instead of relying on published reports.
Educational and research institutes are counted as one of the most powerful research houses. They can conduct such a powerful research that sometimes the state Government also turn to them for a detailed analysis of a particular problem it’s facing. These institutes can benefit you too. One good thing about such a research paper is that they not only provide you with an insight into the market through a consumer perspective they also provide an economic perspective of the market too.
What’s economic perceptive and how it can help you?
Research paper on either online publications or libraries of such institute also considers the market shifts and trends throughout the years. the data kit features past economic trends and based on these trends one can also predict future graph of the market. The prediction might not be true, as unexpected factors can alter these trends but they can give you a heads-up on what you might come across while operating in the market.
It might sound controversial to look at your competitors’ work and it may sound that you are stealing the ideas, but it’s not what it looks like. You are only borrowing their reserach work that included the customer behaviour to the product because you are offering the same product and service as them. You can also make a request at an administrative level to your competitors to give you access to their data, it works like a deal between two businesses.
Another underlying advantage you can get by looking at your competitors’ work is you start to notice your own strengths and weaknesses which set limits for your business. You can set a limit on your risk boundaries, in simple word, you can easily decide whether your business can afford teh risk or not?
Among all the steps to boost business progress, market research is the one that tops the list. Your business can only survive and progress when it knows where it is going or what it should do next. Good market research always addresses market gaps and let you find new opportunities to exploit.
If the whole process of research were to summarize into two words those would be, “Learn & Adopt”. Research is of no good if its findings just keep on sitting in the report files for years to come. Once you are done with research work implement and let the time findings guide you through your journey.
Ali Haider Shah is a business graduate with specialization in market research. He holds 4 years of experience in business writing where he served renowned online publications like “Digital Diplomacy”. Currently working as a business writer and a market researcher.
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