‘Business’, this word will either bring you joy when dealt with correctly or a heap of worry if things haven’t been going well. A lot of people opt towards having a business for a variety of reasons, but the goal is always the same. Bring in people and the big bucks. Both are two sides of the same coin and both are needed equally for your brand to make its mark in this highly competitive world. With new businesses popping out of every nook and corner, standing out of the crowd is harder than ever but not impossible. With the right strategy, you could be the next Walmart, Gucci, Olive Garden, or maybe even a Disney Land. It all boils down to one important process ‘Market research’. While we may think that we understand what works in the market, who our target audience is and why certain things are not working out the way we want them to, we all come with bias and preconceived notions which are mostly incorrect half the time. Anyone can get influenced by senseless rumors floating around the industry, but believing it is pure folly. It is one thing to be influenced and another thing to go ahead and believe such facts. Only certified professionals who live and breathe market research can give you no-rumor, bias-free facts. These facts are authentic, true, and based on real-time information which can then be used to help build your brand and make it better.
When it comes to having a business, most of us are usually familiar with the term ‘market research. This is perhaps one of the most crucial aspects of having a business if you want it to be a successful one. This process helps a business understand the current standing of the brand and based on data collection, determine a better and more practical approach to the most suitable targeted audience. This is something that cannot be simply determined by assumptions or rumors that float around in the market. Figuring out the correct strategy takes time and more than anything, it takes data. Fresh data that is relatable to your brand and the industry it falls under. Knowing your audience and getting a market forecast on a selected product are two peas in a pod that will always go hand in gloves. Now while we all have gotten that understood, let us go a little deeper into what goes into this informative process. How does the process start, what direction it takes, what information is expected of it and how this will help determine your future brand moves.
Determine what is wrong
The first and but most important part of any market research is the very basic question of what exactly is wrong. Bringing out all the concerns of the brand and thinking about specific questions such as:
- Why are customers not choosing this brand?
- Why are the sales stagnant?
- Why are there so many switches from our brand to the others?
Gathering up all these pointers is the first and foremost step towards beginning this procedure. Once this is done, the rest of the steps come into place to continue the process of market research.
Get your research plan in place
Once you have determined the specific issues that are being faced by your brand, a blueprint of a possible research plan comes into place. This includes how one decides to gather information, what tools are going to preferably be used, what hypothesis is being determined, and what possible reasons of issues are out on the table. Other factors include:
- What kind of questionnaire would be used?
- What measurement procedures would be preferred
- Scaling procedures
- Determining methods of collecting quantitive data etc.
- Figuring out sample size
- Finalizing which sampling process to use
A useful way to help determine the most appropriate research plan is to look around. Very often, the market research you are looking at getting done has already been done by other organizations around you. By finding out what tools and approaches these companies took, you can use this as a yardstick to determine how your research plan could be. Of course, copy-pasting the exact plan is not possible since your brand is unique in its way, but you will at least have the basics of what your research plan would need and can add on more than necessary to plan the perfect research plan.
Once these factors are determined, we then move onto the next step which is the main game. Collection of data.
Collect your data
This is your golden egg. This is what will determine what results pour in and what route you will finally have to take. This is the data that will answer all your questions on why your sales don’t seem to move upwards or why potential clients seem to be switching to other brands. The collection of data is done either by staff that will work towards getting data live on the field or through traditional mailers where there is no personal involvement of a staff member. Data collection is usually done over a mixture of personal interviews that are either done one on one or through a computer-assisted format. The latter (Mailers) sends out surveys that would be targeted at potential consumers. One factor to take under consideration is to aim at keeping in mind that the data you collect is free from bias. Very often, unintentionally we may ask questions that are designed to make a consumer respond a certain way(positive or negative). Keeping in mind that you must ideally ask open and closed-ended questions is something that will help improve the kind of answers you will get and ensure that they have more substance and are valid.
After all the boxes on your data collection list have gotten ticked off, we move onto the next part of understanding all the information you have gotten.
Understanding your data and reporting it.
Now that all your eggs have been collected, it is time to get them hatched. This step will essentially determine what road your brand will need to take. So, the analysis involved in this step is important and must be done correctly. While it is important to ensure that the data you get is free from bias, it is important that you too, stay unbiased without having any preconceived notions. Very often once data comes in, one particular factor will stand out the most and seem to be the answer to a lot of your problems. Looking at this would make you feel like bingo! But there will always be hidden answers or new surprises as you dig deeper and more into the research data that you have gotten. Once this is done, it is recommended that you write up a detailed summary of everything that has occurred. The objective, hypothesis, what data collection procedures were followed, how the data was analyzed, what conclusions were made, and what plan of action has been decided. Simply sitting on data gathered makes no sense until a plan of action is made and reported to the client so they can then take things ahead.
It is in the next and final step that all the research is done, and a plan of action decided is put into action.
The implementation of research
Congratulations! Your research is now complete! Now is the time to use all this precious information to make a difference to your brand. Upon going through all the findings of the final report, it is now time to develop marketing plans and strategies to incorporate or avoid certain findings.
While this may feel like your job is complete, it is crucial to conduct such researches now and then because trends change like the weather. You never know when and why a certain aspect you discovered as popular through your earlier research may no longer hold the same value. If you continue to pursue the same thing even though it has lost its popularity, your brand may end up taking two steps ahead but one step back. Even one drawback of a step and result in a domino effect of all the other good work of yours for the brand falling out of place. With every new business coming into the industry, the pace at which new problems and trends change is highly unpredictable. So after careful consideration, fix a period and get regular researches done so you have constant knowledge of what is hot in the market and you ensure that your brand is doing its best to stay up to date and take care of consumer wants and suggestions.
While this may seem like a straightforward process, this process goes deeper down the rabbit hole than it looks. A true understanding of the process of market research can only be achieved once you avail and start with a full-fledge market research process for your brand.
Good luck and keep the buzz of business on!