I’m guessing you’d never dream of taking a cross-country road trip without first deciding upon a destination. Once you determine your destination you would then check online for directions and chart your general course, right? You’d also make plans to periodically consult the map app on your phone as you traveled, and you would determine the best places to stop along the way for gas, meals and places to stay. What does this have to do with market research you ask? Well, everything.
Failing to utilize market research for your business is like taking off on a road trip with no idea where you’re going, how you’ll get there, or where you’ll need to stop along the way to re-adjust. Good market and consumer research offers valuable insights and guidance for successful growth, regardless of a business’ age or stage. Let’s take a look.
- Young Business/New Ideas
If your business endeavor is in its infancy, it’s important that you figure out its actual viability.
Using research at this stage helps you explore and uncover important aspects of establishing a new business or idea. It can help you anticipate the future so that you can set goals and chart a course for growth.
For the earliest of ideas, qualitative research (such as focus groups) will best assess the market for its reception to your idea. If your concept is a little more fleshed out, then quantitative research (such as online or phone surveys) would work well, too. Quantitative research can help identify your most receptive target audience by gauging market interest and potential. You’ll also assess the scalability of your idea when you determine if it’s highly niched or has a more broad appeal.
If you have a new idea, business, or concept — validate it with research.
- Adolescent Business/Ready to Launch Product
Launching a new product or product line? Are you testing a new concept, or re-branding your business? Then you need to know how your brand is both perceived and received in the current marketplace.
Using research at this stage can build upon what you’ve learned in the first phase of research and help you strengthen your brand image. Qualitative research will allow you to test your marketing in front of a “live” audience. This provides valuable feedback for making final tweaks to the product, solidifying brand direction, and confirming the best marketing path.
If you’re ready to launch a new product or concept, or simply rebrand — confirm it with research.
- Grown-up Business/Established Brand
If your business is a household name with a catalog of favorite products, don’t get too comfortable. How are you keeping up with evolving marketplace trends? How do you create and keep loyal clients?
Using research at this stage helps you monitor customer perception and satisfaction, marketplace changes, and purchasing behaviors.
Qualitative research allows you to hear the emotion behind your brand and look for line extensions. It also gives you the opportunity to talk to both satisfied and unsatisfied customers to discover insights that will heighten brand awareness and accelerate product innovation. Quantitative research can also be used to keep a close eye on your business and watch trends in the marketplace.
If you have an established brand—refine it with research.
So who needs research? You do! Research is the road map you need to arrive at your desired destination—a thriving business—successfully.