Market Research is the systematic process of gathering information about potential customers and target markets. It is an essential element of strategic management and a critical factor in maintaining a competitive edge. The objective of market research is to inform business managers of the existing situation and anticipate changes in demand and popularity. Market research helps businesses determine the most suitable marketing mix for the product or service they have to offer and help them in avoiding untoward difficulties.
A wide variety of methods are used to conduct market research; however, some of the best techniques are face-to-face interviews and focus group discussion. Face-to-face interviews are considered the best of all methods, because they provide the best information regarding the behavior of the people in a particular market. This is primarily because face-to-face interviews are inexpensive and can be conducted within a short time frame. In addition, face-to-face interviews provide quick access to specific groups of people and hence, very valuable data can be gathered from these groups. On the other hand, focus group discussion, by means of small teams, yields more in-depth and realistic information compared to face-to-face interviews.
Both face-to-face and focus group interviews yield different information, depending on the method used; therefore, both methods have their own advantages and disadvantages. Face-to-face interviews with selected respondents yield more specific and reliable data to focus group discussion can provide more general insights. Surveys, on the other hand, can help businesses in identifying the key issues and concerns facing the consumer and develop appropriate marketing solutions. Unfortunately, it is difficult to conduct such surveys as they require large numbers of participants and thus, they can prove to be very expensive. However, companies that have adequate resources can use surveys to get detailed information from key consumers.
Based on this information, organizations can plan marketing strategies and come up with effective solutions to popular problems. However, in order to conduct more surveys effectively and inexpensively, organizations need to enlist the services of third party agencies such as market research firms. These firms conduct primary and secondary market research, using different techniques and tools. While primary research helps organizations understand consumer behavior, secondary research helps them understand existing product features and needs. Through secondary research, companies can understand consumer buying habits and also study how new products can improve company profitability.
While primary market research mainly targets gathering quantitative data, secondary research can focus on qualitative questions and thus, can provide more in-depth insights. However, it is important for companies to remember that although surveys provide valuable information, it is essential to ensure that the questions being asked in the surveys are truly relevant to the data collection process. Moreover, users of these surveys should be made comfortable to answer questions, as some users may be put off by the open-ended questions or the mode of selection for the question.
Lean market research is a technique which measures a company’s strategies, structure, operations and key elements of the business using market research questionnaires (or interviews) rather than traditional data collection methods. The main advantage of this method is that more time is devoted to eliciting qualitative responses from participants. Participants are encouraged to share their thoughts, feelings and opinions about a particular issue or product and they are asked about their thoughts, feelings, satisfaction and interest in a new product. Surveys allow companies to get a detailed look into the daily lives of customers and the way consumers think about and buy products. Through the results of the survey, companies can examine customer behavior and develop marketing campaigns that will meet the desires and needs of customers. If done correctly, a survey can help identify new product ideas and improve company offerings.
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