marketing research pro tips for beginners
How, are you making important. Business decisions, today are. You just going with your gut maybe. You're asking a trusted adviser or. Maybe you're watching what your competition, is doing any. Of, these methods might work but. It's still a bit of a guessing game what. Market research does is take, the guessing out of it. Simply. Put to make a good decision you, need good information and, market, research is a key source of that information. Let's. Say someone comes to you with a new product idea and wants, you to invest in it but, all they can tell you is how the product works, without. Any additional, information, that's. A risky investment, you. Would likely want to know things like is there. A need for the product who. Are the competitors and, how does this product stack up to them how. Big is the market what. Do potential, customers, think of the product, each. Piece, of additional, information backed. Up by research makes. The decision less risky. Market. Research gives you the information you need to help identify opportunities and problems and find, solutions to, address these it. Also helps, you develop marketing, or business strategies. Another. Important, use is to, help you assess customer, reactions, to products, ads prices. And packaging, and you. Might use market, research to monitor customer satisfaction. Or marketing, performance. One. Of the areas where market research is used most frequently is, in marketing the. Principal tasks of marketing is to create value for customers and, to, create value you, need an in-depth, understanding of, the market and the customers and by, now we know that understanding. The customers, who, they are how, they behave why, they behave as they do is at, the heart of market, research. Marketing. Decisions involve everything from major shifts, in the positioning, of a business or the decision, to enter a new market to. Tactical questions like how to price a product. Let's. Look at the four stages of the marketing planning process, to see how you would use market research for each, the. First stage is situation. Analysis, otherwise, known as a SWOT analysis. This. Is essentially, where you're taking the temperature of your organization. Several key areas. You're. Asking questions like what. Are the potential, threats and how do we address them where. Are their potential, opportunities, and what can we do to leverage them and, what's our competition, doing and how should we respond. The. Second stage is strategy. Development which. Is essentially, deciding where you want to be and how, you're going to get there here. You might be asking questions like, these what. Segments, of the market should we serve what. Our competitive, advantages, and how. Should we measure performance. The. Third stage is marketing. Program, development, you. May have heard this described, as the four P's product, price place promotion, you'll. Be asking questions that address the four PS, how. Should we position, and price the product how, are we going to distribute the product and which. Promotional. Opportunities, will be most effective, the final, stage is implementation. Now. That you've put your plan and program in place do, you need to make any modifications. You'll. Be asking, how, are we doing against our performance, measures how. Satisfied. Are our customers, and how. Could we refine our strategy, or tactics. So. Think about the decisions, that you need to make in the near future, do. You have solid information, are you going with your gut, what. Questions, could you ask to, improve your decision-making ability and reduce your risk you, don't, have to be in the marketing department to use market research whatever. Your role is chances. Are you're, making decisions and market. Research can, help you make informed, decisions. You. Ever, heard the expression ready. Aim fire. How. About ready fire, aim. We've. All been there when. You need to make a decision and move quickly there's, a tendency to shoot first and ask, questions later. The. Same is true when someone says I need this information and I need it yesterday which. Is all too, common at the start of a market research project.
Market. Research is about asking questions but. That doesn't, mean it's always the answer, so. The first question that you should ask is, should. We do the research, to. Determine this you'll want to consider a number of factors, first. Why. Do you need to do the research in other, words what. Decisions, are hinging, on the information, if, you, can't clearly, define the decisions, the. Results, will just be nice, to know and not, need to know and although. It appears evident, you'll also want to ask has, a conclusion. Already been reached, if. The CEO has already made a decision will. The information from, the research really. Make a difference. Next. You want to consider if it's worth doing the research, cost. Budgets. And timelines always. Play a role, first. Ask yourself what. Is the cost of not knowing in. Other words does, the value of the research exceed. The cost of getting the information, if. So then, ask am I, willing to make the investment to, do the research correctly. And am. I willing to allow the time, necessary, to do the research correctly. If, the, quality the market research is going to be compromised, due, to budget limitations, or time restrictions, maybe. Shouldn't do it because. If the research is worth doing it's. Worth doing well. Lastly. You, want to consider what, you will do with the information if. You aren't going to use the findings, shouldn't. Do the research is there. A commitment, through all levels of the organization, to use results and do, we have the budget to implement, the findings and as. A final check before proceeding, you. Probably want to ask the obvious, has. Someone in the organization already, done, this, search and. A larger company you. Might be surprised at how often this turns out to be the case. So. When you're ready to engage in that market research project. Stop. To aim before, you, fire ask. Yourself, can. We clearly, define the decisions, that are hinging on this research are we. Willing to invest the time and, money to. Do this right does. Everyone agree that, we will act on the findings, and do, we have the budget to do so if you. Can answer yes to each of these questions. Congratulations. You are ready to start the market research process. You. Albert. Einstein, once said if I. Had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended, on it I would, use the first 55, minutes determining, the proper question to ask for. Once I know the proper question, solving. The problem is easy the. Formulation. Of a problem is often, more essential, than its solution, so. It is with market research.
Understanding. The nature of the problem will ensure that the right problem, is being investigated and that the information, obtained will be useful, to, solving the problem at hand, to. Illustrate let's consider, a very simple example let's. Say that Joe, the, head of marketing, asks. You to conduct a study to evaluate the effectiveness of the most recent, ad campaign. Sounds. Pretty straightforward right so. Off you go and you come back with the results showing that the campaign was moderately effective. You've. Done your job and given, Joe what he asked for but. What if Joe's real, question, is how, much should we allocate, to the advertising, budget or, why. Aren't sales higher, does. Knowing the effectiveness, of the ad campaign, give, him the information he needs to answer these, questions you can. See how critical, it is to formulate the problem correctly, in order. To execute the right research and you. Should never assume that the person asking, for the research has. Accurately, articulated. The, real need here, are, three steps to formulate, the right research. Problem. Step. One is understand. The background ask. Questions, like what, circumstances. Are prompting the research, who. Are the stakeholders and, what's, at stake for them, what. Decisions, are you trying to make based, on the research. So. In our example we. Might have uncovered that, sales have not hit targets, and Joe, is being asked to come up with a plan to increase, sales but. He'll have to do so with a lower budget unless he can justify, the existing, budget, this. Puts the need for research into perspective. Step. 2 is translate. The business problem into. A research problem. Business. Problems focus on an action, in our example, this might have been increased. Sales with a lower budget. The research, problem, rephrases. The business problem, into, meaningful terms from an analytical, point of view. Identify. Potential, reasons that sales have not been higher, the. Research problem always starts with action, verbs like, evaluate. Assess, identify. Measure. Determine. Think. Of it this way, the. Business problem is what marketing needs to do, the. Research problem is what marketing needs to know to, do it. Step. 3 is create, a hypothesis.
In This, case what, are the possible causes for sales being under, forecast. From. Joe's initial, request he may be hypothesizing. That not enough money was allocated to the advertising, and therefore. The campaign was not effective. But. It could also be that a new competitor, has entered the market or the quality the product has not lived up to expectations. Or. The distributor's have more incentive to push a different product, these. Hypotheses, will drive the topics, that will be covered during, the research. Once. You've done this you put the information into, a clearly, defined research. Objective. What. Needs to be done the. Action, and with. Whom the, target market what. Information, is needed how. Is the information going to be used, so. Back to our example, what. Needs to be done we. Need to identify potential. Reasons, why sales have been lower within, our target market. What. Information, is needed, determine. What factors impact, which product, a customer, purchases then. Evaluate, their perception, of our product, on each of these factors. How. Will the information be used. Results. From this research will inform the action plan for increasing sales, and creating, a budget. Yogi. Berra is credited, for saying if you don't know where you're going you will often end up someplace else, are. You asking the right questions, to ensure that you will get the right answers, do. You know what the single most important, question is that, your research must address. Make. Sure you, know where. You're going. You. If, you were planning to build a house what. Would be your reaction if, your builder came back and said blueprint. No, no, I, know what you want we don't need a blueprint, I'm. Thinking you might be looking for a different builder, while. It is possible to build a house without a blueprint, the final product may be different, than what you ordered, the. Research design, is, to market research what, the blueprint, is to, home building it's. The framework or plan, for the study which will act as the guide for data collection and just. Like there is no single, right way to build a house there's. No single, right way to do research however. You. Can categorize, research, designs, in much, the same way as you might categorize, houses, as ranch, split-level. And two-story. Research. Approaches, are categorized, into one of three types, exploratory. Descriptive. Causal. Let's. Take a look at each, the. First type of approach exploratory. Research is, just that an exploration, the. General objective, is to gain insights and ideas about the problem you, would use this most often when you don't know very much about the problem, here. Are three examples of when you might use exploratory. Research. To. Develop a hypothesis, or clarify concepts. For. Instance if you, want to understand, what is meant by ease-of-use, so. That you can develop a method to measure it. To. Establish priorities for further research, for. Instance if your, sales have decreased you, might use exploratory, research to, get a sense of whether this is due to new competitors, poor, quality, or any, number of other possible, factors this, would tell you then where you should focus your more detailed research. To. Increase familiarity. With the problem for. Example if you are developing a product in a new category and you don't know much about the category. The. Second type of approach descriptive. Research makes. Up the bulk of the market research that is done it's, generally, based on one or more hypotheses. Which. Implies that you do have some information about the problem, three.
Potential Ways you might use descriptive, research are, to. Describe the characteristics of certain groups. For example developing the profile, of the average, user of your, product, in terms of demographics, attitudes, and/or, behaviors. To. Estimate, the proportion of people in a specified population, who behave a certain way, for. Instance the proportion, of your average users, who, buy your product, at a specific store and. To. Make predictions for, example predicting, the level of sales for, each of the next three years if your product is placed in these stores. Our. Final type of research is causal, research you, would use causal, research when you're trying to test a cause-and-effect relationship, between. Two variables, you. Start with hypothesis, for. Example, shelf. Placement, is a critical factor in sales so, where we have good shelf placement, we, have good market penetration, that's. The hypothesis, you'll test if in. Your research you determine. That in a large number of territories, with good shelf placement, you do not have satisfactory, market share then. You would conclude that your hypothesis, is not true, good. Shelf placement, does not necessarily. Mean you'll have good market penetration. So. Have you created a blueprint or are you just forging, ahead with a hammer and a bucket of nails how. Much do you know about your problem do, you have enough information to create at least one hypothesis. Or are you trying to get a feel for what's going on at this stage are. You looking to understand. Uncover, or identify, or are you looking to measure select. Or prioritize, if you. Can answer these questions, you're ready to select the type of research that will best solve the business problem at hand and begin. To develop your, blueprint. You. The, purpose, of qualitative, research is to, access the, emotions, of your consumers. To, get an in-depth, understanding of, what they're thinking and, why, they do the things they do it's. Designed, to reveal, their behavior. Understand. What is driving that behavior, and discover. What might motivate a change in behavior, in. Qualitative. Research and interviewer, called, a moderator leads. A person or a group of people called respondents. Through, a discussion on a particular, topic, in. Contrast, to a quantitative, survey where all questions, are asked exactly, the same way and in the same order, qualitative. Research uses. A less structured, discussion, guide as its. Name implies this, is a set of discussion, topics, with, open-ended, questions, and probes that guide the discussion as a. Result the moderator is able to push respondents. To reflect, and explore, their feelings, perceptions, and, behaviors. Let's. Consider an example to illustrate, you. Work for andis a national, chain of family restaurants, and you're, planning to renovate all of the restaurants, to appeal more to the younger twenty, to thirty year olds without. Losing the current appeal to, families. You. May conduct focus groups with parents who. Regularly, eat at Andy's with their families to discover, what.
It Is about Andy's that appeals to them, you'll. Be looking to discover not, just what, they like but. Why those, features, are important, and how, they make your customer, feel, it's. Often, the underlying, emotion. That, drives loyalty, to a brand. For. Example you might ask them to tell you about a memorable, experience they, had at Andy's or, to describe, the types of occasions, when they go to Andy's, or. You may ask what. Is the one thing Andy's should change and what, is the one thing they should not change, you. May also conduct focus groups with twenty to thirty year olds to understand, what types of places they frequent, again. You'll be looking for in-depth, descriptions, good, and bad that, will help you appreciate the overall, experience, that. This target audience desires. While. The dynamic and, flek double nature of qualitative research is, the great advantage the. Subjectivity, is considered, by some to be one of its disadvantages. Another. Disadvantage is, that, it relies on a small sample of people which, may or may not reflect the views of the entire population, of consumers, as a. Result. Qualitative. Research is directional, in nature it's not considered, conclusive. So. If you need to really understand. Your customer, understand. The emotions, that drive their decisions, understand. Why they behave a certain way start. With qualitative research. You. Quantitative. Research is all. About numbers, and statistics it. Seeks to quantify, the. Thoughts and actions of a target audience to understand. Past or current behaviors, and/or. To predict future behaviors, how. Satisfied are our customers. How. Will a price increase impact, sales, what, is the market size for our new product. To. Illustrate let's continue, with, our Andes restaurant, example. Recall. That you work for Andes a national, chain of family restaurants, and you're planning to renovate all of the restaurants, to appeal more to the younger twenty to thirty year olds without. Losing, the current appeal to families. Because. You are looking to quantify, your results, all questions. Should be written in a way that produce, numerical. Results. Some. Questions are naturally, quantitative, in that they ask for a numerical, answer such. As how. Often do you eat out in an average month on, average, how, much do you spend when you eat out how. Often do you order a salad or an alcoholic beverage, how. Far do you typically drive to a restaurant or how. Far are you willing to drive. Other. Questions, may not request, numerical, responses, but, are asked in such a way as to be able to quantify the results on. A scale, of one to seven please, rate how important, each of the following factors are as reasons. That you visit Andes where. One is not at all important, and seven, is extremely, important on a scale of one to five please. Indicate how strongly, you agree or disagree with, each of the following statements. Because. One of the main goals of quantitative, research is to, statistically. Reflect, the views of a population, the. Execution. Of the research is, critical. Several. Things must hold true, the. Sample population that, is included, must, be representative, of the entire population of. Your target audience, this. May include considerations. Of demographics. Socioeconomic. Factors, geographic. Distribution. Gender. Ethnicity specific. Purchase or activity behaviors, etc. The. Sample population must. Be large enough to ensure that the results, will be statistically. Projectable, to. The total population. In. Other words you. Want to be sure that the results, you got with this sample, would, be reproducible. If you conducted, the survey again with, different people. Finally. The questions must be well formulated.
Unambiguous. With a complete. Set of mutually exclusive, options if. Not, you're. Left wondering what the respondent, was thinking when they answered the question in. Renovating. The andis restaurants, you will want to look at whether responses, differed by region of the country or by age or, by socioeconomic factors. Andes. In California, may require a slightly. Different layout a different, menu or a different neighborhood location. Than Andes in Ohio or you, may decide to market, to a slightly different audience in one location versus, another based. On the market potential if. This. All sounds complex. Just. Know that its standard practice to consult, a statistician on, the front end of a quantitative, project to ensure that the sample size and characteristics, will. Produce statistically. Relevant results. So. If your research problem, seeks to quantify, thoughts, and actions such. As forecasting. Sales predicting. Consumer, behavior, or measuring, satisfaction. A quantitative. Study may. Be in order. You. What, would you say if someone asked you to describe how, you do laundry if. You're like most people you would say something like I sort the laundry into whites and colors put, it in the washer and detergent. When, it's done move it to the dryer etcetera. The. Problem, with asking someone, how they do something, is that. They primarily think about main steps leaving. Smaller steps out because, they don't think they're relevant or. They may not even realize they're doing something, but. If you are trying to come up with a new product idea, to facilitate, doing laundry those. Little steps or the unconscious. Compensating, behaviors, may. Provide precisely, the insight that fuels a new idea the. Way around this is ethnography. Which, is a method of observational. Research. Ethnography. Is systematically. Watching, someone do something in his or her native environment, in our, laundry case this, would involve watching, people do load after load of laundry under, different circumstances in, their, home apartment. Or laundromat, whatever, is their natural environment, consider. That years ago people, would measure detergent, in a measuring cup ethnography. Revealed, but people would frequently, misplace, the measuring cup or simply, not use it because it was an added step instead. They, were using the lid of the detergent bottle to guesstimate, the quantity, but, when they put the lid back on whatever. Detergent was, left in the lid would leak down the side of the bottle that, little. Discovery led. To adding drainage slips in the bottle and measuring. Lines on the lid. Ethnography. With surgeons in operating rooms has, led to the development of instruments, that are more ergonomically, suited for where a surgeon stands, relative. To the patient. Ethnography. And health clubs led to the addition of magazine, racks and water bottle holders on the treadmills after observing people consistently, crafting. Their own holders during, workouts. Ethnographic.
Research Is often referred to as in homes or, shop belongs depending. On the type of observation, it entails in shop. Alongs you, would accompany the respondent, on a shopping, trip and observe, how they shop what, catches their attention what. Do they pick up what, do they read and ultimately. What, do they buy this. Might lead to changes, in package, design or shelf placement. Or if you're the store owner perhaps. In the redesign of the store, the. Key is to watch for annoyances. Or inconveniences. And for, compensating, behaviors. What. Do consumers do, as a workaround for something that is not exactly, what they want or need these. Are opportunities for innovation. Another. Method of observation is simulation. Like. Ethnography. Simulation. Involves watching someone do something, however. Unlike, ethnography. It's done in a simulated, environment. For. Example you, may have a Test Kitchen where you bring people in and watch them bake cakes or, you may set up shelves of cereal similar to how they would look at a grocery store and watch, people shop, the. Advantage of this is, that it is a controlled, environment and potentially. Makes it easier to observe. The. Downside, is that it cannot exactly replicate, the natural, environment so, some things may be missed a, third. Method of observation is an experiment, similar. To simulation, you're, watching people do something in a simulated, environment but. In this case you, may have different, environments or, multiple, product options to, see how a change impacts, behavior, for. Example maybe, you arrange the cereal in two different ways on the shelves and see if it alters which products, consumers, pick or, perhaps, you stock this Test Kitchen with different utensils or different cake mixes and see, what impact this has on how the cakes are made. Observational. Research is a great, tool but, it isn't for every project, think. About your project, what observation, be useful to accomplishing, your goals if. So how. And where does your customer interact, with your product and is, it feasible to observe this. Observational. Research is expensive, and time-consuming, but. If it's appropriate it always leads, to discovery of some, critical nuance, that might otherwise have been missed. You.