Market research is essential to understanding your customers and your competition. It provides you with intelligence that can help direct your business planning and strategy.
The key to successful market research is planning and strategy. It should be methodical, organized and fair. Unfortunately, market research often takes place during a time of great excitement or turmoil, meaning that rationale can fly out the window and mistakes can be made. To help navigate the world of market research, here are some of the most common mistakes businesses make, and tips of how to avoid them.
1. Not Knowing What You’re Looking For
The key to successful market research is to know the questions you need answers to before you look for the data.
It’s easy to find data that loosely relates to your industry or business, but if you start your research just in a general hope to discover something, anything, about your customers it can be an exercise in futility.
2. Poor Choice of Reference Materials
It’s important to know your information is coming from a reputable source. Google has the answers to everything, but do you know what the stats you have found are based on? Do you know if the original questioning was biased? Research your research materials, double check the information they provide and check the dates the data was collected for relevancy. And don’t forget your local library. Not only do they provide access to great reference books, but often provide access to licensed reference databases either online or from their location.
3. Researching the Wrong Group
Data is only useful when it is relevant, so the first thing to establish from your research is your target demographic. You can then use this data to further research your business with those parameters in mind and understand their needs and wants.
4. Relying on One Set of Data
Whether it’s the 2011 Census of Canada or a survey you personally conducted, one set of data is not enough to get an objective overview of your target market.
Good market research has both primary and secondary data, from multiple sources, to provide a true unbiased opinion.
5. Your Family and Friends Can’t Be Your Focus Group
Speaking of primary research, your survey group can’t be purely made up of your friends, family and acquaintances. They are likely to want to support you and your new business and will be subject to a lack of objectivity. Instead speak to your customers or potential customers and peers in the industry.
6. Understanding Your Own Bias
Everyone has their own opinions and beliefs that influence the way they rationalize data. The trick is to recognize this. By understanding what your bias is, even if it’s simply that you want your business to work no matter what, and then you can be wary of it when analyzing the data you’ve gathered, and take an extra step to find an alternate way to make sense of it.
Finding the Data the Works for You
Want to learn more about how to gather both primary and secondary data for your business? Attend Small Business BC’s Market Research1: Finding the Data that Works for You seminar with our Market Research Analyst, Mark Eversfield.