Ten Top Tips
Businesses may be looking to kick start 2019 with the launch of a new product or by extending their reach into new segments or overseas markets. Market research is an incredibly valuable tool for any stage of business, whether you’re a business owner starting out, or a more mature business looking to change direction. With the outlook uncertain, it makes absolute sense to thoroughly research and carefully scope any new venture. However, as market research is such a broad term, there are often misconceptions around what the process involves and businesses may feel overwhelmed and unclear where to start.
With this in mind, we’ve put together our top 10 tips for carrying out a successful market research project to help you keep it focused and generate high quality results.
1. What do you need to know?
Whilst it’s good to learn about the general industry and market trends in which your business sits, it’s always important to bear in mind that your market research should be aligned to your strategic objectives. The first thing to consider is: what questions does your business need answers to? This will ensure your market research project has the right focus from the beginning and allow you to adopt the best methods for conducting your research.
2. What information is already available to you?
Before you go ahead and commission a piece of paid research, have a look at the secondary market research already available. There are some invaluable free resources that may throw light on where you need to focus your own project, or even answer the specific questions you have.
Search engines are valuable tools for carrying out quick research and you’ll often find up to date statistics for your industry or sector available for free, as well as lots of industry trade sites with good supporting articles and research. If you’re looking for simple demographic data, have a look at BBC country profiles or the Office of National Statistics.
3. Utilise the knowledge and insight around you
Again, thinking about the information that is already available to you, you can conduct primary research simply through your own team and stakeholders – your staff, suppliers and customers. As long as you consider that these views are likely to have a certain bias, interviewing or surveying these groups can be extremely valuable and provide a good amount of qualitative data to analyse.
You might also want to consider setting up small focus groups with these stakeholders. If you have determined the key questions you are looking to answer, a focus group can provide valuable insight using a relaxed, conversational approach. Again, you’ll need to keep in mind the potential bias of the different parties, but the insight gleaned will be very informative and highlight different perspectives.
4. Plan your research out properly
When designing your research, have a clear plan around how it will be used and what actions you will take as a result, so that it doesn’t become too much of an academic exercise. You don’t want the time, money and effort of the project going to waste if you haven’t properly considered how it might help develop change within your business.
5. Verify the legitimacy of any sources you use
There are a number of ‘off-the-shelf’ reports available to buy from reputable Market Research Publishers, but it is important to always verify the legitimacy of any reports you use, as sources may not be impartial. Such sources may still be valid, as long as you acknowledge any bias and consider how this may affect your results. Moreover, it’s always good to use several sources when conducting research so that you can compare and contrast results with your own findings and historical data.
6. Balance qualitative and quantitative results
When carrying out market research, consider which type of research best suits your needs. Quantitative research, for example, gathers high volumes of data in a consistent, structured format such as a standardised survey. Results can, therefore, be easily analysed and the volume of responses help identify significant statistical trends and patterns.
Qualitative research, such as focus groups or telephone interviews, digs deeper into those patterns to uncover the underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations behind the trends. Therefore, a key tip is to try to balance qualitative and quantitative methods where possible, as a combination of these results will produce the most powerful insight.
7. Don’t treat market research as a one-off exercise
Market research does not have infinite shelf life. Be aware that, in fast-moving sectors particularly, things change quickly, so don’t rely too heavily on research facts and figures that are out of date. It is important to keep a regular finger on the pulse in areas that are important to your businesses.
8. Is your data useful?
What format do you need the output to be in, so that the results are useful? This should be included within your initial brief, so that the data capture mechanisms you use support the formats you need and results can be analysed easily.
9. Action your results
Once you have the results from your market research, ensure you share these with your business and team as a priority, so that each department or individual can take some value from the intelligence. Don’t leave them on the shelf gathering dust until they have no worth. Sharing market information across different functions also helps unify the vision across the whole business and provides the backdrop for shared goals and objectives.
10. Are you the best person for the job?
Whilst it is possible to carry out research yourself, using a specialist, an independent third party, is recommended. If you formulate the questions yourself, they will be skewed by what you think you know about the subject and may hinder the possibility of learning valuable, new information. However knowledgeable and experienced your in-house team, the goal of market research is to learn something you don’t know. It is critical that it should not be informed by your own assumptions.
Our dedicated market research division, TTMC Research, provides high quality, flexible voice-based research across a broad range of sectors and in a variety of languages. We’re an accredited Market Research Society Company Partner, which means our agents are monitored to the highest professional standards. If you have a market research challenge that you’re looking to address or need an expert team that’s committed to market research excellence, get in touch.