Fail To Prepare, Prepare To Fail: The What, Why & How Of Market Research

If you create a strategy or offering without first conducting in-depth market research, you may as well be shouting into an empty void. You’ll find yourself putting in a lot of work and getting little (or nothing) in return. So, it’s pretty important. And as the old saying goes: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. 

What is market research?

Before we get too caught up in the ins and outs of market research, let’s first begin by exploring exactly what it is. In a nutshell, market research is the process of obtaining in-depth insights about your target audience, industry, competitors and your business itself. And the purpose? To gather enough information to allow you to make informed decisions and maximise your chances of success. 

Why is market research important? 

As we’ve already discussed, market research is fundamental for any business looking to reach its goals and achieve growth – but the same applies to a lot of business activities. So, let’s get specific:

  • Uncover new business opportunities
  • Set more realistic goals
  • Enhance decision-making
  • Refine your communication strategy
  • Minimise risk
  • Identify threats, trends and challenges

How should you conduct your market research? 

There are several different types of market research; the approach you adopt will depend on what you are trying to achieve. Some of the most common types are outlined below.

Primary vs secondary research

First things first, you’ll want to establish whether you are going to complete primary or secondary research (or use a mix of both). To decide which approach is best for you, let’s first explore exactly what the two terms mean. 

Primary research involves data collected by you (or someone within your business) and is a great way to obtain up-to-date information which is specific to your needs. The downside? Well, since you’re conducting research yourself, it can end up being costly both in terms of time and money. 

Secondary research involves the use of existing data obtained from previous research conducted by a third party. Unlike primary research, secondary research is efficient and cheap since the information is readily available, however, it can sometimes cause problems in that the data may be outdated or not specific enough. 

Qualitative vs Quantitative research

Another key consideration when it comes to market research is whether you want to obtain qualitative or quantitative data. Qualitative research is exploratory and allows you to gain a deeper understanding of the concepts, motivations and opinions underpinning your target market. Due to the subjective nature of qualitative research and the limited number of participants involved, it’s hard to generalise findings. However, it does still have its uses. If you are looking to obtained detailed insights to better understand your target market and generate new ideas, qualitative research is the one for you. 

On the other hand, quantitative research is all about numbers. It’s a statistical type of research that involves collecting and analysing numerical data to verify objectives. Unlike qualitative research, quantitative data can be quickly obtained and analysed, making it useful for those looking to generalise findings and validate hypotheses. 

Types of market research

Once you’ve decided on the most appropriate from the above, you’ll need to decide how to obtain your data. Some of the most common types of market research include:

  • Interviews
  • Focus Groups
  • Product/ Service Use Research
  • Sales data
  • Buyer Persona Research
  • Market Segmentation Research
  • Pricing Research
  • Competitive Analysis Research
  • Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty Research
  • Brand Awareness Research
  • Social listening
  • Campaign Research

Best practices

  • Clearly define your research topic
  • Determine which research methods are most appropriate
  • Assess how reliable data sources are
  • Don’t just obtain data – analyse it

So, there we have an overview of market research and its importance for your business. Whether you are looking to launch a new business or simply create a new campaign, the data obtained from your market research should be at the forefront of every decision you make.