Market research basics for small businesses

Market research is an integral aspect of any small business. In fact, for your company’s long-term success, whether you’re looking to drive profitable growth, enter a new market or sustain your competitive advantage over time, you need to make use of market research.

Historically, the concept of market research has not been made available to anything other than big brands and businesses that have the time, resources and funds to pay consultants and market research firms to undertake this function. 

In our effort to bring the power of feedback and market research to small businesses, BigTeam put together this quick 2 minute overview of the basics. 

Market research; A breakdown of the basics

There are two main types of market research that companies often carry out. 

The first type is primary market research, with the second type being secondary market research.

Primary market research involves gathering first-hand data on your markets and customers. You’re able to gather this data through focus groups, online surveys and telephonic interviews. Secondary market research involves using all the data and information you have at your disposal to draw conclusions about the needs and wants of your customers.   

Market research can also be categorized into different elements. A solid understanding of these elements will help you better make use of market research in your own business. But, before we delve into the various elements of market research, let’s take a closer look at the importance of market research.

Firstly, market research helps to bridge the wide communication gap between the producer of the product or service and the consumer—a gap which often forms over time and as the company grows. 

Market research also helps a small business to identify and manage environmental and market changes. Keeping in touch with the evolving industry and world that surrounds the goods that your business offers means that you can stay on top of risks and opportunities. In doing this, market research helps management to bring about prompt adjustments and innovations in the event of technology advancements. 

Finally, market research also ensures maximum consumer satisfaction and repeat purchases and helps to lay down appropriate marketing strategies to meet and beat the competition.

Elements of market research 

There are five elements of market research that every business owner, startup founder or entrepreneur needs to pay attention to:

Enquiry: The first key element of market research is enquiry. Before you carry out successful market research; you need to ask the right questions to get a better understanding of your market. This can be done through surveys, questionnaires, focus groups etc. and will give you insight into the demographics of your customers. Think about what you’re actually trying to understand or what problem you’re trying to solve. 

Collection or gathering of data: Collection of data is a practical element of market research that you can’t afford to skip. It involves the gathering of information regarding your consumers’ preferences. There are various tools that can help you to achieve this, including BigTeam but also SurveyMonkey and Typeform. This differs from market enquiry in that it focuses specifically on the individual needs and wants of the consumers. Surveys allow you to gather the feedback at scale and get to a more “statistically significant” pool of responses. 

Studying the information gathered: After gathering your data, it’s important that you sort and study it so that you can identify any trends or highlights. This may involve setting aside some time to look through each response, or if you’ve used a platform such as those mentioned above—it should all be available for you to look at immediately. It is important not to rush this step. Feel free to come back multiple times to look at the results, as this may lead to new breakthrough ideas or ways of seeing the data

Communicating the research findings to your small business staff

Both big and small businesses often make a critical error, but not sharing the results of their findings with other staff. Even though you may be the decision maker, the small business owner, the interpretation process is often subjective, and you would benefit by having other eyes on the data. Get your marketing assistant, your front-line retail staff and even your friends and family to share their thoughts on what you learned. It will help polish your thinking and make sure you’re not misreading the results and forcing the data to fit your own assumptions and desires. 

Formulating a strategy: After studying and sorting your market research, it’s important that you now do something with it. If there are any trends or highlights that you have identified, now’s the time to develop a strategy or plan to solve or address them. This is essential because it helps to guide your business on a way forward.

Repeat: Think it ends there? Nope. After conducting this research and formulating your strategy from the data collected, you should be set on a way forward for your product or service. The key is to not get complacent. Branch out with the same market research approach into new markets or untapped demographics. This is the best way to continuously evolve and grow your business. 

Market research is simply defined as the action or activity of gathering information about the needs and preferences of consumers. However, through this blog we have learned that it can mean so much more! Consumers are always seeking new products or services to solve a problem or challenge they’re facing. And their preferences are continually evolving. 

Keeping in touch with the preferences of your customers and potential customers is the key to making massive sales and turning a profit—and that’s what market research helps you do.

Market research doesn’t have to be a luxury of the big brands. Small businesses can get started with market research by understanding the basics, and adding just a little more rigor into the process of collecting and reflecting on customer feedback and market trends. Perhaps that could start by simply taking notes while you talk to customers, formulating 3 powerful questions you can ask your customers, or even designing a simple survey once in a while to get feedback at scale. 

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