Marketing research is key to understanding who your consumers are, your target market, and the factors that impact their buying process and behaviour. Consumers today have a great deal of purchasing power. They can autonomously explore your product or service prior to making a purchase decision.
To stay ahead of the game, you need to adapt your marketing strategy to match today’s consumer buying process. This strategy must be preceded by marketing research.
What is Marketing Research?
Marketing research is a methodical process of gathering, evaluating and interpreting data. It helps with the process of determining what are the current trends and how people feel about a new product and service. Marketers can use this information to create products, services or advertising material that will appeal more universally across their target market with different cultures and lifestyles within them.
Why Should a Business Conduct Marketing Research?
Marketing research allows businesses to meet the buyer where they are. A business can craft a product or service to appeal to the market by understanding the initial problem and offering the solution.
Marketing research can also provide data on a range of factors that, such as:
- Where the target market conducts their research before making a decision
- Who are the competitors
- What are the current market or industry trends
- Who is your audience
- What are the deciding factors for your target market
What Does Marketing Research Cover?
There are several different aspects to marketing research and each type of research can provide different insights that may be valuable to a business.
Two of the most common pillars of marketing research are marketing intelligence and competitor research.
Market intelligence is the information about the market that may impact a business. There are many facets of marketing intelligence, and they can include the following:
- Mega Trends: Macro trends that affect the world, a country, population, a demographic or significant part of society
- Industry Trends: Practices, models or trends in operational management, business management, marketing strategies & tactics specific to an industry
- Target Market: The breakdown of the target customer’s demographics, profile and interests
- Consumer Needs & Behaviour: Influences that affect how the target market makes purchases, choose solution providers or perceive a brand
- Technology Trends: Technological changes that disrupt, improve or change the way an industry works
- External Market Forces: External uncontrollable factors that can impact a business or industry
A competitor analysis can help businesses learn the ins and outs of how competitions work, identify potential opportunities and how to out-perform them. Competitor analysis is a great way to stay ahead of the competition. It enables businesses to learn about their competitors and identify any opportunities that might be useful to take on.
There are 3 types of competitors:
- Direct Competitors: Direct competitors target a similar target market, sell similar products and services and follow a similar business model. An easy example would be Pizza Hut vs Domino’s. Both companies sell pizza to a similar target market.
- Indirect Competitors: An indirect competitor is another business that offers products and services under the same umbrella but differs by variety. For example, McDonald’s vs Subway. Both companies sell fast food towards a similar target market. However, they offer different core products to appeal to different tastes and moods. While McDonald’s sells hamburgers, Subway sells sandwiches. Subway also positions itself as a healthier choice to take away market share from the traditional “unhealthy” fast food.
- Replacement Competitors: Replacement competitors (sometimes known as “phantom competitors”) are businesses that offer different types of products and services, yet your target market might opt to buy from that business instead. For example, KFC VS CP Foods. Both businesses offer fried chicken but with different variations and methods of consumption. While KFC sells fried chicken fresh from the kitchen, CP Foods sells frozen fried chicken.
Methods for Conducting Research
As you start working on your marketing research, you will need to approach it with proper methods for the best results. Below are two methods that you may use:
Primary research is defined as a practice that researchers adopt to collect data directly rather than relying on data from earlier research. It works best when segmenting your market and creating buyer personas.
Because the researcher owns the data in this study approach, they have complete control over it.
Examples of primary research include:
- Conducting a survey.
- Hosting an interview or a focus group.
- Observing behaviour through specific platforms.
- Carrying out an experiment.
Secondary research is also referred to as desk research because it entails synthesising existing data from the internet, peer-reviewed publications, textbooks, government archives and libraries. The secondary researcher examines previously recognised trends in previous studies and applies this information to the present research environment.
Paradoxically, secondary research frequently relies on data provided by primary research, which is why some studies mix the two approaches of examination.
Examples of secondary research include:
- Trade publications & journals
- Academic papers
- Online research
Benefits of Conducting Marketing Research
Marketing research can assist a business in reducing risk and improving business strategy from the bottom up. Here are four ways it can help businesses thrive:
Making Strategic Business Decisions
How can a business make a strategic business decision? The question may sound simple, but the truth is…it runs deeper. Using the data available through marketing research, making business decisions can be easier because the data can help address many factors, from logistics to marketing strategy.
Identifying Business Opportunities
The world is your oyster when you have the right planning and vision. By identifying opportunities for growth in your industry or niche with pinpoint accuracy, the information gathered can be used to plan out a marketing strategy that will maximise both short-term and long-term success.
Lowering Business Risks
Business owners can also reduce risks that are associated with businesses by doing some initial research into what’s coming up on the horizon before diving headfirst into it all. Once the possible risks are identified, business owners may shift their focus onto things that are more important to propel the business forward.
Positioning Against and Outmanoeuvring Competitors
By utilising the competitive intelligence gathered through marketing research, it will be easier for businesses to outmanoeuvre the identified competitors. Strong competitions provide an opportunity to understand where a business is weak and where it can leverage its strengths.
Challenges of Conducting Marketing Research
Collecting reliable and high-quality data can be challenging for businesses. It is crucial to first identify challenges to consistent data gathering before establishing methods to improve data collection procedures. Here are some of the challenges that may arise:
Existing Marketing Research Methodology
With the vast amount of available data ready for consumption, it can be challenging to identify the information that is being sought. The researcher will have to manually scan through each source and comb for the data.
Quality of Data Gathered
The data gathered manually has a risk of being of poor quality. This can affect the insights made based on the data, hence directly affecting any business decision made.
If a business is servicing clients, it may be challenging to manage clients’ expectations. Clients will expect quick and executable insights from the marketing research conducted to help them make quick and informed business decisions. Delivering a strategy based on good data and analysis within a stipulated timeline is gradually becoming a challenge.
Conducting marketing research can help you identify various factors to propel your business further. In the long run, consider how the initial research may be utilised to strengthen your business. If you are reading this, congratulations on taking the first step on learning how to conduct marketing research for strategic marketing!
As a strategy & digital implementation firm, one value that Evolve & Adapt brings to consulting clients is as a marketing research company.
Our comprehensive marketing research helps enterprises make strategic business decisions, informed choices for marketing strategy and product development, and provides in-depth information for marketing and content creation. Contact us if you need insights into your industry and business.