Step D: Choose a precise method for your market research
At this stage you can now isolate which analyses to carry out from the range of those available within the framework of market research. They will depend on the problems and opportunities that you have detected during the previous steps. Prefer market research methods that will ease your doubts.
At this stage, you need to abandon the idea that market research boils down to an on-line questionnaire. Unfortunately it is difficult to combat this idea, as some marketing agencies have imprinted this fallacious short-cut into their clients’ minds, making them forget the rich and complementary nature of other available methods. This part is called “research design” and it is your plan of attack.
Where are you in your thought process?
Market research methods to use
|I have an idea for a new product or a new service. I haven’t spoken to anyone about it yet.
|The first thing to do is to test your idea and to use qualitative methods to add some improvements. At this stage, throwing yourself into a quantitative study (an online questionnaire for example) does not make sense.
|I have an innovative idea which is related to my field of business. I would like to achieve it and bring it to market
|If your idea is related to your field of business, it is fairly safe to say that you have identified a need that is not being satisfied. You could therefore skip the qualitative phase and try to confirm your idea using a quantitative method. To do this, go directly to step 6.
|I want to change my life and launch my own business. I have an idea about the business sector in which I would like to work but my entire project has to be built.
|Your project is still very much in the embryonic stage of creation. That is why it is a good idea to follow all of the 7 phases suggested in this guide. If your project falls under the heading of local retail sales, a location study is also a must.
|I have developed a product myself and I want to market it.
|This case is a classic launch of an innovative product. If you have developed a product, then you will certainly have a prototype. This prototype is a valuable asset when it comes to performing market research because it allows you to move directly to phase 2, the one where you introduce your potential customers to your innovative idea and gather their impressions.
|I sell my product / service in one country and want to expand into another geographical zone
|If your product / service is already on sale in one country and you want to introduce it to another geographical zone, market research is essential to ensure a successful launch. Several approaches are possible, depending on the complexity of the product and the target (B2B or B2C). For an innovative product, we would tend to advise you to approach it almost like a prototype to test the reaction of customers in the new geographical area. Start with a confirmatory qualitative method such as a focus group prior to quantifying the demand using quantitative techniques. In the case of a B2B market, as the targets are more readily available, the best possible market research involves trying to sell your product directly. That way, you can get a feel for the reaction of the B2B market.
|My sales are dropping. I don’t know what to do.
|Performing market research is not confined to launching a company or a product. Some market research methods can be applied to understanding the dynamics of a market and the resulting changes. In the case of a decline in business, competitor analysis may be useful, as well as a satisfaction survey (quantitative), especially if the decline in business happens suddenly.
|My market is under attack from competition. I have to react.
|Competitive tendencies are a common occurrence. Several marketing strategies can be followed, one of the most interesting being the strategy of differentiation. The latter however requires understanding of “customers’ pains”, those points of dissatisfaction that will need to be focussed on to meet the latent needs of customers. Ethnographic methods are without doubt the most suitable ones to identify these “customers’ pains”. So, you should turn in the first place toward qualitative market research methods such as observation, focus groups or face-to-face interviews.
|My market is shrinking. I need to maintain my turnover.
|Markets live and evolve in tune with innovations and changes in customer habits. In the case of a shrinking market, it is important to start by identifying the causes. They can be external (which will require a PESTEL analysis and a competitor analysis) or internal (in which case a satisfaction questionnaire for your customers may allow the primary causes to appear).
|My market is expanding. I would like to know how to take advantage of it.
|This is a problem that many companies would like to have. When demand for a product or service is growing rapidly, how can you determine where to concentrate your efforts? Resolving this problem comes down to quantifying the demand in different geographical areas in order to guide your marketing efforts. Target profiling or a segmentation exercise are useful in assessing the number of potential customers. A competitor study will then allow you to assess the problems that you might encounter in each geographical area.
|We have developed a variant of an existing product or service. How can I be sure that this variant corresponds to consumer expectations?
This is a textbook case. Any product is destined to be improved on the basis of the reaction of the market and customer feedback (in particular through a satisfaction questionnaire) in order to better correspond to their constantly evolving expectations. Improving a product/service therefore requires that you also gather the reactions of potential users. To do this, there are two solutions available to you:
Read our next article about the first 2 market research methods
In the rest of this series of articles, we describe in detail a textbook situation. We will take market research methods and walk you through all of the stages in order to end up with a marketing strategy that is outlined in the business plan and reflected in the financial plan.
With the help of the individual articles dedicated to each type of analysis, we hope that you will be in a position to make an informed choice about which options you should favour for your research. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need any assistance.
Don’t miss our next article on the stages of market research in which we will use the first 2 techniques for market research: Trend analysis and PESTEL analysis.