The secrets of conducting market research or how to ensure the success of your (future) business: Part 2
Carry out your market research using professional techniques! This article is proposed to you by the market research agency IntoTheMinds. Find here episode 1 and episode 3, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.
In the first part of our 3-part series on market research, we began by warning the reader about the frequent confusion between quantitative research and market research. We also pointed out the influence that conducting market research can have on the chances of success of the new company (it is not us who say so, but scientists.)
We have then presented a 15-step methodology that addresses both the conduct of the market research and the strategic aspects that follow the market research. In the first part, we dealt with two techniques in particular: the study of general trends and the study of competition.
Today we will discuss the third market research technique: the analysis of demand and the tools available to the project leader or entrepreneur to carry it out (qualitative research, quantitative survey, and so on). Needless to say, the analysis of demand is a crucial step.
Demand analysis aims to qualify as well as quantify the commercial interest in your idea. Qualification is the result of “qualitative” analysis; quantification is the result of “quantitative” analysis.
Qualitative analysis involves different methods such as focus groups, observation (which is ethnographic) and interviews. Like Mr Jourdain, (Molière, Le Bourgeois gentilhomme) who was unknowingly making poetry, many entrepreneurs have at one time, or another carried out a qualitative analysis. When you interview a customer, an expert, you are already doing a qualitative interview. Therefore, why not do it properly?
1. How to conduct a qualitative interview?
At the heart of any good interview is a useful “interview guide“. The interview guide is an essential document, prepared in advance according to the points you wish to address. It is a series of questions or points that you want to discuss during the time your interlocutor will spend with you. A well-written interview guide will allow your interviewer to express himself without constraints or bias. It will also take into account a logical progression of questions that will allow the interview to keep a “natural” flow and possibly divert towards related themes that are also interesting for your business project. Keep the questions open so that the person you are talking to has the opportunity to give you the information you didn’t know. The success of the interview depends mainly on the personality of the interviewer. A good, trained interviewer will not introduce biased questions and will keep the objectivity of the interviewee at all times. For this reason, it is not advisable to interview someone you know.
2. How many interviews are required?
Sufficient! This answer, however ironic, reflects the difficulty of the question. Scientific studies are available on the “right” number of interviews, and the amount varies from a few to more than 50. The basic principle is that you should conduct interviews until no new teaching emerges (in marketing language it is said that there is a saturation of the themes). At IntoTheMinds, we have developed the habit of conducting about fifteen interviews per consumer/customer type with some success.
3. How to analyse an interview?
Nothing would be more foolish than to think that you have finished your work once the interview is over. Here is where the real work begins. Here is how professional work should be carried out. Unfortunately, our experience has shown that few market research firms still use this method, which is the only one we believe can reveal the wealth of information provided during interviews. Start by transcribing the interview. This tedious task can be made more accessible by using speech recognition software which, once properly calibrated, will allow you to halve the transcription time. You can also use transcribers located in French-speaking countries at low cost (Madagascar, Maghreb) but be careful with quality! It would be a shame to spend as much time correcting as transcribing. Once you have completed the transcription, the time for discoveries can begin. This is the coding stage. This step consists of applying code or colour to words, parts of sentences, sentences or paragraphs according to the themes addressed. Although specialised software exists (Maxqda, for example, is the one we use at IntoTheMinds), nothing prevents you from using a more traditional method. Take your colour pens (or the highlighting tool in Microsoft Word) and assign different colours to the various themes you have encountered. Once you have completed this step for several interviews, you will obtain the most recurrent themes (which will allow you to confirm or inform your initial hypotheses) and you will even be able to study the links that exist between these different themes. You will need ad hoc software to do this.
4. And now what do I do?
Once all the “themes” have been identified, all that remains is to link them together. This step can be performed in the form of a graphical representation of the “mind-map” format. This mind-map is a representation of the consumer’s functioning. Each central theme is itself linked to sub-themes that are as many levers (or obstacles) that you can activate (or not) as part of your marketing strategy.
The term quantitative research is used to describe quantitative surveys or polls, which are aimed at estimating the size of the market based on statistics or measuring customer behaviour. To do this, they analyse a large number of responses to a standard questionnaire uniformly submitted to a representative sample of the market. This type of study is naturally quite cumbersome to set up.
It requires maximum professionalism in the preparation of the questionnaire, the selection of the sample, the conduct of surveys (face-to-face, by mail, by telephone or by email), the processing and interpretation of results.
For these reasons, we recommend that quantitative surveys be conducted with the help of professionals and limited to distribution to the general public: B2C (business to consumer), as opposed to B2B (business to business).
Read the rest of our article on conducting market research
The last article in our series will cover environmental analysis (legal, political, economic), the synthesis of the data collected, and we will also discuss the sources of information to collect all the data — only practical advice in perspective.