Market research is key to the survival of your business. It should be included when starting a business and much so before coming up with a product.
And the reason is simple.
It is the customers that are aware of their own challenges and the problems that they face every day. While many entrepreneurs design products based on an idea or a hunch, the savvy businessman aims to fully understand the customer’s needs.
And understanding the customer can only be done through direct contact and interaction.
The aim here is simple.
Learn about the customer’s way of thinking, psychology, challenges as well as economic, emotional and cultural situations.
Only then will you design a product that caters to those needs.
While conducting market research may sound like a walk in the park, the truth is that it is faced with many challenges.
Lack of a process is one of them. This is where the researcher simply goes out into the market with the intention of collecting information, without any plan. Sometimes even with a plan, a researcher may fail to follow through which could cause the entire process to fail.
A second challenge is information bias. The researcher choses only the information that confirms what he is thinking as opposed to collecting all information and analyzing it without bias.
Family bias could step in where the researcher is trying to gain information from family members. They may not want to offend you so they tell you what you want to hear. This obviously is not a good representation of the market.
One good way of overcoming the biases in market research is to have multiple people conducting the research with some, if not all of them understanding the possibility of the bias that comes with the process.
The first step is to make a plan. The market research plan should include the goals and objectives, the criteria for recruiting interviewees, how to run the program and how to digest the results from the research.
It’s always helpful to conduct secondary research, from various sources to gain a good introduction into the market.
Next conduct a qualitative research. This will involve asking open ended question allowing the customers to provide you with long answers. Only then should you focus on asking quantitative questions which you will draft from the responses from the qualitative data.
Go to where your customers are likely going to congregate. This can be looked at two-fold, physically and digitally. However, it is always a good idea to interact with your potential customers directly to be able to obtain better responses. Using Facebook and other social media platforms will not give you the face to face interaction that you might want.
Getting customers to give you a few minutes of their time to talk is not easy and you will get plenty of rejections. But do not worry, it gets easier with more experience. Ask your contacts to refer you to someone else they know that buys the products you offer but approach them with a purely inquisitive tone rather than a salesy one.