Market research is the process of determining the viability of a new service or product through research conducted directly with potential customers. Market research allows a company to discover the target market and get opinions and other feedback from consumers about their interest in the product or service. Thus it is an organised effort to gather information about target markets and customers. It is a very important component of business strategy and a vital factor in maintaining competitiveness. The techniques of market research entail both qualitative techniques ( such as focus groups , in-depth interviews and ethnography ) as well as quantitative techniques ( such as customer surveys and analysis of secondary data). Though market research and marketing research are very similar sounding, their scopes are different. Marketing research is concerned specifically about marketing processes such as effectiveness of advertising and sales force, while market research is concerned specifically with markets and distribution. It can be said that market research is a subset of marketing research.
TECHNIQUES OF MARKET RESEARCH :
There are several ways of conducting market research and collecting customer data. Four most important and common techniques include surveys, interviews, focus groups and customer observation.
• Surveys – Surveys are a form of quantitative research that ask respondents a short series of open/closed ended questions which can be delivered via email or as on-screen questionnaire. Surveys prove to be the most commonly used market research technique because not only they are easy and inexpensive to conduct, but you can also do a lot of data collection quickly.
• Interviews – They are one-to-one conversations with members of your target market. Nothing can beat a face-to-face interview for gaining better insight. If, for some reason, an in-person meeting isn’t possible, video conferencing is a good second choice.
• Focus Groups – Focus groups imply bringing together a carefully selected group of people who fit a company’s target market. A trained moderator leads a conversation that encompasses the product, user experience and /or marketing message to gain deeper insights.
• Observation – During a customer observation session, someone from the company takes notes while they silently watch an ideal user engage with their product or a similar product. This method is not very expensive and you will see people interact with your product in a natural setting, without influencing each other.
ADVANTAGES OF MARKET RESEARCH :
Market research helps the business identify opportunities in the market place. Some of the key benefits of market research include –
• It helps business strengthen their position – Market research is used to gain a better perspective and understanding market or target audience, thus ensuring that your firm stays ahead of the competition.
• It minimises any investment risk – Since market research helps in procuring all the required data before launching a product/service, the risk of investment is reduced to minimum.
• It focuses on customer needs and demands – With so many ways to reach customers using online panels, web communities, telephone surveys, depth interview and focus group; market research keeps you attentive to where you can improve your position, customer service or product offering.
• It assists the business to stay ahead of competition – Knowing how to rightly leverage the information and insights you procure from market research, audience research and data research are the keys to both getting ahead as well as staying ahead of competition.
• It facilities strategic planning – Being armed with all the right information obtained from market research, one can be confident of his strategic planning to reach the business goals.