The Setting Up A Business Series: Conducting Market Research
So you’re all set with an idea to blow the minds (and wallets) of the world wide customer. Now’s the time to find the market for your product. Here’s how…
So, you’re finally setting out with that idea that’s been as dear to you as a child for the past however many years. You’re pretty sure that it’ll pack a market punch, and simultaneously empty the consumer’s wallet whilst filling yours. You might think the right thing to do is to dive head first into your new product or business, giving your heart and soul to your efforts before a contender comes along… But wait! Are you certain that there really is a market for your idea? Is your idea itself really ready to face the world? Time to conduct some all important market research…
Before you dive in at the deep end of the pool, you always dip your toes in, just to gage temperature and the response your body will have. Think of market research as testing the marketing waters. Although your idea for a product or business may seem to you to be flawless, all successful business leaders know the importance of room for improvement, and you can bet there’ll be at least a little room within your plan.
Most businesses side-step the market research stage, perhaps afraid of the negative response they could receive. However, without criticism, your idea (and any potential revenue) can’t grow into its full potential. By taking the time to find out more about the market out there, you could even come to realise that your product is perfect just the way it is, but it’s definitely worth having a scout around first.
With the cost of starting up your business looming over your head, you could be forgiven for shying away from market research, as it can certainly prove to be expensive. Paying to prove that you’re the master of product development can seem a little, well, pointless. What if there were a way to get that all important market insight with little to no cash spent on your hand? Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Market research is formed of two different sets of data: primary and secondary. You’ll gather your most crucial data from your secondary research, although primary should not be overlooked, as it engages with your consumer directly.
Your primary research gets that all important customer response to your product. This can be conducted by yourself if you’re wary of the budget, and can even be conducted online (from the comfort of your sofa) for free! Survey Monkey offers a free package to those on a tight budget, and you can create a survey of 10 questions to be sent out to 100 people. This can help you gage how a consumer responds to your product; if needs be, you can fine-tune your product based on this data.
The power of human interaction can never be overlooked when conducting market research. Some great advice would be to head down to your local high street and find out for yourself just how the market interacts with your product. While some people are unwilling to take time out of their oh-so-busy days to give you a helping hand, you can be sure that a little time and effort on your behalf will bring in some good results in the end. Keeping your research short and sweet in the field will make for the best results in this case.
Your secondary research will give you a wider overarching view of your product as the market slayer you hope it will be. While some of the larger and more dominant companies out there can spend a small fortune on their secondary market research, you’ll be pleased to hear that there are plenty of resources available at your fingertips, completely free of charge.
First of all, it’s time to pop down the local library, where you’ll find the business resources section to be of great help. Many libraries offer free entry to locals, although those which do charge a small price would still save on forking out for professional research. You’ll find access to Thomas Net which can help you make connections with others in your industry, along with Hoovers, from which you can source competitors and manufacturers alike. The business know-how which you can find through a little independent research is immense (and it’s always nice to have a time out with a coffee and a book).
When researching your customer base, it’s worth checking out the Office for National Statistics website. Although it can be a bit of a maze, you can find out pretty much anything with the right query. Their business section contains a plethora of stats on consumerism and customer spending habits, which can help you find the market you’re hoping to wow and see just how lucrative it could be.
Make the most of the web. The Internet is the most invaluable resource in your quest for market domination. Social media websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can reap some great responses from an age of B2C proximity. YouGov Sixth Sense is also a great online resource, which you can use, and I quote, to find out “what the world thinks” (just what you were looking for, right?). There’s so much out there that you may not need to leave the comfort of your home to get the details you need to cement your product as the “next big thing”, and so having a good Google could be invaluable to your business.
When you’ve found all the data you were looking for, don’t forget to analyse your findings, so as to be sure of where your business could fit into the market. The Independent Consulting Group’s Commissioning Qualitative Research guide (rather a mouthful, I know), can guide you through the analytical process to help you get some helpful results.