This is the first article in a five-part series entitled Market Research – Intelligence to Drive Your Business, contributed by Susanne Bowen of S J Bowen & Associates. Susanne is one of our valued partners at DSE.
Market research is business intelligence. It involves gathering and analyzing information, and as such is critical in making confident and informed strategic business decisions. Markets are too complex and constantly evolving to rely on a hunch, personal belief or anecdote. Market research combined with relevant business analytics empowers business owners in making knowledgeable decisions regarding business opportunities, market expansion, market trends, unmet needs and consumer preferences.
Market research is business intelligence. It involves gathering and analyzing information, and as such is critical in making confident and informed strategic business decisions.
As a decision-support tool, market research assists managers in understanding the possible consequences and impact of making certain choices and in developing their business and market strategy. Because of the significance to both start-ups and established businesses it is important that sources of information/data and vendors providing market research services be well-vetted.
For example, when a business is considering the feasibility of entering a new market or simply wants to keep a finger on the pulse of a market in which they currently compete, it is common to gather and analyze the following information:
- Market size in revenues and growth rate
- Industry trends & market drivers
- Barriers to entry
- Market demand
- Recent or anticipated market shifts/disruptions
Other types of market research initiatives include:
- Measuring and understanding customer satisfaction
- Competitive analysis
- Customer experience assessment
- Concept testing (value proposition, new product)
- Customer needs assessment
- Gap analysis
- Customer segmentation
- Opportunity analysis
Market Research and Marketing Research are often used interchangeably and the distinctions between the two can be easily blurred. The primary difference between the two has to do with scope. Market research is generally narrower in scope and is focused on a specific industry or market, customer, and competition. Marketing research looks at new products, product development, pricing and advertising. The two concepts merge and elements of both are analyzed when supporting the marketing function.
In preparing to conduct market research it is important that the research be framed by a key business question and specific, detailed goals. It is only in thorough thoughtful and considered planning that your research can yield insightful and actionable results.