Market research could be considered a guide for your business, by providing you with direction and making your journey an easier and more profitable one.  In other words, it will give you an indication of whom and where your customers are and target indicators regarding their purchasing habits.  These people are your target market and it is crucial that you are aware of them.

You can gain an insight into the types of new products that could be profitable for you, with the capabilities of market research to help you. For products that are already being marketed, this type of research can determine whether they are in fact meeting the needs of customers and/or their expectations. This is a vital tool for small business owners, as it can show whether it is necessary to re-design packaging, or improve on their customer support services.

Creating and measuring objectives From the results produced by market research, you are given the capability of either creating a business and marketing plan, or measuring the success of a currently operating one. It is therefore critical that during research, the appropriate questions are asked by the right people in the correct manner! Poor or mismanaged market research could create a situation of a business being directed in the wrong direction.

There are methods of conducting market research, but the main objectives of primary research, is the gathering of data from an analysis of current sales ascertaining the effectiveness of current operating practices.9 In addition, this type of research will take into account your competitors plans and provide useful information regarding them.                                             

Included in this method of research are:

 Telephone or personal interviews

 Online or mailed questionnaires

 Online or mailed surveys

  Group feedback from defined potential customers

Analyzing published data The objective of secondary research is the analysis of published data. With this secondary data, you have the capacity to identify your competition, target segments, and determine bench-marks.  Your market segments are those potential buyers who meet the criteria of your targeted demographics.  They will be determined by a particular lifestyle, display a certain pattern of behavior, or be part of determined age grouping.

In the highly competitive business world of today, a small business cannot succeed unless they have knowledge of their customers and products, services provided and general market related conditions. Without proper and planned market research being conducted, there is a distinct possibility that competitors would gain a market penetrating advantage!

Quantitative and qualitative data Within the sphere of data collection, there are two recognized categories, namely quantitative and qualitative. In the first mentioned, mathematical analysis is employed, which requires a significantly sized sample volume. The derived information can help you establish variety in your market related aspects. For example: origins of leads, length of stay on your website by visitors, and the page to which they exit.

The qualitative method requires a vastly reduced sample volume and can help you not only refine your quantitative research options, but also enable you to assess the opinions, values and beliefs of customers.

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