Without market research, it would be nearly impossible to successfully grow a business. Market research survey(s) obtain key insights about the target population, such as what products will be popular, what services matter most, what demographics make up the population, and much more. This information can then be used to build advertising and marketing campaigns, improve customer service and product selection, and even help the business prepare for particular seasons. Anyone interested in opening a business should understand the importance of conducting and analyzing market research long before they open their doors to the public.
In addition, and as many business owners quickly learn, business is never stagnant. There are seasons when business picks up and slows down. A flower shop, for example, may find that its business really picks up during the week leading up to Valentine’s Day and the week leading up to Mother’s Day. An auto body shop might find it gets an uptick in customers as the cold weather starts to set in and customers prepare their cars for winter. The same way businesses tend to have more successful seasons than others, market research also has more successful times than others. Sometimes, knowing when to conduct the research can be as critical as the research itself.
Research before renting building space
Market research should be one of the first tasks that businesses do when beginning to form a business plan. The research will define who the customer is, and how the customer wants to interact with the business, whether brick and mortar or virtual. The research will confirm – or deny – the market need for the product(s) or service(s), and may even indicate that the product or service will not sell, in which case, modifications and new market research needs to be done. It could be fatal to sign a long-term lease for expensive building space, only to find out that your customers prefer to order online. The research can tell you how the company should attract its customers and how many customers exist, which defines the very potential of the business. Clearly, businesses should not make plans until they obtain this vital information. And once the business is launched, market research should be done at regular intervals so keep a finger on the pulse of changing customer needs and demographics to best inform advertising and marketing.
Avoid doing research in high business periods
It can be tempting to conduct market research when the picture is rosy and business is good. If for no other reason, that is when the revenue is there and the cost can be incurred. However, conducting market research at the wrong time, such as when business levels are high, can provide misleading information and not provide the business owners with the crucial information they need regarding market conditions when business is poor. After all, it is when business is poor that we need to know why and how to fix it, so this is precisely when market research should be done.
Conducting research during low periods is similar to conducting research before the company existed and before the company had revenues at all, providing us with that critical information needed to increase sales. Over time, by conducting longitudinal studies, companies can get a balanced look at their business throughout the year and begin to predict peak seasons, having identified the variables that cause the peaks and valleys, and having learned to manage their business to maximize the timing of the market.
Market research helps prepare peaks and valleys
Using well timed market research can help businesses manage their inventory, marketing, payroll, and other expenses; help businesses maximize the customer service experience; and help businesses attract new customers through targeted, well-timed marketing and promotions. While high shopping seasons might not be a good time for research related to inventory and shopping habits, they are a great time to research how well your employees are treating your hard-earned customers when they are under pressure.
No one would deny the critical role that market research surveys play in the success of businesses of all sizes. Understanding how timing relates to the success of the research makes a big difference in how helpful the information will be.
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