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Good instincts and intuition certainly play important roles in business. But gut feelings about your customers' needs and preferences aren’t enough. If you want to minimize risk and improve your chances of success, you need sound, objective data. That's where market research comes in.
Market research is the process of collecting and analyzing information about the customers you want to reach, called your target market. This information provides you with the business intelligence you need to make informed decisions. Market research can help you create a business plan, launch a new product or service, fine tune your existing products and services, expand into new markets, develop an advertising campaign, set prices or select a business location.
Types of Market Research
Market research methods fall into two basic categories: primary and secondary. Your research might involve one or both, depending on your company’s needs.
Primary research involves collecting original data about the preferences, buying habits, opinions and attitudes of current or prospective customers. This data can be gathered in focus groups, surveys and field tests.
Secondary research is based on existing data from reference books, magazines and newspapers, industry publications, chambers of commerce, government agencies or trade associations. It yields information about industry sales trends and growth rates, demographic profiles and regional business statistics.
Using Market Research
Market research allows you to pinpoint a host of key business factors about your market. It can help you identify:
Growth trends in your business sector
Size of your target market
Best location for your business
How your business stacks up against the competition
Factors that influence buying decisions
Degree of demand for your product or service
It also can reveal key information about your customers and prospects, including:
Their demographic profile
The types of features or special services they want
What they like and dislike about your product or service
How they use your product or service
How often they buy and how much they will pay for your product or service.
Once you analyze the results of your market research, you'll be in a better position to create a focused business plan, develop a targeted advertising campaign, set competitive prices, select a new business location or take other steps to grow your company.
Paul Potratz, Jr
Potratz Advertising Full Service New York Advertising Agency