By Tamara Irminger Underwood
Simply put, market research (also known as marketing research) is any set of techniques used to gather information to better understand a company’s target market. Businesses use market research study findings to design better products, improve user experience, position a product/service within a competitive landscape, and craft a marketing message to attract quality leads and improve conversion rates.
Why should my company consider market research?
It’s near impossible to understand your users without research. While you may have a general idea of who your users/customers are and what they need, you cannot take their loyalty for granted. Qualitative market research studies will help your company understand why and how people think and behave the way they do. Such studies are a sure way to learn about users’ impressions and motivations.
Why market research matters
- Quantitative Research gives you the ‘how many’, but qualitative research gives the ‘why.’ Quantitative data is a great way to understand how many people within a sample population think or behave the way they do. Big data, surveys, and dashboards are great for telling you what people do at scale, but only qualitative research can tell you what they’re thinking and why they behave in a certain way. For example, analytics (quantitative research) can tell you that customers are more likely to leave when they reach your pricing page, but only qualitative research can explain why.
- Research always beats assumptions, trends, and ‘best practices.’ There are no shortages of examples of product launches or start-up ideas that end up going nowhere. Bad ideas, or ideas that aren’t tested, are often the result of assumptions, guesswork, emotional reasoning, succumbing to industry ‘best practices,’ and defaulting to the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion. By spending time with your users in focus groups or conducting in-depth interviews, you’ll learn about their motivations and reasoning and are less likely to get pulled in the wrong direction.
- Research prevents ‘corporate myopia’. Even if you work with an ‘A’ team, you and your colleagues will never experience your product the way your customers do. You become myopic to your product or service and have all sorts of built-in biases. By conducting market research, you might be surprised to learn how your customers actually use or perceive your product. Features or communication that seem obvious to you and your team might be confusing or irrelevant to your customer. Failing to test your assumptions wastes money, time, and effort because you’ll likely need to make changes, or scrap your idea altogether, once your untested plan is implemented.
Hiring a market research firm to conduct your qualitative or quantitative studies is your best bet. A lot of work goes into designing such studies, and you’ll get the best usable outcomes when working with an experienced market research firm. With a new year approaching, now is the time to think about how market research can improve your brand or product.