The Revolution in Market Research
Market research has long been a key component of a successful business. The latest trend within the industry is to embrace the increasing amount of data produced by the technological revolution and use it to create greater insights into customer behavior, helping to streamline the sales process to generate greater profits and happier customers.
The BIG picture
Technology is helping to plug the gaps within the industry’s knowledge about the way customers think. According to a new white paper created by McKinsey & Co, the traditional approach of testing consumer responses and consumer behavior fails to paint a complete picture of what is going on in the mind of a customer when they are deciding whether to make a purchase or avoid it.
An example of this is the use of focus groups in virtual reality worlds such as Second Life. Traditionally, finding the right number of people who fit into the target audience of a particular firm was extremely challenging. There were also issues with the cost of running such a group and finding a suitable moderator who would guide the group but not influence their decision.
Many of these problems are solved by using a virtual environment as participants can be located anywhere in the world. Individuals who are already comfortable with a virtual environment also tend to feel less intimated than they would if they were asked to be part of a real-world focus group.
Market research is not the sole domain of large companies. In the initial days of any enterprise, they can also conduct their own market research online using freely available tools or at very small cost. Individual business owners can and should conduct research of their own by attending events and conferences where they can gather valuable insights into their future business endeavors.
One important rule every entrepreneur needs to follow is to have plenty of business cards to give out to anyone who might become a customer, supplier or collaborator. You can easily create your own business card design with just a few clicks of your mouse using widely available software, so there is no excuse for not making the most of any opportunity to expand your network and make new business connections.
Although individual efforts are important, making the most of market research opportunities means finding a trusted data partner. The sources of such research can vary greatly with some firm selling respondent data they have collected from other websites and online communities and others gathering the data themselves. Understanding the differences between the various options and knowing which suits your firm best is essential if you want to ensure your money is well spent.
Your decision will also be influenced by whether you need ongoing research or a one-off study. A simple end-to-end solution may suffice in the first instance, but a more detailed long-term project should be matched with a partner, who is able to provide more flexibility and stay up to date with the latest developments in the field so that you are always get the most accurate and useful data available.