Business decision are usually based on insights and for such insights you need to collect data via research. And if actual data is often found in abundance at present, what may be a challenge is how to choose the necessary and sufficient data to make decisions and how to structure the data. Below we have clarified the four advises for effective marketing research process in a simple and implementable way.
- Set Goals
The focus is everything in the age of abundant data. Laser-focused strategies have higher chances to succeed when implemented with persistence, than unfocused generic strategies. The classic marketing research methodology starts from defining goals of the research, and this step is critical as never before. So ask yourself ‘why am I going to do this research’, write it down and discuss it with your team.
Pay attention to separately defining business goals and research goals.
For example, a business goal can be ‘increase by 50% the revenue from online game players over next 6 months’. The research goal in this case might be ‘define the reasons the revenue from online game players grew in an internet café’s segment over the past 3 months’.
- Define the Scope
The second step in marketing research methodology is defining the object of the research. What are you interested to research?
For example, the object may include top 5 competitors or perspective consumer segment.
Research benefits from a clear definition of the scope of the research, e.g. what is included into the geography of the research, the definition of the market borders, the number of competitors that have to be researched.
The scope definition is hard and requires some preliminary researches in itself, but done well it is a strong guarantee of your market research success. The well-defined scope leaves no dimension of research scope of works uncertain / undefined.
Here is an example of an ill-defined scope of works for marketing research:
- Analyze MENA market: Distribution structure. Offered product lines.
- Develop gross list of potential distributors.
What mistakes are done here in scope definition?
- Distribution structure is not defined, e.g. major and minor distribution channels for foreign and local health products, product flows between companies of different profile existing in the market (e.g. distributors, social marketing organizations, pharmacies, medical institutions etc.).
- Offered product lines are not specified, such as: existing product groups (market niches) of health products in MENA; other products distributed in the same channels as health products; product groups competing with health products that are distributed by the largest distributors.
- Profile content of each distributor is not defined, e.g.: company name & website address, market share estimation, regions of services.
- Method of defining the size of distributors is not defined, such as: size of companies will be estimated on basis of various data: e.g. frequency of company’s listing in industrial databases, companies advertisement activities, frequency of references by industry experts as largest distributors, frequency of cross-references by distributors etc.
- Data sources are not defined, e.g. Internet databases and medical devices producers’ websites.
- Deliverable is not defined, for example: distributor List with 25 MENA largest distributors.
And here is an example of a well-defined scope of research:
Estimate the volume of MENA market for glass home appliances (general tableware) in terms of market segments: Plates & bowls, Glassware (glasses & mugs), Tableware (serving dishes).
Marketing research scope
- Plan for Budget
The third step in marketing research process includes defining your budget.
At this step it is time to consider whether you will reach your goals with a top-level report (which will normally cost you $100-1,000), a full-market report (it costs on average $3,500-$4,000) or you need to purchase a costlier product detail market report or even order a custom report.
In many instance the data contained in ready-made, syndicated reports will be sufficient to answer all or at least majority of your research questions. This will save you both time and money by means of minimizing the necessity of custom research.
Managing to receive the research you need for an affordable price depends on a variety of factors.
- Consider your project / marketing budget before you define market research budget. A reasonable share of such budget should be allocated to market research. For example, if your overall project budget is $500,000, do not expect to get the answers you need out of a single $1,000 report.
- To help set a realistic budget (and to keep within that budget), assess inventory of already published information before considering hiring someone to create custom research. Usually you will find answers to many of your questions with a ready-made report and save a significant portion of your budget in the long run, because published information may cost as little as 1/10th of the price of a custom project.
- Finally, when deciding to run a custom research project, you will have to adjust your budget and time accordingly. Custom projects can easily cost around $30,000-$50,000 and are completed after you request it, making the process much more time consuming, up to one-three months.
- Select Research Methods
The wide penetration of Internet has changed the marketing research methods landscape. There are free of charge online data sources, there are inexpensive methods of gathering data online and there are more expensive ways of conducting researches.
Other things equal, it is sensible to start using the cheaper or free of charge methods in the beginning, applying more sophisticated and more expensive methods once more information is needed. We recommend using online researches as long as they continue providing you with new data & the quality of the data is reliable for your goals.
As data sources have expanded in size and mobility, research products are pushing the limits of efficiency and speed through automation, do-it-yourself research spreading amongst corporates, and quick insights platforms, such as many available products developed by Google.
Those include, for example:
- Check long-term trends: Google Trends. (https://www.google.com/trends/)
- Check average search volumes and keywords trends: Google Keyword Planner. (https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner)
- See consumer insights, industry perspectives and creative inspiration: Think With Google (https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-ae/)
Next step would be quantitative online researches.
For example, Facebook promoted post are a creative method to collect opinions from precisely targeted audiences.
Offline research methods such as focus groups, telephone or face-to-face surveys, in-depth interviews can be reasonably used at such a moment when the potential of cheaper (and sometimes less reliable) online solutions is fulfilled.
With all the considerations above you will have good chances to run a well-managed marketing research with a reasonable budget and reach your research and, more important, business goals.
Feel free to comment below with your questions and tell us about your own experience. What are the tips of running great market research that you can share?
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