Business leaders and academics agree that ongoing market research is vital in order for your business to achieve sustained and long-term success. Whatever your business’s core strategic objectives might be, for example driving growth, entering new markets or sustaining a competitive advantage, effective market research will help you to deliver.
This is what drives customers from a diverse range of sectors to use Turquoise to deliver full-colour insights into what’s happening in their markets. But how can you be sure that you are putting all that information to the best possible use? Here, we take a look at some golden rules to ensure you are getting the best possible return on your market research investment.
1. Be clear about your path
Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
The insights delivered by market research can take you in all sorts of different directions. For example, they can prove or disprove a hypothesis, can alert you to something that wasn’t on your radar or help you plan for controlled and profitable growth. But like Alice, you need to have a clear vision of what you are seeking to achieve, or else you are highly unlikely to achieve it.
That means following some basic rules that might sound obvious but are easy to overlook:
- Ensure marketing intelligence insights find their way to those in the operation who will really benefit from them.
- Make use of all the market research products and services at your disposal.
- Don’t cherry-pick. It is all too easy to only act on those findings that support your or the company’s preconceptions, and to ignore those that don’t.
2. Understand the context
In the brave new world of the 2020s, there is more data around than we know what to do with. But unless it is framed in the correct context, it becomes meaningless. You can prove practically anything with an internet search engine and a set of statistical data. That’s great if you want 10 minutes of entertainment reading a blog post about spurious correlations, but it won’t help you achieve any of those strategic objectives we mentioned earlier.
Good quality research comes from expert analysts who understand both the power and the limitations of all that data out there – and can convert it into relevant insights.
For example, anyone can pull some trends from census data. But an experienced analyst will factor in those hidden factors such as error rates, changes to category definitions and how to handle that most feared category of all, “other.”
Similarly, you might read an industry report. Surely that’s as clear a source of market intelligence as anything? It could be, but how is the report categorising product groups or sectors? Is the data really industry-wide or only relating to members of the association that published the report?
Today, we live in a world where we tend to think Google has the answer to everything. For sure, you can get hold of a market research report right there for nothing with a quick internet search. But where has it come from, what methodology was used in gathering it and most important of all, what is the context from which those data points were pulled?
Market research is all about asking questions – don’t stop asking when you have the data set out in front of you.
3. Get involved
At Turquoise, we take pride in our reputation as one of the global leaders in market research. We can confidently say we know as much about our specialist field as anyone. But nobody knows your business, your industry and your customers as well as you do.
By getting involved in the research efforts every step of the way, from defining the scope right through to analysing the reports, you will end up in possession of knowledge and information that is truly tailored, not just to your industry, region or sector, but to your business and your customers.
Be ready to discuss and even challenge the findings with your market research analysts. There is no better way of really getting to understand that all-important context that we mentioned earlier. You will also end up far more confident in the conclusions and with a clearer picture of what steps you need to take. As well as helping you get the best use out of the data, it makes life so much more comfortable when discussing the project with stakeholders within the organisation!
4. Prepare for the unexpected
Operating across industries such as financial services, charities, healthcare and utilities, we are fully aware of the impact that market shocks can have on a business or sector. It’s something that was seen by everyone on a global level just four years ago when two of the biggest political shocks in world history hit within a short period of time. We mean, of course, the results of the EU referendum in the UK and of the presidential election in the US. Expecting the unexpected is easier said than done, but tracking the possibility of what are sometimes called “black swans” is an increasingly important part of market analysis and research.
5. Don’t forget the “now”
Finally, don’t get too hung up on the “crystal ball gazing” aspect of market research. There’s a common misconception that it is all about preparing for future events. Of course, it is important to do so, but don’t get so blinkered in your focus on what might happen in five years time that you miss the market insight that reflects changes happening right under your nose.
Whichever market you operate in, you’ll have noticed that it is evolving, and at a faster rate than ever before. Use the insights from market research to help you drive that change, not simply to prepare to let it drive you.