Often one of the critical decisions facing a business is whether or not to enter a new market or start a new business venture. Certainly, money spent in developing a realistic market research report before operations have commenced is worth the time and effort.
If the report results in a “no go” decision, the few dollars invested might save an enormous amount of time and money. Whether someone purchases a market study or actually undertakes the survey inhouse, this initial step should always be taken, if the risks and potential costs are high.
Where to Purchase a Market Research Report
There are several web sites that provide access to a broad array of market research:
Of course, the caveat here is that typically, such reports may be too generalized for most companies. Therefore, results may have to be interpolated or assumptions made about the data itself to make it applicable. Even the U.S. Government provides market research, free of charge, especially if the product or market opportunity would result in the creation of new jobs and the export of U.S. made products.
Other Sources of Market Survey Information and Business Intelligence
If the cost of purchasing a packaged market report is too high, too general or the market segment is too narrow or extremely localized, then the best approach may be to pay a relatively nominal fee to a market researcher. A good resource to locate marketing research talent is in the marketing section of elance.com.
Elance allows a business to post a requirement for a business consultant to undertake market research. The company or business owner may set a budget and potential consultants can bid on the opportunity. The buyer, of course will choose whomever he feels is the best for a research assignment.
Market Size, Market Segment
If a business owner believes that the market segment is too small or limited, then the best decision may be to go ahead with the study within the company. In this case, online market research is the best way to begin. There are numerous resources to comb through which includes governmental agencies, industrial associations and individual web sites that might contain some source materials.
Depending upon the size of a particular business and whether or not a company data base exists, business intelligence software can be acquired to extract useful market data directly from an in-house sales data base. Obviously, if the customer or client base is too small or the prospective market place/products are vastly different from the existing data base, then this approach may not be effective.
Do it Yourself Market Research (Primary Market Research)
In the event that no useful data base exists, then one must conduct a primary market research effort and analysis to ascertain whether or not sufficient consumer demand exists for a proposed product. There are three types of primary market research study structures:
- Observation (watching and observing customer buying habits and preferences)
- Market Survey (conducting a survey in person or by phone)
- Focus Group (setting up a formal focus group)
The first two approaches are typically what most business owners will employ. However, the third is more typical of a larger company. In the first approach, basic observation involves watching how potential customers buy and determining why. In the second approach using a survey, a market research person or business owner asks a set of structured questions about a particular product, market or product line to determine the best features and benefits customers might desire.
A Structured Survey & Targeted Approach
It’s always advisable to have a structured market research survey as it connotes professionalism and keeps a market research interview on-target. Microsoft Word has a template for this purpose listed under Marketing Research Survey that can be easily be modified to fit a particular type of product or market. The interviewer merely calls or knocks on a potential customer’s door or attempts to set up an interview appointment.
Ultimately, the end product is a useful market research report that can point out market niches to exploit or products that are saleable within a new or existing market. Whether one proceeds to execute the research study directly, uses secondary sources or, employs consultants, in the end, it’s cost effectiveness and the quality of market data that determines the value of market research.